Friday, December 31, 2010


Happy New Year to all of you. 
Out with the old and in with the new!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part 8)

  Preparations for Christmas were in full swing. The ladies held a bake and share. There were socials amongst friends. Shopping. Decorating. Cleaning.. And this was in Saudi Arabia where it was most unlikely, right?
  Hubby was released from the hospital on December 19th but would remain in their care as outpatient. Once his valuables were retrieved from the security we would have some cash to repay those who loaned us funds. We would have a bit more cash to shop for some gifts for our hosts. But hubby was not well enough at first to even climb three flights of stairs . Once he was back with us he cheered up and his health improved steadily. I walked with him several times each day. By December 22nd he wanted an outing to a mall so it was arranged for us. A babysitter would stay with the kids. The driver headed to the place where I had seen the KFC. He wanted to see it. He purchased a treat to bring to Buddy. As we headed back, a huge down pour broke out. Flash flooding! Within minutes the roads looked like streams and cars were stalling all over the place. I was getting worried. We were in a raised vehicle that managed to move through the water to a place where the driver could stop and wait a bit for the water to run off. It was so unexpected. We made it back safely. The KFC was a hit and Buddy shared it with his sister.        
   We spent time planning how we would move on from here once hubby was well enough. I was afraid of the next phase of our travels because of what had happened. It was tough for me not to show my fear but I had to be brave. It was good to see he was trying to move forward. The doctor had warned me that there would be times of depression. It was a part of dealing with the blow he had just experienced. Humour was best for him now. I tried hard to keep the mood swings in a positive direction. And I had help.
    Everyone was now in the final stages of their Christmas preparations. It was December 24th when a strange announcement came over the intercom system.
"Please prepare for an upcoming sand storm. Close all windows and doors securely and make sure everyone is indoors. We are cancelling all activities at the community centre as of now. The storm is scheduled to hit within 30 minutes."
I had never experienced anything like this and felt a bit tense as I closed and locked our windows and door. The TV was switched on. A kids Christmas show was being piped, keeping many kids, mine too, in the compound busy while their parents finished up their chores. Soon a strong wind howled around us. It became very dark. At noon it was like midnight!! This lasted for at least 45 minutes. When daylight returned the wind subsided. It was quick but what surprised me was the awful damage it left behind. Everything indoors was coated with a layer of very fine sand. Outside everything was covered in a deeper layer of sand. The swimming pool became one huge and dangerous mud puddle! Instantly there was tons of cleaning ahead. It seemed so unfair. But no one showed they were really upset by it. They were focused on enjoying their Christmas as much as possible. They were miles away from their homes too (some were flying home for a short break). We spent our eve wrapping some little gifts for our hosts and their families.
   December 25th we were to join the host family for dinner. Doug's colleague who had to remain on the site during the holidays would also be there. Our invitation was for 4 p.m. Till then I was busy organizing and cleaning our borrowed items for return. At the latest doctor visit we were told it was safe to travel. Hubby, though weak, was stable so we booked our flight out of Jedda. We were given December 26th. It was difficult to get seats at this time of year and we were glad to be accommodated. The airline issued us complimentary tickets since we had none. Only ticketed travellers would be issued a boarding pass. Our unplanned stopover was nearing an end. And it culminated with a lovely Christmas with Nan, Doug, family and friend . It was a true celebration. There was so much joy and thankfulness. Our lives had become very touched by and for one another. Respect and admiration in abundance. The turkey, the tree, some carols, the toasts, the little useful gifts, the laughter, all genuine. Unusual because of our situation.
  Now there's a part of our experience I've saved for the end because of it's uniqueness but it had happened earlier. Through Doug and the ambassador I was asked to get the bill for hubby's hospital stay. The Embassy offered to pay on our behalf since it was likely to be a lot of dollars. Then we would repay them in Canada. My instructions were to obtain a statement just before hubby's release. I did this. I went to the same desk that had issued letters for our extended visas. I waited.  Almost two hours later a doctor who spoke English and a hospital staff member came to me with what I had dreaded. I was prepared for a huge amount, intensive care being the most costly. And they seemed a bit beside themselves as they gave me the information verbally.
" There will be no charge."
"How come?"
" You and your family are guests of our King."

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part 7)

   The stroll over to Nan's in the warm sun felt comforting. It was new for me to be surrounded by palm trees in December but it was pleasant and for the moment I felt protected and safe. At times I was missing the kids and hubby. As I reached Nan's house I realized how little I remembered from my first visit. There's was a single two story house with a front entry into the main living/dining area comfortably furnished. Except for their personal items, the pieces belonged to the company, Bell. Employes used it while stationed there. Many came and went over the period of the contract Bell had. The Saudi's wanted a fibre optic system to go with their new space satellite. For Bell employees it was an opportunity to work abroad with travel perks. But most did not like the placement and requested to go back within months. Nan and Doug and a few toughed it out for several years. They gained status and developed a great relationship with the ambassador.
    As I entered I saw Buddy and one of Nan's boys sitting on the carpet busy playing with lego. He smiled and went on playing. I was happy for him. Nan's boys went to a private school. One was home, not feeling well. The other would be home after 3. That's when the driver returned with him. Drivers were an important part of the community setup since the ladies always required an escort, something I was beginning to get used to. Nan and I talked a bit about my experience. Soon Doug arrived to drive me to the hospital. He wanted to come along to find out details about hubby's health. Our visit was brief but pleasant. Hubby was responding to the treatment and was past the first critical hurdle. He could be on the ward soon. But so far he was very weak. Walking a few steps from bed to chair was an achievement. For me it was difficult to get information from the staff. Their rules and language barriers frustrated me. Each visit left me wondering, a feeling that I disliked. I also disliked the security searches though they were a bit less intrusive now.
   Once back at the house it was decided I should be given some cash for the shopping shuttle the following morning. But for the evening I was to continue to rest free of the kids. I asked how the little ones were doing. Reassured I went to the apartment, turned on the TV and was surprised to be watching Canadian programming, Christmas specials for kids. I watched a bit but I knew I was still very exhausted. I tucked myself into bed, not really missing hubby or the kids. I was asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.
   Again I slept until noon. I had missed the shuttle. I called Nan to apologize. She was so patient with me. Her own routine was being disrupted. It was just before Christmas but she just dealt with it so well. She decided that I would be taken out after the hospital visit. She would come along with Doug and they would do their shopping too. That evening, when the all kids were fed, I would be reunited with them for our first night together in the apartment. I was feeling excited.
  While shopping I picked up some of the foods they loved, surprised to find so many imported  things at the supermarket. I had to be careful to stay within my budget, allowing cheese slices and cookies as treats. While at the mall I noticed a KFC. Odd I thought. But not for long. I soon became aware that Jedda was full of foreign workers from many countries. Western style commercialism was evident and it was flourishing. Construction of malls, hotels, factories, hospitals, roads, homes was visible all around. One strange sight was two vacant high rise apartment buildings. They had been built for the lower class locals who refused to move in because they did not want to uses common elevators. It was thought to be problematic for the women and their children to be mixing with non family members in such close proximity. They must have found a solution in later years because condos are now fashionable.
   As evening approached I was happy. At last I felt ready to greet my kids and carry on. Each had been so well cared for and directed into a routine, one that exists throughout the compound, one that would be good for us too.  Each came with loaned clothing and some toys and was helped into their transition into the apartment.  I was handed the schedule of activities for daycare, swimming, shopping and the TV.  It was in the format of a bulletin that was published weekly by volunteers. Anyone could add their bit. I thanked the community for all their assistance. I followed the schedule. Being busy was important. It helped the healing process. It was Christmas time and that helped too. there was an air of excitement in the community.
   On December 14th hubby was put on the ward in bed C. He had access to a phone and better visiting hours. Buddy was given permission for a very brief visit  on the 15th but only once and it was a special favour. Who knew that they would bend rules?? Will this good fortune continue??

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part6)

  I woke up to the ring of the telephone. Before answering it I glanced at the clock radio. It was 8:32 a.m. and I noticed Buddy was keeping my toddler busy at the desk with nothing on. "Ugh" I thought. Wonder if our clothes have dried? And then I answered the phone. It was an unfamiliar male voice asking me if I was Mrs. H.K? My heart sank as I speculated that this was the dreaded call that hubby was not okay. Instead the person identified himself as the clerk to our ambassador in Riyadh. He asked me if I would be able to take a call from the ambassador within the next half hour. My response was yes. I took the clothes from the bathroom and proceeded to get us dressed. Everything was still damp but it had to do. I put the baby back into the playpen with her juice just as the phone rang. I was a bit nervous because I had absolutely no idea what how to deal with a dignitary. I picked up the phone.
  "Hello, this is Mrs. K. To whom am I speaking?"
It was him. He asked me how I was and began to apologize for having no idea about my situation. He said he would speak with his staff in Jedda to ensure that in future they contact him with the details of any Canadian making an effort to get help at the Jedda office. Then he told me that I would be contacted within the hour by another gentleman who was in a position to assist my family. His name was Mr. M. He said he would keep in touch with Mr. M to ensure all worked out for us. I thanked him. I felt heard at last.
  While we were eating our breakfast the phone rang again. It was Mr. M. He knew were I was staying and said the he and his wife would be there shortly. Then his wife spoke to me to reassure me they had a place for us. They knew things had been very tough for me. I thanked her for coming to our aid.  Quickly I  began to pack whatever toys we had with us. In less than twenty minutes the lobby rang to ask if they were permitted to send A Mr. and Mrs. M up to the room!! Without hesitation I said yes. I had no idea where I was headed but I was going. My hosts were Canadians so I hoped for the best an then came a knock at our door.
   I opened it. Except to introduce themselves by their first names they came right in, asked who was who and said they were ready to take us right away if it was okay. Definitely. So they each took a child and handbags. I carried the baby in her Snuggly. We headed for the lobby. At the reception, the airline had already informed the management that I was transferring into the care of someone through the Embassy. And they were given my new address by Mr. M.And then he loaded us into their car.
   Nan told me that we were heading to the Bell Canada compound where they were stationed with their family, two sons. Doug was the head of the operation and was well connected with the local authorities, customs and issues. Wow! Had someone read my mind?? My hope was answered.
   It was very warm and our damp clothes were dried by the time we reached the gate, the security entrance to this compound. We drove down a road that led into what looked like a small subdivision. There were single bungalows, townhouses and several three story apartment buildings all surrounded by lovely landscaping. There were special covered car ports for those who had one and there was a minivan bus for those who did not. I had never seen anything like this. I saw ladies walking around freely in western dress. I smiled. It must be a safe place.
  Doug dropped Nan and us off in front of their bungalow. He joined us briefly before heading back to his office and assured us he would be back by 3:30p.m. Then I could visit hubby.
   Nan took over. After two calls to her friends, they arrived. And as I sat on the couch marvelling at the Christmas cookies they had brought, they began to talk It seems they had preplanned this event for me.  Everyone was told I needed time out to restore my strength. They had decided for that the next two days, Buddy would stay at Nan's to be with her boys, my toddler would stay with a neighbour who had a playmate the same age and baby would go to the friend who had baby things. I would be set up in a one apartment that had just been vacated and was available for two weeks. I agreed and I removed baby from the Snuggly and handed her over.
  Nan took me along with a few snack foods to my temporary place. The apartment was on the third floor. It was nice, a pullout sofa in the living room and a dining area next to it, both right by a small but well equipped kitchenette. The bathroom was next to small bedroom furnished with a wardrobe and a double bed, a night table at it's side. All areas had ceiling fans and AC. Though it was winter for the locals, the daytime temperature reached 25C, cold for the locals who wore winter sweaters, but balmy and nice for us. Nan showed me where to find the phone. Their system resembled the kind you find in hotels. One can dial house to house by an extension system. She gave me theirs and told me to rest now. She would be back later. I not to worry about the kids. Here it was standard practice for ladies to help each other out every day and in my case an added two nights. She smiled, handed me a key and left.
   It was December 9th. We had left on the 3rd. It had been a very crazy few days and now I had a moment of real me time. I turned on the TV and tried to relax. In no time I found myself crawling int bed.  It was dark when I awoke. I walked out to the kitchen and saw that there was a small casserole on the counter and salad and fruit in the fridge. On the sofa were several outfits of clothes in my size. There was even a bathing suit so there must be a pool.  I called Nan to thank her for all the charity and hospitality. After nibbling a bit on some of the goodies, I showered and changed into fresh clothes. It felt so good. Though I had planned to stroll over to Nan's I made my way back to bed. I slept and slept till I heard the phone rang. Nan wondered if I was ready for some lunch since I had slept right through breakfast. Yes was my response. For now I didn't want their help to end. I felt so very grateful.
But this story does not end here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part 5)

  The airport in Jedda was getting busy at this time, late afternoon.  I was just one of many. But I was stuck on a bench almost motionless with fear . It seemed to be getting harder as I became weaker. The lack of sleep, the strange diet and the stress were grabbing hold of me. I continued sitting because it was the only thing I could. I was forbidden to budge on the bench. My mind would wonder off as I envisioned my kids with no mother and hardly a father at this time. I thought of the airline staff who knew that I was here since they had sent their driver.  I imagined that they would search for me at some point. I hoped that the driver might be looking for me and then I wondered if he was taking care of the kids and how?? Why I had been singled out to face all this? I guessed that many people hit the "Why me?" button when stuck and I was very stuck! Time passed slowly.
  I noticed a steady flow of airline staff, personal from various carriers, passing by the desk of the uniformed man detaining me.  I watched as they either dropped off or picked up their passport at a counter behind him. A partition prevented me from seeing who was helping them. I kept hoping that the person might appear from behind that wall and see me. Perhaps then I could get help? But that never happened. I thought I should attempt to pray.  I bowed my head and tried to concentrate.
   "Mrs.K? Mrs. K is that you?"
Was I hearing things? What an odd sensation to hear my name.
I had to look up to verify whether I was just imaging hearing this.
  "Mrs.K, it's really you. Why are you here? How's your husband? And the little ones?"
I gazed up in disbelief. A pilot was talking towards me but I couldn't yet recognize him. He walked over to my side and I gazed up at him still afraid to move. I had seen that face. I looked at the uniformed guard with his rifle wondering what would happen now. He turned to talk to the pilot.
  "You know this woman?' he questioned.
  "Of course. I was forced to make an emergency landing because her husband became very ill on my fight the other day. He was accepted at King Fahd Hospital so we off loaded him and his family here. This is Mrs. K.  What's she doing here?  Some paper work?"
  Now I was getting excited. Hope at last. What are the chances of the pilot just happening to be passing by several days later to save another life!, this time mine? It seemed so miraculous! Now I felt a new wave of energy. Full of life, the weakness was gone. Some more words were exchanged. The person behind the partition appeared. Now he got involved. He took my paper from the doctor, read it and disappeared.  I thanked the pilot for asking about my family and he moved on. Had he known what had just happened? His presence here had freed me. I kept quiet and waited. I did not want to anger or humiliate the guard lest he change his mind. Freedom had to be my main priority now.
   After some time the paper work was completed and I free to leave. It had been a tough few hours but I was more than ready to be back with the kids. As I walked to the door I noticed from a large wall clock that my visiting time at the hospital was over. Just as well I thought to myself. Hubby was in great care and did not need to see me so stressed. Tomorrow would be soon enough. As I got outside I looked for the car. It did not seem to be where it had been.Was I in the right place? Now a new panic flooded over me. I'm free but my kids are gone and I have no driver which means I'm stuck. I walked around a bit looking here and there. All the cars were white and all the drivers were dressed alike. How would I find them? Stunned by this problem,I walked back to the entrance. That's when I heard,
  "Mommy! Over here!"
It was Buddy. He was walking behind me. Our driver and the car were right along his side. Can imagine my sense of relief? Here's what happened. The driver had had to move to long term parking since I was gone too long. He had instructed other drivers near the entrance to keep a lookout for me and contact him when they spotted me so he could fetch me. Seems they have their own way of networking to help each other. How helpful he was. He had fed and entertained all three for an entire afternoon and they were smiling.
  We headed back to the hotel. I was so exhausted. I needed more help. Once more I phoned the airline office and begged them to get through to the Canadian Embassy. My hope was to be linked up with any Canadians here who were working for Bell. My problem was I could not get the need across to the male(a local, with poor English skills) secretary who was manning the Jedda branch office. The Embassy was located in Riyadh and I did not have their number.
   It was evening, time for some food and baths. We had to freshen our clothes so I hand-washed our garments and hung them up to dry. Buddy and I used extra bedlinen to cover ourselves. The little ones were wrapped in bath towels. I hoped the warmth in the place would allow our stuff to dry over night. Truly over tired I hoped this night we could be in sync and  sleeping at the same time. Buddy and the baby did just that but my toddler was hyper. I spent most of the night entertaining her so the other two could sleep. Finally around four a.m. she dozed off. Me too! But at six the baby was up again. As I leaned over to pick her up out of the playpen I almost fell in on top of her.  I discovered I hardly had the strength to pick her up. I realized I was not very well. I had reached the point of  total over exhaustion. The situation was becoming dangerous. I had little energy left to care for the little one so I placed her in the Snuggly carrier and gave her a bottle.  I drifted off with her snuggled against my chest.

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part 4)

   The driver pulled into a large parking lot. With the kids at my side he guided me to the entrance and then said that he and the kids would be right there when I got back from the visit."Really?" I wondered but my need to see hubby was so strong that I was willing to trust this man. Faith??
   Inside the entrance there was very strict security. First I was body searched. Then my purse was examined. Finally my ID was verified and only then was the question asked, "Name of patient?"  I answered. Some record checking took place before I heard,
"You will be escorted to the intensive care unit."
It was warm outside and I was feeing hot now. After climbing up three stories we arrived at several sets of doors, all well guarded. The guide took me through the door to the left. We entered a small room full of shelves stocked with gowns. I put one on along with some slippers and was requested to wait. Now it was getting stressful. The kids were outside somewhere and I was in here entitled to an hour's visitation that was being reduced by the minute. Through a speaker system I was told that some doctors were making their rounds so I'd have to continue to be patient. Inside I think I wanted to scream but on the outside I sat down on a stool. I began to silently pray.
  When my turn came I was led through another set of security guarded doors and then led to hubby. He lay motionless on a state of the art hospital bed and was plugged into many gadgets all flashing and some beeping. A staff of five was attending to him 27/7 for now. I walked over to him and took his hand into mine briefly because I was told not to. Apparently I could set off something. Scared, I complied. He did not recognize me. He did not even know I was there so after asking how he was doing I quietly exited. My tears were now flowing freely and I needed to get out of there. He was alive but barely!!
   I headed out the way I came in and the driver and kids were waiting to receive me. What a relief! As we strolled to the car I saw a few women in their burkas and wondered when I would get one. While the driver was taking us back to the hotel he began to talk. He must have sensed my anxiety. He told me I had lovely kids. I thanked him. Then he told me that just two weeks earlier he had backed up his car and accidentally killed his two year old son. Now I was sad for him. It must be ever so difficult for him to watch my kids. And I thought my life was tough.
   He asked if I had heard from the airline. He had heard that my baggage had gone on to the final destination. Well now I knew that!  Panic..?? No money , no clothes, no diapers, not much help. I asked him if the airline could please send me some diapers and he said he would try to get that done. If only I had some cash. That would have eased the situation a lot. Then the driver could just buy what I needed and I could compensate him. Later the airline called to confirm my wish. I was asked if the Canadian Embassy had been called. No was my reply. That's when they gave me a number to call. I dialed it but there was no response. I would try again later.
   It was dark now and I figured we should sleep a bit. My three year old and Buddy were glad to comply but not the baby. She was fussy. The change in milk was creating tummy trouble. I rocked her and softly sang her favourite tunes. I was so tired. Finally she dozed off as did I. However, my toddler was awake in no time. Seems much needed sleep was not to be.
   This madness (visitation to hubby, no change of clothes, no real TV, strange food, calls getting no response) continued on and on. And added to that was the fact that our visas were only good for three days. In Saudi Arabia one does not travel without correct documentation. That could lead to a 'go to jail directly'. It became the job of the airline driver to take us to to the airport to the office where a renewal could be issued. But only after I had received a certificate from the doctor stating that it was necessary for us to stay with hubby while he recovered. That took place on Saturday, December 8th. By now hubby was able to talk. All seemed more hopeful.
     I had accepted that the driver would stay with my kids and attend to their needs  so when he dropped me off at the visa office and he told me that I could find him in the car park when I was done seemed simple and agreeable. But it was not. Perhaps it was my western clothing , though they covered me from neck to ankle? I stood out. One airport official was not in a good mood. As I approached the visa renewal counter with my document he rudely told me to keep my paper and sit down on the bench behind me. I did. I waited a while and stood up. So did he. I asked what the problem was since there was no line up. And then I heard these words that  'shot' through me and stunned me!
" You are not Mrs. K. You are someone else. You arrived last night on the SAS flight from Sweden. I believe you are here on a spy mission! Sit down!"
  Waving my paper I pleaded with, "No way!! Check your records. You have my Canadian passport". He shifted and pointed to his rifle. I dropped silently back onto the bench. There were no tears. I could not cry. And I remained there motionless for several hours. Many thoughts went through my head. At one point I tried to get my driver licence from my purse but that made him point the weapon at me before I could succeed. I was shocked. How could this happen? And no one seemed to question his motive.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part 3)

   The telephone rang. It was someone from the airline to inform me that hubby was now in intensive critical care. Visiting hours were limited to one hour and that was between four and five p.m. A driver would be by to take me. The kids would have to be watched by the driver so they would need to be ready too. My head was spining. Ready?
  Did any of you notice me mention anything about changing our clothing? Even the diaper changes had been minimized because the supply was going down. There were plenty in our checked baggage. But I had no idea where that was. I decided to call the airline number and see if someone knew where I'd get my luggage. After several call to various attendants it was decided that they would call me back when they had the answer. In the meantime the driver was coming to pick us up for tea with the top airline executive who claimed he wanted to make sure we were okay. It was ten a.m. and we would be picked up at noon.
  I freshened up by taking a very quick shower and then I helped the little ones with their baths. Buddy took his own shower. We had to reuse our clothed as there was nothing to change into. I hoped that would soon change.
  I ordered some beverages and sandwiches and turned on the TV. There was nothing much on. Most of it was in foreign languages so I turned it off and got out the kiddy tape recorder. I  put in the Burl Ives tape, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. It kept the kids quiet for a bit as I fed the baby some hotel milk in her bottle. I had run out of my formula prepared ones. Later I filled a bottle with some watered down apple juice. We had lots of bottled water and we used it. A sign in the washroom clearly stated the tap water was not to be consumed. Now we were ready so I decided to take the kids outside for some fresh air.
  In the lobby I saw that I was being watched. At first I thought it might be because Buddy has Down syndrome, though his features are more normal than some. But that did not seem to be the case. Then I presumed it might be the Snuggly baby carrier, a novelty because not many women were using them. But that didn't seem to be it either. As we reached the front exit a hotel staff member stopped us from stepping outside. I was stunned as I was informed that I was being protected from the authorities. A woman I needed to be covered in a burka before I could be in public . It was the law. I could only go out dressed in my western clothes with a male adult at my side. Well that could be remedied.  I would buy a burka at the hotel shop. I figured I could handle wearing one if it meant I could get outside.
    Purchasing of one ought to be straight forward but it wasn't. The hotel shops are privately owned and I could not charge a purchase to my room. My CIBC visa card was not accepted. They only honoured certain brands from major international banks (in 1985). Traveler cheques required a passport. Mine was at the airport. Well there must be a way I thought. I went back into the lobby to the hotel main desk and asked them to give me some credit in cash. Not possible. Cash for a Traveller cheque? After some discussion it was concluded it is not allowed. No one would bend the rules to help a woman and her kids. I wondered if those rules were different for men? I felt abandoned since they knew of my dilemma. No help was in my reach. So we strolled around inside the hotel. I decided to get some help later when I met up with the dude who was having us for tea.
   Back in our room we waited for the driver. Just after one p.m. we got a call from hotel staff that our driver had arrived but would be delayed because it was time for prayers. Around two he came to our door to escort us to the car. At last we were outside. It was warm and sunny. There were tall palm trees all around,even some grass but only around big properties that were not right at the side of the road. Jedda, a city where many buildings were under construction. I began to talk to the driver to ask about this growth and he talked about the foreign investors that the royals had allowed. I recalled that Bell Canada had huge contracts in Saudi Arabia.
   We arrived at airline headquarters. The office of the gentleman who invited us was very elaborately decorated and furnished. We were seated and the formalities began. Trays of sweets and drinks arrived and we were encouraged to enjoy them. Conversation was just polite chit chat. What was I doing here I wondered? And what was next?
   The driver took us to the King Fahd Hospital for the four p.m. visit.

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part 2)

 Small children cramped on a plane find it hard to stay still and quiet so the next little while I was busy offering them juice and snacks. Then I took them to the washroom to freshen them up. I wondered how I would carry on all by myself but vowed to myself that I must be brave and strong.
  The captain payed me a visit to inquire how I was and to informed me of his plan, prior to announcing it to the other passengers. He wanted to be sure I was okay with it.  He opted to land in Jedda, Saudi Arabia because he knew that there was a very new modern hospital with the latest intensive care facilities. And I was in agreement. So I prepared for the landing.
  Soon we were descending. The plane taxied to a halt. The hatch in the first class was to be our point of exit. A mobile elevator was lined up to it. Hubby was moved onto a stretcher and rolled into the lift and we escorted him with all our cabin bags in tow. The exit went smoothly. From the ground I glanced up at the huge aircraft that I was leaving behind and wondered when I would fly again. The ground transit rolled toward the terminal.  In the darkness of the night a veil of discomfort was unravelling itself over me.
  Things quickly changed in the holding area. Hubby was wheeled away through some automatic doors while I was left standing there all alone with three kids!! And I realized then that the strollers had remained on the plane. Thank goodness for the Snuggly carrier. Free to run, my three year old ADHD toddler did just that for some time. We were all alone so there was no one to disturb. She really needed to move.  Buddy was quiet. He sensed my dilemma. And he acted very responsibly.
  We remained in that holding area for several hours. No one came to talk to me, to let me know what was going on. The kids kept me busy and that was actually good for me. Eventually we were allowed through the automatic doors. I was not able to spot hubby anywhere. I made several attempts to inquire about him but was ignored. Buddy finally asked where his dad was and he got a reply. Dad was in the infirmary next door. Okay,  the first hurdle of being a woman in this muslim country was spotted; no communication with local men. The staff here was all male.
   Airline ground staff arrived to assist us. We had landed at an airport that was closed for the night to general traffic so there was only a skeleton staff to maintain the basic operations. People were awakened at their homes to come to this place to assist us. Hubby was to be transferred to the KIng Fahd Hospital as soon as our temporary visas were issued. Our passports were rendered to the airport administration and would remain with them until our departure. That was a standard practice in this country for all travellers in transit.
   An airline driver came to take us in a private airline vehicle. We were to follow the ambulance and meet up at the hospital. The driver knew some English so I asked him where we would be staying. He said the airline had arranged for us to reside in the same hotel as their staff.  Our ride from the airport was pretty much like that in any city at night. It was warm here so we did not need our winter jackets.
  At the hospital the driver stayed with the kids. To get into the building I had to clear a security check similar to that at airports.  After a body search someone looked at the temporary visa and permitted my entry into the room where hubby lay motionless on a stretcher in a holding area with a curtain slightly drawn. He was the only one in the triage area that didn't look modern or very new. No doctor just a male nurse was there. I was asked to remove hubby's valuables and bring them to a secure holding station where he could collect them upon discharge. I complied. When I was ready to leave I gave sleeping hubby a kiss. As I left him there I wondered if he would survive. Tears came and I strolled off to the car. I had landed in a very foreign environment. My level of anxiety was rising. I  was becoming extremely tired. Perhaps I was in shock?
  We pulled into the driveway of a beautiful Le Meridian Hotel. Inside a large Christmas tree  full of ornaments and lovely poinsettias decorated the main lobby. The familiar sight gave me some reassurance that I was in a place that knew a bit about our culture. The driver helped us and stayed with us until we were settled in our room, a junior studio with a king bed and a separate living area.  A playpen, that served as a cot as well, was brought for our littlest one. Now we were set. We had a place to rest. The driver left a phone number and said the airline would continue to keep me updated about hubby. I thanked him. Exhausted, I just wanted some rest. But my kids were not sleepy. They had dozed in the car and were ready for some fun so I decided to order some food to get them more settled. They didn't like the taste of the foreign bread, milk and juice. But they were more calm and  asleep shortly thereafter.
  Before I could put my own head on a pillow, I had to call hubby's brother to let him know what had happened. I dialed his number and tried to figure out what to say as the phone rang.
  "Hello. It's Heidi. We've been delayed," I said.
 "Yes we know. We were told at the airport the flight is delayed because of a sick passenger."
 "Yes," I replied," that the sick passenger is your brother."
There was a pause and then a quavering voice asked,
 "Is he okay? What happened?"
 "Heart attack," I answered.
 "Oh my. Where are you now? Where is he?"
 "We're in Jedda. I'm at Le Meridian Hotel and he's at King Fahd Hospital.  I'll call back when I know more about his condition and what will happen next." I heard his quiet sobs. We parted.
  This situation was grave.  I'd done my very best and I was on my own but I was not sobbing. I desperately needed some sleep. It had been hours since I had some. Soon I drifted off for an hour or so before the little one began to cry.  As I rocked her, I saw a lovely pink sky through the window. A new day had begun. It was December 5th. and we were miles away from our planned destination.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Unusual Christmas Story (Part 1)

  In 1985, when our youngest was only eight months old, our middle one three and Buddy twelve, we hit a very low point as a family. All seemed to be going very well.  A new baby, a new house and even a new car but then my hubby's dad suffered a stroke late in November. His mom asked if we could come for a visit as it was his dad's wish. We arranged to fly to see him in early December since it was near the Christmas holiday time and I could take a short leave along with the holiday break. But fate had a different plan for us, one that shook my very foundation almost to it's breaking point.
  Our destination to his father's home was miles from Toronto. We would have to fly to New York, then New York to Frankfurt, then Cairo to Karachi where we'd change planes again to our final destination. With two little ones we knew we needed to pack lots of goodies. Then there were the gifts for his six siblings and their families. We had a total of seven huge suitcases, two strollers and four cabin bags to manage and the kids. The smallest one I carried in a Snuggly carrier freeing my hands. The other two we tried to hang onto as best as we could. La Guardia Airport to JFK was the first struggle away after leaving home. Using the shuttle bus system, we had to transfer all our luggage manually along with us. And we made it just in time for pre- boarding.
 Our trans Atlantic crossing went as well as could be expected. Hubby entertained Buddy and I kept the girls relatively calm and quiet but had little time for myself. In Frankfurt we had some time to stretch our legs. As we strolled  about the kids were happy to see the Christmas decorations. But I noticed hubby looked a bit stressed. A smoker, he  took the opportunity to puff on his pipe as smoking had not yet been banned.  We bought some snacks and reboarded.
   Now we were heading for Cairo. Hubby dozed a bit. So did the rest of us but as we descended to Cairo hubby was not looking well at all. Cairo was a stop over where one remained on the plane. We sat and waited but something was not right with hubby. He was short of breath and anxious looking. An alarm in my brain went off. Having experienced my dad die of a heart attack at forty-two when I was sixteen, there was a fear it could happen to my hubby now forty-five. Very concerned, I asked the steward if we could have hubby checked. He was very helpful and had an airline doctor sent onto the plane to examine hubby. He was given a shot of valium for reducing his apparent stress. He was deemed fit to continue the flight and seemed calmer when the plane taxied for take off.
 As the plane climbed steeply upwards hubby's face grew strained. He tried hard to deal with his unwell feeling. About forty minutes into the flight he was definitely loosing his ability to cope. Severe pain in his legs had set in and he had trouble catching his breath. We were all seated together in the centre of the jet, making it convenient to help each other. I asked Buddy to play with his sister and climbed out of my spot to make my way to the galley where the staff was preparing refreshments. They recognized me and I tried to imagined their thoughts,
 "Yup it's her again. What does she need now?"
But they were very busy, hardly even noticing me and that was most disturbing. I began to feel fear. No make that terror as I stammered out the words that hubby was much worse and would need further help. Might one find out if there is a doctor on board who could be of some assistance? Perhaps the look on my face gave my plea some credibility because one staff member quickly headed to hubby's seat and returned moments later instructing me to remain calm and return to my own seat as they took further action. They'd help as quickly as possible bearing in mind that the other passengers also needed to be attended to.
 On my way I heard the announcement one occasionally hears on a flight, 
 " If there's a medical doctor on board who is able to give us some assistance would he or she please contact our staff."
Now I realized how invaluable those words might be for someone. Barely seated, a staff member arrived with a doctor who decided that hubby had to be moved. He had begun to moan and that could be upsetting to other passengers. His pain had worsened. With help he was located closer to the front of the plane where seats were cleared. He could be stretched out on his back. Another doctor with his stethoscope out was heading towards hubby. And then another doctor appeared beside me. He questioned me about his earlier episode. With him I went to see to hubby who continued to worsen. I was feeling so helpless. However, the doctors were all attending to this patient very professionally. Again back in my seat, I watched another doctor pass by me. He had a medical bag in his arms. So many doctors. That was reassuring.
Eventually one of them came and told me that the heart specialist had given hubby some nitrroglycerin and a mild pain analgesic. All  the doctors concluded that hubby had had a myo infarction and needed immediate hospital care. They had conveyed their finding to the captain who began the process of finding a hospital in a city and country that would allow him landing permission for the emergency and disembarking for the patient and the family. Three cities in two counties were in close range. It would take a bit of time to get the final permission. A heart specialist was attending hubby. Now we had to have some faith.
 Holding my three little ones close to me, tears rolling quietly down my cheeks, I began to pray. And I thought of my mom who had been in this situation at the same age. I prayed that I be stronger for my children. Of course I prayed for hubby and his family who were awaiting his arrival.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I lived in the BEACH district of Toronto. It was the first neighbourhood I was introduced to as a young immigrant child. In the mid '50's my dad would sometimes treat us to a meal away from home. We would walk along the boardwalk to get to this place, Garden Gate on Queen Street. If you want to see a picture of it just type 'goof' into wikipedia. It's nickname was created from a sign that says 'Good Food'. Really! And it's still there today.
This is for the poetry bus at Kat Mortensen blog.

The Goof
Garden Gate for pie, Garden Gate for pie,
If I can't get there I think I'm gonna cry.
Take away my Audi , take away my tie,
But don't take away my Garden Gate pie.

Garden Gate foo yung, Garden Gate foo yung. 
If I don't get some I'll bite upon my tongue.
Take away my cottage, take away my song,
But don't take away my Garden Gate foo yung.

Garden Gate chow mein, Garden Gate chow mein,
If I can't get some I'm gonna be a pain.
Take away my chalet, take away my train,
But don't take away my Garden Gate chow mein.

I used the pattern from Dennis Lee's 'Alligator Pie'  poems.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


October 1954. Marianne in Toronto. We had just arrived to be reunited with our parents.
December 5th, 1988
On this day my mom took her last breath after trying to battle a cancer that invaded her lung and then her liver. She has been gone for a long time yet her memory lives on in my heart.

Monday, November 29, 2010


This was a great weekend. My hubby's relatives from the US came up to visit over the long weekend. We were so happy to have such a heart warming gathering. Ages four through seventy-six all melted together in fun and joyous celebration. We slept in and stayed up late. Laughter rang throughout the house. I caught hubby reading and singing with his two little grand nieces as if they were his grand kids. He loves them so because they are keen to be with him. And his nieces did so much home cooking for him. It was in over abundance. We gathered around the dining table and quickly spilled over into the living room as we enjoyed every moment. No one was unhappy. Once they departed the house felt less cosy. I'm lucky to have family that can share time, energy and fun!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This scene had me wondering about the interdependence of all life forms and all their entanglements. Old tree trunks bent and twisted are the remaining beauties of a former dairy farm, parts of it having been left as greenland amongst new suburban sprawl. Isn't it a great concept? In this space one can find lots of decaying matter. I am fascinated by all the wild growth intertwined within that space. The best part is I am able to walk there, study it's loveliness while taking in breaths of refreshing cool air. Today I did not go there and a sadness looms in my heart. This morning my eye sight was distorted with drops. Then came the measurements. Finally I was given the news that an implanted lens in my left eye had shifted. It's what's causing some of my recent visual stress so I've been referred back to the surgeon who gave me the implant but with a caution that it might cause the retina too much stress. While it seems it may be possible to realign the lens, I worry because it happens to be the eye that has been saved twice before. Is a third time going to be the undoing of my good fortune? My faith needs to be stronger daily for I am older now. Having had the recent stresses of a house fire and cancer I will have to have much more fortitude to get through another eye 'revision'. 
Entanglement? Quantum physics and much higher maths? How does it apply here?

Friday, November 19, 2010


I sit by a window in the family room to get the maximum light that is available at this time of year. I have my macbook beside me but I'm finding myself too distracted to write anything. This sad event occurs every November. Perhaps it's related to the loss of daylight? Now that the month is past the half way point I hope I shall be improving quickly. Since the holiday spirit, mixed in with the upcoming fun family times, is approaching it'll help me a lot. By December 21 the daylight will in crease and I'll be fine again. I know because it's an annual event. I've experienced many over time.
Smiling into the camera while taking this shot has helped to put some humour back so I took a moment to let you know how it's going for me. My next Tina post is in the works.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Yesterday was a brilliant day. It started with a luncheon to induct four disabled persons to a Hall of Fame because of their outstanding contributions. On our way home we got a call from our daughter telling us we has a visitor waiting for us. Tina.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


 Today hubby had to go for a routine colonoscopy. He agreed that he would drive to the hospital and once there he would just pull up to the entrance, get out and wait for me to take his drivers' seat to proceed to drive back home until it's time for him to be picked up. The plan seems so basic right? Well it was not to be that easy. Just as we pulled into the driveway at the hospital a service vehicle blocked our path. The driver got out and did some grass maintenance. Already moments late for the 11 am appointment this added to the stress of the procedure. Finally when we were able to move to the building entrance. Hubby just dashed out and headed into the doors while I switched over to take the car controls. The car beeped even after my buckle was secure, a warning, but I continued. My plan was to stop at the grocery store to grab some fresh potatoes. I pulled into a parking spot and was ready to leave the car when I realized a huge oversight. Hubby had run off with the key in his pocket and this car uses keyless technology but the remote 'key' must be within range of the radio system it uses. That meant I could not stop here. I needed a 'key'. I left the parking lot wondering how I could keep the car going while I found the spare key.  Once in our driveway I phoned for my daughter to come out and sit in the running car while I searched. After some scary moments I finally found it. With the key in my pocket I went back into the car, thanked my daughter and parked safely in the garage.  What was the concern? While I was driving from the store a message was flashing at me saying the car's security was being breeched. I was actually driving the car as a potential thief. Shutting the engine off without a key present would have shut the car down for good until a new security code was put in by the dealership. Can you imagine the procedure for that? The tow to the dealer, the wait for the service. And how would I pick poor hubby up??Sometimes technology can present us with some very strange unfamiliar obstacles. The end to this has yet to be written. Hubby is still at the hospital and it's almost time for me to get him. The key is in my pocket. Will the car be confused when two keys appear together?
A security car issue on 09.11 for an 11 am appointment seems a bit wacky.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Armistice Day

The first world war began in 1914. In this photo are two brothers in their different uniforms. I found it in a collection left by a deceased aunt. Could it could be Franz, my grandfather, with Karl or Max? They lived in Aussig, Czechoslovakia at the time. There's nothing written to make it clear. What is clear, is that these fellows were a part of WW1, and once the enemy to many where I now live in Toronto. When we remember the dead and honour them what do we do about the enemies who survived? Historically they remain the enemy. That's in the past.
Friday we stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors from many countries who battled but no longer as enemies, rather as friends.  Yet all will remember the horrors of the wars! 
Armistice Day began in Canada on November 11, 1919 at 11 am with a two minute silence. It was changed to Remembrance Day. Once again we shall make the time to reflect. The day is approaching. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Today I am swamped by the elections in the USA. Every station is talking about a change. Since I knew nothing about mid terms I did some searches. While the info helped a bit I wonder how many average Americans understand their complex system? Good luck to the voters. The media has certainly made a point of using it's platform to play with this important event. Does TEA really mean 'taxation elimination advocacy'? Who's doing the math for this? Now I can't wait 'til later to hear what the outcome is. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We escaped the severe damage that could have happened. Today the temperature is up to 17C and it's gusty. This isn't over but it sure is less wild than was forecast. Sadly I see in the news that there have been some crazy heavy snowfalls in the prairies. And heavy rainfall led to mud slides that hit parts of California already stripped of trees by serious fires earlier this year. Wacky!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today the temperature has gone to 21C and that's very warm for October 26.. The heat will cause havoc this evening as it cools down. The winds should start blowing violently and fast as the thunderstorms erupt! Already the sky is an eerie grey. Outside my hotel window, across the street by the conference centre, the flags flutter and suggest the wind's coming up from the south west. Wild westerlies?? Hopefully not too wild.!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Happy Birthday wishes are in order for our 'SammieSue'. 
This Saturday is her birthday. Buddy loves his sister. It was his wish to buy her a new winter jacket and a watch. A surprise edible bouquet from her sister is on order. And I get to bake her a cake and pay for her much needed Honda repair. Mr.K's making time to take her to see 'Wicked'. She'll be celebrating with her friends too. Lucky lady! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010


      Common Chicory            Blue Cornflower  

This is a wild flower I have loved from the time my mother, Marianne, pointed it out to me and I was able to remember it. It has become symbolic for me. It is fused in my mind with fond memories of my mom. Her life was not an easy  one. I shall write more about her but not today. I am feeling too blue.
The sadness comes from not understanding the forces stacked up against my ways. My brand new (less than one week old) MacBook Pro is showing me that I have untrusted keychain certificates. How can that be? A cable ethernet IP address is telling me that I'm logged into a 'bot' net with some BELLNEXIA-11 thing. But I'm not using any ethernet connection!! And these are not a new events for me. I have struggled with this and ID issues for a long time.
As I type this an eery silence falls over my home. All the fans stop. Everything seems to be on alert. Is it because I'm her daughter? Or? His wife? Taxman hubby. My keyboard just relit itself. It had gone off. It liked the word 'wife'. LOL! 
There's a story waiting to be told. Alerts are everywhere and I'm not referring to the calendar kind but some 'ESP' ones. I sense them. I wish I understood them. I think I hear them. I imagine I see them but do I?  Do others? Spirits pushing alerts? Is Marianne involved? How wacky will it get? Spooky October!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Burr Thing

Wild or whacky?
In my previous post, sometime in September the burrs were covered with spider silk. The spider did not stay long. It's outcome is your guess  Chance plays a timely role in all things. Here it is; I stumbled upon something odd as I googled 'sticky burrs' yesterday and that took my post into a completely different direction. I have always likes books. In my early school days I managed to read every book that was catalogued in our school library by the time I reached the eighth grade. When new books came in they were given to me first. I was proud of that honour especially since English was not my first language. My passion for children's literature remains but it's a bit of a mystery how some material seems to find me.  Sticky Burr is the main character in a relatively new children's book series, "The Wonderful World of Sticky Burr". I imagine kids who like creepy, crawly things might enjoy it. Seems Sticky Burr is as talented as his multimedia young author, John Lechner. Would his books be a worthwhile Hallowe'en treat? You can see for yourself by getting a glimpse here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sticky Situation

Strands of a silky substance are connecting the burrs which are themselves rather sticky. I guess that could be considered a double whammy or a very sticky situation.  Wild life offers us many interesting webs to unravel. Our curiosity can lead us to seek out some fascinating facts. What creature left it's silky strands on this plant? Why? Is it possible to figure out the season from the photo? 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vibrating Echos

How often had I drifted to sleep to the sound of Dad playing the piano? Countless nights since the arrival of his brand new WINTER apartment size piano bought from the Queen Street Eaton's store in May 1958. He  loved this instrument and used it daily playing the music of Schumann and Chopin as much as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. He tended to labour more on pieces by the two former composers perhaps because he found them more challenging? I heard them even in my sleep. My room was directly over that piano. It was comforting to be serenaded nightly. It was part of a routine, a good one that ended tragically in September 1962.
Yesterday was our first concert outing for this season. After a lovely dinner at the Elephant and the Castle on King Street, we strolled over to Roy Thomson Hall on Simcoe Street for the TSO opening night. The programme was to highlight the music of two composers celebrating their bicentennial, Schumann and Chopin. Guest artist Louis Lortie, pianist, was performing to mark the occasion.
As his fingers danced over the keys and the melodies of Schumann's piano concerto in A minor op.54 reached my ears it was as if I had been transported back in time. I knew the melody so well. I was deeply touched. A thunder of applause let me know it was over. WOW!!
After intermission Lortie played again. This time it was Chopin's Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise op.22.  My senses were reawakened to another deluge of very familiar tunes. Who knew that I would be so emotionally entwined with the vibrations echoing from that grand piano? And my days of bedtime routine were flooding through me. I cannot describe that feeling except to say it was simply comforting. Peaceful. Although there was a full orchestra present and playing, my mind elevated the piano part and transported us to a place I had forgotten. Blissful moment. Sweet. Calming. One more time. Timeless. The celebration of great art is it's timelessness. And I guess I had a first hand experience of just that.
As I type this and reflect I wonder if my recent 'Heidi' posts have awakened something sweet, my dad's spirit? October is here and with it come some wild and wacky moments. Let the fun begin!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Heidi (Part5)

Daylight came. For my little sister the news of Dad was kept quiet. She was as cheerful as ever.
It was my mom's decision that she was to be moved to a neighbours for a few days. My job was to get it arranged and get her ready early enough so that she would not miss any school time. She was in grade one. She did not question any of this because she had slept over there before. She thought it would be fun and left willingly and happily. But I was not happy about my mom's idea.
The next twos days were full of errands. My brother and I remained home from school. I hardly remember what it was we had to do. I just know it became a blur in my head. There were the visitations prior to the funeral and then the funeral itself.
It took place mid day on Wednesday, a sunny, bright and warm day. I had never been in a limo. What an odd sensation it was. The limo ride was so very smooth and bump less that it felt as though we were floating. It somehow felt fitting. There was a very long stream of cars following us to the cemetery. I had no idea who all the people were. I guessed that my dad may have been famous or something but kept it from us. I still wonder about that huge crowd. Perhaps it was work related?
That afternoon my mom had the support of many other adults at her side. That left my brother and I to be with each other. We watched our mom. It was as if we were spectators at some huge drama. Mom was the lead character. We guessed it was that way because all the adults just seemed to collect together. We were not adults. We stood at the grave motionless just watching.
After the burial there was the reception. And there was alcohol. We watched as our mom fell into a state of drunkenness. No one seemed to mind. We became scared. She was the only parent we had left. We had seen her drunk at some of the parties given at our home. Dad would say she was just having a good time. But this was not a good time event.
So that day was the beginning of a whole new way of life that we would have to adjust to.  Alcohol was going to be Mom's choice of numbing her sorrow (along with pills and cigarettes). And there was her withdrawal into her own world.  She had lost her hero, her lover and we no longer mattered. She had wanted to spare my little sister the agony of losing a dad. Instead she put the three of us into a living nightmare. And it lasted for a long time.
My aunt and grandpa were in no better shape emotionally and stayed at their place
Out of fear I took on the role of caregiver to all of us. My brother became a loner. My sister became a nervous wreck. She was afraid to go to sleep. Her fear was heightened by an idea that we could all disappear like her dad had. Mom had not foreseen that her six year old needed to have some sort of concrete interaction with her loss of her dad. The poor girl believed that human death meant just vanishing over night! What a horror she was faced with.
And I, Heidi, could not fix such serious problems. Help was needed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Heidi (Part4)

I turned around and let the screen door close behind me. The doctor and coroner were with Mom. His death was not considered suspicious so the coroner issued the papers and recommended that a funeral home be called to collect him. The phone number of one my mom agreed to was handed to me and I went into the kitchen to place the call. It was quite straight forward. Questions about the coroner's findings and the location of the deceased to be pick up. Done.
I reported back to the bedroom to learn what would be next. The coroner begged his leave. His bill would be in the mail.  Mom talked about my going to my grandpa's to let him know. It was his son that had just passed. I would have to cycle there. Mom would wait for the funeral home hearse to come while I would go to Grandpa. The doctor offered to drive me, a kind gesture under the circumstances. We all headed for the front door. After farewells he led me to his car. What a time to have my first ride in a corvette!! It was short. My grandpa lived with my aunt in a nearby apartment complex.
While climbing the stairs to the third floor I wondered what I would say. Then I knocked. It took several attempts. My aunt opened the door.
I just looked at her. She was in a long nightie and had curlers in her hair , planning to look her best for work in the morning I guessed. Then I stepped into their familiar apartment but I felt so torn and lost for words. words that were in my throat but would not come out. I gently hugged her, tears streaming down my cheeks I finally whispered,
" I have bad news."
She seemed to sense the next part and whispered,
 "When did it happen?"
" Just a short while ago. Mom and the doctor tried their best. He didn't respond."
"Thanks for coming now. I'll let Papa sleep 'til morning. It will be very hard on him."
Hard on him? I wondered what she was thinking. It is hard on every one. She continued to whisper asking me to quietly depart so Papa would not be disturbed. I did and with more tears quietly rolling down my cheeks  I made my way back to the corvette.  I thanked the doctor for helping me as he drove. Back at the house I got out while he waited for me to enter it and left. What a gentleman, an Afro-American MD in 1962. How rare.
In the living room I found Mom with my brother whom she had managed to awaken. I wanted my sister join us but Mom requested I leave her alone. Mom felt she should be spared this painful time.
Then the hearse appeared and we watched Dad leave our home.
But not my little sister.
It was around 4:30 am yet sleep was not in us. All sense of timing was gone. Shock and grief had gripped us. We sat in the living room just babbling and sobbing.  But not my little sister.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Heidi (Part3)

Since he refused to respond I leaned over his face and listened.
He was breathing and was in a deep state of sleep. I sat up and glanced down at my fourteen year old brother. He was at that very young adult stage where the limbs and body look misaligned and awkward.
I decided to move on. Across the hall was my little sister, ten years my junior, only six years old. I checked on her. She was fast asleep too. Her soft brown teddy, Chicago, was next to her. I walked out of our room and closed the door. As I walked back downstairs I wondered how they had managed to stay asleep through all the commotion and noise.
Outside my parents bedroom I heard the firemen discussing with my Mom what had happened.
These words sent chills through me. Heart failure. He died? Not possible! No way! The melodies he played earlier began to sing in my head and my eyes swelled with tears. I don't remember how long I stood there until Mom called for me but I knew instinctively that my role as the eldest had just taken on a whole new direction. As I entered the bedroom the firemen exited.
Mom looked exhausted and scared. Now it was my turn to help her.  I was given the number of the coroner to call so that's the first thing I did.
Then I went back to Mom. My dad was making strange gurgling sounds that sounded a bit like the engine of a car revving. It made me want to believe he was getting better. As I sat down next to them, Mom started to talk about her experience. Dad had complained of discomfort around midnight so my mom called the family doctor who was on holiday. A replacement made the house call just before one and had requested my dad go to emerge but my dad, feeling a bit better, said he would wait until morning. The doctor made him promise that Dad would follow through and gave him a shot of something before leaving. Dad would not let Mom sleep. He insisted on telling her what she had to do after his death.
I listened to all this with one ear to the doorbell. It soon rang.
Confused, frightened and wishing I was in a deep sleep like my siblings, I went to the door.
"Yes. "
The doctor and the coroner were standing in front of me.
"Come in please. Just go down the hall to my mom."
I lingered for a moment glancing at the stars.
 At that moment I became very angry with God.
"Why God?"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heidi (Part 2)

Was mom calling me?
My sister and I shared one of the upper level bedrooms. My parents had their room downstairs.
Dad was with Mom so why was I hearing her call me?
Now I was wider awake. A gut feeling that something was not right kicked in.
I left the bed and headed to the stairs.
It was another chilling scream. I began to run.
Once at their bedroom I found Mom on the bed leaning over Dad.
She glanced up from her position over him. There was a look of terror in her eyes.
"Heidi what took you so long? Call the fire department. Dad's not breathing!"
My adrenalin began racing through me. I rushed to the kitchen and dialed their number.
After answering their questions and receiving some instructions to follow, I hung up and
headed to the front door to make sure the outside light was on.
Then I stepped outside to check. I glanced up at the sky, noticed the stars and  began to pray.
"Please God help my Dad."
It seemed like a very long time before the fire truck arrived.
I led the men to the bedroom, waiting a moment before racing upstairs to my brother's room.
"Roland," I yelled and shook him.
He was not responding to my efforts to awaken him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Heidi (Part 1)

His fingers danced across the keys as he played his old favourites from memory. He had not played his Hohner in quite a while. It was a fitting way to end a lovely Sunday. I drifted to sleep at the sound of those familiar tunes.
" Heidi! Heidi!"
A shrilling scream echoed in my ears. Was I dreaming?
I struggled to awaken my senses
Again,  "Heidi! Heidi!"
I threw the covers off me and glanced over at my little sister who was sound asleep in her bed.
Was I dreaming? Was I really hearing that shouting?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Under the Weather

It's suddenly very cool. After all the heat this cool weather is a bit too cool. too quickly. Sadly Buddy has taken ill. When he's ill we worry because his immune system is weak. I will be taking him to the doc to  get him checked. I want to be sure that his lungs are clear. Pneumonia is always a risk. Sadly I'm sniffling too. School has begun and so has the season to catch those nasty bugs. The expression "under the weather" must have come about because we like to blame the weather for many of our malfunctions, right?

Friday, September 3, 2010


 Today the grey sky opened and rain just poured. In moments here's what it looked like right in front of our home. And hidden somewhere near the backyard the yellow finches are waiting for the deluge to end. I miss their chirps when they're at the feeder. How's the sky where you are?

Thursday, September 2, 2010



A guy goes into the bar and sits down and orders a drink. Other than the bartender, there's no one else in the place. All of a sudden he hears a voice that says, "Nice suit." He looks around and doesn't see anyone and the bartender looks busy washing some glasses. A little while later the same voice says, "Nice Tie." The guy looks around again and doesn't see anyone. He finally asks the bartender if he just said something.
"No," replied the bartender, "it wasn't me. It was probably the peanuts though. They're complimentary."
Thanks for the joke, Patty. My compliments to you for your generosity.
Do you ever think you're a bit nutty? Today I did a nutty thing. I posted photos on my Foto blog using the same subject, similar photos and same title as an earlier post. The nuttier part is that I did this exactly one month apart, on the same (02) day of the month. Not so sure why though. That's what's nutty. So? I often wonder about numbers and coincidences. Do you? Fall is the season for wild and wacky and it's just beginning. Come again soon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nutty Jokes

It 's astounding how generous and kind bloggers tend to be. I asked Patty if she had any good nutty jokes and she sent me a couple. But I hadn't learned cut and paste from email. Today I learned the  command c and command v thing along with drag and drop. There's a wealth of commands to master. Nuts, I have too much to remember! Anyway here's a joke;
                                        A Bucket of Nuts
On the outskirts of town, there was a huge nut tree by the cemetery fence. One day two boys filled up a bucket with nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts.
"One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me," said one boy. The bucket was so full, several rolled out toward the fence.
Cycling down the road by the cemetery was a third boy. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."
He knew what it was. "Oh my," he shuddered. "It's Satan and St. Peter dividing the souls at the cemetery."
He cycled down the road as fast as he could and found an old man hobbling along with a cane. "Come here quick," said the boy. "You won't believe what I heard. Satan and St. Peter are down at the cemetery dividing the souls."
The man said, "Shoo, you brat, can't you see I'm finding it hard to walk as it is." But after several pleas, the man hobbled to the cemetery.
Standing by the fence, they heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."
The old man whispered, "Boy, you've been telling the truth. Let's find out if we can see the devil himself." Shivering with fear, they peered through the fence, but they were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought-iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of Satan.
At last they heard, "One for you, one for me. And one last one for you. That's all. Now let's go get those nuts by the fence, and we'll be done."
They say the old guy made it back to town five minutes before the boy.
 Do you know some good nutty jokes??

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Black Walnut

Buddy and I collected a few green fruits and brought them home to study. Some we left out to dry and that created the dried nut look that I posted. That is the outer shell and it needs to come off to reach the actual walnut. There are two methods to getting to the nut. Both are a difficult process.
A green one we decided cut. With a very sharp knife I cut the green away to see the inside. It was very messy and left a trail of black juice under my nails. A good vegetable dye.! Black. We let the nut we found inside dry. It changed in colour and texture. And after drying out it begins to resemble a black walnut. Since we did not scrub it hard, some black streaks are visible on it's rough shell.
The walnuts we buy at the store look smooth and lighter. They have gone through a bleaching and polishing process.  Buddy and I have a greater appreciation for the harvesting of this nut and getting it to market. What remains a mystery to us is how the squirrels deal with this nut? Do they use the first or second method?                                                                          

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Drying Nut

When the green nut is given a chance to dry it starts to take on this appearance. The shell is still a bit soft but in time dehydration will allow it to harden. Then it will be preserved and keep until it is used as a nut to be consumed. It's colour will lighten. Do you like this kind of nut Kleinste Motte?

Friday, August 27, 2010

What a Nut!

See the little leaves at the top of this fruit? Looks like a new plant trying to take hold. We found this beauty in the grass under a lovely tree by the pond. When you hold it up to your nose you'll experience a lime-like fragrance. But there is so much more to knowing what this is. Tomorrow I'll tell you a bit more. Hurry back Kleinste Motte.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How Nutty? Ugh!

Since hazelnuts are a favourite of mine I naturally gravitate to chocolate bars that include them. I figure that's a natural outcome, though I will gladly eat the peanut kind or the almond if they are the only alternate. But there's a limit to what I'm willing to I will eat coated in chocolate.
Imagine how I felt when I bought a Ritter Sport bar with hazelnuts. My anticipation was so high that I immediately ripped the packaging open, broke off a piece and savoured it. Sort of??
But something wasn't quite right. The usual tender, juicy nut coated with yummy chocolate felt dry and brittle on my tongue. Yet there was no hint of a stale or unpleasant flavour. Weird. I chewed on a bit but something bothered me. Curious to find a reason, I decided to look at the chocolate bar remaining inside the wrapper. I needed to determine the cause of my disappointment. Here's what I saw.
Clearly visible was a creature that had nibble on this bar and left it's trail of chocolate covered feces and itself. I guess the chocolate did it in? And what kind of bug was it? What nationality? Clearly it had hitched a free ride but it's outcome wasn't a "flavourable" one. Ha ha ha...
I have a low tolerance for any kind of bug protein especially once I have discovered it visually! I could not eat chocolate covered bugs knowingly. It's a brain thing. UGH!!!
The decision to abandon eating this bar was a no brainer!
Though I'm sure that we eat all sorts of invisible little parasites, some even good for us, I prefer not to clearly see them Kleinste Motte.

P.S I'm sending the bar and wrapper back to Ritter Sport so they can send me a fresh one, I hope.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


When I read a recent post about recycling containers I was amused to learn that a  container for some peanuts came from a tennis ball purchase. It had me wondering what I'd done to recycle. As I glanced over to the kitchen table, next to the violet, I saw this (see photo). Quickly I got out the camera and took this shot. Why? What are the odds? NUTS  and they are also in a  recycled container, a used gift box!
We like to eat nuts as a snack but if they're tucked away in a cupboard they seem to be overlooked. Leaving them out makes them very handy. This little round box is just perfect. It holds the nutcracker too. My favourite nut is the hazelnut Kleinste Motte.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Yesterday I mentioned that I eat lots of blueberries for their lutein. May I encourage you to protect your vision as best as you can? Your retina is extremely important. Imagine having to live without it? Blind? 
Having been totally blind in my left eye for three days in December 1992,  I can tell you first hand that losing ones' sight is very scary. Thanks to  an innovative retinal surgeon my curled up and detached retina was "lasered" back onto my eyeball on December 23rd. It took three weeks before I saw any  light and three more before I could vaguely see my surgeon's two fingers shaped in a V. He was ecstatic and told why. He had experimented. Normally the severely curled retina would be written off as not repairable but he decided to try something never done before. There was nothing to loose and so much to gain . He reattached some bits and pieces of what he could uncurl and removed my vitreous (seems we can see without those). My good outcome meant he could use this procedure with a positive outcome. What a great gift!  After a few months I began to regain  more sight and a high myopia  (-24)  external lens correction got me to the second row of letters on the chart. But at least I had some sight.  In May 2000 a cataract surgeon took a chance and implanted an artificial lens while removing  a cataract. That's when the eye got high definition  20/20 vision for some time. It changed in May 2010. Now my retinal and the cataract health need lots of  extra lutein Kleinste Motte.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Berries to Trust

Today I wondered where the blueberries I was eating came from. They have been on produce shelves all year. Since it's summer I thought I would try to buy locally grown. The package said product of Canada, packaged by Lally Farms Inc. It's in Abbostsford B.C. The distributor is SunntRidge Farm, Florida, USA. So why am I pondering about this? My question is one of curiosity. I know that nations, even localities have their own agricultural laws, What laws apply to produce crossing various borders and companies along the way? There is an organization known as Global G.A.P. < growers are to voluntarily allow for audits of their growth methods. In theory that seems good but when maximum profit is added into the equation I wonder. What we can't see we are asked to trust. Lally Farms recently received an award from B.C. hydro for applying hydro's method of maximum energy savings in the farm's cooling areas. Is Lally Farm applying the cost saving to create safer berries? My eyes are counting on it. Blueberries help in the slowing of macular degeneration. Lutein is the reason Kleinste Motte. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ipod Touch 'n Granny

Yesterday I reset the ipod touch my daughter donated to me. She switched to a blackberry phone, transferred her data and she no longer needed it. I thought I would not find any use for it but was curious to see what it can do.  I spent almost an entire day trying to figure it out and loading some of my data onto it. The first big hurdle was that both my mac and the ipod needed updates. That took time. Then I had to configure the wifi so it would respond to my itunes account. I was able to place my gmail as my choice for my email account. Finally I did a sync with the itunes I had purchased. Then I had to figure out how to play my tunes. With the headset on over my ears  listening to Yanni, I wondered if I could read my blog on this ipod. I set the browser to google and typed in the title, ChezKleinsteMotte. The first picture shows my result. Then I wondered how, with my limited vision, the type would be. Too tiny for me to read but I soon discovered the setting was adjustable.
Who knew that a granny type like me could derive so much satisfaction from figuring out these things? After all it's all about today's geek world. And of course the photos you see were taken with my Rebel Kleinste Motte.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

HEART or B12

Until one experiences a change, one is not likely to fully understand it. Having taught little ones, raised and guided older ones and having studied Buddy with the greatest intensity, I believe we must each pass through similar processes to truly get an understanding that reaches deep into our core. I've heard my heart beating for years but wonder why it is only now that I admire it's rhythm. I've struggled with a very irregular beat  lately and the doctor just could not find a typical cause. Pills didn't give much relief. Maybe I didn't have a strong enough faith in them? The irony lies in the fact that my daughter decided to try some B12 supplements because she had trouble sleeping. She encouraged me to try them. I did. After a week of feeling very tired I now feel much better and so does my heart. Who would have thought such a little thing could impact so greatly? How did the doctor miss this little connection? A simple blood test for B12 is available. Seems I just didn't fall into the category of one who might be in the low range. Experience is a valuable tool but it needs to be applied at the right moment and fine tuning it is very tricky. Life's like that.
Ahh... experience! One year of blogging has led to some amazing new understanding of the my need for developing the skill to share ideas at a completely different level and with a totally different audience than I could have imagined. It can send me into fits of laughter and tears of woe at speeds that instil awe in me. I an able to feel child like happiness and the deepest woe all wrapped up in the words and pictures posted by friends who are miles away yet seem almost across from my front door. Neighbours. Friendly ones!!
What is it that grabs me so? Almost daily I want to read posts. Why? My experience suggests it may be my way of being an elder. It is the elders that spend their days sharing their experiences. It has been that way for centuries so it must be part of the process of moving on. I wonder if B12 could give Charlie a bit of extra time? His breathing is too laboured. And as I type this Leonard Cohen's "Halleluia" plays in the background and my eyes moisten as I recall the cartoon Charlie posted. And I get goose bumps and shivers. Oh Martha! Wendy too! Her David recently moved on and she is very saddened. 
Brenda is my first follower and mentor who encourages me and now there are many others. One year has taken me down a path that has brought much to my spirit. I an humbled by the path that you all journey on and are willing to share. What could be more fulfilling than that trying to grasp those experiences and reaching into ones own core? As Kleinste Motte I thank you all for the privilege.