Why I Don’t Like Flying Anymore


I don’t think I’m the only one who finds air travel to be more stressful than it used to be. Although some things are much simpler now if you are technology savvy, like purchasing your ticket online, checking in using an App and having your Boarding Pass sent to your smart phone or tablet, the rules as to what you can and can’t take in your carry-on bag seem to differ at each airport, and with different passengers. I find myself holding my breath as I go through inspection, wondering if there will be something I’ve missed that could raise an alarm.

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence, but Kelowna International Airport, the one I fly into and sometimes out of when I go to visit Kaslo, has been the only one where I feel like I’m being targeted. In the past ten or twelve years that I’ve been making that trip I’ve been chosen for a pat-down twice. That didn’t bother me much. But this last trip really raised my heart rate.

For all these years I’ve been aware of the size limit on any types of liquids that we can transport in our carry-on bags, and I’ve complied. I remember seeing staff offering us plastic bags for such liquids, but I didn’t know that they were mandatory. I understood that the liquids had to be seen through the scanner, but I had mine all carefully labelled and placed in the plastic enclosures of the travel/cosmetic bag and I was never questioned. Usually I’ve had the bag rolled up, inside my carry-on, and no one ever asked to see it; but this time, because my carry-on was a little too deep on my last trip and was difficult to fit into the plane’s overhead bins, I laid the bag out flat across everything else inside. I also had another small bag with clear plastic inside pouches, into which I placed all the little items that I usually put into the bigger pocket of that bag.Was that the difference?

Cosmetic Bag

Cosmetic Bag

 

When I went through Security in Toronto, the scanner found something they weren’t sure about it and my case was opened. The inspector looked through my travel/cosmetic bag and found, in the larger, non-plastic pocket, my tube of Facial Cleanser. This was the one item that I’d forgotten to check for the size. It was an ounce too large. The Inspector was nice about it. She determined that it wasn’t quite full and allowed me to take it this time, but warned me that I wouldn’t be allowed to take it in my carry-on again. “You can take it in your checked baggage though.” I thanked her and said “I don’t have any checked baggage.” No mention was made of any of the other little bottles and tubes that were in the bag.

So when I was getting ready for my return trip, out of Kelowna, I went to a dollar store and bought a few little plastic jars. I squeezed all of my Facial Cleanser into two of them, and labelled them. Then I notice that a tube of hand cream (which I think I’d had in my “personal” bag before) was also a little too large, so I squeezed what remained of it into the third jar.

I checked the website and surmised that the reason for the plastic bags (which they don’t offer unsolicited anymore) was so that any bottles and tubes could be seen with the scanner. OK.  I spread my travel/cosmetic bag out in the top of my carry-on again, this time with the inside showing and I thought I’d be good.

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At security my carry-on was immediately pulled aside as soon as it went through the scanner. I thought that maybe it couldn’t recognize the pottery tumbler that my daughter had given me, wrapped up in a pair of shorts.

Pottery Tumbler

Pottery Tumbler

“No,” the Inspector said. “There’s something liquid.”

She pulled out my travel kit and, interestingly, opened the pocket where the too-large tube had been when I left Toronto. It wasn’t there of course, but she told me that all my “liquids” had to be put into the little plastic bag that she provided.

“Obviously they aren’t all going to fit, so you have two options. You can go back out and check this bag (for $25) or pick out what you want to keep and I’ll pack what I can into the bag.”

I’m a senior, living on a basic Government Pension that wouldn’t pay my basic living expenses if I had to do it alone, but I do try to pay for my personal expenses, including an annual trip to see my family. My budget is limited. I shop around and plan my trip upon seat-sales. Since extra charges have been added for baggage, early seat selection and anything to eat other than crackers, chips or cookies, I avoid those to save money. I’d already forgotten to bring the packed lunch my friend had prepared for me,  so I knew it was going to cost me $10.00 to buy a sandwich on the plane. I wasn’t about to dish out another $25 to check my bag.

I picked out the items that were of the most value and she put them into the bag. Then she filled it up with all of the little sample tubes of things that I really didn’t care about, including a nearly empty tube of toothpaste. I had to give up a bottle of body lotion, the hand lotion that I’d carefully squeezed into the small jar, and nothing else of any significance. I realized later that one bottle left behind was already empty and I could have kept it for another time!

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It was a good thing that I gotten to the airport very early. I wasn’t happy.

I was even more annoyed when my seat companions on the plane arrived. As soon as she sat down, the woman pulled a little cosmetic bag from her over-sized purse and took out a tube of sanitizer to wipe down their trays. The bag was crammed with all sorts of makeup items. Why was SHE allowed to carry them on without being in a plastic bag?

I wonder, do I have a record now? Can I expect this every time I fly from now on? Does it have anything to do with my last name – Lawless? Ha, ha.

When they came by to ask if we wanted anything to eat, I had to ask what the options were and the plane was so noisy, I couldn’t hear the response. She seemed annoyed.

“It’s listed in the menu.”

“I don’t have a menu.” The woman next to me looked and she didn’t have one either. She told the hostess that I couldn’t hear her.

“Fiesta chicken wrap..”

“I’ll take that.”

By that time I was so flustered that I handed her a debit card instead of a credit card. She handed it back. Once everyone was served she came back and handed me a menu. “I know you don’t need it now for a meal, but maybe you might want a snack or something later.” Thanks.

 

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Always Experiencing Something New – Through the Smoke in Kelowna and Kaslo BC


Other than having my carry-on bag inspected because I’d inadvertently packed one tube of facial cleanser that was a little over the size limit, my flight to Kelowna was very pleasant. The plane was newer, but had more leg room than usual. It wasn’t full, so the friendly woman in the outside seat and I shared the empty space between us. And we arrived twenty minutes early!

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Somewhere over the Prairies?

It was hot, dry and smoky when my friend, Judy, picked me up at Kelowna Airport, but that didn’t stop us from chatting all the way to her home in Vernon, as long-time friends tend to do. I stayed with Judy and her husband until the next leg of my trip by bus began the next afternoon.

During a trip to the Vernon Library, we came across this lovely little park and caught the last beautiful song from a young woman performing with her friend or husband, who accompanied her on guitar. We were sorry we arrived too late to catch more and to get a better picture, maybe even a video clip.

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Music in the Park

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Next to the Vernon Court House

While Judy and I waited at the station for my bus the next morning, a police officer came in looking for someone named Ernie. He approached an elderly man who was sitting behind me and asked if he could speak to him. We heard the officer say that someone was worried about him. The man was tall and frail-looking. He carried with him only a small shaving kit and a brown manila envelope. Neither the pockets of his plaid cargo shorts, nor those on his shirt showed any sign of a wallet. They took their conversation outside and then eventually left together.

“I hope he can get a refund,” said a man sitting two seats over from me. “He bought a ticket to Swift Current (a destination hundreds of miles away). I thought that to be doubtful, but it reminded me of the man who was reluctantly about to celebrate his 100th birthday at an Old Age Home, in the book The-100-Year- Old- Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. I recommend it for a fun read.

Soon, I was riding the Greyhound Bus to Nelson, where my daughter Sarah picked me up, while observing the clouds of smoke and areas of blackened forest that had succumbed to the fires last year. We arrived in Kaslo just in time to say good night to my two grandchildren.

Like last year, large portions of the days in Kaslo were spent at the beach. The cool breeze off the lake made the temperature bearable, but the other shore of the lake was obscured by the smoke, even that far away from the nearest wildfire.

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Smoke across Kootenay Lake

The next morning I was introduced to a sweet dog named Leté. Sarah had gotten a call telling her that one of her friends, who had recently been acting very strangely and who Sarah suspected was having some sort of mental breakdown, had been admitted to hospital. The neighbour who was calling was looking after the woman’s dog, but because of some physical restrictions she was unable to take her for long walks. She asked if Sarah could do that. So she and I and my granddaughter, Skylet walked down the hill and took Leté out. She enjoyed running along the beach.

Long story short, Leté ended up living with us for the next two weeks until her owner returned home. We all grew very much attached to her.

On Saturday morning I went to the diverse Kaslo Outdoor Market, where Sarah did quite well selling her popular pottery.

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My Daughter the Potter

Other vendors

By mid-afternoon, when we returned all of Sarah’s market equipment and unsold pottery back to her studio, the temperature was very hot. We drove back down to spend the rest of the day at the beach with the rest of the family. I was hot enough to actually venture into the lake for the first time, but it was cold. I got only to my waist!

Sunday there was a celebration at the lower bridge along the River Trail. It was there that I pulled out my camera for the first time, only to discover that I’d apparently left the memory card at home in my computer! Thank goodness for my smart phone, which provided pictures for the rest of my visit, but I hadn’t taken it with me to the trail either!

That evening the males of the house went fishing and my grandson, Callum, came home very excited about the Rainbow Trout he’d caught – big enough to feed us dinner the next night. That boy loves to fish!

The rest of the week went quickly with several trips to the beach and a trip to the Riding Stables to watch Skylet taking her horseback riding lesson.

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Skylet on her Horse

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Annual Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival

During my second weekend in Kaslo the population of the small town, about the size of my home town of Hastings (pop. 1200), swelled to probably triple that as people came from all around the Kootenays and beyond for the Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival.

Sarah and I spent Friday at the Market again. There was a different crowd and some different vendors, and it was another successful day. Ten-year-old Callum took his un-tuned violin to the main street and, despite not having practised in several months, managed to earn $25 for himself to spend at the Festival. I was wishing I’d taken my ukulele!

Saturday and Sunday Sarah and I joined the others for some great concerts and a variety of food at Kaslo Bay Park.

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The top Headliner of the event was Buffy Sainte-Marie. She was amazing! Unfortunately the heavy bass prevented me from witnessing her from close to the stage, as it did unpleasant things to my heart rhythm.

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The day closed with the sun reflecting off the mountain tip.

By 9:00 Sunday night we were all exhausted. For me, Monday was a bit of a lazy day, doing my laundry and helping with a few household chores while Sarah prepared her Studio for the kids Clay Camp she was putting on for the next four days. I had agreed to be her assistant for that. I had to rest up!

Tuesday and Wednesday there were both morning and afternoon classes, two different groups doing two half-days each. The kids were young and excited and needed some guidance, which, after listening carefully to Sarah’s instructions, I was able to provide. I enjoyed it.

The pre-teen/teen class was on Thursday and Friday mornings. I listened and observed and made a pinch pot on Thursday morning, but my assistance wasn’t really needed, other than to help clean up at the end of the day. I took the whole family out to the little (and unusually crowded) Front Street Pizzeria for dinner, thanks to a donation from Jim. The food was great, but because of the extra tourists in town and some restaurants chose to close early, the wait time very long.

On Friday I opted to do some laundry, both mine and family, and get organized for my departure the next morning. We drove to Duncan Lake in the afternoon. Despite there being so much smoke that we could see only half-way across the lake, and at some point we noticed ash falling onto our clothes, it was a fun family time on another beach, and the water was warm enough for me to get in and swim!

Smoke across Duncan Lake

Smoke across Duncan Lake

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When Sarah took me to catch my bus in Nelson the next day, we discovered that the shut-down of the Greyhound service was already in progress. The terminal was no longer open on the weekends. I had to stand outside under whatever shade I could find to wait for my bus. Next time I go, there will be no Greyhound bus at all.

I spent Sunday and Monday with Judy. Sunday we drove to Salmon Arm to visit my cousin George, after the smoke cleared a little. The sun never made it through the haze that day. Shortly after noon on Tuesday, after another bag search that didn’t pass inspection this time (more on that later) I was flying high above the smoky clouds, looking forward to home and a break from the smoke.

Memoir Monday – Blind Dates


I was twenty years old and sharing a loft apartment in Toronto with my friend Carol. Carol was working for a travel company. I was working for an insurance
company. Carol began dating a fellow named Chris, who was originally from Jamaica. Because I wasn’t seeing anyone at the time Chris felt it his duty to find me a boyfriend, and so began a procession of men of various backgrounds.

The only thing I remember of the first one is that as he approached the car when the three of us went to pick him up at his apartment building I turned to Carol and
said, “My God he’s too old!” He was smartly dressed in a shirt and tie and dress pants, but I couldn’t get past his obvious age difference. Chris said he was Greek. I don’t remember his name. I don’t remember where we went or what we did. It was not a memorable evening.

Then there was Norbert the Norwegian. He was tall and blonde, very good looking. Chris brought him over to our apartment one summer evening. After we all chatted
for a bit Norbert asked me if I’d like to go out with him for a coffee. Being naive, I agreed. The place he chose was a hotel coffee shop and it wasn’t long before the topic of conversation turned to sex and he was suggesting we go upstairs to get a room. I wasn’t that naive! He finally agreed to drive me home, but he said he had to pick up a few groceries along the way and drop them off at his apartment. He thought I should go in with him. I waited in the car. When he came back he told me to close my eyes, then he touched my lips with his finger and I opened my eyes. He took me home.

Next came Simon, a young Chinese fellow. Simon was alright I think. Again I don’t remember much about our double date with Carol and Chris. Chris must have brought him to our apartment, and I guess Simon thought that after that we were dating, because the very next night he showed up at our door expecting to spend the evening with me. Carol was studying for an exam she had to take at work the next day and was not impressed with Simon’s presence in our small space. I finally had to ask him to leave. I never heard from him again.

The next weekend Chris had a friend visiting him from Jamaica and thought he and I would make a good match. We all got dressed up and went out on the town. Bernard was tall and broad shouldered and very black. He grinned a sparkling white smile when he saw me in my rather short dress. Like I said, I was naive. We weren’t in the car for five minutes until he was urging me to sit closer to him. He played with the necklace around my neck and kept trying to feel me up. I spent the whole evening pushing him away. We went to one night club where everyone was black. I was the only very white person in the place, Carol being of Chinese descent with light brown skin. All eyes seemed to be on me and I wasn’t sure what the attitude was about me being there with a black man. It was 1970 and such things were still a rarity. After a couple of dances, we left. Back at our place pictures were taken and Bernard took every opportunity to snuggle up to me. I was so relieved when they finally left.

Not long after that Carol and Chris broke up and I didn’t have to suffer through any more blind dates, for awhile at least.

Memoir Monday (a day late) – The Emergency Room


By the time I’d put the parking ticket into the car window and followed Jim into the emergency room, he was already seated inside the glass cubicle having his vitals checked. I thought that was a good sign, but I was wrong.

As I approached the waiting area I caught a glimpse of a scraggly looking young man occupying the first chair, a chair that was behind a post making it out of view of the reception desk.

I took a seat near the check-in area and pulled out my book and water and settled in to wait for Jim. When I looked back around he’d disappeared and it was two hours before I would see him again. Other than the boy behind the pillar, I was the only one in the waiting area. The TV was on, but muted. Within ten minutes, however, I was drawn away from my book by the sounds of people gradually filling up the other seats. I heard a small baby crying and sounding croupy. I turned to see a woman sitting in the cubicle where Jim had been, holding and rocking this little red-faced infant. Beside her stood a young girl of perhaps 8 or 9.

A forty-something woman sat down in a chair opposite me and began to cough a loud hacking cough that made me want to run for cover. I was already fighting a cold and had no wish for more.

A young couple that looked to be in their late teens sat in the two chairs beside the TV and snuggled up for a bit, then moved about the room. The boy was tall and thin and wore black baggy clothes including the required jeans that hung half way down his legs. He carried a set of keys in his hand and ventured back and forth to the outside from time to time. The girl was a little chubby and wore her reddish hair pulled up into a very short pony tail. Her clothes were tight and the jeans low below her rolling waist. From their conversation it appeared that they were waiting for someone.

I went back to my book but was soon distracted again by a constant clicking noise across the room. Looking up I saw a man holding a plastic bottle of water in one hand and the lid in the other. Although I couldn’t be certain I thought that the sound was the result of his clicking the lid between his finger and thumb.

Another woman sat down beside me and began rummaging around in her purse. I glanced up occasionally to see her twisting a pen apart and putting it back together. When the teenagers left their seats, she moved over to take one of them.

The clicking man left and the woman with the baby sat down in his place. She and her little girl began to play a game with pen and paper, hangman perhaps. She too seemed to have a terrible cough. I was surprised when I looked at her face. Her weary face made her appear almost old enough to be the grandmother rather than the mother.

Another man strolled past me to take up a seat on the other side of the TV. He was neatly dressed in gray slacks and a beige summer jacket, but he carried a rather beat up duffle bag. Between the handles lay a paint spattered brown leather jacket. His dark hair was cut short and he looked to be maybe in his thirties or forties. He looked worried and got up several times to walk around then returned to his seat. After about an hour he left. When I looked back to the line now forming in front of the cubicle I saw that he was in it. I wondered why he’d waited so long.

The scraggly young man emerged from behind the pillar carrying a duffle bag and a garment on a hanger covered in cream coloured plastic. He wore a dirty looking great
coat over dark coloured jeans and t-shirt. Beneath a like-wise colourless toque his fuzzy dirty-blond hair protruded. He circled past me then headed for the door. A few minutes later he returned empty handed and reclaimed his position behind the pillar.

A middle-aged woman arrived next and took the now empty seat next to the TV. She was carrying an extra jacket and purse. CNN was on the TV and from time to time I’d been looking up to catch some of the news. The news apparently didn’t interest this woman. She picked up the remote and changed the station to something that looked like Degrassi Junior High. She looked around smiling, as if  expecting that someone else might be pleased with her choice. No one responded. When that ended she once again changed channels, this time bringing in the soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” Again she looked around, seemingly wanting to share her knowledge of the program with someone. By now the teenage girl was sitting by herself in the chair opposite me and was soon caught up in the story. The two exchanged their knowledge and opinions.

I was realizing that all of the people sitting there were, like me, waiting on someone who was being treated.

I turned once again to see if Jim was anywhere to be seen. He wasn’t, but I caught sight of two uniformed police officers escorting a battered and bearded man through a door by the cubicle. His wore only jeans and a t-shirt over his thin body and his hands were handcuffed behind his back.

Beyond the line I could hear someone being told that his or her OHIP card was coming up as invalid. Either they were hard of hearing or they didn’t understand because it was repeated several times.

At last I felt Jim’s hands on my shoulders as he leaned down and whispered, “Where have you been?”

Memoir Monday – The Beginning of Online Dating


In three days I’ll be back in British Columbia visiting with friends and family. It won’t be the complicated and exhausting trip that I took last year because I’m not trying to visit everyone in one trip this time. I’ll spend most of it with my daughter and grandchildren. I may or may not have anything new to write about while there, but I will try to do my Memoir Mondays, by sharing some of the memories of the various stages of my life, as I have written them over the years, in no particular order.

At one time I thought I’d write a book about online dating. The following is the first chapter, written more than fifteen years ago. I’d be grateful for your feedback, good or bad.

The Online Dating Trap (One Woman’s Perspective)

A few years ago, with a need to fill a void left by the passing of my life partner, I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the game of online dating.  I tentatively posted my profile on one of the sites and began reading those of others.

It was a few weeks before I got even a bite, but once things began to move it turned into one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride.

 I soon found it to be an addictive pastime that brought with it the desperate urge to turn on the computer to check e-mail messages the minute I walked through the door, no matter how tired I was or how stressful a day it’d been.  Sometimes this brought relief to the stress; other times it increased it to dangerous levels.

 Chapter 1


Gerard

Gerard was the first one to respond to my posting.  He sounded very excited in his first e-mail, expressing how interesting I sounded and how much we had in common.  We started exchanging a few e-mails, and then tried the chat online, but it wasn’t working very well.  Finally, I just gave him my phone number and he called me.  We chatted for nearly an hour about travel and hiking and outdoor activities, all things that we both enjoyed.  We did indeed sound very compatible, so we arranged to meet for coffee in a couple of days. In the meantime, we exchanged more e-mails.

He revealed that he was retired from a position in Human Resources.  He had moved from the bigger city about four years ago.  He’d been divorced for two years.  He had no children and had no desire to have any at this point in his life.

When the time came for our meeting, I was feeling nervous, but confident.  I believed I had a lot to offer the right person.  I entered the coffee shop and looked around the area, but could see no one that matched Gerard’s description.  Rather than sit at a table, I figured I’d be easier to spot if I were standing, so I got into line to buy an Icedcap.  Then I saw a tall, slim man in faded blue jeans heading in my direction and scanning the crowd.  I stepped out of line and approached him.

“Gerard?”

“Yes. Judy?”  He extended his hand.  “Nice to finally meet you”

I was impressed.  Although he had described himself as “no movie star”, he really was quite attractive despite his thinning grey hair and beard.  He had beautiful blue yes that looked straight into mine.

We picked up our coffee and found a quiet table to begin our attempt to get to know each other.

Another hour passed.  Being rather shy with new people I tend to do more listening and observing.  I let Gerard do most of the talking.  He had lots of questions.

“Do you like to read?” he asked.

“Yes I do,” I replied, “but I haven’t had time to do much for quite awhile except for the motivational books I’ve had to read for my sales job.  I’d like to start reading for pleasure again though.”

Although I was an avid reader, I could think of neither titles nor authors of books I had enjoyed reading before my life had become so hectic. He suggested an author that he enjoyed and I thanked him.  I tried to make a mental note of it.

Do you like wine?” said Gerard.

It amazed me how many people were wine drinkers.  For years I’d sipped at various types that were handed to me, just to be sociable, but unless it was a very sweet brew, (which it usually wasn’t) I didn’t really care much for it.  I decided this time to be honest. “No, I don’t really like it.  I don’t care for beer at all either.  I don’t drink much, but if I do, I prefer a mixed drink”

“Oh.  I make my own wine. I enjoy spending my evening sitting with a good book and sipping a good glass of wine.”

Damn!  “That’s ok.  I don’t mind if other people drink, just as long as you don’t drink too much.  You don’t do you?”  I stammered.  I quickly explained that I’d once dated someone who made his own wine and drank so much of it that I suspected he was an alcoholic, then I gave myself another mental kick.

At times he caught me off guard, unable to give a quick answer, which he seemed to expect, but being a romantic optimist, I wasn’t too concerned. I thought that once we’d gotten past this first awkward meeting, we’d spend more relaxed time together when we’d naturally discover more details about each other.   I was a little disappointed when he suddenly said he had to leave to get back to painting his house. He didn’t suggest another meeting, but said we’d do some more e-mailing. Still, I went home smiling.

But it was a few days before he agreed to meet again, this time for a walk in a park.  Another hour spent chatting.  Again he had more questions.

“I like to go on long hikes.  Have you done much hiking?”

I had already told him during our first phone conversation about my experiences hiking for two days while in Thailand, so I didn’t want to repeat myself.

“Yes, I was a Girl Guide leader for 10 years and led the girls on many nature hikes,” I replied.

“But you didn’t take them on day long hikes, did you?  That’s my kind of hiking,” he countered.

We climbed up a grassy knoll and he suddenly stopped and pointed to the ground.

“What’s that?” he asked.  Before I realized what it was he was pointing to and could recall the name of the wild flower, he’d already answered his own question.  “It’s Chickweed.”

We passed a cultural building and in the window hung a large Dream Catcher. He asked me what it was. I was happy to explain it to him, although I was surprised that he wouldn’t have known. Was that another test?

At the time I didn’t notice it, but in retrospect I saw that he seemed to be testing me and trying to find fault.  He was even a little sarcastic.  The next day he sent me an e-mail saying that he didn’t think we were compatible, that I didn’t share his interests.  When I questioned him about that he complained that I didn’t like wine, I didn’t read much, I didn’t like opera (I’d answered that question by saying I  hadn’t had the opportunity to go to an Opera, but was open to new experiences), I didn’t like to hike or canoe. Except for the wine, none of it was true. It became apparent that he had “interviewed” me the way he would someone applying for a job. He’d expected certain answers to his questions.  When I didn’t answer quickly or fully enough, I lost points!

I was devastated.  It was a real blow to my ego because never before had I been so bluntly rejected. I knew he was wrong about me, but still it took me a few days to start believing it again.  Dating had certainly changed a lot in the past five years and this online dating thing was a whole new ball game.

The Development of the Kaslo River Trail


The Kaslo River was often subjected to severe flooding during the 1800s. In 1895-96, during the rebuilding of the town after one such flood, the first hydro-electric system was included in the construction. It was privately operated by George Alexander. Kaslo Creek (River) was rerouted southwards into the current channel. In 1914 the City of Kaslo purchased Kaslo Power and Light for $27,000. It was upgraded in 1931 to be fully automatic. Another flood occurred in 1948 and in 1962 the power utility was abandoned, putting Kaslo onto the BC Hydro grid.

Hiking trails began to develop along this abandoned land, but they were treacherous. In 2005 the many townspeople who like to use these trails formed the Kaslo Trailblazers Society and began the Kaslo River Trail Project.

Many volunteer hours over the past ten years have resulted in two beautiful, safe hiking trails along both sides of the river, joined by red-stained wooden bridges at each end, both built by the volunteers. Where parts of the trail have become flooded in recent years, new higher links have been created and reinforced with wooden steps. Rope railings to assist with the climb, and wooden or steel benches, dedicated to donors, make the hike more friendly to people of various physical fitness. Animal-proof garbage cans have also been added to help keep the area clean.

And the scenery is fantastic!

Memoir Monday – Remembering My Dad


In the photo album there is a picture of my mom and dad and me standing on a hill in front of the cottage.  I was probably about two years old.  I look at the picture and feel Dad’s hand holding mine, yet I don’t really remember much from when I was that young.

Dad, Mom & Me

I remember going with him on insurance calls.  One recollection was of a boy/man who I think was celebrating his 21st birthday.  He had a very large head and a body so tiny that he lay on a pillow on the kitchen table. Today I’m still not sure if this is true or it was a dream.

I remember sitting on Dad’s knee in the big overstuffed chair in the living room while he read to me from my storybooks or a “comic” book.

When I was a little older Dad would come home from a week of deer hunting sporting a rough unshaven face and playfully give me a whisker rub.  One time that I remember, he brought a deer home and had it hanging in the garage.  I remember scolding him about that.

I remember having lipped him one morning before going to school and receiving a spanking that left me sobbing. Only once.

I remember laughter.

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I remember him driving me to parties and always being available to pick me up after if I needed a ride home.

I remember him giving me my first driving lesson and afterwards suggesting that I take Driver’s Ed at school.  I remember him being proud of me when I passed and the examiner told him I was a “good little driver”.

I remember going fishing with him for rock bass and perch at our cottage on the St. Lawrence River; and waking up to the smell of  fish frying for breakfast, Dad having been out early to catch pike.

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I remember boat trips to Alexandria Bay to buy Tootsie Rolls and Poppycock. I remember him teaching how to drive and dock our boat, and later allowed me to take my friends out myself.

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I remember how he came to my rescue when a friend and I were stranded with a broken down car in Belleville; and when I’d had enough of Toronto and wanted to move back home; and when the wedding rings didn’t fit and he took me to the Consumers Distributors store to exchange them, only to learn it was too late to get them resized in time for the wedding. The next evening he took me to his favourite jewellery store to buy replacements. I wonder what he would have thought when Brian and I broke up.

I remember him always being there for me if I asked, but not interfering if I didn’t.

I remember his confusion, the sadness of moving him into a nursing home; stopping in on my way home from work to see how he was and finding that he didn’t speak but took hold of my hand and walked me through the halls.  I remember his no longer having control over his bodily functions or understanding of social ones.  I remember taking him to the doctor when he broke his finger, and visiting him in the hospital when he broke his hip, and crying at his bedside because I knew from his vacant stare that he didn’t know who I was or why he was there.

And finally I remember getting the call when we were in Vancouver for my niece’s wedding, the call that informed us that the father who had mentally left us five years earlier had now left us physically as well. He was 82.

I don’t go to the cemetery to pay my respects; I don’t put memorials in the newspaper.  But I do remember and miss him.

 

I don’t remember saying “I love you, Dad” nor do I remember him telling me that he loved me, but I knew that he did and I hope he knew that I did.