26, 28, 29 December: Let’s have a dram, shall we?

Rev. George Davidson, my friend and retired pastor of Headingley United Church, had some serious brain surgery in October.  They’ve repaired an aneurysm that was threatening, and confirmed that tumour concern was unwarranted, whew.

I had heard that he was still in the Health Sciences Centre, so on Boxing Day after doing a bit of shopping with Eric (did I say “a bit”?  Yikes, spent too much money at Mark’s Work Wearhouse!), I went to see George.  He was sound asleep, and looked very pale and tired.  I decided not to wake him, chatted with the nurses, and they confirmed he was having a rough morning and needed his rest.

When the blizzard abated on Saturday afternoon, I drove back to see if he was up & around.  He was again asleep, but this time the nurses urged me to wake him, so I did.  Was he ever happy to see me!  You could tell that he was tired, for sure, and drifted in & out of consciousness during our conversation.  He was certainly glad for the visit.  I stayed for over 3/4 hour, was good that I went.

I asked George if he’d like me to sneak in a flask of Scotch whisky so we could have a dram.  He said, “THAT is a damned good idea!”  I chatted with the nurses, and they said I could, as long as it was one, and as long as it was well watered down.  Well, it turns out that you are supposed to cut whisky with water anyway, so I decided to do it.

I went to the MLCC to pick up a mickey (12 oz bottle) of Johnny Walker Scotch, but they don’t offer it in mickey size 🙁   So had to buy Glenlivet 12 yr old single malt, and it was certainly damned good 🙂  I stopped at the dollar store and picked up an assortment of glasses that might serve the trick for drinking whisky in the hospital.  Of course, washed them as soon as I got back to mom’s place.

On Sunday morning, after zooming out to Warren and picking up the B.U.T. battery, I zoomed back, showered & changed, and went down to the HSC with the mickey and glasses.  The nurses recognized me of course, and George had just finished breakfast.  Again he was very glad to see me.  I poured us each a short shot and topped them off with water from the water cooler.  He took a sip of his apple juice and said, “Now that’s good Scotch!”  Later, he took a sip of his milk and said, “Now that’s good Scotch!”  Finally, he took a sip of the Scotch and said, “NOW that is DAMNED GOOD Scotch”   Nice.

On my way out, I asked the nurses if I could leave the bottle behind.  Donna is very strict and straight laced, and would be scandalized if she came around the corner and saw the mickey sitting there.  It might be worth the thirty bucks!  Alas, they said that it would just disappear (be stolen) in the night – so I took it back to mom’s.  I’ll take it to visit George again in the summer when I’m there, and we’ll once again have some DAMNED GOOD Scotch 🙂

I’ve since chatted with George & Donna’s daughter, Laurie Dixon, and brought her up to date.  She’s really running hard to keep up with her kids, her job, and taking Donna up to visit George, etc.  She said she would keep me posted.  I hope he improves rapidly – there are no guarantees, but there are precedents for excellent rapid recovery.  We can but pray and wait.

24 December: FUN in the ‘Peg over Christmas! (getting there was fun too)

So the flight from Phoenix (well, Mesa-Gateway airport, bit of a ways away from Phoenix) was at 6:30 AM.  I was late getting to the airport, about 5:45 – and they had already closed the baggage for the flight 🙁  They re-opened it just for me, yay.  I got to the gate, they said to go to the last plane on the end.  I was literally the last person to get there.  As I walked out onto the tarmac (well, it is Phoenix, you don’t really need a covered walkway… well not in the winter anyway, ha ha) and there were two planes there.  As I got to the second one, I saw four more.  It was the last plane on the end.  So a quarter mile jog was in order.  Oh well.

All of my winter clothes had been shipped to Phoenix (dumb but hey I just told them to “pack everything” and they did).  I vacuum packed two winter jackets and wore a third, one that I thought was a good balance between light, and warm.  My yellow jacket 🙂

There were still people filing onto the plane, so no worries.  I got back to my seat – I had the window seat – and the other two were taken, ugh.  Oh well, in the back of the plane, you can sit anywhere you want, yay!  Hmm, very young child in front of me, around 1-1/2 to 2 years old.  Hmm.  The young mom apologized to me “in advance” as soon as I sat down.  Oh boy.

We set out on our 3 hour flight.  It was mostly uneventful…  and they offer you nothing to eat, nothing to drink.  Well, they gave me a bottle of water, which was nice.  I occupied myself by reading on my tablet, snoozing, and listening to some podcasts.

I was sitting in the 3rd last row on the McDonnell Douglas MD80.  This means that the engine was right beside my ear.  I used my noise cancelling headphones, that helped to alleviate the noise.  The child in the row in front made a fuss a few times, but it was no big deal.

When it was time to land, we were deep in the clouds, could not see a thing.  I could feel us turn, turn, turn, but that’s no surprise, I’ve felt that before on the approach to Grand Forks.

The captain came on and said something incomprehensible.  With the engine noise, and apparently a problem with the P.A. system in our end of the plane, all I heard was “clearing snow”, fuel” and “divert to Fargo”.  Oh boy.  So we turned, climbed, broke out of the clouds, and dropped back in, landing in Fargo.

We sat on the apron (the road from runway to the airport terminal) for at least 3/4 hour, and finally they let us pull up to refuel.  The engines were running the whole time, and it was quite monotonous, oh well.  Wow was it windy and blustery.

Out the Window in Fargo

Refuelling took another 1/2 hour, followed by 1/2 hour of de-icing.  Many folks were grumbling about getting off there, but of course they weren’t allowed to.  When the person behind me started to grumble, I reminded them that if they let us off, they would have to do the boarding process all over again, just to ensure that they got an accurate passenger manifest, and certainly they would not unload and reload all the luggage just to get the few folks theirs.

I was in touch with Eric by text, and he reminded me that there was a plane load of people waiting in Grand Forks to get on the plane and fly to Phoenix, so again, we were going to have to get to Grand Forks soon.

The young child was restless, threw a few tantrums, but mom and dad calmed her and all was well.

We took off from Fargo, and it was a difficult leg.  I know a little bit about flying – not much – but I could tell that they were struggling.  It was rough, turbulence and side to side, ugh.  We broke through the clouds and descended into Grand Forks.  The snow was swirling all right, and we were a-swingin’ from side to side as we came down.

Here we had to sit on the tarmac for another hour because there are only two gates and a plane in each one.

The young child went ballistic.  The poor mom had a tantrum, cried, and the plane was just generally crazy.  Eric has since snagged Dad seemed to have some candy in his jacket pocket, and that was just enough to get us over the crisis.

Finally we got to the terminal.  I went to zip up my jacket and…  Oh crap, the zipper is not only damaged, the toggle is missing entirely!!!  Ha ha ha!  Eric had to go get the car and bring it to the front of the terminal. 

Not sure whether this jacket will get repaired, or just tossed

Eric said that the drive down in the morning was white knuckle in spots, but the drive back was fine.  My 3 hour plane ride took 6-1/2 hours.  Ugh.  We got to Winnipeg late, and I was beat.  Safe though, and that I am most certainly appreciative of.

Well, I was only back in the ‘Peg for five days, but I got a good dose of winter.  For the first few days, it was relatively nice, perhaps -5 to -10C.  On Friday evening and through Saturday, we had a blizzard, then in the evening, the skies cleared off and we went into the deep freeze, an overnight low of -33C or something like that.  Eric drove me back to Grand Forks on Sunday, and I was quite happy to hand him my winter clothes and fly back to Arizona 🙂

 I visited with a bunch of people, and it was good to see everybody.

One of the things that I had to do while there, was check up on the B.U.T. (big ugly truck) that is stored out at the McRae homestead out in Warren, about 40 km or so out of town.  Eric was going to do that some time in the fall, but had not made it.  I was worried about the battery, most of all.

I drove out the Warren.  The snow was DEEP!  Good thing I brought my tall snow boots.  Fern had advised me to park in her driveway, which I did, and cut across through the deep snow.

Well, sure enough, the battery was so weak that it would not crank.  Sigh.  While I was fussing with it, and looking for tools in it, etc., I “kinda” locked the doors and closed the driver’s door.  OOPS!!!!   I had no spare keys with me.  Mom has spare keys at her place, but I’m driving her car…  Curses.  Then, to make it worse, I closed the hood – and since the hood release is inside the cab, that’s the end of the work on the B.U.T. for today.  Curses.  Now the battery will freeze, if the temperature drops much, since I drained out the last bit of juice from it, by trying to crank it over.  Argh!

Worse, that key ring was the set that I had brought from Phoenix, and it has some keys for Phoenix stuff on it.  Not that it’s the end of the world or anything, but why would I want to have those keys hanging there until June, when I come back???

I checked on a few other things, like the shed full of stuff (looking for the battery for mom’s cordless lawn mower that I have in Phoenix, for instance).  Then I sheepishly went back to mom’s place.

I was supposed to go back to Warren on Saturday, but per above, there was a blizzard, couldn’t attempt it.  On Sunday morning, it was absolutely frigid, but I dressed for the weather.  I zoomed out there and parked on the road rather than bother Fern.  With the spare set of keys and some tools,  I got my original keys, opened the hood, pulled the battery.  But now I had to trudge back about 300 ft through deep snow back to the car.  By the time I had got there, I was whipped!  But I was able to take the battery back to mom’s and put it indoors.  It wouldn’t freeze at least.

It turns out that I had pulled the flatdeck trailer winch battery and put it in mom’s basement already.  Plus, my old ’05 de Ville battery is down there – it was worth $300 and I don’t think there was anything wrong with the old one – had replaced it because the repair shop told me to.  So now there are three of my batteries down there.  She’s getting tired of running a battery storage facility.  At least they are each in battery boxes, so they aren’t a hazard or anything.

Since that time, Eric needed a battery for his pickup truck, so he’s snagged the flatdeck trailer winch battery.  Now only two in mom’s basement.

24 November: Grey Cup woo hoo!

Yes, it’s time for Canada’s big party!  I had tickets to the 101st Grey Cup game in Regina, but about a month ago I decided that it was too expensive to travel back for the game.  Eric wasn’t really interested in going (Regina was in the game, after all – and the Bombers this year were pathetic), and, well hey, it’s cold up there and reasonably warm here!

Eric’s girlfriend Terena bought my two all-party passes.  Check.

But I had Tickets to the Game!
A friend of a friend agreed to buy my Grey Cup game tickets.  Whoops, where are they?  They were sent to the apartment on Wilmot Place… at the end of October.  I have a year’s redirect on the mail, what happened?  Well Xpresspost apparently is a parcel, and parcels get no redirect service of any kind.  Rather than returning it to Regina (in which case they would have contacted me) or sending a notice to my mother’s address (where the redirect sends to), they did nothing!  For heaven’s sake.  So here we are, 2 weeks to the game, trying to get them back.  Had I have known, I’d have asked Eric to go down to the post office at the Osborne Village Shopper’s and get it, with a letter & ID of course.  But, no, they had to send them back to Regina, finally.  Well, that was over a week ago… and they have not arrived in Regina… still!

The person in charge of tickets in Regina was wonderful, and promised to overnight the tickets to my mother’s place, when they arrived.  Well, Wednesday and they weren’t in Regina yet… so she sent a pair of non-fancy simple printed tickets overnight.

They arrived, Eric made the connection, got a cheque, and all was well.

The fellow who bought the tickets would like the fancy originals for a Christmas collage / gift so I’m trying to track them down.  Sigh.

Watching Canadian Football in Phoenix
I have not been able to make the Bell ExpressVu dish work here in Phoenix.  It appears that all the doom sayers were right – Bell has switched to a new satellite whose signal does not show up here.  Sigh.

For a few games in the summer, I was able to watch using my computer and ESPN 3.  But there were very few CFL games on ESPN 3 toward the end of the season, and no playoff games. 

It almost looked like I was hooped.  But El & Gail Hay, MCAAC members from Winnipeg, have a trailer in Mesa, and I stopped by for a visit with El on Saturday.  He mentioned that they were watching the game on Sunday, and I begged to be able to watch.  So I was able to.  It was great.  I ate too much potato chips, drank enough wine to give me a headache (whose fault is that?), and had a wonderful supper…  although, as usual, I probably ate too much. 

The Game Itself
It was great to see the game, but too bad that the score wasn’t closer.  Those Roughriders were not going to be denied, so the Tiger Cats (well they seemed more like house cats on Sunday) are just going to have to try again next year.

Fixing The Bicycle?
…which leads me into why I had to fix the bike on Monday morning.  I got home, stuffed and with a headache (drink lots of water and take something for the headache… and it worked), just didn’t feel like fixing the bike.  I left that for the morning… probably just as well, wouldn’t have appreciated the frustration at trying to put those really stuff tires & tubes on the bike on Sunday night.