Where’d the time go?
Florence Alice Thomas, 90
Born July 21, 1927 McLean, SK., died May 3, 2018 Edmonton, AB of natural causes.
Wife, mother, family connector, unabashed inquisitor, good soul
Florence Mish was so small when she was born she slept in a shoe box. While she remained small in stature throughout her life, her persona was loomed large.
Florence and her siblings were raised in Wolseley, SK. Their father was injured in his prime and her mother Mary, a Polish immigrant was left to support a family of 7 with no assistance. Florence’s childhood was shaped by the responsibilities of pulling weeds, washing clothes, tending animals, cooking supper and a fair amount of ‘make your own fun’. With her brother Ed, they got up to all manner of rascal-type activity during their early years. They would remove a lightbulb from its socket in their bedroom and see who could stick their finger up highest without getting a shock. Florence regaled us all with stories of their childhoods.
In the spring of 1950 Florence and a few girlfriends were traveling by car along the TransCanada highway east of Wolseley. They noticed the railway tracks had been washed out by high spring run-off. They ran along the tracks, flagged down an approaching train and prevented a derailment. After working as an early telephone operator, Florence married Jack Thomas. He was a carpenter who built many residences and commercial buildings in Wolseley. Jack joined Beaver Lumber and with their sons Brian and Larry in tow, they traveled to locations throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta building Beaver Lumber stores. They eventually settled in Edmonton. Jack died in 1985Florence’s love and generosity were ever present. Her home was filled with warmth, good natured conversation and good humour. Florence served delicious meals, often with a nod to her Polish heritage. We hoped her cabbage rolls and perogies would appear at the table. She found joy in everyday life, in visits with family and friends, growing a garden, canning produce, cooking and sewing. And could she sew. Once when complimented on the lovely tailored garments she made, she responded with characteristic humour and self-deprecation “Every time I take on a project I think of something new and stupid to do.”
Florence worked for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 955 in Edmonton for over 20 years and once retired she volunteered for the West Division of Edmonton Police Service. She was never a timid person and always spoke her mind. Florence wouldn’t shy away from asking the awkward social or personal questions many of us think of but never voice. And when she asked one of those questions of others, we might squirm slightly but then we’d lean in to hear the response. You knew though, if she asked those questions of you, you were sunk.
Florence was a great family connector, keeping in touch far and wide. Florence remembered birthdays and anniversaries and whenever she could she’d travel to join in the gathering. She liked a party and was everyone’s favorite aunt.
In her memory we will strive to carry some of her spirit, vitality, directness and love of a good time in all of us.
Back here at the family dog sitters, that is, me, Squidge the dog. I have been asking if there’s been any blogging since I last visited and understand there’s been none, really. It’s obvious that not only I am on this earth to receive belly rubs but I am also an inspiration in writing circles. If I were a girl I’d be a muse.
I’m just here for a few days but have things pretty much as I like ’em. All centred around me. At least there’s no snow and big rigamarole around putting on boots and doggie jackets. It is Halloween though and I have a costume but my owners forgot to bring it over so I’m not dressed. I was going to be a lobster.
I’m on high alert for the doorbell to ring. There have been about 20 trick or treaters here-a good number for this area they say. I bark when the bell rings but really am happy to see the people on the other side of the door. They have treats and I bark because I want them to give me a treat, I like treats but they just take treats and don’t give any. Sigh.
In the last group of 5 or 6 little people I was there to greet them, as usual. One little girl said “I like your dog!” (I get that all the time) and another smaller girl said ” I have a dog!!” and her brother said “You don’t have a dog, you have a cat.”.
My friend advised me earlier this month she heard June was Accordion Awareness Month. Who knew? Well, now you do and so do I. Really I wonder why they limit it to just one month for the accordion could stand a lot more awareness.
And just in case you think accordion is only for polkas and Parisian sidewalk cafés check out this article in the Huffington Post about the ten best accordion covers. Gangnam Style on the accordion. Obviously it is a leading edge instrument.
We usually host an open house at our community garden plot every year. This year we were thinking we would add a new twist. If I could learn Beautiful Kauai on the accordion, Caroline says she will do the hula.
It was trying to be a fairly nice day today. Our spring is slow to start. I waited for the showers to pass and took a bike ride to Simply Biscotti on Preston St. Three years ago I began a project to eat my way through their delectables counter. I just re-read my first blog where I said my knowledge of blogging and waistline would grow together. I have achieved the latter.
While I’ve been there for coffee over the past months, I haven’t always indulged in a treat. Today, I had a coffee and a little visit with Rosa, the owner. While I didn’t eat I did take a few pictures and think the little flower pots made of fondant with wafer flowers on top look worth a go.
Anyone out there want to join me for a little flower pot treat sometime soon?
Three months into accordion lessons and it’s an experience in humility. I have moved on from Book One and its byline “congratulations on buying your child an accordion” . From Book Two I have been playing La Donna E Mobile.
I’ve played that song 120 times (at least) and think I must have 240 times left to go before it is recognizable. I am enjoying the experience and the lessons. The slow progress not so much.
A few weeks ago my friend and I went into an antique furniture store. And there was an accordion sitting there. A beautiful red accordion. It was a larger accordion than my purchase of a few months and you know, it makes sense to have more treble keys and more bass buttons, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it? And it was red, that pretty vintage accordion. I hemmed and hawed and went back a few days later and well, I couldn’t resist.
When I told my accordion teacher what I’d done, he said I had GAS-Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I’m looking for a case for it now and maybe I should acquire one more model at some point. You know a little beater accordion I could play at our community garden. We could conduct an experiment to see if plants respond to a haltingly played version of La Donna E Mobile.
Yesterday I purchased a portable musical instrument. It’s an instrument some like to ridicule. An eye roller to some. It’s the instrument our mother played. I don’t recall how she came to play it. Perhaps it was her Polish heritage or the just the era and community where she was raised. It’s the instrument our parents bought us and we shared it and all took lessons. I was never much more than a beginner but have always thought I should give it another go. Somewhere along the way the instrument became a bit of a joke in some arenas but it’s always had a place in my heart and hey, Leonard Cohen’s songs often feature it.
Yes, it is the accordion. Since it is possible there may be a comment or tease or two in response to this blog, thought I’d just get things going:
No matter, I now own a cute grey/green 40 bass vintage Weltmeister accordion yesterday and am very tickled with the purchase!
I have a talented enthusiastic teacher and once I remember where the C key is located we can start. I haven’t taken lessons for decades. Many decades. But no matter, here we go. It’s important to have goals and I’ve set one and will work towards it, enthusiastically. By the end of this year I want to play the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty Four”. Because I own an accordion and that’s what I am. Sixty four, not an accordion.
When leaving the house to buy the accordion yesterday I asked my husband if he wanted to come with me. He said no thanks, he wanted to stay home and enjoy his last hours of peace and quiet.
If you have occasion to travel by commercial airline and if you have done so for some time you will notice the difference in boarding announcements over the years. I mean those announcements telling you when it’s time to come to the gate, present your boarding pass and walk to the airplane.
Way back when they would call for people who needed more time to get to the plane and those traveling with young children to board first. Then along the way there came the different types of seats ie business class and then travellers who had earned special status for traveling a lot of miles. They boarded first.
Now they have so many categories it’s actual funny.
I think the people who pay the most go first now so the schpiel is something like this:
Calling all passengers whose work paid for them to be in business class-come right up
Calling all passengers who travelled so much in the aforementioned category that they’ve earned a seat in business class with their rewards, come right up
Calling all passengers who have our gold level card please come forward
All passengers with our silver level card please come up
All passengers who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths please step forward
All passengers who are anticipating an inheritance of over $100,000 and expect to travel a lot with us afterward come on up.
All passengers whose stock portfolio is on the rise please board now
Then there’s the call for those who need more time to walk to the plane and those with small childreni.
The service attendant then looks around the lounge and says all remaining passengers please board now. And I’m the only one left.
Living in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario, we are fortunate to be able to attend the Remembrance Day Service at our national cenotaph. Today was a cool, showery, somewhat snowy day yet the crowds came to Parliament Hill. There could be more people there though. In our native province of Saskatchewan, Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday. Everything pretty much shuts down.
When we moved here we were surprised to learn Remembrance Day is not a statutory holiday in Ontario. What? I’ll be working that day? In the nation’s capital? You don’t go to work on Remembrance Day! You go to the cenotaph in your town or city and you stand in the sometimes very cold morning and you contemplate the selfless sacrifice of so many of long ago and not so long ago. The first year we were here, there I was at work in a meeting and 11 a.m. we stood at our meeting table and bowed our heads for two minutes. Two minutes. And then we went back to our meeting.
While some employers (federal government, The Ottawa Hospital, for example) do give people a day away, most do not. Stores close till about 12:30pm and then it’s open season. Universities hold classes without skipping a beat, schools are open and life goes on.
Like many things in Canada, there is no one size fits all. Some provinces have deigned Remembrance Day as a holiday, some have not. We have the lives and the freedoms we enjoy in our great country because men and women laid their lives on the line for the greater good. Surely we can take a day and make that effort to pause and give thanks. After all, if they hadn’t done what they did, our lives would most decidedly not be what they are today. Seems to me that 24 hours set aside to consider not only to reflect what’s gone on before but to consider why humanity continues to inflect horrors upon its own kind is not too much to ask. In this great country of ours, we should all have time to pay tribute to those who have shaped our freedom. Lest we forget.