Born 100 years ago today

She would be 100 years old today.  March 18th is our mother’s birthdate.  She was never much interested in disclosing the year of her birth.  I do think though, if she’d been granted more than 52 years of life and she had lived to 100 years, she’d crow about it.  

Mom was born in a section house (a company house for railroad workers-usually section foreman) in McLean, SK on March 18, 1922.  I wish I’d asked her more questions about her life, or maybe it’s more accurate to say wish I’d listened more when she told stories of her life.  

Her given name was Clarice Marie Mish and she never much cared for her first name.  She signed her name as Claire instead.  Her childhood was spent in Wolseley, SK and much of it during the depression when money was scarce.  Add to that her father was very seriously injured in a freak accident leaving her mother, a Polish immigrant, to raise 6 children by cleaning homes, working in the laundry at the “old folks” home and squeezing every dollar until it cried out for mercy.  

She was the best of moms to three daughters, a hard working wife and partner on a small mixed farm in southern Saskatchewan and someone who found joy in the everyday of life.  She had so many sayings that we carried with us into adulthood and now our children carry into theirs and so it goes.  

Happy Birthday Mom

Claire Marie Mish




Florence Thomas

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.

Written by Holly Day and Barb Shea, Florence’s nieces










I’m Back!!! With A Halloween True Story

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.”.  

I'd like a Halloween treat
I’d like a Halloween treat

June is Accordion Awareness Month

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.

Simply Biscotti…Without the Calories (no. 16)

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?




I Have GAS

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.


A Portable Musical Instrument

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:

  • What’s the difference between an accordion and a macaw? 
One is loud, obnoxious and noisy; the other is a bird.
  • Why did the chicken cross the road? 
To get away from the accordion recital.
  • What’s the difference between an accordion and an onion? 
People cry when you chop up an onion.

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.  

Boarding announcements

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.