Today was the day! I reached 100 blood donations, and booked my appointment for 101 in April. I encourage everyone to become a donor. Go to Canadian Blood Services to find out how you can begin. It’s a pretty good feeling and you get juice! Jim likes to perform the bandaid removal every time I donate. And now I can add this nifty new pin to my collection. Blood – they say it’s in you to give.

Snow men

Well, the trip to Edmonton last week seemed like a good idea when we started out. Clear, sunny, highways hotline reported ‘seasonal winter driving conditions.’ A little drifting dry snow. Then the wind picked up. A lot. If you’re Canadian, you understand terms like wind chill and white-out. That blowing snow came from the north for awhile, then from the south, polishing the highway and buffeting our car around. Just past Innisfree, Alberta, our car decided to have a mind of its own; maybe it was a patch of black ice coupled with a nasty wind gust, but we found ourselves, after some skillful manouvering on Rick’s part, backwards in the ditch. In a snowbank. A few cars and semi units passed us, apologetic faces in the windows, but within minutes as we sat figuring out where we were so we could call CAA, a truck stopped. Two nice farm boys who just had to be hockey players jumped out with a shovel, tow rope and big smiles despite not really being dressed for the nasty cold wind and blowing snow.

For 15 minutes, our helpful snowmen Ian and Isaac helped Rick dig us out. We gave up on the tow rope (where do you hook on to a Toyota Corolla anyway?) and with them pushing, I drove us back up onto the shoulder. All the while, son Jim is mildly interested from the back seat, but not wanting to miss too much of his movie on the iPad. But with the boys’ help, we were okay.

Big handshakes turned into big hugs and I pressed my card into Ian’s hand, asking him to email us so we could thank them properly. Another hug and more smiles and they were off. To date, they haven’t emailed us but I still hope they will. The weather got worse, and our 5-hour drive took over 8 with nerve-wracking spells of zero visibility, driving with our hazard lights on, straining our eyeballs to make out taillights in front of us. The worst of the photos below were still the good spells!

Two days later, the trip home was made smoothly in clear, sunny weather. The only evidence of the nasty experience were one after another tire tracks into ditches and median where cars and trucks had ploughed blindly off the road. A car here and there, including a truck and horse trailer, were still getting towed out.

Thanks Ian and Isaac, our snow men. If you know these helpful snow angels, tell them to email us!

Father Mulcahy

When I heard the other day that actor William Christopher died, I went looking for the book he gave me when I interviewed him in 1990 about his son. He was appearing in Regina at Stage West in a production of Run for Your Wife. I found the book today, and had forgotten he’d signed the playbill, which I’d tucked inside. I see now that Tibor Fehereghazi directed and Kent Allen, whom we just enjoyed as a wonderful Scrooge in last month’s run at Persephone Theatre, also starred. Thought it was ‘small world’ convergence of Tibor, whom I interviewed years later, and Kent also in that production 27 years ago.

Mr. Christopher was a very kind and gentle man – very much like his Father Mulcahy character – and because we both had sons with a disability, it was more great visit than interview. I remember him with fondness.

Being human

Yann Martel and Alice Kuipers have a little house on Main Street, within walking distance of ours. When they first moved in, we offered perennials when we were thinning out our garden. My son Jim and I made several back alley trips, wheelbarrow laden with daylilies bobbing from chunks of earth, and stuck them in Yann and Ali’s backyard. Rewarded with cups of tea, we made these trips to the point where Jim thought Ali’s name was Back Ali. As their brood grew, they eventually moved, just down the block from us. If we throw a rock very hard from our back gate, we might just hit Yann’s writing studio. It was with such pleasure we came across this article about what Yann and Ali have done with that cute little barn-shaped house on Main Street. It is lovely that they literally opened their home to a new family, and that it happened on Main Street — something that could happen on so many quinessential Main Streets in this country. A human act, an act of Canadian kindness for another family. Gives you a bit of hope for humanity as we enter an uncertain 2017.

Happy New Year.

ramia_sraa_and_omar_falah_hindawiThe new Main Street family. MCC photo by Leona Lortie. Welcome to the neighbourhood!

Alan Thicke

Alan Thicke died the other day. Playing hockey. The born-in-Canada actor was one of my early celebrity interviews in the mid-80s. (I still wish I’d taken Bryan Adams up on his backstage pass offer.) Alan was in Saskatoon for Telemiracle and we did a little interview. Then he literally tapped me on the shoulder for a favour; I was also interviewing Rolf Harris at the time. Alan’s photographer was late, missed his flight from LA as I recall, and Alan noted that I was dragging my camera with me. Would I mind walking with him to take pictures while he met a throng of fans – mostly screeching teenage girls? I did, and we spent the next hour or so together. Long before the days of digital and cell phones, he was patient, gracious, funny and affable with anyone who wanted photos and autographs. I shot a roll (yes, it was a roll then 🙂 He asked if I could get it developed (he didn’t want to risk losing the film), and send him the photos. A couple of months later, I got an official looking envelope from Alan Thicke Productions in Hollywood, reimbursement for the photo shoot. It was a cheque for $3.45 to cover the roll of the film. I should have kept the cheque as a souvenir. I’m pretty sure an assistant sent the cheque, and I didn’t mind because I remember Alan as a very nice guy, very Canadian. And he had great hair!


HOME is out!

The Winter issue of Saskatoon HOME is out now, so be sure to pick up your copy. It’s the one with that house on the cover! Thanks again to Jenny Underhill for letting us feature the Hopkins House in this issue, and for letting us satisfy our long-standing curiosity about what that house on Sask Crescent West is like inside. Who hasn’t wondered? Now you can know. And look, there’s me pretending to live there! Check out a bunch of other good stories, too.

Lovely surprise!

I am so pleased to be the winner of the draw by the Saskatchewan Arts Board. They asked for feedback from those who have enjoyed Board support in the past (I received a grant a few years ago to work on my novel). I thought that was gift enough, but then they drew my name for those providing feedback in the survey! Not only that, I got to reconnect with novelist Joanne Gerber (The Misleading Absence of Light) who was my mentor in a Saskatchewan Writers Guild mentorship in the early 2000s. Rick, Jim and I popped in to the Arts Board offices a couple of days ago to meet up with Joanne, and Michael Jones, CEO. We had a great visit and catch-up … and I was presented with a very pretty gold Apple iPad Air 64gb as my draw prize! Wow, I don’t even have a cell phone so Rick’s got his teaching cut out for him. Thank you very much, Arts Board!