Another COVID Birthday Celebration

….thank goodness for the beautiful weather we’ve had in November

The last two days have been more normal in terms of November weather but prior to this we’ve had the most glorious, warm and sunny days. Our eldest daughter celebrates her birthday in November so we were thankful that we were able to get together with the family and have a small celebration on the deck in the backyard.

Blowing out the candles has also taken on a new format. I lit the candles on the cake and then we removed them one at a time and my daughter blew them out individually away from the cake. Well that was the plan but it turned out that the candles had burned down too far so she tried to put the candles out by waving her hand over them.

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That didn’t work very well so she tried to extinguish the candles by snuffing them out with popcorn. That worked somewhat but the popcorn caught fire.

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In the end no one was harmed and the cake was delicious.

Poppies for Remembrance Day

….a time to reflect on my Father’s life

Dad always said that November was the hardest month of the year for him. It always made him feel sad, especially in the last few years of his life. He was a very young man, only 17, when he joined the army and he saw many of his friends die before his eyes. He often wondered why he was spared.

The other thing that I think he found difficult was the fact that he fought for the ‘other side’ and he knew that no one, here, would be thanking him for his service. He never talked about it but I know that it weighed heavily on him. I do know that he was always very grateful for the friendships he forged after the war, first with the Americans who helped him after he escaped the Russian prison camp and then with the English who gave him his first job.

Years later he emigrated from Germany to Canada with his new and growing family. He quickly got a good job at the Royal York Hotel in his chosen line of work. He was able to buy a car almost right away and four years after arriving in Toronto he bought his first home in Oakville. Dad always made friends easily with other German immigrants and Canadians alike. No one seemed to look down on him because he fought in the German army.

Over the years Dad pursued a variety of jobs but his happiest days were as an entrepreneur. When I was 16, Mom and Dad started their own fabric and sewing machine business and never looked back. Again Dad was at the top of his game when he was surrounded by people and both he and Mom had close ties with the business and local community.

As the years passed, Dad lost my mother while vacationing in Mexico in 1993 and then his second wife in 2017. When he turned 90 in 2016 we had a big party for him. Despite having lost numerous friends already he always made new friends where ever he went and yet come November he would always reflect on those who had died before him and he would fall into a deep depression.

Dad passed away almost four weeks ago. This Remembrance Day I will reflect on all the good times I had with him in my lifetime. It will be bittersweet. This painting is dedicated to you Dad.

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A Drive By Birthday Party

….for five year old Winnie

I wanted to post this 10 days ago but with my father’s demise the day after these photos were taken I was ……well you can imagine how my blog was not my priority.

Now that things are settling down but nowhere near normal I’m trying to find joy again in the little things, like taking photographs of autumn leaves and flowers and taking walks with friends (with masks on). I’m on the phone a lot catching up with friends because COVID makes visiting in person difficult.

This year for my granddaughter’s fifth birthday we were suppose to get together for a birthday celebration in our backyard on Thanksgiving Monday but our daughter in Hamilton (Winnie’s Mom) received a COVID alert that she had been close to someone who has the virus. Out of caution they decided not to come to Toronto.

On Wednesday they decided that a drive by birthday for Winnie would be okay if we stayed apart and wore masks. Before they arrived I put out chairs on the front lawn and placed her birthday presents next to the chairs and her cake on the wall next to the driveway.

It was different. No hugs and kisses. We stayed on the porch while Winnie opened her gifts and then she dug into a piece of cake. She loved having cake at 10:00 in the morning. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes. Then we blew her kisses through our masks and they were off to the Toronto Zoo.

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This last photo was sent to me by Winnie’s Mom. At the zoo they had these decorated hay bales and Winnie wanted to pose in front of every single one. This one was my favourite.

Sadness in my Heart

….at 94 my father took his last breath on October 15, 2020

You may have noticed that I have not been very active on my blog in the last few day. The loss of my father has been very difficult and making arrangements for his cremation has been very time consuming. My husband has made many of the calls to family and friends to inform them of our loss and for that I am eternally grateful. Slowly I have been able to speak to those close to me and many of them have stepped up to let others know of Dad’s passing.

https://cremationcare.ca/tribute/details/340/Heinz-Winkler/obituary.html

COVID of course has made it impossible to have the big funeral Dad had always hoped for. Yesterday we were allowed a small gathering of 10 family members for 30 minutes to say farewell and pay our respects. For those in attendance it helped bring us closure and for that we are grateful.

I want people to know that Dad did not suffer pain and that in his final hours he slept and passed away peacefully with me by his side. Again COVID did not allow more than one family member to be present in the hospital and even with that I needed a special designation to be there. The nurses and support staff were wonderful and tried to give me as much emotional support as possible in my time of need. The hardest part for me was having to deal with this on my own and not having my family there. In the end Dad got his wish and died in his sleep.

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A Tribute to Shirley

…Shirley was a long time cottager up on Big Sand Bay

Shirley O’Donnell passed away a week ago today. I saw her one last time back in August when we were both at our cottages. She looked well but clearly her health was not good. Her log cabin cottage was the envy of the beach. Over 40 years ago she had the logs of the cabin floated over to Big Sand Bay and rebuilt on top of the dune. Every summer she and her two children resided in this rustic cabin. She only had electricity installed in the last decade and like us used an outhouse for most of her cottage life. Several years ago she had a beautiful little building put up next to the cabin with a composting toilet and an outdoor shower.

On the weekend I got up early Sunday morning and took a walk to Shirley’s place and started to take photos of the view and the special little touches that made her place so special. The mist coming up over the lake was very mystical and I almost felt like Shirley was looking down on us and sharing the morning with me.

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Apples, Apples, Apples

it’s that time of year already and the early varieties of apples are ready for picking

On the weekend the family did one more get together before our granddaughter starts school. As of Tuesday our bubble has been broken and we can no longer do these family outings for awhile.

My daughter and daughter-in-law drove with me (in my new car) to St. George where we met our youngest daughter and her family at the Brantview Apple Orchard.

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It was about an hour drive from Toronto but it was a beautiful day and it was great walking through the trees and picking either MacIntosh or Royal Gala apples. Winnie loved filling up everyone’s bag.

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After a hard day of picking we headed back over the store and bought some their cider and special apple cider doughnuts. Then we loaded up the cars and headed out for our next destination. To be Continued…….

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My Birthday Week

thanks to all my well wishers on Facebook and Instagram

Last Friday I celebrated my birthday with my husband. My kids live all over the place so we planned to celebrate on different days. The day before my birthday my son called me from London, England and we had a fun conversation with Sevin in the forefront. I love video calls because we were actually able to interact with our granddaughter, who is already seven months old. She was so engaged with what she saw on the phone. I remember Winnie was the same way at that age.

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She also surprised everyone that same day because she started crawling.

On my birthday, my husband took me out for dinner. We tried to get into Snug Harbour again but once again the wait was over an hour. We walked up the street to Posta and enjoyed a lovely meal outside on the patio.

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The next day on Saturday we planned to get together with Andrea, Josie, my Dad and my dear friend Arlene. Arlene and I have know each other since 1976. She was my first teacher friend but she’s more like family. She’s godmother to my children and she loves being called Aunt Beanie. This was the first time since February that we’ve seen each other. We’re all at that vulnerable age and some of us have compromised immune systems. COVID has kept us apart all this time. We feasted on a Japanese lunch in the backyard. Later in the afternoon another friend from across the road came over to share a glass of wine with us.

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When it was time for birthday cake, it was extremely windy but then my daughter reminded us that during COVID it probably wasn’t a good idea to blow out candles over the cake. Instead she lit one candle and held it up to me to blow it out. Ah the things we do in the name of safety.

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Our youngest daughter is still up at the children’s camp at Sparrow Lake (no children this year, just maintenance workers). I did get a phone call from her and also one from my sister in Calgary. Hopefully sometime next week we’ll be able to get together with daughter number two and her family and the celebration will continue. I love birthdays that continue for days and sometimes weeks.

Celebrating 45 Years of Love and Friendship

….our wedding day feels like it happened yesterday and not 45 years ago

This time last year we celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary in the hospital when Kevin was admitted for pneumonia. I was so pleased that his cough wasn’t COVID related or pneumonia and that he was well enough to go out for an early dinner today.

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Yesterday Kevin took me clothes shopping to buy a new dress for our anniversary dinner. He planned to take me to one our favourite restaurants along the Port Credit River but because of COVID he couldn’t make reservations and we had take our chances and hope we could get in. We decided on an early dinner but even at 4:00 there was a one hour wait. We decided to check out an Italian restaurant up the street.

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Our view from the patio, including the restaurant we couldn’t get into

Posta was open and readily accepted our request for a table for two on the patio. The service and the food were excellent and the view was fantastic. We now have a new favourite restaurant to frequent for special occasions.

This is What 100 Looks Like

….celebrating an old friend’s 100th birthday

Last week one of my father’s oldest friends celebrated his 100th birthday. Back in June Fred phoned us and told us that he wanted to do something special for his milestone birthday. I assumed he wanted a big party but he surprised us by saying that he didn’t want any presents and instead he was hoping we would pledge a dollar a day for 71 days until his birthday. Every day he went out with his walker and walked 800 m in front of his retirement home and he hoped that any money raised would go to Forests Ontario.

Fred has always loved being in nature and doing his bit to save our environment. When he saw Capt. Tom from England raise money for the health care workers by walking every day he figured he could do the same but put any money raised towards planting more trees in Ontario. We gladly sent him money and looked forward to following his progress.

About two week before his actual birthday his daughter, Hilde, phoned us and told us about the arrangements that were being planned for the big day. The local newspaper and TV station got wind of his challenge and featured him in their newsfeeds. COVID was creating its own challenges for bringing people together so the numbers had to be limited. The event was going to take place outdoors but there was very little shade and people had to bring their own chairs.

Fred on his birthday accepting a plaque from Forests Ontario

In the end we decided it would be better if Dad and Fred got together after the actual birthday so that they could spend time together without being interrupted by the media, politicians and numerous guests. Two days after the birthday Hilde picked up her father and drove him to her house in Wasaga Beach and I drove my Dad from Toronto to Hilde’s house.

We learned that Fred had managed to raise over $5000. for Forests Ontario. The two men talked about fond memories of their choir days together while Hilde and I got caught up on the last 45 years. After a lovely lunch and a walk down memory lane we said our goodbyes and Hilde drove her father back to Barrie and Dad and I returned to Toronto.

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Art Nurtures the Soul

….encouraging my husband to pick up a paint brush

When I met my husband he was an artist. He studied art at college and his first full time job was as a graphic designer. When computers started to take over his chosen profession he changed careers and he abandoned art in order to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. We both worked until I took five years off to raise the kids. When they were in school full time I went back to teaching and my husband became a financial planner.

Over the years I started to pick up paint brushes and drawing pencils and took many classes and on-line art classes to learn everything I could about art techniques and practices. I love it. I tried to encourage my husband to start his art journey again. He wanted to but he was hesitant to start.

Well he finally started last week and I can’t stop him. The only reason he didn’t make another painting today was because he ran out of canvases. In total he has already completed 15 paintings. He’s experimenting with colour and techniques of laying down paint. I can’t tell you how much this has lifted his spirit.  We’ve just finished renovating our garage so that he can use it as a summer studio to make larger works of art.

Here are a few of his completed pieces.
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