My Auntie Lonna

My Auntie, Lonna Karen Kirkpatrick, was only a few years older than me but she and my uncle, her brother George, doted on me like the little sister they never had. Their eyes would light up whenever they saw me. With Lonna, as with George, I always felt very special, even when we became seniors. We would have long conversations about music, art, and ideas – and Lonna usually insisted on paying for lunch.

Lonna gave the best gifts and I still have a couple of them. My favourite of all is a vinyl LP of Michael Jackson’s first solo album, Music and Me. It may be worth something now (I’ve never checked) but I wouldn’t part with it. Back when I first got it I had no idea who Michael Jackson was but she obviously saw his musical genius far sooner than the rest of the world noticed it.

Auntie Lonna had a brilliant mind. She was interested in so many things, not least of which was her Indigenous heritage. Her Master’s thesis was on a familial health issue – psoriasis.

She wasn’t just smart, though. Lonna loved family reunions and would join them with excitement. She dove in whole-heartedly like she did everything else in her life. If there was a wacky event like a crazy costume contest, she was right there. She brought great food and visited with everyone, talking and laughing about family adventures, quirks, and history (she edited the Kirkpatrick family newsletter for a time).

One of the last times I saw her, Lonna was in her and Alan’s home shortly before she was placed in long-term care. She suffered from dementia by then and did not know who I was at first. But when I introduced myself to her caretaker as Lonna’s niece Dawn, her eyes lit up in recognition. “Dawn!” she said, and her eyes filled with happy tears. Mine did, too, at that point. We spent the rest of the visit chatting aimlessly about disconnected topics that made sense only to her – but the love was still there and I believe she experienced joy in hanging out with me again.

I know I sure did.

After a long, long struggle with dementia (far longer than anyone should have to endure), my Auntie Lonna’s spirit finally abandoned her tired little body and moved on to the next adventure. For her family it was a relief and a heartbreak at the same time. But now she is with family members who have moved on and I have no doubt they are having a great reunion of their own.

Thanks for all the great talks and gifts, Auntie. I love you!

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Peter Paul May, Part 1

In pursuing the genealogy of my grandfather, Peter Paul May, I have hit a dead end. There seem to be very few records of his life and I think this needs to be rectified. Because my “Papa Pete,” as I knew him, was a vibrant, dynamic individual in his day. And I loved him with all my heart.

Papa was born in Zurich, Switzerland on October 25, 1921. He died in Browning, Montana on October 17, 2007, just shy of his 86th birthday.

I know he was married for a time in Switzerland but I know very little about that part of his life. I do have some photos of him and his mother, with whom he used the endearment “Mutterli” (pronounced MEW-ter-lee), meaning little mother. He was an only child.

Papa’s mother was named Helene (Otto) Hurt-May. Her family was fairly well off and I don’t think they ever lacked for anything. His father, Werner May, died at the age of 40. He was apparently a race car driver but I don’t know if that’s what caused his death. I’ll need to dig for more info on this point.

Helene was known as “Grossmutterli” to my sisters and I. The word means “dear little grandmother” and although we never met her we did love her. Every year at Christmastime she would send us a box of Swiss chocolates – a real indulgence back in those days. We had one piece per night each until they were gone. They were so smooth and sweet and delicious! I still have a tablecloth that was hers.

I know Papa had two daughters, Irene and Joan, from his first marriage and I did get to meet one of them. I always had a feeling they felt a little abandoned by their father, and possibly with good reason. He married my Grandma Milly (nee Mildred Bertha Charlton) in New Jersey and moved to the U.S. to be with her. They didn’t get to see their father too often after that. I have the impression that was painful for them.

Grandma Milly was the love of his life and he was hers. In their younger days they entertained in their home in grand style and travelled to the Yukon every other year or so to get away. I’ll never forget their station wagon with the canoe on top. They’d stop in northern BC, where we lived at the time, and take us camping. Mom would be up with them late into the night, laughing and talking and playing cards. Those were rich, vibrant memories. In fact, almost all my memories of Milly and Papa are rich and vibrant.

So much more to write but I will save some for another post.

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Developing intuition (and communication with animals?)

This one is kinda on the “woo” side, but anyway…

I think my intuition is improving. I’ve been asking for help in that regard and, like several of my woo friends, I feel like I’m getting that help. Here are three examples:

1) Today Tom and I were watching Antiques Roadshow and they were appraising a piece of furniture. The number 12,000 popped into my head just seconds before the appraiser gave that number. I know absolutely nothing about antique furniture and there is no reason why I should have known that.

2) Another example is a recent experience in a pet store. I had gone in to get cat litter and stopped to look at some of the wee creatures. I was zoned out watching the little gerbils and hamsters when suddenly I became aware of awareness. I felt a mental “tug” that felt very much like the experience I had in McDonalds one day.

I turned toward the tug and there was a wee black hamster looking me dead in the eye. I sent the thought, “You see me, don’t you?” He stood up on his hind legs and stared at me and I could feel a definite connection. I whispered, “I see you, too.” Then he came straight over to the barrier between us and stood again on his hind legs, looking for all the world like he was reaching out to me. I thought, “I’d love to take you home but I have two cats…”

3) The third thing happened today, and it is also in the vein of communicating with animals. We have a raucous family of magpies in the neighbourhood and I love watching the mama teaching her babies how to find food. But I’ve been worried this mama would fear me; I had shooed her away from the birdhouses a couple of times for going after the wee sparrow babies.

Anyhoo, I watched the little family out under the suet feeder and thought I’d give them some stale bread. I took some outside and walked carefully toward them. To my surprise they did not flee but sat on the fence watching me. I sent out the mental thought that they needn’t fear me; that I was bringing them food. All four magpies watched from the fence as I tore up the bread and threw it on the ground.

I went back into the house and watched at the window as they tore up the bread and had a good snack.

As an aside, magpies are part of the corvidae family which is the same family as crows. Crows teach their babies to recognize friendly faces and apparently will remember for generations who is friend and who is foe. Maybe magpies do, too?

Nature is so amazing!

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Update for 2021 so far…

It’s been so long since I wrote but I’m getting back into the swing of things!

I’ve been in Calgary for awhile now but I’m getting homesick for Vancouver Island. Planning a trip there soon, in spite of “the covid.” (What a time THAT has been!) Rathtrevor Beach is calling to me and I miss doing CE-5 at the Ranch.

But Fish Creek Park is a good stand-in for now and Tom and I have been enjoying many long walks out there. It feels wonderful to get out into Nature, especially in the spring.

The cats have settled in to domestic life, as witnessed by this photo.

Love and hugs…

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A blessing on your head, Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov…*

I had an interesting experience sitting in McDonalds with Tom the other morning. I was sending love to a large group of handicapped adults and their caretakers. I do this from time to time with all sorts of random people; I feel hopeful it may help them to receive a blessing.

Suddenly I became aware of awareness. I could literally feel someone feeling my love. It felt like an almost-physical tug at my heart. I don’t know how to explain it.

I looked over and saw that a severely handicapped young woman, who had been sitting hunched over, gazing down at her lap in silence to this point, had sat up straight, turned around in her seat, and was looking me dead in the eye. She smiled and I smiled back.

I sent a thought to her, “You felt that, didn’t you!” Again I could “feel” her acknowledgment. She smiled and smiled and said, “Hi.” I was blown away.

I smiled and said “Hi” back.

* The title is a line from Tevye’s Dream, a song sung in Fiddler on the Roof. I often sing this line to myself when sending out the blessings.

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Leash training fun and games…

So, in an effort to keep my cats healthy and happy I have been trying to leash train them so we can go out for walks.

Okay, we’re out here. Now what?

With mixed results.

Little boy cat (the black one) loves to go out and has taken to the leash because he knows it means he can get out of the van.

Little girl cat (the calico) – not so much! Once I have more or less forced her into her harness and wrangled her outside she rather enjoys herself. But most days she’d rather just stay inside the van, looking on as her brother and I go for walks.

We have experimented with several different types of leashes and I think I’ve finally landed on a simple one that works for them both.

The calm before the street sweeper…

There is always the fear that one or both may escape the leash and that has happened a couple of times. Most times they freeze once they’ve gained freedom because they are not sure where to go next. This makes catching them easy! But other times…

The other day I had just taken Moonlight (my black boy) out so the twins could walk him, when a street sweeper chose that exact time to come barrelling loudly down the street. Moonlight was terrified and struggled until he’d freed himself from the harness, then ran off. Yikes! Luckily, I was able to entice him into my arms and put him safely back in the van.

So, in a way I’m torn. Do I get them outside for walks to keep them interested? Or do I just keep them where they are safe, in the van? They do seem content, for the most part, watching birds and people go by. I guess we’ll figure it out.

Would love to hear others’ stories!

My boy near Hanna, Alberta, Canada

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Van Life Update #5 – Diminishing Footprint, Expanding Vistas

My dozing boy. The cats know to go to the back when we are moving, but when we’re stopped they love to sit on the dashboard. :)

It’s been over a month since I moved out of my apartment and into my van. There have been some challenges but I am slowly getting things figured out.

Some things I love are being in Nature more, waking up to new scenes in the morning, more solitude, not being stuck in one place.

Some challenges I’ve faced? Not a lot of room (I’ve downsized even more since I moved in!). Keeping my electronic devices charged. Figuring out how much data I am using and how much I will need for a month. Trying to find the next place to sleep, go to the bathroom (I have a bucket for nighttime emergencies), shower… But so far all has worked out just fine.

I have found that spending my days working and walking at Rathtrevor Beach are pretty sweet. And that I’m not the only one sleeping overnight in the rest area; one motorhome, one small car and my van dozed calmly as cars whizzed by the other night.

I’m getting better at sleeping peacefully at night. I’m developing routines and methods of keeping things clean and organized. I’ve learned that cats are content in smaller spaces as long as they have food, some daily loving, and a warm place to sleep.

And I am saving a TON of money. Yes, I use more gasoline, a few more paper towels, and lots more Lysol citrus scented wipes, but overall my footprint is MUCH smaller than it’s ever been.

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Coming out as a contactee

When I was a young teen (13 – 15 or so) I had a sighting that excited and amazed me.

I was playing outside with my sisters and some friends that day. It was starting to get dusky and they all went indoors but something told me, “Stay out and watch the skies.” I did.

A representation of what I saw. Don’t judge my art work! :)

Suddenly I saw it – a large, brilliant light hanging over the trees.

I should preface this story by mentioning we lived on a sheep ranch at the time. Our home was surrounded by pastures and behind the big sheep pasture was forest. There were no yard lights or farms that were visible in that direction from where I stood.

The bright white light was apparently about 1/4 the size of a full moon from where I was standing and it hung motionless over the trees. In retrospect, it seemed someone was communicating with me and somehow I knew what would happen next.

I knew it would drop a smaller light into the trees, and it did. I knew the probe would return to the craft and after a short time it did. At that point the craft rose, moved straight to the right, then straight up a short distance, then shot off into the sky at an impossible speed.

I was gobsmacked.

I ran into the house and told everyone about it. They were all jealous, especially my mom, who had always wanted to see a UFO. There was a “flap” going on at the time and some of her friends had seen them, including one whose car had stopped running after being followed by a craft.

Years went by. I graduated from high school, got married, had babies, got divorced. I raised kids, got a degree, remarried, worked hard to pay my bills. Life took over and memories of my close encounter were relegated to the back of my mind.

Still, I always wondered: Why me? Why was I the one who was told to stay out and watch the skies? Why was I given this glimpse of something other-worldly? What was the purpose of this visit?

Then one day, just over two years ago, I watched Unacknowledged (available on Netflix) and all the pieces of my life seemed to fall into place.

Suddenly, it all made sense and I knew what I had to do.

More to follow.

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Consciousness and love and patience…

“Vulnerability is having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” Brené Brown

Let your light shine

I notice I am so changed this visit over last. I am full of love and compassion, even to the dogs. I used to fear and despise dogs as messy, drooly, stupid creatures; now I see the spirit that shines through their eyes.

With some people I used to be impatient with, I am now much more patient. I credit this to the meditation and consciousness work I have been doing. Even though I am far from consistent with it, my awareness has changed dramatically.

We are dealing with an aging 90+ mother-in-law who has dementia and can be quite difficult at times. I try to “meet her where she is” and listen to her stories, no matter how rambling and senseless they may seem to be. I believe she deserves to be heard, even now.

Especially now.

Anyhoo, the quote speaks to how I showed up here in Calgary with no demands or expectations. I came here to catch up on some business matters that I need to be here for, but also to help Tom with all the stressors his days provide. He has a full house of people and animals and the above-mentioned mama; if I can help lighten the load somewhat I will be content.

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Van Life #4 – Update & working remotely from the road

​I am in Calgary now.

The cats are adjusting well and seem content. They’ve made a little cubbyhole for themselves under the bed for if they need to get away but often they’ll sit up top, checking out the scenery. I stop regularly to just sit with them for awhile, give them a little loving, and replenish the food/water.

Doing payroll from somewhere on the road. I use LogMeIn to gain remote access to my Calgary computer.

There is lots to do here in Calgary. Years of tax documents to shred and I have a lot of folks I need to catch up with. (Calgary peeps, you’ll be hearing from me soon!) We have a house-full right now; Tom’s mom is living here, as is one of his daughters and her daughter. But it’s fun getting all the updates and, as usual, Tom’s cooking does not disappoint.

I did payroll from the road and I have to share how wonderful it is to have a cellular modem for travel. It’s a wee black box that fits in the palm of my hand and it gives me Internet access wherever I have a cell signal. That means I can work almost anywhere because you can usually find a cell tower somewhere nearby, even in the mountains or up in the Yukon!

I will be here for two or three weeks. The cats and I are sleeping snug in the garage in the van.

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