Thursday, March 23, 2017

Big hands, big heart.

If you knew my dad, you couldn't avoid noticing his big hands and big heart.  I love how he used those big hands to rock each of my babies.

Xavier and Grandpa -- looks like everyone's tired.

Xavier and Grandpa - Spring in Ottawa.

Naomi's turn.

Don't forget Rhiannon.

Things you may have had in common with Kelvin Johnson Sr.

Back Row: Rebecca, Arta Kelvin, Trell
Front Row: Doral, Bonnie

You may have had something in common with Kelvin Johnson if you have ever posed for a photograph and then seen it later and wondered "Was that little family really mine, sitting on the law there, visiting grandparents?"


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Things you may have had in common with Kelvin Johnson Sr.

Kelvin, age 86 with his 20 month old grandaughter, Betty
You may have had something in common with Kelvin Johnson if you have ever taken something you were wearing or taken something from your pocket and  tried to entertain a child.

It may have been a set of beads, a silver bracelet, some car keys, a church programme, a white handkerchief, even your own set of glasses  -- but both you  and he could take it out of your pocket and make it work for a child.


Things you may have had in common with Kelvin T Johnson Sr.

Kelvin T Johnson Sr circa 1990
You had something in common with my dad if ... you ever roasted a marshmallo at the beach as the sun was setting, enjoyed eating a s'more, or willingly posed for a silly photo.

Kelvin Johnson: March 14, 1931 - March 19, 2017

Taking pictures at a sibling get-together
Grant, Sharon and Kelvin
Many of you will know that we are mourning the passing of Kelvin whom to us was husband, father and grandfather.

In the past year and a half, many happy hours were spent at Agecare Seton where he lived with his two siblings, Sharon and Grant.

He passed away Sunday afternoon.

Richard, and his three children and I had gone there for our regular Sunday afternoon visit with him.

We had croissants, we ate candy, and we watched cartoons with grandfather.

Then the children and I moved to a different game room.

Kelvin passed on as Richard and Clark Schow were happily reminiscing about basketball games of the past at his side.

A memorial service will be held March 31, 2017 at 11 am at the Bow Valley Ward Chapel, 2526 24 Ave NW, Calgary, Alberta.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Kelvin Thomas Johnson March 14, 1931 - March 19, 2017

Kelvin will be missed by his wife, Arta, and his eight children: Rebecca (Steve Carter) Johnson, Trell (Ina Given) Johnson, Bonnie Johnson, Doral (Anita) Johnson, Catherine (Eric) Jarvis, Kelvin Johnson Jr., Mary (Leo Brooks) Johnson, and Richard (Miranda) Johnson as well as by 16 grandchildren.  

He was predeceased by his sister, Nadine, and his brother, Beverly and is survived by his sisters, Molly, Sharon and Betty, and his brothers, Grant and Preston. 

Kelvin was raised in Barnwell, Alberta. He graduated from the University of Alberta and spent his teaching career at the Calgary Board of Education.  

He was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  A Memorial Service will be held at 11 am on March 31, 2017 at the Bow Valley Chapel (2526 24 Ave. N.W.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Guests Always Welcome

Jeni Whiting and Arta with the sunlight streaming in on Kelvin
I was pleasantly surprised to have Jeni Whiting drop by to see Kelvin.  A visit between three people is always fun.

Together we chatted away the afternoon, Jeni telling Kelvin and I that she had hosted 19 of her Johnson relatives and their friends on Friday night.  Now that would have been a fun party with pancakes and muffins in the morning as they said good-bye to each other.  Life lived as it should be.

She had spent the morning buying snacks for her ward Beehives' 24 hour marathon of "Read the Book of Mormon".  That is a good way to read any book -- a room full of friends and good food.

And now Jeni was visiting Kelvin, Sharon and Grant.

Lucky Kelvin and me.


HOME ECONOMICS 150 years of Canadian Hooked Rugs - Gallery Tour

Scottish Terrier Motif
there was a period when this image was popular in Canada
and used on dishes, towels, quilts, and food products

This rug is hooked in the centre and braided on the border.
Michele Hardy gave a tour of the hooked rug exhibit on Thursday.

I was glad to have spent an hour in the gallery the week before hand, exploring the exhibition on my own. Now I want to go back for one more look and read more of the side panels.

The Rug Hookers Guild had gathered to show what they were working on in the morning and the tour was the end of that meeting.

Between Michele and what the guild members had to add, the tour was full of interesting tid-bits, perhaps the most interesting given by a woman who knew the way our grandmothers would clean these rugs.

The method was to take the hooked rug and put it in a cold place -- close to a door or a draft.

Then when newly fallen snow was on the ground, the rug was place on the snow and then beaten or tramped on.

The next step was to move it to more freshly fallen snow and tramp on it again.  Apparently you could see how much dirt had come out of the rug each time it was moved.

The oldest rugs in this collection is 1840.  We know this for the date is hooked into the rug and is the main image.

There are two rugs hooked by an indigenous woman.

There is one rug hooked by a man who had lost his farm.  His wife designed the rug and then he hooked images of the farm into the rug as his way of mourning its loss.

Rug hooking did not become popular until the middle of the 19th century when burlap became widely available.
a rug from the Grenfell Mission
in Newfoundland and Labrador

I was reminded again and again in the tour of how scarce commodities were in those days.  Clothing that had become rags, now was torn up and hooked into rugs.

I was unaware of the Grenfell Project but most of the women there knew about it.Dr. Wilfred Grenfell designed rich local scenes with marketability in mind: ships in full sail, spouting whales, polar bears on ice floes.

The mat makers hooked handbags, coasters, mats, and seat covers.

Anything that would sell, for it seems there was a market from tourists and wealthy home owners in the eastern U.S. for objects with Canadian images.
Newfoundland in a hooked rug

Rug making was still popular into the late 1930's and 40's, dying out until the 1970's when it became popular again as a woman's craft item.

 I do remember my mother hooking rugs -- not so much the hooking as I remember her search for rags with the colours that she needed for the design that was on the burlap.

One of my jobs was to tear the rags into 3 inch strips.  I do remember being bawled out for not being careful at one point.

A strange childhood memory: chastised for wasting rags.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What to take to grandfather?

... breakfast prep ...
 ... but it could be any meal prep ...
Tonight was Mommy Night Out. But she didn't leave home-free for she had prepared Baked Tilapia and Asparagus for us. Michael said he didn't want to eat the asparagus.  Richard said, "This is not asparagus.  This is just butter with a vehicle to get it to your mouth.  Yum."

All of the children are just getting over colds and are off their food.  So we planned what we will be taking to Grandfather next Sunday.  Between each new grand story, they all had to take a bite.  I told them that Grandfather can't eat his ice cream sticks anymore, so he wants Michael to have his as an extra.  Alice wondered whose extra she can have.  I assured her there will be extras for everyone.

This morning's breakfast for Kelvin was yogurt and a blended croissant.  I asked the kids if they have ever eaten croissants.  Not in their present memories.  So we wondered if we should buy a package of those and eat them with Grandfather while he eats his next Sunday.  Not a bad idea.

The third plan for our Sunday adventure was the Cadbury Creme eggs.  I was thinking that we might have 3 each in honour of Mary who likes to eat hers that way.  Alternately, I have been going up and down the Easter Candy Isles, trying to find the absolutely best choices.  The Peeps are cute, but I wonder how they taste?  Then there is a cow.  I am pretty sure it poops bridge mix.  I must take a closer look when I am at the store.  That might be a real hit.  Even for Grandfather.

When the stories finished and a few bites of everything were in everyone, Michael and I left to read at my house.  Alice wants to join us.  I told her she can only come for the fun times.  We are doing hard work.

Sweet reading.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Birthday to you

... Hello, brother! ...
Today Kelvin turned 86.

Sharon was just coming back from lunch so she came in to see Kelvin, to say Happy Birthday and to touch base for a minute.

Tricky to get her lounge chair and his bed in the right position.
... a moment of saying hello ...

... Sharon sings an unorthodox Happy Birthday song ...
We were joined in our music endeavours by the three people in the room, two of whom had brought Sharon in and the third, who was tending to Kelvin.

Sharon offered to sing a folk birthday day that she knows.

Kelvin took her up on the offer.

Sharon was sure that Kelvin was 96 and I was not going argue with anyone who has kept family records for years.  In about five minutes she had corrected herself.   And she brought out their right ages:  86 and 83.

... Sharon and Kelvin meet after lunch ...
That was not the only bright part of the day.

Rebecca Johnson, Duncan Carter-Johnson, Rebecca Jarvis, Thomas Jarvis, Catherine Jarvis, Hebe Jarvis, Naomi Brooks, Leo Brooks, Rhiannon Brooks, Bonnie Johnson and David Camps-Johnson all came to visit, via the IPad.

Blessed IPad.

Kelvin has asked for a Cadbury Cream Egg the last time I was there, so I picked some up at the store.

The new packaging is disappointing.

No pulling that foil off anymore, and having bits of it stick to the egg.

But the centre is the same.

Between Sharon and Kelvin, they couldn't finish off one egg.

Two of them worked at it and there was still 1/2 left.

This bodes poorly for the Cadbury Milk Company, at least for egg sales to the baby boomers.


Batman and Joker - Lego Style

After Reading Club tonight, I sat by while Michael put together a Lego box called "The Joker Balloon Escape".

My kids may have played with lego's but I have no memory of sitting with them and going through the instructions, step by step, so that the prized toy comes together.

Tonight we did the Joker with his balloons and Batman with his grappling hook.

I had no idea such happiness could come from this toy.  We took it with us to see Grandfather yesterday, but we took it in the box where it was to stay.  Today I was just looking at the box and being overwhelmed with desire to open it.

That anticipation paid off today in double happiness.  Two parts of the toy are together.  Tomorrow we will tackle the third ... after more Reading Club.


Defying Gravity - A Post from Moiya

At this time of the year we sometimes get this picture.

 I have icicles that are defying gravity.

Look closely and you might see what seem to be icicles heading straight for the sky.

We also get this unbelievable landscape of ice on the water with such straight lines.

It almost looks like a farmers field with summer fallow.

Wish you were all here to enjoy this!

Love Moiya

Noah's Ark

"I will get your more animals, Michael."
For some reason I was talking to Michael, Alice and Betty about Noah's ark.

Perhaps it was raining outside. Or perhaps we had been singing a song about rainbows.

I can't remember. But I got into my head the idea that I might talk to them about Noah's ark.

Soon I was out shopping, first for a good replica of Noah's ark, and then for animals.

I could buy Noah and a cardboard stand-up ark with waves that would encircle it.

... some animals can go in through the door and some through the roof ...
But covering the earth with water isn't quite as interesting as figuring out which animals can go in the ark, and which can stay out.

Next I found a plastic ark.

Michael figured that the turtle could just swim along, making room for more of the walking animals to get inside.

I got curious about buying plastic animals -- ones that could fit inside the ark, and buying doubles, of course, because they should go into the ark, two by two.

... small red shot glass is just the right size for Alice ...
 ...the downside is I have to fill it quite often ...
I can't figure out if this is fun for me, or fun for the kids.

I did buy some cups and saucers with Wyona, tiny ones that I can fill with cake batter and bake in the oven.

I use them for snacks, but they wobble at bit.  I was not that enchanted with them.

Wyona put hers to good use and since I wasn't using mine, asked if she could buy mine off of me.  I said yes.  Then I went home and memetic desire spring up in my chest.  I don't think I can hand them over to her.  I didn't really want them until she expressed a desire for them.

Go figure.


Ice Cream Bars

... I will take these last 2 pieces out of the drawer ...
We took ice cream bars to Grandfather on Sunday.


There were 8 in a package, vanilla ice-cream enrobed in chocolate.

The is a Superstore just a couple of blocks away from Agecare Seton, so we parked and made our way to the freezer section – half an isle, four shelves high, popsicle and ice cream confections.

... your move first, dad ...
Richard walked up and down the isle, showing his children from where to where – begin here and look at all of the treats all up to this point, he told them as he walked up and down the isle, his arms stretching from side to side and top to bottom.

Michael had done some thinking about a banana flavoured stick that Grandmother Joan gives them, and he couldn’t think of anything much tastier than that.

But we moved far beyond the known and bought something new, figuring out all the way in the car, if there were 6 of us eating 8 ice cream bars, who would it be who had to eat the remaining two bars.

I thought eating the bars would be restful, but having the chocolate drop off of the sides as the young and the old bit into the bar, -- that is what kept me busy with wipes on little chins, and hands.

A lot of it got on Kelvin’s blanket, but this was done by his own hand.

He was murmuring, “So good.”

Those bars aren’t that easy to eat when the space between the hand in which you are holding the bar and your mouth seems like a long distance, as it does for Kelvin now.

Easter decorations are in grandfather’s room.

Over the years I have collected them, never really thinking that they needed to be childproof.

.. a drawer full of crokinole pieces ...
 I was thinking of beauty or price point when I originally purchased them.

One ceramic bunny is now three pieces instead of one.

And I have 3 crates of chickens who are in nests, laying eggs.

All of the eggs did not survive.

Nor the crates.

 They are flimsy, but we could press the slats back together into the staples that had come loose and get the hens into their nests before we left.

Betty spent a lot of her time at an acrylic 3 story bunny hutch, a useless object.

But she took mini-jelly beans and was hiding them in all of the small rooms.

I was afraid she would drop the crystal glass container that holds the candy, so I put some in a small sacrament-shaped pill container for her.

I have some eggs decorated in the colourful Ukrainian style, but done with paper, so Betty put them in grandfather’s arm which was just circled on his chest in a way that would contain them on his bed.

I can put one more on top!
It didn’t matter how many times they rolled off of the bed.

Aunt Rebecca face timed in and told us the story of the lives of the people who live with her.

It was after 1 pm and the big boys still weren’t out of bed yet, so at least Michael has something to look forward to when he is a teen.

She told us that Kiwi, in her old age, has learned how to hop up on the electric blanket and turn the heat on during the day.

 I don’t know if this makes her a smart dog or a dumb dog.

Rebecca was making bread – one thick with pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, sesame seeds and multiple kinds of flour.

I can just imagine what the first slice of that tasted like, all dripping with butter.

We left Grandfather with a tidy room (clean-up is never fun) and he was listening to the calming music channels on TV, a nice Rimsky Korsakov chamber piece.

This bunny didn't make it through the day.
The second part of our mission at Agecare Seton was to play crokinole, since we had missed that gameboard the week before.

 When we got downstairs, someone had booked the big room and there was a family party going on there, and spilling out into the main game spot.

Boys had put together a ping pong table and there were more men around the pool table than there had been the week before.

We joined them, sat down and played our games gleefully.

Richard told me that he has to watch the older kids, but he doesn’t have to watch 20 month old Betty.

She stays in reaching distance of one or the other of her siblings, or entertains herself by climbing on empty chairs or she is on the floor under tables.

But she is always nearby.

 ... that is funny about Kiwi, Aunt Rebecca ...
Grandfather told us to bring him back some Easter eggs next Sunday – the kind that have candy that simulates egg whites and a yolk inside of the chocolate.

I will bring lots for him.

Anything that he is not up to eating, the other five of us will consume.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Best Present Ever

 ... my day can't be made much better than this ...

I have been trying to think of what has been the best thing that happened to me today.

I had a trip to the podiatrist whose ministrations make my feet feel much better.

I was measured for  orthodics, so hip hooray for me.

I saw a man who was unresponsive on the c-train platform so I got to report that and then watch the medical aid (and the peace officers) people come.

... best present ever ...
I picked up my car from the mechanic. He fixed it Dave Wood's way, since they no longer make the parts for the car that I need.  So together we are making it road worthy just one more time.  I count that as a bonus for the day.

But the best part of my day?  In the mail, I received the twin hat for the one that Catherine has, a hat knitted for each of us by Naomi Brooks.

I have another hat that I usually wear on marches, a navy crotcheted summer hat plastered with political buttons.  Now I have one hat for summer marches and one for winter marches.

Bring the walks on!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Agecare Seton’s Game Space

So, grandfather is sitting by the window.
That will give us a chance to see how this bed works.
A four star hotel would not have the game space that is available for the clients at Seton.

The only game space is not the room where Kelvin resides.

There is another.

While he was getting some help from his friend, Sunny, Richard and I and Richard's kids slipped down to see the amazing fish tank in the main foyer. This fish tank is build into the wall and we could see it from the main entrance and then the same fish tank along an inner wall. This morning, at breakfast, I told the kids that the length of the fish tank was equal to the length of their kitchen nook wall, but now I think it was longer. And the fish were exquisitely beautiful.

We wandered over to the chess table and brought five chairs up to it – moving the white and black pawns, knights, kings, queens and castles into any position we wanted until they were knocked off the board – with the gentlest of pushes, after a lot of coaching.

The shuffle board table was long and sleek. Betty was too small to get her hands over the top of the rim and onto the board, but Michael and Alice were just the right size to keep those heavy round circles going up and down the board. I noticed that Richard finally began collecting them all and going to one side first and giving Michael a turn, and then bringing them all to Alice so she could take an equal number of turns. No fingers got smash, another miracle.

Next to this table was the hockey table where the pucks flew up and down the shiny surfaces, even dropping into the goal to scream of joy from Richard and me. Any reason to celebrate – especially when points are accumulated by children.

Now that my brother and sister are gone,
I will see if a full body press
will make this bed move.
I liked the curling table, which came next, the rocks spinning in circles as they would enter the target. I had to come home and look up the jargon that is used in the game of curling, having only curled once. Lucky a person can’t loose their Canadian citizenship over such an admission.

There is a quiet room at Seton, filled with lava lamps, soft music and a pattern of stars can be set so that it operates on the ceiling.

The only downside of our trip to the games room is that there wasn’t time to try the Crokinole game. Michael has been asking all week if we can get to that game first when we go on tomorrow to see Grandfather again. I was curious as to where this game originated. I would have had no idea that “the earliest known crokinole board was made by craftsman Eckhardt Wettlaufer in 1876 in Perth County, Ontario, Canada. Several other home-made boards of southwestern Ontario origin, and dating from the 1870s, have been discovered since the 1990s.”

Well, there is a childhood game I know more about (than I know about curling) and which I am about to introduce to Michael tomorrow.


The Funnies

"My grandmother made me a hat out of the comics."
I continue to tear out the Comics page from the newspaper and save them to read with Michael.

But we are behind in our reading time together, so I took my growing collection of funnies over to their house so that we could read after breakfast. 

Michael is intent on reading – at least the titles to the strips.

"Let's read Sherman's Lagoon Next.  And then The Pooch Cafe."
And we have been learning to figure out what the pictures mean. Betty and Alice couldn’t stay away from us and wanted to do something as well.

So in tandem with reading to Michael, Betty sat in the high chair with us, scrunching up one of the papers until it was a small ball.

Alice took the paper to the floor, under the table, and began to smooth it out and fold it up.

In trying to entertain them, I had folded one of the newspapers up and tucked it under a doll’s arm.

"How tight can I fold these comics?"
To know that I am really on my game, I would have had to have had 3 more children beside me, each trying to be the only one on my lap.


The Disappearing Trick

Duncan joined us at Agecare Seton via Facetime – that modern day miracle that brings far away families together in the best way.

He turned 16 on March 5th.

He was Rebecca’s helper while she performed tricks of magic on him. She took 8 coloured pens in her hand and then with each, she tucked it into his hair and the coloured pencil disappeared. 

Red. Yellow. Blue. Green. Fushia. Neon Pink. 

She slipped them into his hair and they disappeared.

The second part of her trick was taking them out one by one: … five, six, seven but she couldn’t find the eighth! She took both hands and ran her fingers over the top of his head, patting and pushing until she found the last one.

Duncan and Rebecca should go on the road with that trick.


HOME ECONOMICS 150 years of Canadian Hooked Rugs

The Nickle Galleries is hosting a hooked rug exhibition called HOME ECONOMICS 150 years of Canadian Hooked Rugs.  I have been wanting to see this and today I was on campus, so I slipped over to the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) hoping that they would be open.

Hooked rug with polar bears,
Grenfell Mission, Newfoundland and Labrador,
after 1916, Gift of Ginny Sloan,
Textile Museum of Canada.
One of Eliana El Khoury's friends was with me, someone Eliana knew from the Toast Mistress group.  Jackie and I walked into the gallery, first enjoying the John Hall: Travelling Light A forty-five-year survey of paintings.  But our mission was to get to the hooked rugs exhibition, since both of us grew up in homes where our mothers had hooked rugs.  I was telling Jackie that I still have the metal tools that my mother used when she made braided rugs.  I don't remember now, where the rug hook that my mother owned went to.

At any rate, it is hard not to be interested in a utilitarian art that has now turned into collector's items.

Hooked rug with beaver, Canada, c. 1940, 
Textile Museum of Canada.
The most surprising element of the collection was a rugged hooked by Emily Carr.  Apparently she hooked rugs to make money and one of them went to England and has now been returned and is travelling with this exhibition.

I am wanting to take the three grandchildren next door over to see these rugs.  Why not get them into an Art Gallery.  I do remember reading that it is OK to take children into a gallery, just look at one or two pieces and then to leave.  The idea is to give them a taste of what is inside and get them out again before they get bored.

Getting bored is no problem here.  The rugs are curated into groupings that are interesting:  French Canada, the East Coast, farm scenes, one rug is named Laura Secord, so I shall try to tell them the story about Laura Secord before we get over there with the kids. And I think that might have been my favourite rug.

March 16th at noon there is an official Exhibition Tour of the Gallery by Michele Hardy.

There is a talk on March 23 called Textile and Texting: New Generations by Giuseppe di Leo.

March 30th, the noon hour talk is "Who are 'The Folk'?  Folkloristics and the Creation of a Subject" by Kevin Anderson.

Well, there you go.

Hope to see you at the Nickle.

At least if  you have even a passing curiosity about hooked rugs.  The exhibition is inside the gallery, on the upper floor.

Everyone Welcome - Always free!