UNIQUE SUMMER ACTIVITIES: MOVING; SINGING; SAYING GOODBYE TO A PET; SAYING HELLO TO FAMILY; FINDING HELPS FOR EDITING A MEMOIR AND DRAWING INSIGHTS FROM “DEMENTIA AND THE ARTS”

UNIQUE SUMMER ACTIVITIES: MOVING; SINGING; SAYING GOODBYE TO A PET; SAYING HELLO TO FAMILY; FINDING HELPS FOR EDITING A MEMOIR AND DRAWING INSIGHTS FROM “DEMENTIA AND THE ARTS”

Gayle has been remiss in writing any new blog posts for the past two months as we have been traveling after moving out of our house in Vernon, British Columbia on May 11. We spent another almost-two weeks on the other side of town at an apartment borrowed from friends where we had a beautiful view of the sprawling town below and the area we used to live in around Okanagan Lake in the distance.

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We had delayed our departure so that Gayle could attend a wonderful and challenging three-day Chorfest sponsored by the British Columbia Choral Association. The choir festival was held in Vernon this year, so it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Here is our whole group rehearsing for the finale of our final concert – a lively and moving African number.

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Then we headed east for a grueling three-day car trip through eastern BC and the Rocky Mountains, past the Badlands in Alberta, where we had a stop to photograph Ian and our dog Misty posing with a dinosaur at Drumheller. This time we didn’t tour the Dinosaur Museum as we had done some years ago.

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Continuing northeast through the expanse of Saskatchewan prairies, we finally crossed the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border into the northern Manitoba mining town of Flin Flon, built almost entirely on rock and surrounded with forests and lakes. There we had three weeks to recover and relax with Ian’s daughter and her family.

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Our little Shihpoo, Misty, had not been a happy doggie for the past months, sensing some big change was coming as soon as Gayle had begun to pack up our books in early April. She commenced to show us her anxiety by starting to pee on the carpet in the library/sewing room/second bedroom where the packing was taking place. Unhappily, this continued in our borrowed apartment so that we finally bought her doggie diapers for the trip east. Once we got settled in Flin Flon, however, most of her household “accidents” abated. She spent her time those three weeks (when she wasn’t ensconced on Ian’s lap) getting acquainted with daughter Shirley, her house, husband and their dog, Daisy, a Boston terrier. She also met our married grandchildren and their four toddlers. Below is a photo of the 14 of us (including dogs) one afternoon when we all managed to get together at the same time and place.

The extended Morrans/Lee/Falk Family

Luckily, our grandchildrens’ four dogs weren’t present or we might not have got all of us into one photo. Beside the fact that our new apartment in Winnipeg wasn’t ready for occupancy until June 19th, our ulterior motive for staying in Flin Flon for three weeks was to be sure that Misty would be happy there. You see, we can’t have a pet in our new home, a seniors’ life-lease apartment. Misty was already warming up to her new “parents” by the time we left, although she and Daisy still are a bit wary of each other. Time will tell whether they ever become friends, though they are now “sisters.” Ian, especially, misses her terribly but realizes our parting was necessary.

Previously, we had only met one of these great-grandchildren. Brayden who is now approaching his 4th birthday, introduced us to Lexi, 3, Haylee and Alex, both going on two and just learning to walk. We presented them with copies of our latest book, Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie, which had been dedicated to the youngsters in our blended families and were delighted when Lexi eagerly opened her copy to give it a once-over, while her little brother looked on. She also enjoyed being read to.

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While in Flin Flon we took the opportunity to go through some boxes of photographs we had brought along. As Author Ian has been finding it difficult to answer Editor Gayle’s many questions while she is editing our next book: Ian’s second memoir entitled Came to Canada, Eh? Continuing a Scottish Immigrant’s Story, Gayle was hoping to jog his memory through old photographs.

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She also enlisted daughter Shirley, who had experienced the immigrant situation with her dad, mom and sister, to identify some of the people and places in the photographs. This was a big help. We plan to repeat the experience now that we are settled in Winnipeg and can rely on the memories of Ian’s other daughter living nearby. Some of Gayle’s questions, however, may never be answered. Though she is still enjoy the editing, this book is proving more of a challenge than past books have been.

Below you will find a link to an article in The Guardian that we have found helpful in understanding the dilemma of memory loss that so tragically accompanies cognitive impairment and how that specifically affects artists. How grateful we are that Ian wrote so much and so well while his memory was good.

Words Fail Us: Dementia and the Arts. http://gu.com/p/4ajmv/sb/

THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF A BIBLIOPHILE

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(Note: This post has been delayed over a month as Gayle had started it but has been too busy to finish it until now, three weeks later.)

March 30th, 2015 was a red-letter day for us. Above is a photo of Ian and our realtor celebrating our house sale with good British Columbia wine and some delicious hazelnut chocolates. Gayle had to take the photo so she is missing from the picture, but had her share of wine and chocolates. We have sold our house in British Columbia and will be moving back to Winnipeg, Manitoba starting in late May. The paperwork was signed March 29th by the buyers and us, with all conditions satisfied, downpayment was put into escrow and now arrangements will need to be made with lawyers, movers, lifelease managers, utility companies, etc., etc..

Besides making all the above arrangements, Gayle’s main task will be sorting and packing books. For her, going through her books is a joy, although time-consuming because she is continually tempted to start re-reading them. On the other hand, parting with books is a sorrow. As we age and prepare to down-size our household space, however, it becomes a necessary task.  We will be selling a few pieces of furniture that will not fit into an apartment. Most of our furniture and belongings will be packed by a moving company on May 11th, but Gayle insists on packing the books in the order they will go onto our teak library shelves which at present take up an entire wall, floor to ceiling in our second bedroom and a tall bookshelf in the den, not to mention three shelves of cookbooks in the kitchen and two leather baskets of music books on either side of the piano. The initial task is to cull those books which she thinks she can probably live without–a huge problem for an admitted bibliophile and book collector.

In 1996, after her late husband’s death, Gayle spent about a month going through Gus’s over-1000-book theological library in English, German and Latin and documenting it for an online theological bookseller who bought most of the collection. She also sorted through the other thousand-some volumes of books she and Gus had accumulated over 32 years of marriage, eventually selling to a local used bookstore Gus’s collection of poetry and some other books which did not interest her. That still left a pretty good-sized collection added to in 2003 by Ian’s smaller assortment of machining, how-to and Scottish-flavoured books and copies of the books we have published since 2010 kept in stock for sale locally.

Interesting the items one encounters when sorting through books. Gayle was delighted to find the only copy of “The New Puppy,” the first book she ever wrote–a primitively hand-made white paper book with torn edges and taped seams, containing eight ca.-4-by-4 inch pages, one of which is illustrated with stick figures.  She wanted to scan in that “book” before it got lost again, but that has proved too lengthy a task and has delayed this post being sent out. It will have to wait until after we get settled again.

Finally the books that survived the cull are all packed into boxes piled into a corner of the den. A narrow, six-shelved bookcase (not for sale) awaits our moving sale this weekend, laden with the books Gayle decided she will probably never have time to re-read and, should she want to, she’ll have to borrow them from a library. For sale now are a complete collection of C. P. Snow’s “Strangers and Brothers” series that include 11 volumes on fictional British academia; nine volumes of Ian Flemings’  “007 James Bond” original works in paperback dating from the late ’50s and early 60’s; 14 of Elizabeth Peters’ paperback books about Victorians Amelia Peabody and her husband, Radcliffe Emerson, on their fictional archeological digs in Egypt; Margaret Truman’s 16 mysteries set in Washington, D.C., such as Murder in the White House, Murder in the Supreme Court, etc. –  and then assortments of other books of a great variety. Gayle hopes others will want to buy them at low cost and get as much enjoyment out of them as she has had. We are sure she is going to have some separation anxiety as the books go out our garage door on Saturday. Such is the life of a bibliophile.

SHARING SOME PHOTOS FROM IAN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, “FROM POVERTY TO POVERTY:

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(Gayle, Ian’s wife and editor here.) I decided to share some photos from Ian’s autobiography on this site. Though I wasn’t in the picture, so to speak, for any of these, it was my task to choose them from Ian’s pile of photos, scan and adjust them for the book. That was quite a feat for Ian’s photos from Egypt, of the Campbeltown Pipe Band and of his parents which were taken with the camera he purchased in Egypt. The existing photographs were just a little bigger than a large postage stamp, so it was a challenge to scan and save them to a size that could be printed in the book.  Since Canadian Remembrance Day and the USA’s Veterans’ Day has just passed, we’ve been inundated with photos of military men from the past. Ian’s are from the pre-Suez Canal crisis days in the UK and Egypt (1950-1954). He says he was in the Royal Air Force when they were “feeding them, not needing them.”

Today, November 15th,  we are giving a book reading and discussion at Vertigo Gallery in Vernon BC, as part of their weekly November series “Vertigo Voices.” Ian will be reading from his autobiography “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada” and we’ll be answering questions and discussing the book and the process of writing a memoir.