Hey there Diamond Valley! How the heck is everyone doing this February? At the time of writing (the middle of January), restaurants, gyms, and salons and the like were still closed. We were waiting for Trump to be finished in the Oval Office and watching our government officials jetting off to warmer climes. We had rain on January 12 followed by a light snow, which froze up the next day. Better than the massive dump of snow Mother Nature graced us with on December 22. Did Balzac Billy see his shadow on February 2? If he did, six more weeks of winter, if not, we will have an early spring. The town of Balzac started this tradition many years ago. Groundhog Day is an Albertan holiday, but lacking any groundhogs (they apparently like Northern Alberta better than the South), Billy is a mascot. Never mind, it works.
We have pretty lucky so far in that we haven’t had our usual -28 or -30 cold snaps, but perhaps the end of January took care of that. This year’s Coldest Night of the Year Walk will take place on February 20 in Okotoks. Last year was the first annual Walk and $15,000 was raised. The money was split between the Okotoks chapter of Baby It’s Cold Outside (for homeless shelters), and the Okotoks Food Bank. This year, like everything else, will be a bit different, so check out Coldest Night of the Year on Facebook to find out more. Winter Walk Day is another day to “open the door and go for it”, and is another Walk held on February 3 this year. You can find out more details on this walk at winterwalkday.ca. I know that Oilfields High School used to have a program where you could walk the halls when the weather was crappy, so hopefully that will come back into play at some point.
A quick correction regarding last month’s column about Robbie Burns Day, where I said the English have named the turnip and potato dish “neeps and tatties”. Two emails were received that English are not Scottish, which I knew but somehow goofed up, and my apologies for that! I had a lady from Scotland also tell me the story of her horse named Neep-head because he broke into the turnip storage shed and helped himself to quite a few neeps. And she adores haggis! The lady, not the horse. Thanks again for letting me know.
Valentine’s Day is coming up February 14, and I hope you and your other halves will find a pleasant way to spend the day. A famous couple that lived in Black Diamond most likely celebrated their Valentine’s Day in an unusual manner, that of trick-riding. Stastia Carry (nee Cross) was born in 1898 in California, and was a trick rider. She heard about the Wild West from pioneer William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and also had a part in the 1920 movie “Cupid the Cowpuncher”. She met her husband A.J. ( Jim) Carry through the Wild West trick riding circuit and together they formed their own show called “A.J. Carry’s Real Wild West and Hippodrome Attractions”. A.J. was originally from Kirkcaldy, Alberta. When the depression hit, along with the advent of movie theatres, they retired their show and moved to Grand Prairie. Shortly afterwards they moved to Black Diamond, where they managed Colonel J. Fred Scott’s race horse ranch. Stastia passed away in 1995.
Family Day is February 15 this year. It got its start in Alberta when Helen Huntley, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, passed the Family Day Act in 1990, to have the third Monday in February every year a day to give hard working individuals more time to spend with their family. Saskatchewan, B.C., Ontario, and New Brunswick celebrate this day as well. You can fish with your family for free this February long weekend, the 13-15, and can participate in a new GoFISH! Challenge to learn more about responsible angling, Alberta’s fish species, and their habitats. Download a GoFISH! Bingo card and you could win prizes. For more info, visit your.alberta.ca/GoFISH! Please note the free fishing weekend is not in National Parks, to find out where you can fish, check out mywildalberta.ca.
Down the road in Turner Valley and sped up to today, I notice that the Post Office is moving into the old Royal Bank building. They could probably use the room, but did you ever notice how the old post office just feels like an old time building? It even has that smell to it, which is a good smell. I so appreciate the ladies that work in both of our town’s post offices. They are always cheerful and efficient and we get special treatment, I believe, in a small town. I also had to pick up some books at the Library the other day, and you have to go to the back door to do so. While waiting, I had a chance to really notice the mural painted on the west side of the Flare and Derrick. It is a mural of ghosts of oil rig workers, music and arts, river and mountains, things we are known for and love. The mural was painted by Hedda Zahner in 2000. I checked out her website and really enjoyed looking at her work. And just north of the Flare and Derrick is the outdoor ice rink, and there was a sign there saying open but use at your own risk. So at least the kids can skate a little bit there.
The pandemic has been hard on all of us. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten out of the car to head on in to a store or something and, darn it, had to go back to get my mask. Or Heaven forbid, go the wrong way in the one-way aisles! I also had to cut my own bangs and look like a little Dutch boy, which is a cute look if you’re 5 and Dutch. And never in my life did I think my hands would consume more alcohol than my mouth. I have been off my full-time job again for a month or so now, and thought, geez, I should learn Latin or how to play the ukulele, or rescue puppies, or climb Mount Everest, or something worthwhile like that. I realize that after years of thinking I didn’t have the time to do the aforementioned, that this is not the reason and I am basically somewhat lazy. But one thing I did spend some time on was how to help out our seniors and others who have been so terribly affected by all that’s going on. So, here’s a few ideas just in case you are feeling the same way.
Since we are not supposed to be visiting others inside, and long term and assisted living facilities have restrictions on visits and volunteers, do the old-fashioned thing and call and write. Ask if you can run errands, get groceries or prescriptions, and shovel the walk. If possible, use or introduce interactive technology. Eat dinner or lunch together via Skype, as mealtimes are often lonely. Make a playlist of favorite music, or gather a collection of DVDs of old movies and such. Put together a care package of treats, health care products, favorite tea, and games. Wipe down all items and place in a zip lock bag. If you can pop in, this would be a good time to make sure they are eating properly and taking medications. You could also mail old photos, labelled on the back, and kids can draw pictures and write letters also. If possible, suggest helping others through phone calls to check up on friends and others, perhaps your local church could help with this. It’s amazing how much a simple phone call can mean to someone who is isolated. Reign in your impatience, take a breath, and enjoy the simple act of communication with someone you care about.
You could also leave a note on an elderly neighbor’s door, inviting them to call if they need groceries, their garbage taken out, or just to talk. Ask loved ones about their appetites, sleep patterns, and moods, to find any red flags. The Senior’s Help Line (Distress Centre) is 403-264-7700. Senior’s Income Security Programs number is 1-800- 277-9914, and Senior’s Information Line is 1-800-642-3853. Call either town’s FCSS for help and information on taxi subsidies, home care, and more. Alberta Dental and Optical Assistance, Home Adaption and Repair Program, and Special Needs for Seniors, call 1-877-644-9992, and McBride Career Group offers a Mature Worker Program for those 50plus with help for workplace skills and resumes. Let’s hope this nasty pandemic is done with soon so we all can back to normal, and this is especially true for our seniors.
Finally, it is the end of an era for my dear friend George, who passed away in December. You are sorely missed in our little community and that also goes for Lenny, Shauna, and Lorna. George was always there to welcome you to his garage, yard, and home, where the fire was always burning, and he was truly a kind and loving individual. He leaves behind a beautiful daughter, a sweet son-in-law, and three fantastic grandchildren as his legacy. Cheers to you my friend, until we meet again.
Any news for the month of March is welcome, or any historical anecdotes, or not for profit organizations, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. The deadline for this issue is February 15.
Stay smiling and keep on trucking,