How to Have a “Vacation” in Saskatchewan

Monday 26 June  – left for the Medellin airport at 07:00

Tuesday 27 Junearrived in Saskatoon 30 hours later. This included a fun-filled nine-hour layover in Bogota.

Mom had the annual ritual food of vegetable soup and buns waiting for me.

My mother playing computer solitaire.

I really didn’t have to eat it consecutively  for lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch, but it was so good that I couldn’t resist.

My sister and her two white rats were at Mom’s. I took the pooches for a walk and learned how to pick up two pooh piles with one plastic bag, so I may add “dog walker” to my list of skills.

Wednesday 28 June – had lunch with John from the class of 71.  Met Bonnie and Brandon Bertram for dinner.

Friends and family wandered in and out, rather like a come and go tea.

All around the table
A typical Hanson pose.
Curtis and Hank hiding

Thursday 29 June – taught a couple of business English lesson to students in China on Skype in the morning.

At 15:00 I went to the local cafe; I am now qualified to report that the news on coffee row hasn’t changed much since August 2016.

Bill — the rebel who planted potatoes in April

Then I went over to check out 90-year-old Bill’s Garden Bar and enjoy a beer.

This year he planted potatoes in April – gasp, shock, horror – and it set up the local gardeners for a verbal twittering. But the plants came up and are doing fine.



Friday 30 June – The Canada 150 celebrations began with registration. Well, the European and various other immigrants may have been in the country since confederation in 1867, but the First Nations People arrived about 15,000 years earlier. I think it is far more interesting, so why don’t we celebrate that too?

Registration for Canada 150

Sharon and I watched the street dance briefly, talked with Earl and decided to go for a glass of wine rather than shiver in the cold beer garden

Kids at the street dance.
Sharon and Earl







Saturday 1 July – checked out the parade. There I encountered various people from way back when.

Shawna’s van “Doris” is decorated for the parade.
Even the seniors get in on the parade.


Sharon at the restaurant.

Sharon and I had dinner at John’s Plate, which we considered a better option that the community supper of “beef on a bun.”

Sunday 2 July – heard “Jody, get up here” and took my mother – who doesn’t do doctors – to emergency. Reflux — — is exceedingly painful, but not fatal, Insha’Allah.

I was told to go to the Hanson tribal gathering at my brother and sister-in-law’s in Wishart – two hours away – but after watching the sunrise I headed for bed.

My brother, Hank, brought Mom home at 18:00, so I was glad I had stayed put.

Monday 3 July – drove to Neudorf to collect Jeannie – whom I have known since I was four.


She went blind a few months after retiring from teaching. Our friend Linda, was in so much chronic pain that she couldn’t join us for our annual lunch.

Then we set out for Dorthey’s “Shut Up and Eat Café.” After gobbling wonderful borsht, perogies and cabbage rolls, I belched softly after the massive second serving.

Dorothy — the chef at the Shut Up and Eat Cafe — and Bob

Dorothy really can’t understand why I want the same menu every year. Stop! Don’t even suggest that I could learn how to cook the dishes myself.

Later Pat arrived in Neudort – complete with a great bottle of Scotch.


She, Jeannie and I sat out on the patio and talked until stupid o’clock.

Tuesday 4 July – handed the phone at 07:00 by Jeannie who said “It’s your mother.” Major heart palpations.

“Don’t go to Wishart as Doug and Gloria have decided they are going to go on the tour with Shelley and me.” My younger sister had decided to take Mom on a trip down memory lane, which included Yarbo – population 27 when I was born – and where the family homestead is located, Esterhazy, Foam Lake and various other places of interest only to those who know where they are.

Wednesday 5 July – watched my mother in her garden.

Mom in her raspberry patch.

Hint – look for the white hat in the raspberry patch.

My friends in Medellin don’t believe that we are all headed for Mom’s basement in the case of a nuclear fall out. Really, does one 83-year old woman need two huge freezers and enough canned food to fill a room? She shares, of course.

Wall one with freezer and preserves



Wall two







Wall three with freezer two


Wall four with more preserves.







Thursday 6 July – headed for Saskatoon. Carol is my personal shopping advisor as she knows where everything is that I need to pick up in Canada.

Consumer mission accomplished, we went to Cecile’s for our annual Gazebo Gathering. Nobody can remember exactly when it all started, but I was living in New Zealand so that means it is more than 20 years ago. We all have a connection with the North somehow or another.

The Gazebo Gatherers

It started out with meeting at a restaurant, evolved to “Borsht and Perogies” at Carol’s and then became the Gazebo Gathering when she moved to Big River.  We all show up with wine, food to share, and stories to tell. Such fun.

Friday 7 July – returned to Watrous for my annual sleep-over at my friend Iris’s house. She is a great cook and has the most comfortable bed ever in her spare room.

Saturday 8 July – organized the Wagner Woman Wrap-up – a gathering of grandmothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, cousins – ages ago when I lived in Australia.

We used to meet for dinner, but it evolved into a Saturday lunch being a better arrangement as some of us like to be home by dark. My cousin, Linda, has now taken it over so all I have to do is get lost and show up half an hour late.

The Wagner women having lunch
Grandmothers, aunts, sisters, nieces, cousins.








Sunday 9 July – hopped on my mother’s bike and headed for the cemetery to have a visit with my father. The day was specifically picked as it would have been my parents’ 66th anniversary. It was also a good time to think about my brothers, Murray and Chris.

My other Canadian project was to re-read Anne of Green Gables. and I finished it that night. As a teenager, I read it at least 23 times and wept miserably every time Matthew died. Perhaps I am getting older, as I just got a bit sniffy this time.

Monday 10 July – applied for my Old Age Security. Yes, that time has arrived and I just hope it slides into my account come February 2018.

My sister-in-law, Del, rocked up and we headed for the liquor store. I told her I had bought a bottle of Saskatchewan wine—cough, cough — as a gift for the artist who made the hand-painted shot glasses that were my present of 2017. She decided to buy a bottle; it may well evaporate before I get there in 2018. Caution: try Wild Willow Cherry Wine at your own risk.

Tuesday 11 July – lunch with Joan is always fun. Later I also stopped in to see 88-year old friend, Clara, who had a stroke a decade or so ago. She is one of the gentlest people on the face of the earth. Also got to baby-mind while my niece, Shawna, cut hair.

Shawna Sissorhands
J babysits while Shawna cuts








Wednesday 12 July – making suggestions is always a touchy topic with the Hansons. So when I asked my brother, Doug, if he and Hank were going to put the sod back for the slab-stone back-door patio they were building for my mother, they told me to piss off. Fortunately, I have a massive ego.

Doug working on the patio


Hank telling me to piss off.








A day of last minute tasks: packed and hoped I could get all the jars of preserves Yoly requested past the scale, washed my Aunt Lena’s car that she generously allowed me to use, double checked the ticket and did other fun things.

Thursday 13 July – caught up with my friend, Charlene, whom I’ve known since I was 14. We sat out on her deck and chattered away. I glanced at my watch and it was 12:03. Wrong. Dead battery it was really 13:30.

So I tossed my already-packed suitcases into the car and headed to return the car to my aunt. Then I took a taxi to the airport, got a boarding pass and cleared security.

The flight to Medellin also had delays and took 33 hours.

This is what Air Canada feeds you for a nine hour delay.

I wasn’t able to get any sleep as Air Canada had booked me into a window seat from Toronto to Bogota. I had bought the ticket in Lima on 24 January – my birthday – as without an onward ticket Avianca Airlines wouldn’t let me board.

I had booked an aisle seat, but the ticket was changed three times and the flight was totally packed without an aisle seat available.

Friday 14 July – arrived in Medellin exhausted. After I slept for two or three days, I recovered and am now back to being as normal as I ever am.

Follow up

Yoly enjoying some of my mother’s Watrous jam in Medellin.