The Blythe Sojourn (1998 - 2000)

As practising Seventh-Day Adventists, and total vegetarians as well, life in Blythe is somewhat different to that of Marsha's home in Canada. Here, there is a complete absence of meat of any kind which includes beef, chicken, fish, pork etc. Eggs and cows milk are not used, but analogues are substituted, such as flavoured gluten from flour, a chicken substitute made from soy and cleverly prepared to look like and taste like chicken meat -called "Wham", also produced from soy, and pleasantly flavoured There are also several varieties to represent and replace meat and fish spreads, and a milk-like product is made to replace cows' milk
Great emphasis is placed on the use of fruit, vegetables and all natural products, and even the timing of meals is somewhat different; larger meals being preferred as the first meal, and smaller ones in the late evening. In view of the recent furore about "Mad Cow Disease", there is a great deal of regard about the food one eats, and a lot of people are now looking at their food intake much more seriously.
It does, however, take some adjusting to, but there is no doubt that the benefits derived from a vegetarian diet could be very helpful.
Life in Blythe is rather quiet. It is a new area of California in which Gordon and Arna are now living, and as a result, there are just a few friends. ' The area is a new one, and the houses are all newly built. The town was originally an agricultural one, in this low desert area, but with a large prison now erected here, most of the residents are in some way connected with it. By virtue of being low desert, the daytime temperature rises to around 100-120 in the summer, and during the winter, it stays at about 70°F, which makes it a pleasant place to spend the fall, winter and early spring.
I spent a few days here, just a couple of years ago, and I could see the vast improvement which has taken place in just a short time. There are all the regular amenities of a town, with lots of churches, government buildings, public library, supermarket etc., and the streets are nice and wide with proper paved sidewalks.
The main activities of this city are due to the fact that the prison is situated here. There are several thousands of inmates, and apart from what little agriculture there is, everything just revolves around the prison. There is not a great deal of social life, and an extrovert like me could be quite bored. And so I returned to Canada on May 3rd 1998.
On my return to Brandon, I quickly realized I would have to reconstruct a completely new lifestyle. So I joined the Brandon Y.M.C.A. and the nearby Riverview Club. At the ivy,, I recommenced swimming, which I am hoping will help my hip which, for well over a year now has been quite painful. Gordon suggests using the back stroke will be of great benefit to the condition. I combine it with an excellent steam room and "Whirlpool" bath. At the Riverview Club, I do "Floor Shuffle Board" which is a rather mild form of light exercise. I certainly have no intention of ending my life rusting out in a swivel recliner chair, watching T.V.
My latest 'project' is to pre-pay my funeral expenses, and I have already had an interview with the local funeral director concerning this.
During October 1998, a one week's visit was planned with Maureen and Paul from the U.K. to visit Ritchie and family in Edmonton, Alberta.
The bottom flat of 1759, 9th Street was nicely remodelled and looks real good, providing excellent accommodation for both Maureen and Paul in two separate rooms.  Maureen and I traveled by air - (one-way only for Maureen) while Paul, Aubrey and Marsha drove up to Edmonton by van. I however, did the entire trip by plane. While in Alberta we had Agnes' daughter, Ellen over to our hotel and spent a good three hours or so with her.
Paul was a little indisposed and had to be treated, before returning to the U.K.  We enjoyed a reasonable 4-5 days during our stay there and I took the entire family to a good oriental restaurant, chatted over the phone with Ed Jarvis, who had recently lost Jackie his wife, and I condoled with him.
This year, 1998, we had a long fall season. No snow appeared until some time in November, and temperatures were quite pleasant.
As I record this, it is now January 1999, and the temperature goes as low as -30°C. There are intermittent snowfalls, and one has to keep the driveway clear for obvious reasons. I seldom spend the winters here in Brandon, and so I am doing my best to adjust. However, I may yet go to Gordon in California before too long.

During this period, just after I got back from our trip to Saskatoon, Gordon seemed anxious to have me once more at his house in Blythe Ca. As I already had one more return trip available on my Senior coupon with NorthWest Airlines, I decided to make use of it before it expired in March 1999. So, once more, I set fly to Blythe Ca. on January 27the 1999. Marsha induced Aubrey to take a week's leave from his job and go along with me. Yet another late winter visit to Gordon and Arna. This is probably the last time I will visit this area, since Gordon has now been promoted to oversee the Susanville Correctional Institution as C.M.O. (chief medical officer) and is now at the top position there. You may recall that he once worked there.
As a result, he and Arna will be moving home again in a short time, and are about to sell their property in Blythe. Since arriving here with Aubrey, Arna is still employed by the local hospital as a nurse in the obstetrics department. She works 2-3 days a week, and is on call as well.
When Aubrey and I arrived in California, we landed at the ultra modern Ontario Airport, and the weather was just delightful. The surrounding mountains were glistening with snow at the top, with the sun shining on them. A truly picturesque sight!! Arna met us at the airport, and joining a shuttle service we drove through beautiful Palm Springs to a point where Arna's sister Zeta met us, following which we proceeded on the 2-3 hour drive to Blythe, with Aubrey taking over the driving. We stopped at Lisa's home and enjoyed an excellent supper there (all vegetarian). With Gordon arranging to set up his house and work-place in Susanville, and Arna at her job at the hospital in Blythe, it was arranged to use Arna's car, after Aubrey had taken her to the hospital. So, on the day following our arrival, we did some shopping at "Albertson", the only supermarket in town.
As Aubrey was spending just one week with us, it was decided to make a pleasure trip to see the London Bridge at Lake Havasu in the state of Arizona. It was a three-hour ride by car and Aubrey drove all the way and back. Here is a short description of the London Bridge at Lake Havasu in the State of Arizona.
In 1963, Robert McCullock (Snr.) bought the original London Bridge, which was built in 1831. As the bridge began to sink into the river Thames over which it was built, it was dismantled stone by stone, and brought over to Lake Havasu from London England and re-constructed over a man-made inlet on the Colorado river, and is now a major sight-seeing attraction there. Narrated tours are offered aboard various types of watercraft like houseboats, canoes, pontoon boats and sailboats, and the entire build-up around and under the bridge is very strongly reminiscent of a typical London England scene.
The entire area is very scenic and there is no lack of facilities for enjoyment.  On the return drive, we were stopped by a highway patrol car and charged for speeding! However, the tour was greatly appreciated by us all, and we captured quite a few photographs.
The day after our return from our tour of the London Bridge we all visited the Seventh Day Adventist Church with Arna. This was Saturday, January 3e - this branch of the family being 7th Day Adventists -after which we lunched at Lisa's place, their home being just around the corner from Gordon's house. With Aubrey's return to Canada booked for the 3rd of February 1999, we did some shopping around Blythe, Aubrey filling in some spare time with cooking supper for all, which we certainly enjoyed.  Early on Wednesday morning, we left for the airport in Ontario, Calif. and saw Aubrey safely to his place for Brandon.
Following that, life for me in Blythe became somewhat slower, with Arna working at the hospital some of the time. Up to this point, I had not seen Gordon, but he did call most nights, saying how he was progressing with setting up his work in Susanville and arranging to move back to the Yankee Hill house. I made do with taking long walks and keeping the yard tidy.
Gordon's property on Yankee Hill was rented to a family mainly to take care of it, and the well established orchard there, much of which Arna is responsible for creating. Now that they are returning back to be nearer to Gordon's new work-place in Susanville, this property of his is not too far away, and they plan to make it their home once again. The tenants have already moved out, and the home on Yankee Hill is now in the process of renovation (carpets and paint etc.) and the move should be a "fait accompli" in a short while. Surprisingly, the weather in Blythe is cooler than I expected but it has been explained to me that being a desert, with no trees, just sand and scrub growth, after it heats up during the day, the temperature just evaporates at night, sincere there is nothing to hold it in. Quite a contrast to life in Brandon, Canada.
Saturday February 13th 1999. Once again I attend the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The service and hymns are all in Spanish, with an English translation of the sermon after every sentence or so, which somehow tends to confuse me, and causes a break in fully understanding what is being said. With just a limited knowledge of Spanish. I find it difficult to follow. Today. at the service. I met Julio Robinson, one of Arna's nephews who, about forty years ago, Emma and I baby-sat when we first visited California. He is now a married man, with a couple of children.
On Sunday 14th February, Arna, who is an ardent bird-watcher (called a birder), took me to the Salton Sea International Bird Festival in the Imperial Valley, California. Several shows were put on, such as how to distinguish birds by colour, shape, etc. Lots of pictures were displayed on a screen and various peculiar features of each type of bird were pointed out. Following this, a lady bird and animal trainer came on and she showed how with proper care and patience, a small parrot could be trained to push objects off the table, and even play basketball. She had a macaw trained to fly to the outstretched fingers of various members of the audience. There was also a monkey, displaying several tricks. Later on a huge bird, a South American vulture was brought on and several flights were performed by it. Finally, an albino boa constrictor was exhibited, white in colour with cream spots. It was about three years old and weighed about sixty pounds and was roughly fifteen feet in length. The trainer had it wrapped twice around her waist with four to five feet left over.
At this point we took a lunch break and then resumed to a one to two hour symposium, which featured photographs of birds in Morocco, north West Africa. Some of the speakers were associated with the Cornel University. Arna certainly enjoyed these shows.
A dull period followed this, in which I made arrangements to return to Canada on March 15th 1999. will Gordon will be coming back to Blythe on the last day of February 1999. At least, I'll be able to see him for a couple of weeks before leaving. Actually, he returned to Blythe from Susanville on the 27h February, one day earlier, and we were glad to have him back.
During that dull period aforementioned, following the bird show, I enjoyed two separate outings with friends, neighbours of Gordon and Arna. The first was a supper date with Dr Mohamed Olavi, a colleague of Gordon, who invited me to a home-cooked meal, comprising an exotic salad, saffron flavoured rice done up with select pieces of beef and a variety of fruits. He is Iranian, and is a qualified and boarded surgeon as well. He returns to Iran occasionally but enjoys working in California. At the moment, he is unattached and he prepared the meal all by himself. I need hardly tell you how much I enjoyed that evening.
The other outing was from our next door neighbours Christopher and Juana, both of whom invited me to what I believe is the nicest eating place in Blythe - "The Sizzler". We had chicken and all the usual accessories, but the tone of the place was very impressive. There were lots of "Snow Birds" in attendance as well.
Christopher was originally from British Honduras, while his wife Juana is of Mexican or Spanish origin. She is a housewife with three children, one of whom - an eighteen-year-old boy is now in the Marines. The other two kids are at school.
The Blythe house has not yet been sold, but several people have looked at it. Gordon traded his Honda for a new Toyota type enclosed 4-runner vehicle. It is certainly more practical for long country runs and climbing hilly terrain. He will be here in Blythe for at least one to three weeks.
We plan to go to Loma Linda University from March 8th to 10th for Gordon's ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). I will go along with him and hope to visit the Pharmacy section where I spent the last six-seven years of my working life. Arna will also be attending her continuation classes in nursing about the same time.
In talking to Marsha and Maureen over the telephone. there is a plan for the three of us to be together in England some time in April - May this year (1999). It will probably be my last visit to the Old Country.
All set now to take my leave of Blythe. Gordon and I plan to set off for Palm Springs on Sunday 14th March 1999, where we are invited to stop over for a fruit lunch at the home of Dr Alavi's lady friend. en route to a motel in Ontario (Ca.). Here we will overnight so as to catch the 8.05 a.m. plane for my return trip to Canada.
The timing of my visit was good. The weather in Blythe is now beginning to change from a very pleasant winter (60° F. average). It is now beginning to warm up when it finally reaches 120°-140° F.
Just about right for a winter 'stop-over'. I made the journey quite easily from Ontario Airport (Ca.) to Minneapolis where I had to wait a bit. then on to Winnipeg. Aubrey and Marsha were waiting for me and on the way home to Brandon; we had a real nice supper at the "Key". Back to my old quarters at home in 1759 9th Street. I feel so greatly relaxed.
Wednesday 12th May we were taken to see Oklahoma! at the Lyceum Theatre. The area in which the Lyceum is situated is quite a maze and after quite a little effort, we finally made it, just about 5-10 minutes late.
This theatre is built in a series of about one dozen winding staircases, and it certainly reminded me of the trip I made to Radio City Music Hall two years ago. The decor in the theatre was spectacular and the performance very good. It lasted about 21/2 hours. What a fitting climax to Marsha's holiday in Britain and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
And so it comes to May 13th and we regretfully see Marsha off this morning, on her way back to Canada and her house.
On Sunday 16th May, Gordon called from Yankee Hill Ca., where he spends weekends from his work in Susanville. Arna has not yet left Blythe. He said the home was all ready and waiting for full occupation. He wanted to know when I was coming. Having told him of my sinus problem, he suggested frequent hot compresses, so I am trying that.
Monday 17th May, Maureen and I visit the doctor (Dr Straikh) an Indian. After examining Maureen who had a swelling on her neck, I complimented him on the way he talked to her and examined her. I mentioned how he reminded me of the way Gordon handles and talks to his patients. He appeared to be flattered by my observation then offered to look at my sinus situation. He prescribed a nose drops made of 0.5% Ephedrine and did not charge. The pharmacy which supplied the drops did not charge either. This is really the first time I have had a sinus complaint and it really bothers me.
At Maureen's home (115 Eastcote Avenue) I do my best to help in tidying up the garden and hedge in front etc. I also bake a little bread and make some granola. During the following week we do some shopping etc., and I make valiant attempts to cut the front and back lawns with a "weed-cater", since the regular mower has some fault and would not work. It is later found to have a broken belt, which is replaced.
During the week, the covers for the living room furniture arrived and the fitter made a good job of it. The final touches are now all in place and the home is now at the very best it has ever been in all of its many, many years.
During my last few days in Britain, it is arranged that Paul would take us driving into Kew Gardens where we spent the greater part of the afternoon. What a wonderful selection of plants from every part of the world, and so delightfully displayed. Small wonder this garden is without question the very finest in the entire world. We took a series of photographs. Before I flew back to Canada the following Thursday, we had quite a few visitors who came to say goodbye.
On this occasion, I did not find it possible to visit my best friends, Sonny and Joyce Barrow, who live in Lincoln, and are about two hours away by fast train. Joyce was somewhat unwell, and I was not in top condition either. This friendship went all the way back to our teenage years, and has lasted ever since We are both nonagenarians.
The flight back to Winnipeg via Toronto was uneventful and reasonably comfortable. I enjoyed complete Hospitality Service and was wheeled all around the huge Heathrow Airport, as well as at the Toronto Airport. The service was good, and I think it is an encouragement for seniors to travel more.  The food also was good, and both 'take-offs' and 'touch downs' were smooth. Marsha and Mary Carr were at the Winnipeg Airport waiting for me in the new Chevy van they just acquired for the business. My sinus condition still persists, so I go to visit my doctor in Brandon. He is such a cheerful fellow, and enjoyed my description of "Elveden Forest", Center Parcs. He told me that the managing director of these parks is a good friend of his. My doctor is a Scot by birth. He prescribed a new preparation "Nasonex"", and it is simply wonderful. Sinus almost gone.
It took quite a couple of weeks to overcome 'jet-lag', especially since there were two adjustments in just one month.
Returning to my old Canadian haunts I re-joined the floor Shuffleboard Club, playing every Tuesday and Thursday for a couple of hours each time.
I didn't lose any time putting the garden and lawns into shape, and with the help of our neighbours, this was quickly done. I put in potatoes, onions, carrots and tomatoes right away, and we went overboard a bit and put in some expensive perennials like 'dogwood' etc. in the front strip around the house. Already the kitchen garden is coming alive, potatoes, onions and tomatoes all alive and looking healthy. During this summer (1999) I keep busy with trimming the fruit trees mowing the very extensive lawns (both front and back) and at the moment I am painting the entire front fence along Balmoral Bay as well as along the rather large driveway.
Keeping active is certainly helping me to stay fit and enjoy what is left of life for a 93-year-old!
During the fall of 1999, I made plans to go to the Moose Jaw Mineral Springs and Hotel for a 4-day tour, but the trip did not materialize. The travel company, Fehr Way Tours cancelled the trip as they did not have a sufficient quota to warrant having it. I had planned to take Marsha along, as we were both disappointed.
The decorative trees on our front lawn have grown quite tall and spreading much, that the leaves, which are now falling (of a golden brown colour), are now just cluttering up the front entrance. Will wait a while before trying to collect them.
October 26th 1999. Arranged to travel to Gordon in Yankee Hill on November 7th and will travel on the usual Senior Coupon ticket, allowing me two return trips within the space of one year. Last Sunday afternoon on October 24h, I took Aubrey, Marsha and Dori to the Fall Festival Supper Dance at the Canadian Veteran's Hall and we really enjoyed it.
November 7th 1999. All set to travel this morning for Yankee hill via Minneapolis. Was met at Sacramento Airport by Gordon and Arna, who arrived about half an hour late, just before I was beginning to telephone. I settled in as much as possible, and although the house was not yet completed (a good lot of the packages were still in the garage unopened). There was a lot of cut wood piled up in the yard in preparation for the Y2K experience.
Gordon works in Susanville Ca. and is now at the top level in the medical section. He travels the two-hour car ride every weekend, and both he and Arna are making an effort to re-establish a permanent home in Yankee Hill, while they lived in Blythe. The home here was tenanted and now that they have returned, there is quite a bit of work to do to bring the home and the big orchard back to normal.
As Seventh Day Adventists, they attend the local church here and of course, I just pop along. The nice little apartment which Emma and I occupied when we lived here in 1984 is now loaded with surplus furniture, but is still a very usable place for a couple. It is fitted with every convenience. I renewed my acquaintance with the two nearby neighbours who still live here, and they seemed to still enjoy me. From the large glass sliding door which goes out to the back porch, it is possible to see the area, near to Lake Oroville where Emma's cremated ashes lie. We had both decided on cremation and I have already made arrangements to have my ashes placed in the Brandon Cemetery when I pass away. I made every effort to arrange for my ashes, when I die, to be strewn along with Emma's on the bank of Lake Oroville, but the authorities notified me that it was recently decided not to permit this, since houses were now being built in this area.
On December 1st 1999, Arna and I went visiting the Senior citizens Club in Paradise as well as the Performing Arts Auditorium, and on the way we paid a visit to the Knibbs, old friends of ours.
On the way back home, it seemed that I felt a bit faint, and Arna, who was driving, said she that I became pale. She tried to find my pulse, but said it was absent. She then drove us straight to the emergency department of the feather River Hospital, and there I was examined and recommended to remain at least for the night for examination, etc. After lots of tests such as heart monitoring, electrocardiogram, blood pressure, I was advised, with Gordon's consent (who we called by telephone) to stay overnight since my hemoglobin was quite low.
I was put in a room with a man who was fat (357 pounds) and Doctor Mansell, a good friend of both Gordon and myself, was to take care of me. He is a specialist and gastroenterologist, and was indeed very friendly indeed, bringing me a flowering Azalea plant for my room. I was also removed to a single room, complete with shower and television. The following day, he took care of my stomach, inserting a flexible tube through my mouth into the stomach complete with a tiny camera at the tip, and photographed the site. It disclosed a bleeding ulcer on my duodenum, and he proceeded to take care of it.
The beauty of the technique was that during the procedure, there was no pain or even discomfort, having taken care of this through an intravenous drip in the arm. There was just a slight roughness in the throat where the tube passed into the affected area. Following this disclosure, I was advised by Dr Mansell that since I was now in hospital it would be wise to have my colon examined, as an upset stomach could really cause infection of the colon, where much of the body's debris is found. So, on Friday evening I was taken back to the surgical. room and again, there was no discomfort during the surgery. Again, pictures were taken and what was disclosed required a bit of trimming.
On the following day, I was discharged and I must say that the treatment at the hospital was particularly good. Many year's ago, (about 20 years) I had occasion to spend a day or two at this hospital, and I must say there is a vast difference in the very modern technique and care of this institution. I was discharged on Saturday 3rd December 1999, and Gordon who collected me, drove straight to the church before going on home. We even had a lunch after the service, prepared in the annex of the church.
At this point, I must recall that my wife's memorial service was held in this very building, after she had passed away in 1984.
Today is December 7th 1999 and Marsha called. It is their wedding anniversary and tomorrow is Aubrey's birthday. I tried to get through by telephone but the lines were all busy. However, later that night Marsha called and we were able to have a little chat. She said they were both off duty and were going out to have a little celebration.
On the following day, Maureen called and we too, had a little chat. During our conversation, my voice just disappeared and I had to conclude the conversation in tears. It was the first time I have shed tears for a long time and I was quite upset with myself.
At the hospital, I was treated with very powerful drugs and these have affected my brain a great deal.
As an example, I would begin to speak, then all of a sudden, would be unable to complete the words to end the sentence. A sort of "intermittent confusion" due to powerful antibiotics. As a result, both Gordon and the surgeon who attended me, stopped the treatment of the antibiotic drugs. It is taking some time to resume my slurred speech. Having stopped all medications for a few days, I have now regained the ability to speak normally. At this point Dr Mansell gave me a different type of medication called "Zantac", and this seems to be helping somewhat.
I now include, as a separate chapter, a copy of the various procedures done at the hospital to take care of my ulcerated stomach, and also of the work done on my colon. It would seem that the news of my illness got around quickly, and I received messages of comfort from Marsha, Maureen, Joan and Mark in Santa Barbara, and Michael in St Lucia.
It is quite obvious that I will have to spend some time in California, as it is now the heavy winter season in Canada. Perhaps it is just as well that I became ill while in California, as I may have had to wait a while for surgery if I was still in Canada.
I was indeed very fortunate in having Dr Mansell, who is not only a very popular Gastro-enterologist, but also a colleague of Gordon, my son, and a good friend of our family as well.
Following a visit to Dr Mansell's office, I was told to have a blood test at the lab, since my haemoglobin was too low. It did show an improvement, but we are trying to increase it still further. Am still awaiting the bill for hospital services etc. I am afraid it will be quite a large one. But we will soon find out. Today is Wednesday 22nd December 1999 and Christmas is just three days off. Had a long chat with Maureen yesterday, and she is just fine.
Gordon came home from his workplace in Susanville and spent the next few days with us here in Yankee Hill. It was a quiet affair, and it is suggested that next week, which involves the year end, and the apprehension that Y2K (the much discussed Millennium) is causing, and he has to be on duty throughout the night of December 31st as a precautionary move; to be on hand in case of emergencies that we (Arna and I) stay over at his two-bedroom apartment and spend the weekend with him. So we packed up and did just that.
While in Susanville, I had the privilege of being allowed to go through the prison, past the electrified gates and all the security needed to avoid prisoners escaping. It was quite cold going from one enclosure to another, for as you know, Susanville is somewhere in the region of 4-5 thousand feet above sea level. It was quite amazing how much protection there was to prevent escapees. I spent several hours with Gordon and his group of senior officials who were at "stand-by" in case of an emergency, and a possible riot over the Y2K situation. But fortunately, nothing happened. It was,
however, to avoid any such possibility in case there was a 'glitch' over the change over to the year 2000. Fortunately, there was lots and lots of food and drink to take care of the long waiting. After hanging around for quite a few hours, Gordon took me home, though he returned to be on call (if necessary) and did not get home to bed until about three o'clock in the morning.
For following day, Saturday 1st January 2000 was also the Adventists Sabbath, so I accompanied Gordon to church, and we afterwards bad the midday meal at Elvis's (Robinson) place, where a lot of other church members accumulated. On the following day, Sunday, Gordon drove Arna and myself back home to Yankee Hill, returning the same afternoon to his workplace in Susanville. The drive each way takes two hours.
Back on Yankee Hill after the brief spell at Susanville, Arna and I pitched into clearing up the house and finding places for articles still stored in the double garage. We certainly tidied up Gordon's office, made space for his computer and other accessories to be removed into it. Having done this, we then proceeded to fit up a guest bedroom, especially since Mark, Barbara and Aidan will be spending a short time with us here. We did a reasonable job on this, and left the computer etc. for Gordon to move over to his office when he comes down next weekend.
There area number of pine trees, towering above the house and in very close proximity to the building. which shed pine needles and dry leaves in the fall and early winter. This provides a grave hazard to the home especially during the summer months. For the third time during the last year, Gordon has had to climb onto the roof, clear the leaves and needles away and unblock the draining gutters of the accumulated stuff. This is a rather risky operation, as one has to get quite close to the edge to do this and for people of advanced years, like Gordon, this is certainly not recommended. I mentioned this to both Arna and Gordon and suggested that the pine trees be either cut down or severely trimmed to be away from the house which will obviate the need to clean the roof of leaves etc.
Apart from the danger involved, there is also the fire hazard. Frequent forest fires are started by lightning, and in a thickly wooded area like this a lot of damage is possible. Pine needles and leaves are excellent fire material; the fire brigade refuses to handle situations where homes are built too near to combustible trees. Arna, however, is a great tree-lover, and refuses to consider removing or even severely trimming the trees adjoining the house. We had quite a discussion about this.
For the first time since I arrived in California rain fell with rather strong winds. This is as wintry as it gets in this part of the state so we are kept indoors, cleaning and tidying up in preparation for Mark, Barbara and Aidan's arrival in a couple of days for a short visit.
They arrived promptly on Saturday afternoon. It was good to see how well they were. Aidan, at just one year old was as ambulatory as ever and was truly a very charming little fellow. Mark and family drove in from the Sacramento Airport in a hired car which they kept for the duration of the stay here.  We had a nicely furnished room set up for the trio.
Gordon was down for the weekend so it all fitted in well, as the following Monday was a holiday, Martin Luther King's birthday.
I am still awaiting the hospital bill; only little bits and pieces of it have come in, but not the major one.. It scares me! I must admit, however, that it was indeed fortunate for me to have Dr Mansell as my doctor. He is not only an expert in his field, but also a very kind person. He even brought me a flowering Azalea plant to brighten up my room, and also provided me with ample supplies of the medications (as samples) that I would normally have had to purchase. On a previous visit to California I almost had a game of golf with him but I guess he was too busy, as it never took place.
Apart from the excellent service provided by the doctor, the hospital also gave me "Medication Education Sheets" which gave suggestions regarding: 'How to take' (medications); 'Missed doses'; 'Side effects, etc. and 'Precautions' with respect to 'side effects'. After a couple of days I noticed that there was a difficulty in speaking. I found it impossible to say words, and it really bothered me.
Reporting this to both Dr Mansell and my son Gordon, I was advised to stop the medication. It was apparently too powerful and the temporary lack of speech no longer existed. Another of the tablets, Zantac, seemed to induce "Tackycardia", which is a rapid heart beat. So this too was reduced to a much smaller dose per day.
As I record this, it is about a full month since I left the hospital, and I seem to be mending rather well. I take regular walks in the early mornings using the rather hilly terrain on Yankee Hill and doing my normal daily calisthenics. The absence of meat, fish, etc. from the diet here seems to be of some benefit to me and the vegetarian diet is certainly helping me to keep in shape. A great deal of fruit is eaten - what a pity this is not easily attainable in Canada.
On Friday 11th February, Gordie my grandson arrived for the weekend to spend it with us here in Yankee Hill. He now works in Seattle, Washington and we were all happy to see him. He has written a book "Tao of Time" and hopes to have it published soon. While here with us this weekend, he will give a 'talk' on matters biblical, and it should all tie in with his proposed publication. We propose holding his talk at the home of Gladys Mansell in Paradise before he returns to his workplace in Seattle, in the State of Washington. He looks remarkably well.
Today also, Michael called us from St Lucia and we were so glad to hear from him. He is still travelling from island to island - Trinidad, Barbados, Dominique etc. in pursuit of his present job of selecting possible students for higher education, but in June of this year he has an appointment in Virginia to do lecture tours which, he says, will last for about one year.
Joan too called us from Santa Barbara where she is with her son Mark and Barbara and their little son. She will spend about one month there after which she goes over to Cathy, her daughter, in England. From their conversation with me, it is very obvious that they are still very much in love with each other.
In the course of my stay in California during the winter I was introduced to a widow, Adele Bryson, who is a friend of Gordon and Arna. She lives a good deal further along the wooded area of Concow, which is further along from Yankee Hill. After several visits to Gordon's home, she became quite friendly and I offered to take her to supper one evening at the 'Home Style Buffet'. Three times married, she proved to be quite interesting. I am sure she will be a really good friend.
Tuesday 23 February 2000 was quite an unusual day here in Yankee Hill California. In the first place, Arna had gone to Blythe on a weekend visit to see her mother who is ill and just Gordon and I were at home. A violent rainstorm blew in and just by chance, Gordon had to return to work early that morning. As explained, his workplace entails a two-hour drive along a mountainous highway all the way to Susanville, and the rain continued incessantly.
At about 9.00 am, without any warning, the lights went out and all the electrical appliances, freezer, refrigerator, cooking stove, microwave, washing machine and drier etc. In addition, the telephone also died. As a result, all alone, I was left almost incommunicado. Alone in a large house, I waited a full fifteen minutes before deciding on my next step. Then I decided to check on my two sole neighbours, a good couple of hundred yards away. I drew a blank from the one neighbour, but the other one, a couple of hundred yards further away helped me a bit with their telephone, which was working and was not connected to the electrical system.
In contacting these two neighbours, I had to dress up so as to weather the storm outside and got really wet feet. It would appear that the storm had damaged the connection to our district and the telephone people were doing their best on repair work.
By the time I got back home, the water supply had also stopped, so here was I in a large house, all alone, with no electricity, water or telephone access to the rest of the world and in an isolated area, quite far from any town. Fortunately, there is a wood-burning stove in the living room, and this I kept at full blast, feeding it fresh logs from time to time.
As you know, this home has it's own well-water supply, but the pump that furnishes the property is electrically operated. Hence the fact that our supply was cut off However, there was enough distilled water in bottles in the house so there was no problem, but I did collect some stored washing water from a reservoir, which was kept in the basement.
Some time during the midday, I heard a slight tinkle coming from the master bedroom and following the sound, I noticed a tiny telephone in this room. Apparently, it was one I had no knowledge of It was fortunately in working order, so at last I was able to contact both Arna in Blythe, and Gordon in Susanville - was I relieved? But the rainstorm continued to rage along and I learned from Arna that she should be back that same night at about 11.00 pm. Gordon was helpful in suggesting that I do not worry too much, to depend on the flashlights we had, rather than consider using kerosene lamps, which were also available.
The neighbours, (the Middletons) were very kind in coming over and suggesting to take me to have a meal at one of the restaurants, but I declined, thanking them for their offer. Towards 3.30 - 4.00 pm it darkened quite a bit as the skies were overcast and still raining, when to my surprise and joy, the lights came on almost at 4.00 pm on this day. I heard the phone ring, and I recognized that whatever damage had occurred had been taken care of. The call came from Maureen and did she cheer me up!
After finding the telephone in the master bedroom, a call came through from someone I had met many years ago, and, when she heard of my situation, she offered to "rescue" me and take me to her home in Paradise until the situation became normal. I assured her that I was not scared but would survive quite easily. Later that evening, this 'Good Samaritan' drove her car, accompanied by her son, all the 20 miles from her home in Paradise to bring me a supper, consisting of hot soup, a green salad, some fruit, and a large bottle of Cranapple drink. Although I only knew her slightly from many years ago, this is the kind of friend one delights in having. How can anyone forget such a wonderful performance as Gloria Pablovitch's?
Several hours later, Arna came home through the wind and rain, driving her truck all the way from Sacramento to Yankee Hill. By that time, conditions were back to normal and we resumed a more ordinary life.

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