“Rech? How do you say that?” A question I am often asked. My father-in-law was the youngest of thirteen. So it really depends on which brother you are talking to. Some say “Wreak”, some Resch (soft e). My husband uses Ree (long e) with the “ch” like the beginning of the word cheese. His brother, a musician added an “a”, making it Reach, so it would be easier for Emcee’s to introduce him. Their sister gave it up and married a Smith.
When my Dad’s dad came to Canada from Czechoslovakia, his last name was shortened, a lot. The first letter was changed from a “Z” to an “S”. My dad’s birth certificate carries the original long name. My brother still proudly bears the shortened version.
Myrna married my brother. Murr-nah. Easy peasy, right? Nope, she informed me. She is often addressed as Mi (long I) – earn (show me the money) – ah. Mi-earn-ah. Who would have thunk it.
My sister married a Zborowsky. I suggested that she keep her name from from her first marriage, which started with a “B” so that her kids wouldn’t always be last in line. She declined.
Don’t get me started on hyphenated names. Please, just pick one.
We have always been reactive as opposed to proactive. New stops signs don’t go up until there is a fatal accident. Speed zones don’t get changed until a child is seriously injured. We will not take this Covid 19 seriously until someone close to home dies. Then, being true to our nature, we will complain, kvetching over our Timmy’s cups. “Why didn’t the government do more? Why weren’t we warned better?’ Well, guess what people?! The government is warning us. They are telling us what we need to do. A reporter asked Prime Minister Trudeau why he has not enacted the emergencies act. His answer, and I paraphrase because our PM never says anything simply, “Because! If we do what what we should be doing, we may not have to.” So much changed in a week. Our two daughters arrived for a surprise visit on Wednesday, March 11, the day that things really started to get serious. They did get a nice visit with my mom the next day, but we were in a busy restaurant. Sarah is in a fall wedding and on the Saturday we were in a crowded bridal shop helping her pick out her maid-of-honor dress. Then we went to visit Larry’s mom. She is in a lock-down facility for dementia sufferers. I had called on Friday to find out what their protocol for visitors was. They asked that we take her out, as opposed to four people coming in. In the time it took me to walk to her suite, change her hearing aid batteries and put on her boots and coat they had begun to close down the facility. We went for a fast-food burger, had a quick chat and then drove back to the residence. Thirty minutes, tops! When we returned, the facility was only allowing essential visits. The next day ~ no visits. Sunday, we had a family dinner. The girls saw my parents, aunts and uncles and cousins. They did not see any relatives from Larry’s side. By Tuesday, we were scrambling to get Samantha on a plane so she could get home to her husband. She arrived in Utah just in time for the earthquakes. She and her husband both work from home. Sarah headed back home on Wednesday afternoon, her retail job had closed its doors, so extended holiday for her. Her boyfriend is in school, so on-line courses for him. Personally, Larry and I have done our best to self-isolate. We began preparing early, Larry is a bit of a worry-wart/prepper. We got food in the house and plenty of TP,(before the panic hit) and enough pet food. Now we sit and wait. We cannot go visit my parents. My mother-in-law, who is deep in the throes of Alzheimer’s, is without visitors. We have friends who are nurses, who are worried about infecting their families. We have friends whose children are nurses, and must self-isolate. We have a friend whose son-in-law works at Costco and is an official TP disperser. We have friends who are working out of town and cannot get home. We have friends who were traveling and need us to buy groceries for them as they quarantine for 14 days. We have friends whose children were overseas and had to come home through Dubai. Dubai!! But we, Manitobans, just sit back, because this kind of thing doesn’t happen in Canada and would never really affect Manitoba. But it can and it has. We have a very low infection rate right now. Let’s keep it that way. Don’t wait for the first senior, or infant or cancer patient to die. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Two white contrails sliced the cloudless blue sky as planes rumble past each other. The sound carries easily across the desert and down into the gully. The travelers are glad to leave the winter winds of Canada behind. They will rush from the planes to their hotels, to the restaurants, to play the slots, and maybe, if time permits, see a show. Most will stay the weekend, or a couple of days more for the lucky ones. Then, onto outbound planes, returning from the Sin City, back to the cold, snow and work.
They won’t see the soft, beige Pampas grass that grows tall along the edge of the gully. Their large feathery heads bright against the tall red walls of the riverbanks. Six-foot-high reeds swaying, releasing their seeds into the gentle breeze. The skeleton of a Creosote tree firmly planted along the shore, its roots no longer reaching the life-giving water, is a look-out for the small Sagebush sparrows.
They won’t see the sand and desolation that surrounds a small, lush oasis, created by eons of flash floods. Bright snippets of green peeking out as the Mesquite Honey bushes attempt to set roots in the sandy soil.
They won’t hear the water, a wandering minstrel, that begins its song from far away.
We hear the soft melody that transforms into a deep throated song as the creek flows through the Vegas Wash, tumbling over the dark, jagged river rock.
We see two Mallards, drake and hen, sitting on a craggy boulder in the middle of the creek. The couple preens, pulling the oils along their feathers, waterproofing their wings.
We see a blue heron fly low over the water as we climb along the dusty riverbank. It lands on a nearby sandbar, and waits, silently, for us to leave. The shadow of a cormorant glides past as it lands in a nearby eddy, perhaps to steal the heron’s deserted catfish.
We see four young Coots, frolic in the small whirlpools. Their ivory beaks bright against their ebony bodies as they plunge into the depths, hunting for snails or maybe a tadpole. They dive into the smooth pool at the top of a gentle cascade, popping up in the white foamy bubbles, to join the raft of Coots downstream. Shaking water from their sleek heads, they dance through the rapids back to the headwaters of their playground.
Soon, we also must leave, to catch the plane, to return to the cold and snow.
Born on the Canadian Prairies in the 60’s to wonderful parents who instilled in me pride and the power of living a good life. Like the prairie weather, my writing is forever changing. Fragments of my childhood, cobbled together into new characters and stories. Characters often ride with me, driving down Highway 6 or some bumpy gravel road, telling me their stories when I have not a pen or paper, forcing me to listing and pay attention.
A loving husband, two beautiful daughters, four dogs, four cats and a couple of birds and a turtle named Chew. My flower gardens are forever at the beginner stages, as I would rather hike, canoe or snowshoe with my husband (and fellow empty nester)
Life is busier that ever, so obviously this is the best time to write.
My favorite breakfast is crispy bacon and strawberry jam on white toast.
In a nutshell:
Happily married with two grown daughters. Writing short fiction.