At rest in the Cloud

19 Jul

This past Saturday was a first for Terry and me. We attended a funeral in Parry Sound — without leaving Dunvegan — via Zoom. For those of you unfamiliar with this darling of the Covid era, Zoom is an internet-based application that allows people to meet online. It’s sort of like the videophones that, back in the 50s, we were told “are just around the corner.” Only Zoom’s a whole lot better. On top of being able to see and hear an entire group of participants, you can share photos, show videos, and even record the call.

Terry’s uncle, Rod Pletzer, had passed away a week ago Sunday in his 98th year. It would have been a real scramble for us to make Saturday’s funeral in Northern Ontario. So we were delighted when one of Rod’s grandchildren took it upon himself to put the service online for family and friends who couldn’t make it back home.

No, it wasn’t the same as being there. But, for the twenty or so of us on the call, it meant we could at least see and hear the words of comfort and heartfelt eulogies. The reality is that we may have to live more of our family lives online like this, as flying gets even less affordable and more uncomfortable and our grandkids emigrate to the moon or Mars.

Rain before seven

Ever since I stumbled across an amazing little book written by Cindy Day entitled Grandma Says, I’m delighted when it pours early in the morning. Why? Because chances are good the weather will clear by late morning. Or as Day put it in her grandmother’s collection of weather folklore: “Rain before seven, clear by eleven.”

Take last Sunday, for example. Around four in the morning, storm clouds rolled in bringing torrential rain, thunder and lightening. As our little corner of the world awoke, this transitioned to just leaden skies and rain. Did It despair? No. Experience had taught me that, more often than by pure chance, Day’s grandmother was right. And lo and behold, the sun broke through at 12:25. Okay, not 11:00 am on the dot, but darn close.

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of Grandma Says, the book used to be on sale at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum’s gift shop. To inquire, drop by or call 613-527-5230. By the way, this book has more of a connection with Dunvegan than just the fact I like it. Author Cindy Day’s sister Monique lives at the very eastern end of Dunvegan Road, where she and her husband Wayne Koggel have a real farm.

Children of the Corn?

And speaking of farming, have you noticed the fields to the east when you turn north on to Highway 34 from Dunvegan Road? After laying fallow for years, the land was finally sold last year. The new owner invested a great deal in clearing fencerows and preparing the seed bed for this year’s crop. He might even have slipped Mother Nature a few bucks under the table. I’ve never seen a field of corn as high, this early in the season.

Hamlet for the masses

If you’re looking for something completely different to do next week —Thursday, July 27th to be precise — I’d suggest you head to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum for one of the Shakespeare’s most popular plays: Hamlet. It will be staged by Ottawa’s renowned “Company of Fools”, a troupe known for their colourful, family-friendly Shakespearean performances for over 30 years.

Forget your boring brush with the Bard in high school. The Company brings the classical text alive with clownery, masks, puppetry and audience interaction. Like many theatre-in-the-park performances, admission for this must-see event is on a “pass the hat” basis. The suggested donation is $20, so bring cash.

The play starts at 7:00. But the gates open at 5:30 pm and you’re encouraged to come early to stake out a prime space for your own lawn chair. You can even make it a skip-the-dishes night by reserving a ‘picnic in a box’ dinner. It includes a delicious croissant sandwich, scrumptious dessert and drink for just $10. However, you must order the special picnic dinner in advance through the museum’s website:

Treading the boards

In the previous item, I forgot to add in that next Thursday’s performance of Hamlet will take place rain or shine. If the weather fails to cooperate, they’ll just move things under the big wooden tent, (or the Williams Pavilion as it’s otherwise known). If such is the case, you’ll get a chance to admire the pavilion’s brand new wooden floor.

Last Monday and Tuesday, the museum held a flooring bee. Volunteers of all ages pitched in under the direction of museum chairman Matt Williams to install a unique raised floor made of ash that was many years in the planning. When I asked Matt about the bee, he said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Lyle Howes, Michael Cowley-Owen, Ernie MacMillan and Ben Williams to carefully cut and measure each board. Another key was the ‘pre-drill and screw’ crew comprised of Riley Mullin, Cohen, Cole, Elijah, Dawson and Oakley Williams. “They were the right size and age to endure the rigour of getting up and down many, many times while fastening the floor.” Fact: these hard-working boys sunk over 3,500 screws without once checking their phones. I’ll have more details about this amazing volunteer effort in next week’s column.

Bodies & bootleggers

I’ll have to cut this short cause I’m out of room. But reader Jim Fletcher recently dropped off a great book of Valley stories… some with Glengarry and Dunvegan roots. Next week, we’ll explore tall tales of body snatching and bootlegging.