Saturday, September 30, 2023

Friend visits in High River (August 26, mostly)

It's October Eve and here I am finally blogging about the rest of my trip to August. To be fair, I only got back a month ago today and somehow September has been a doozy of a month!

On the morning of August 26, we walked to the park to meet up with some friends. Notice the nice wide boulevard between the sidewalk and the road (oh, don't I wish we had those around here)?

My mom's friend—who is also my friend these days, but who I grew up knowing as my friend's mom—Bernie was the first to arrive, and then my friend Maud showed up (I knew her as Karyn in high school). It was lovely to get to chat with her; she's had a rough go of it the last few years, but is pulling through just as lovely as she ever was! She was always such a great friend!

She even brought a copy of my book for me to sign!

Then my friend Naomi arrived with her husband Luc. I hadn't seen Maud in ages—probably about 23 years, if we're being honest, since I moved away in 2000—but I hadn't seen Naomi in forever

Naomi was in my ward in PoCo, which means I haven't seen her since 1994 (so nearly 30 years). She now lives in Okotoks! What a small world! 

In the United States, most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have ties to Utah. When you're raised outside of Utah you might not realize how strong those ties are, because wherever you're living feels like home for you and Utah feels more of an 

In Canada the same thing is true, but you can replace Utah with Alberta. Most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have ties to—specifically—Southern Alberta. And if you're raised outside of Alberta, like Naomi and I were, you might not realize how strong those ties are. I, for one, was shocked when I moved to Alberta and found myself surrounded by first and second and third cousins. It seemed like I was related to everybody and there were just so many Mormons—and unbelievable number of Mormons! I honestly didn't think it was possible to have so many Mormons in one location. I went from being one of two or three Mormons in my school (a population comprised and my siblings) to having a handful of Mormons in my grade. It was wild!

Grade five was just me and Jocii, but once we entered middle school (which all the elementary schools pooled into), there was me and Jocii and Luke and Craig and Ashley. We weren't all in the same class, but we were all in the same grade. Unthinkable, right?

You should have seen me try to process the number of Mormons at my school after moving to Utah.

Anyway, it wasn't just the volume of Mormons, but the connections between our ward in PoCo and Southern Alberta. I've talked about the Raymond Parade before. My grandparents' house was right on the parade route and we used to visit them frequently on Canada Day to enjoy the parade and the fireworks and to play with our cousins. But, like, we wouldn't just play with our all our friends would be in Raymond visiting their grandparents, too!

So, sometimes we'd have an odd mix of the Ackroyds (friends from our ward in High River, visiting their grandparents) along with their cousins the Laytons (who are only distantly related on my dad's side, but who are from Grassylake, and thus are friends with my Torrie cousins, who, of course, would also be there), as well as the Andersons (friends from our ward in PoCo, visiting their grandparents), and somehow we all knew each other or of each other and decide to ditch the quiet, reserved, grown-up house calls to go swimming in the canal or something. 

We're really quite lucky, I guess, that our parents all decided to spread their wings a bit, otherwise I don't know how we ever would have found anyone to marry. At times I feel like I'm related to 90% of Southern Alberta (though I know that's hyperbole; it's probably only like 50% or something).

It wasn't something I ever would have imagined possible as a little girl living in PoCo, being the only Mormon in my school (aside from my siblings) and, honestly, usually the only child in my church class! (Naomi, for the record, was a handful of years older than me). 

Shortly before we left, my friend Kaly (Bernie's daughter) showed up. It was so good to see her as well, and I wish we had more time so we could have talked homeschool a little bit more. 

Her husband was on sabbatical a couple of years ago, so they took the year off and travelled the country with their two boys, spending several dreamy weeks in the Maritimes. I was drooling over her every post on Facebook! So we talked about that for a while, but she had to go because they were recarpeting their music room prior to a new grand piano being delivered later in the week and because her son had possibly broken his foot so they wanted to swing by the hospital to get some x-rays done. 

Now, Kaly was really my sister's friend and I hardly knew her growing up, because she was in high school and I was in elementary school when my family moved to High River. But now we just...have a lot in common and get along well and have kids the same we're friends. Meanwhile, my sister Abra, who was friends with Kaly, is now more friends with Jocii than I am because they have similar personalities and enjoy each other's company in a way that Jocii and I never did. Isn't it strange how in some phases of life, age seems to be so important in forging friendships and at other stages it...just doesn't? And while I was friends with Kaly's little sister Lexa in High School, we really don't keep in touch anymore. 

I suppose, developmentally speaking, that the difference between a 10- and 17-years old is somewhat significant, while the difference between 38 and 45 is somehow negligible. 

Here's another friendship where age is negligible:

This is Josie with Donna Thompson (of Jim and Donna), the mother of four rambunctious boys in our High River ward (Grant—The King of Random—Mark, Luke, and Scott). When we left High River, Josie had barely finished kindergarten, but through years of going back to visit High River (and frequently staying at the Thompsons' house), Josie has gotten to know the Thompsons quite well! Here we all are with Donna:

We were in town for such a short time, so it was fun to see even this small handful of friends. We also had to run by the Museum of the Highwood to see if they had any souvenirs for The Last of Us (some zombie show that Josie likes, and that I haven't gotten the courage to watch yet). High River has been the backdrop for many scenes in many movies and television shows. You've probably heard of a few of them. Like, for example, Superman...

But also probably The Last of Us, if we're honest. Heartland is another show that I think is pretty famous. Anyway, they didn't have any The Last of Us trinkets yet, but they did have some cute stuffed animals that Josie ended up buying for each of my kids.

Phoebe walked past a little longhorn sheep, squealed, "Kitty!" and tried to snatch it off the shelf. 

We put it back and then went to enjoy the historical exhibits and kids' room for a minute.

When Auntie Josie told the girls they could choose an animal, Phoebe once again immediately reached for that longhorn sheep. "Kitty!" she said, giving it a big hug. She's been sleeping with "Kitty" every night since!

Zoë picked out a grizzly bear. And then Josie grabbed a buffalo and owl (for Benjamin and Alexander respectfully). That was what made her feel like she needed to buy them stuffed animals anyway, because buffaloes and owls are somewhat obscure favourite animals for little boys (when things like dogs exist (I say that as a not-a-dog-person, because I recognize dogs as the somewhat ubiquitous favourite of the western hemisphere even if they're not my favourite))—yet there they were, sitting side by side on the shelf. It was like fate!

And Josie was feeling generous because the price on the tag was surprisingly cheap and was in Canadian funds, which made her feel like she could be super generous like that (since the exchange rate is about 75 cents to the dollar right now (in favour of the US) so it feels like you're getting 25% off everything). My relatives who spend a lot of time visiting the States (because they have kids living south of the border, for example) explained that they keep an active bank account in the US so that they can just use their US funds when they're in the States, rather than being hit with sticker shock after the exchange rate hits their Canadian bank account. That way they just don't have to think about the power of their dollar. I think that's pretty smart!

Let's are Miriam and Phoebe outside of the Museum of the Highwood:

After hitting the museum, we ran to the store to pick up a few extra ingredients for the wedding dinner, and then quickly got wedding ready!


And here are just a few more pictures with my (second) cousin, Heather (and brother David):

It's been years since our kids had been together, but they spent a few hours getting reacquainted at Waterton and were ready to jump into playing together again when we stayed at their house on Tuesday. While Zoë ran around (and around and around) with the little girls, Miriam, Sadie, and Miley played some games together:

Meanwhile Phoebe chased the dog around saying, "Puppy, puppy, puppy, puppy!" and got to hold this sweet, tiny kitten:


  1. Thank you! This is what I was waiting for! Only I hope we get that picture of Kaly and Bernie that we can add to the post!

    1. I remember that Bernie wanted one with her only on her phone. I'm sure Andy took pictures on Kaly's phone as well, so I will message her as well. So funny that none of us have pictures of it on our phones!

    2. Thank you for posting the picture! Now it is complete!