FLIGHT FOLLY: I have no idea what it is when it comes to me and airplanes, but there is always something that ends up not agreeing whenever I travel. Being it an on-call mechanic not answering his phone, making a 15-minute repair, an eight-hour delay to Vegas, my six-foot-two frame stuck behind a leaner in his chair (you know who you are) on a cramped flight or running out of my in-flight meal of choice right at the moment they reach my seat, flying for me is always an adventure.
My flight from Lethbridge to Nanaimo was no different. It happened to fall on the day Toronto was hit with 25 per cent more water in one day than the city got on average for the whole month of July. Even with all that devastation of millions upon millions of dollars in flood damage, news reports noted only one flight managed to get delayed from Toronto to Calgary…..guess which one? The one that served as my connector for Calgary to Vancouver, meaning I’d miss the connection from Vancouver to Nanaimo, which was the last flight of the day which meant flying out the next day instead. As far as flight karma goes, I must have pushed someone down some steps or something in a past life.
SHIPS AHOY: I always love taking a walk by the waterfront of the Nanaimo harbour to see some of the artwork by the park, take in the salty sea air and take a gander at the boats that are docked. I don’t know if it still was a sign of the economic slowdown recovery or simply those ship captains out there wanting to upgrade or get something different, but it seemed like every second boat had a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. I had my dad take a joke picture of me in front of one of the largest boats and posted it, saying I was waiting to hear back on my offer for it. Apparently some of my Facebook friends believed it, perhaps not knowing the pay grade newspaper journalists make nowadays. But, about the only boat I’m going to be able to afford are the plastic ones found in my bathtub.
GLAMPING: My uncle invited me to stay overnight at a home down by the water front at Sproat Lake near Port Alberini of one of his clients who were generous enough to allow him, his wife and in-laws to stay there for a few days to go camping. The term ‘camping’ is used loosely given the beautiful nature of Kelly and Gail’s beautiful 6700-square foot home. A view that is Norman Rockwell-esque onto Sproat Lake, a beautifully-built dock with shaded areas were mere steps away. Had I been there longer, I probably would have enjoyed the bike trails, boating and kayaking and/or fishing that was available, but simply soaking in the sun over a Corona, catching up with family was good enough for me. Throw in hosts in Kelly and Gail in how warm and welcoming they were to this complete stranger and I would highly recommend if you have the means to give their place a look for your extended family. It can be viewed at http://www.vrbo.com. Type in British Columbia into the search engine and the number 344104 in the box on the top right-hand corner. Simply breath taking.
LIFE-ALTERING: It’s not too often you can say you were privy to two near-death experiences during one round of golf, but I can say I was. OK, perhaps ‘near death’ is an exaggeration, but they certainly felt that way. There I was enjoying a round of golf with my father and a lovely couple in Antonette and Lorne, we were paired up with at Fairwinds Golf Club, when I decided to enjoy a hot dog at the turn. I kept it classy by ceremoniously having a bite I took go down the wrong pipe, and going mano-a-mano with the compressed meat made of snouts and entrails according to urban legend, attempting to expel it from my wind pipe. I could still breath and talk to a degree, but something definitely felt lodged where thankfully I was able to expel it without my dad prepping himself to administer the Heimlich Maneuver. Just as Antonette recovered from seeing that choking debacle, shortly afterwards she got to see a ball fly by her head that I hit off a tee box almost straight right of me. With this lefty giving out more slices to the left than Martha’s Bakery for the round, the one hole Antonette decides to inch every so slightly up the tee box is when I decide to hit the ball badly off the heel — the only time in fact. Being so close, I did not even have time to yell “Fore!!!!” and only watch in disbelief as the ball whizzed mere centimetres by her head. Mortified and embarrassed, I apologized profusely with the kindly woman granting me forgiveness. The round was not without its adventures apart from searching for lost golf balls along the creek.
BIONIC MAN: Whenever I see my dad golf I think of the words off of “The Six Million Dollar Man” of “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. Better than before, better, stronger, faster.” My dad had not swung a club in nearly two years, recovering from a fifth shoulder surgery and so I thought it was my time to shine to beat my father. Drum roll please……..no I didn’t. About the only time I’ll see myself beating my dad at golf is if I go all Tonya Harding on one of his knees on the third hole and even then I’d probably have to sink a 40-foot birdie putt on 18 to beat him by one stroke. A shoulder hanging on a thread and still a solid golfer is my father.
FAMILY TIME: I was getting ready in my parents’ private bathroom when it hit me — my parents are getting older. I know it’s an obvious thing to say, but it never really hit me until I saw in the bathroom all the medications they were taking to keep the aches and pains away that come for some in becoming a senior citizen. To me, while their hair has turned silver, wrinkles have formed to go with liver spots, I’m still their little boy. Decades removed from my teenage years I still look at my parents at times with child-like wonderment. But as I went this summer and saw that, it made me realize that this time together with my parents will not be as plentiful as when I was a child. Giving my good-bye hugs, as I went through security at the Nanaimo airport and blew a kiss to my mother, she blew one back. Walking to the seating area, waiting to board, that is when it him me. My eyes began to water to the point where I had to sit down and put my sunglasses on to hide the tears. I already missed my parents and my love for them is still child like in my middle-aged years. Family is bond — now and forever.
Vauxhall Spurs Baseball Club are off to the State tournament this weekend in Helena, Montana where its pitching staff will be led by ace Brandon Fehr, in which it was announced at the district tournament in Vauxhall, at opening ceremonies last Thursday that the hurler has earned both All-District and All-State team honours.
“We’ve coached Brandon for now what will be the fourth year. We’ve seen him go from a kid who had a hard time dealing with kids hitting the ball off of him and had a hard time finding the strike zone and controlling his pitches to a kid who has really bought in,” said Ken Fuglerud, head coach of the Vauxhall Spurs. “He’s turned into quite a little player for us. The kid has control and real bite on his pitches.”
But, what has really impressed Fuglerud about Fehr in earning his well-deserved district and State accolades, is his mature mound presence in how he works a game and never lets himself get too high or too low. Case in point was the Spurs’ opening game at districts last Thursday against the Fort Macleod Royals. Despite not having his best stuff early on as the team fell behind 5-1, Fehr provided a bulldog mentality where he worked himself through it and tossed a whole lot of pitches in a complete-game victory, refusing to be taken out despite those early-inning bumps in the road.
“He has that competitive drive and he really knows how to pitch. In ‘A’ ball, it’s really rare to see a guy that has high pitchability and Brandon has it. He understands pitching. There’s kids who can pitch, but Brandon really understands how to pitch correctly in certain situations. It absolutely suits him to be an All-State member,” said Fuglerud. “Brandon knew the (Fort Macleod) game was 5-1, but the five runs weren’t really earned, so he knew he had to just keep doing his job and eventually the boys would start hitting and get some defence behind him.”
Also on the Spurs was Levi Kress earning a selection on the All-District Team.
“Levi has really started to come into his own in July,” said Fuglerud, of his infielder and pitcher. “He works a full-time job during the day and he played ball during the night. It’s not an easy thing to do to make that transition into that. Being a 19-year-old, previously it was baseball and just that. This year, it’s a long day for him and I think it took him awhile to get into the whole rhythm of baseball. But, he stuck with it and it has paid off for Levi. He’s our main guy in the two-hole of the batting lineup, where he’s starting to swing it and pick it for us really well in the field.”
Taberite Brendan Miller has helped slug his Hutchinson Monarchs to the National Baseball Congress World Series which begins Aug. 3 in Wichita, Kansas.
Playing approximately 40 games on the season, the Monarchs were not seen as heavy favourites to take its conference tournament to advance to the World Series, finishing two games over .500 in regular-season play. But as with any sport, it’s all about peaking at the right time when playoffs roll around.
“At the end of the season we were at the top, but during the season we struggled at times. We did something in the tournament that we didn’t do all year which was put all three aspects of the game together. We had the pitching, we had our offence going and we had the defence,” said Miller.
“We didn’t do that very often during the regular season.”
An American summer league team, the Monarchs play in a league similar to the Lethbridge Bulls in the Western Major Baseball League.
“It’s very similar to the WMBL. It’s very comparable with everything,” said Miller.
Miller has manned first base for the Monarchs this year and has continued to swing a hot bat for whichever team he has played for from his early minor baseball days in Taber along with the Vauxhall Spurs to American collegiate baseball.
“I’ve had a a really good summer season. It was a little different not being home, but I adjusted. We have a good team and it’s fun to be around,” said Miller who has batted clean up for the Monarchs, knocking out three home runs, keeping his batting average above .300 and slugging 15 doubles to go with the corresponding RBIs with runners in scoring position to help earn a Walter Johnson all-star selection for first basemen.
“It’s been nice to be able to contribute to the team.”
Plagued by some shoulder woes in years past, Miller’s glove certainly was not affected in his defensive responsibilities in the season, including some stellar glovework for the conference tournament.
“I made all the throws and in the championship I turned two double plays in one game so my arm strength is there,” said Miller.
Miller is hoping his Monarchs will be there when all is said and done at the National Baseball Congress World Series starting in a week in Kansas, which is now in its 79th year.
“I have no gauge on the other teams, but I know if we keep putting offence, defence and pitching together, we should have a really good shot to go deep into the tournament,” said Miller.
That spirit is continuing in August as six churches, seven service clubs and various other community members at large have banded together to form Taber Cares Flood Relief.
“For myself, watching TV and reading the paper, I was feeling helpless and feeling for the people that have been affected by the floods. I was thinking that could have been any one of us, it was only hours away,” said Wanda Renner, on the idea of how the Taber Cares initiative got started.
“I thought we can do something in Taber as a community and I thought a lot of people were thinking the same way in Taber as I was feeling.”
That gut feeling Renner had proved correct, as a couple of phone calls snowballed into Christian Reformed Church, Taber Evangelical Free Church, St. Theodore’s Anglican Church, New Life Church, Knox United Church, St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Taber Lion’s Club, Taber Kinsmen, Taber Kiwanis, Taber Rotary Club, Taber Legion, Taber Ladies Auxiliary and Knight’s of Columbus and various community members at large, banding together to put on Taber Cares Flood Relief on Aug. 14.
“We had a meeting and did our homework to see how we could fill a need. Initially, we thought about a gathering of items, but then once we heard most places couldn’t even facilitate it because the structure of their town had been destroyed, so they couldn’t even receive it,” said Renner.
“So it quickly changed and someone at the table suggested we do a fundraiser supper and silent auction.”
The fundraiser will be a spaghetti supper on Aug. 14 at the Taber Community Centre auditorium starting at 4:30 p.m. and going until 7 p.m. The silent auction will run from 4:30-7 p.m. with the viewing of items from 2-4:30 p.m.
“For me this is really exciting because from my understanding, service clubs have done fundraising suppers before, but never has there been this many groups involved at once,” said Renner.
Kevin Fedoruk, a representative with the Taber Lion’s Club recalled the huge success of suppers to raise funds for the earthquake relief in Japan and another supper for Haiti. Given the expertise so many people can give in so many different organizations, Fedoruk is excited at the prospect that the Taber Cares Flood Relief project can be the most successful supper fundraiser to date.
“The numbers that are available for us to work together will be a huge help. Also, the exponential factor of it, through the different congregations and groups, and contacts, more people will know about it ahead of time, more people will be able to attend,” said Fedoruk.
“It’s giving everyone an opportunity to do something.”
Be it organizers of the event or those who will attend to participate, it all comes down to one common driving factor that each person shares.
“The drawing card of all this and a chord that has been weaved through all of this, is that we have a compassion for those who are displaced. They have unfortunately been put in a situation where they cannot help themselves. I think this community is going to bind together in ways that we haven’t seen before through this effort,” said Harry Unger, chairman of the Taber Ministerial Association. “I’m really excited about it with this thread of co-operation.”
The devastation of the flooding that has occurred earlier this year in Alberta has estimates as high as $5 billion when all is said and done.
The sheer wrath of Mother Nature made the committee members of Taber Cares Flood Relief decide to raise money from the supper and silent auction and donate it to The Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse with the caveat that the funds be earmarked for southern Alberta flood relief efforts.
Samaritan’s Purse Canada is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that has been providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world since 1970.
It partners with its supporters in Canada and with local organizations (usually churches) abroad to provide compassionate and cost-effective assistance to anyone who needs it, regardless of religion, race, gender or socio-economic standing.
“The reason this has evolved as a fundraiser to give money, was at first we thought we could just zero it in on a certain group of people whether it be a school or community group, but as we continued to listen to the newscasts and reports from individuals, we realized what we could do best is fundraise to provide for the basic need,” said Unger.
“Information is coming in so quickly and we know this is a long-term thing. This (Taber Cares Flood Relief) could possibly be more than just a one-time event. We don’t know. We’ll see how this goes. Could you imagine if Taber was hit by a flood of this nature? How would we respond to those who wanted to help?”
Taber Cares Flood Relief tickets for the spaghetti supper are $12 per ticket and are available for purchase at Steppin’ Up Ladies Shoes, Canada Safeway, Bluewave Energy, Rumor’s Hair Salon and various church groups.
Taber Cares Flood Relief can also be found on Facebook.
“People are very caring and giving in Taber. I’ve lived here all my life and I know that,” said Renner.
For more information on the fundraiser you can call Renner at 403-331-9464.