Travels with Betty – Let your travel memories live on
Paper calendars are something I use. I find these documents visually remind me of appointments and commitments. I can see at a glance what my week ahead looks like. Flipping pages, I plan courses and trips I can take, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries in the hopes I plan to mail cards and organize gifts.
The magic of a paper calendar started when I was quite a bit younger. Every year, even though my birthday was on February 29, my Grandmother used to mail me a birthday card with a $5 bill inside. That was a lot of money back then! I looked forward to receiving the card each year, as did my sisters and brother for their special days.
As I got older, I marvelled at how she kept track of all the grandkids, because there were several dozen of us, spread across North America. During one trip to my grandparents’ home on a dairy farm in the Springbank community west of Calgary, I had again made my way over to the O’Henry chocolate bar candy dish on the side table. The candy dish attracted kids like bees to a flower, probably because of our parents’ warning to stay away.
It was on return trip to the candy dish that I saw the calendar hanging on the wall. It was July. In my Grandmother’s handwriting, the calendar page stated the name and birth year of each of her children, their spouses, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I turned the page back to February and there I was, on February 28 with a circle showing that I was really born on February 29. I remember being impressed that she would take the time each year to fill out the calendar, updating with new family members born or married into her family.
Several years ago, when my Mom was living with Alzheimer’s in the relatively early stages, I wondered how I could help her with remembering. I started preparing annual family calendars. Using pictures taken of family over the previous months, I went on-line and used one of many available templates to add names, dates, years and pictures I had taken to the calendar. It was Christmas time and I made copies for each family grouping as a gift. It was a hit! I kept up the tradition over the next few years, taking more pictures year round of people, thinking of the calendar preparation.
In the past few years, a niece has taken over the tradition and I could not be happier. She has more photos as she has lived with two of her siblings who have partners and children. The candid pictures capture some silly and touching moments, thanks to her smart phone and quick thinking. Each year she makes some changes and keeps the calendar fresh and interesting as a keepsake I add to my photo albums.
This year, I was wondering what to give as a small token to individuals I volunteer with each week. I thought about the pictures I like to take – generally flower close ups and landscape pictures, and that they might make a nice calendar. That first thought lead to several hours searching on the Internet for lists of unusual days. You know, like Outer Space Day (Jan 27), Tater Tot Day (Feb 2), Day of Happiness (March 20), Grilled Cheese Day (April 12, shared with Easter Monday), etc. How does a person check the validity of the lists of days found almost everywhere? I have no idea. I decided to just have fun and go with what I found.
Over several days, I worked on layouts and adding text to a basic calendar on-line template. It was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. The picture of a yellow rose, taken four or five years ago in Victoria, recalls a trip with my sister Jean and my Mom. The purple flowers with various spots and colorful edges were from baskets I had bought and caught my attention on a warm day on my balcony. The threatening blue skies over fields of green and yellow, with dark hills in the background, were from a road trip out to Pender Island to meet up with siblings. The tranquil mountain scene was from Two Jack Lakeside near Banff when friends and I rented a Tent-o-Nik for a long weekend. The startling bold orange, red and yellow flowers were from gardens blooming at the Alberta Provincial Museum before it moved downtown. They were all great memories of adventures had and reminders that I want to go again.
I cannot describe the feeling each time I see a project I have made personally completed. Does it come from a sense of accomplishment? Maybe it is being contented that I have created something from my own experiences?
I call my creations Perfectly Imperfect. Despite my best intentions, errors happen. When I was doing the family calendars, I forgot the 40th anniversary of my oldest sister and her husband. My brother’s birthday appeared one day early every April. A picture might be a bit blurry. Same thing with this year’s flowers and landscape pictures calendar. Some special day text is bold and easy to read while another is too light and behind a visual. I see now that Egg Day (June 3) is barely visible with black egg and light yellow writing. Meanwhile, both October 14 and November 4 are special days that will remain a surprise because the clipart is too big.
I like the calendar. Besides being perfectly imperfect, like me, the pictures remind me of trips I took in Betty. I might have been on my own or with family members and sometimes friends. There are pictures taken at a time I was with my Mom who has since passed away. I remember the days I spent at a lake in Northern Saskatchewan in a yurt with my friend and her sister. We took our lawn chairs down to the lake to watch the sunset. There is the canopy of fir trees from a trail near my camping spot in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park – one of the first trips I took with Betty. It was cold and very quiet and I managed to damage my power cord, requiring trips in and out of Calgary.
I hope those I gave the calendar to enjoy it this year. Perhaps they will glance at it now and then to see pictures that they might like because of the colour or the content. Maybe, on a day when everything seems a struggle, and the person might rather be camping, she or he looks at the August calendar and sees that all is well. Why? Today is August 28 – and August 28 is Red Wine Day!