Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Village life again

We are winding down our winter session of living in the village of Ashcroft, which is a 10 minute drive from our house in the northern village.  Old Man Watching was born here 75 years ago, on the steps of the old Lady Minto hospital, and hopes to die here.  Some days I feel like helping him with that request, and then he will say something hilarious, and I get over it. 

We have a lot of organizing to do before going out to help at the ranch in the "bush"  (sage hills, cattle range land, forests and gullies actually).  

Over the winter I have become more involved with different activities and my calendar just filled up.  Soon, everyday I had commitments.  I will look forward to being in the bush where I don't look at calendars and forget what day it is.  

Our special Deacon, Lois, was voted the village's Citizen of the Year.  She too is slowing down, becoming deaf, but so many still depend on her.  She did a funeral for a friend's husband last weekend.  Cliff Moore was a naval man so the Legion were involved and Lois is the chaplain for the local Royal Canadian Legion.

Tanya Wong, beside Lois, was voted Citizen of the Year for our home village of Cache Creek.  Tanya works hard for the disabled children's societies and for the community.  I was so proud of both of  them.  So of course I had to go to the Rotary luncheon for them.  All these food celebrations are making weight loss impossible.  Getting out to the bush may be a big help.

For the last two 'Soup's On' days I went down the street to the church hall to help set up and prepare and dish up individual portions of salads/vegetables/fruit/desserts etc. at 9:00.  The tables were set and the 2-4 soup choices were heated to government regulations.    We must always have one vegetarian soup as so many folk want that, even the street people.  We are happy to give them choices.  

Then I took on the job of greeting at the door.  My leg is still not back to normal so I could sit on the foyer bench in between greetings.  Some come before the door opens at 11 but the door is never closed, so we welcome them in. The head cook was Gerda on Friday and she made a wonderful lentil, barley and ham soup.  So (as a joke) I wrote on the chalkboard that we were a sponsor group called Gerda's Galloping Goddesses, although we were really all a cell from St. Alban's Church.  The customers like to know who is cooking each time.  Then wonderful, wandering, but not-quite-homeless, Mike, came to help with dishes and to do the heavy lifting, so I quickly changed 'Goddesses' to 'Gleaners'.   Although 'Big Mike from Wales'  said he wouldn't mind being called a goddess.  Gerda is from Germany and works hard for this soup kitchen at 78 years of age.  She organizes one lunch a month.
We did glean a lot of free desserts and salads and a big vat of soup from folk who dropped off donations.  That was a good thing as it is Spring Break from school, so we fed over 90 people and ran out of everything.  The last latecomers at ten to 1:00 only got to have a bowl of soup and a bun.  Two other latecomers forfeited their bunny-decorated desserts to the last arrivals and there were some apples left over for them.  Actually the last folk get to take home all the leftovers so we seldom have any.  Some of the homeless (and old, lonely, senior bachelors) wait until the end to visit for that reason.  We have a lot of donors of plastic bags and plastic cartons of different sizes and they get well-recycled...filled with food.  

When you look at this crowd you can't tell who are the ministers and who are the ministered-to.  That is not a focus although it happens.   The first in line here is the United Church minister but she didn't arrive until after 12:00.  All are welcomed in and thanked for coming as they leave.  We have welfare folk who can't donate and folk who just like to get out every Friday and visit with friends.  Some put $10 in the pot and some put more/less or nothing.  Any profits go to the food bank.  It is amazing that every few months we can vote to send $300 or more over to the Elizabeth Fry Society and the Food Bank.  One of our church men put tissue flowers and butterflies on the walls for Spring decorations.  The visitors/eaters noticed that nice touch.   It is just a good social time for all, especially the old age pensioners who find it difficult to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.  Hcre they get a choice of cleaned and cut up and prepared fresh food.   I noticed that this week folk seemed to linger longer over lunch and enjoy the socializing more.  Maybe folk are glad that winter is almost over.  Next week the Free Evangelical's Church group will be doing the lunch for Good Friday.  
I will stop in after the community Good Friday 11:00 AM service. 

 It took me 40 minutes to clear the tables, sweep the floor and wipe down the table tops with bleach/soap water.  We need to leave everything tidy for the next group.

This is the last time I will help with this worthy project until after Halloween next fall.  I will miss the joyful working with friends in the kitchen.  I will also miss talking to some of the folk who hide in the community for the rest of the week.


  1. Such a great thing to do, Karyn! My former church women's group used to make soup once a month at one of the four homeless shelters, here in town. We, personally, now donate to the same shelter whenever we can. I'm sure they will miss you as much as you will miss them!

    1. Your donations are so very needed to just buy the basic ingredients for the soups. A lot of us Soup kitchen workers bring food stuffs and pay for it ourselves. We are encouraged to submit a bill, but that makes me feel physically weak somehow.

      We smiled this week that an elder lady from the Native Reserve who had been eating here with her family for four years, got up, sent her family off to the Thrift Store, and started to clear the tables and talk to folk. I know from working with that family, that it was a difficult thing to do in a 70% Caucasian/white room. Hallelujah and praise the Lord for Paige Williams. She worked for an hour while her family, including a small child who is the only one who usually uses the donated highchair, slipped away. I want to talk to Paige more about how she decided to do some work, above eating for free all these years. I praised her a lot as did other workers for all she did to help that day, but I wonder what kick-started her helping and not just receiving??? I guess I should blog about this, but I know the family is in duress at all timesand so there is a confidentiality issue for me even though I am not in the school system anymore. So Terri gets dumped on. Sorry.

  2. Is the Elizabeth Fry of the Elizabeth Fry Society the English Quaker Karyn ? Those 18th/19th century Quakers were certainly remarkable people. There's some info on Elizabeth Fry here ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Fry ...

    Sorry to hear your leg still isn't 100%. I'm due to have my plaster on my finger changed in an hour or two. I'll let it breathe for a few minutes and then encase it for another few days until I go back to hospital on Tuesday. Still, like you, I manage.