Quite a day

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For a woman who usually rises at  nine, the seven thirty wake up call came too early. Despite all my early preparations, I was not functioning well enough to get out of the house before ten, and even then, I missed the self-imposed deadline because I took a phone call when I could have let it ring through to the answering machine.  At ten thirty, I started the car in the driveway, only to shut it off again and return to the house. I had forgotten to put the box I was delivering to the Historical Costume society into the car. It was the principal reason I was going to Vancouver for the day.

I went back to the house, turned off the alarm, picked up the box and returned to the car. Then I dug into my bag to get the directions only to find that I had taken it out just before I left in order to use a phone number on it but I  hadn’t put it back. It too was in the house.

I felt like I needed one of those rote punishments we used to get in school where a miscreant had to write a hundred lines:

I will not forget the box. I will not for get the box. I will not forget the box…. I will not forget the phone numbers and the directions. I will not forget the phone numbers and the directions. I will not forget the phone numbers and the directions.

I took all of mother’s precious dresses for them to preserve and use for their purposes of displaying and educating in the field of costume and fashion.

Cathy was waiting for me on the roadway when I got to their offices. They are situated in Burnaby Village Museum in the attic of a house built in 1926. Quarters are quite cramped since most of the space is taken up with storage. One room, about 1o foot by 12, previously a small bedroom, contained a table and two chairs. There were five us – myself, Cathy, Bill and two other women  – watching as we unpacked Mother’s pale blue wedding dress complete with matching gloves and veil; a ‘Forties little black cocktail dress in faille; a black velvet winter dress with a handmade lace collar; her pink ball gown from the ‘Fifties, lined with taffeta, but missing the crinolines that would have made it flare out. It had a sheer pink bolero jacket to match; a stunning white ballgown  all made of lace and silk netting, with a little jacket to match; and a jacket with real jet beading and sequins on silk netting.

This last one, they determined was pre-1900. It couldn’t have been Mother’s but it might have been Granny’s. Not that she would have worn it. She had no opportunity. Bill said it was common for the women of great houses to give the maids clothing once they were finished with it, and this was likely how it came into the family treasures.

There was a little netted hat and a pair of fine, fine silk stockings. There was a white ruffed collar in cotton that had been smocked at the neckline and hand-embroidered below that with little white apples. The lace on the bottom was also hand embroidered over cut-work.

They were thrilled with their new acquisitions. I was thrilled that someone was actually going to care for and preserve these lovely clothes.

Afterward, Cathy, Bill and I went for coffee and bite to eat, since it was noon already. There is a little Ice Cream Parlour in the Historical Village. They had soup which is right and good for lunch and I would have too, but I was felt instantly dessertish as soon as I saw their three berry pie and I don’t regret it one bit. It was a home made pie with plenty of berries, topped with ice cream.

Next stop was Vancouver to visit Mother’s old friend Gordon who is ninety-six this year – his birthday was in May. He’s getting frail but his mind is so clear and bright. Doreen, one of our mutual friends, came to visit as well.

When I told him of Hugh’s experiences at his conference in Vienna he began reminiscing then caught himself and apologized. He had rambled on, it’s true; but it was fascinating. He had been part of the UN Committee that was looking into the effects on health, in the early 1950’s concerning the atom bomb and nuclear disarmament. We could not persuade him to keep on talking about it.

Looking at it from his perspective, it was just something he did. Nothing special. But looking at it from my perspective now, it seem extraordinary that I was sitting in the room with a respected scientist who had formed part of that committee at a time when atom bombs were in their infancy.

Doreen hoped he had written down some of the marvelous things he had done, but he just chuckled deprecatingly and said there was really nothing to write down. It was just committee stuff.

The meter in the parking lot was ticking away its last minutes. I had to go. Heather and her husband were coming to stay for a few days and I had to go get something to feed them.
As I drove down the on-ramp to Highway One, cars were streaming from all westward directions. It’s a four lane highway at that point and there’s a lane for the on-ramp besides. There are cars that are trying to juggle their way to the right, to  the off ramp. There are cars merging on the right trying to get to the left-most lanes – the High Occupancy Vehicle lane and the fast lane, beside it.

Despite all the merging, rush hour traffic was proceeding at a slow but steady pace.  I managed to get into the low lane. It was then that I saw the mama pigeon sitting on the asphalt with cars racing over it, but missing it. The poor thing must have been terrified.  With the press of cars and the volume of traffic, it seemed no one was going to stop and rescue the poor bird.

Then the traffic slowed and someone was able to see the bird before having to swerve around it or smack-dab-in-the-middle go over it. It was a miracle it had not been hit, or for that matter, maybe it was there because it had been hit.

The car stopped. The pigeon got on its two wobbly feet and then walked three or four steps. It tried its wings and got lift off. It flew onto the scorched grasses of the the median and was safe

The rest of the day (once I got home) was ordinary. Tidying, watering plants, making dinner.

Reflecting back through the day, I want to talk to Bill again. I said little about him, above. He is a retired milliner which is unusual for a man, I think; and I was quite fascinated as he talked about his passion for fashion. I’ll write more about that another day.

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One Response to “Quite a day”

  1. WR Jones Says:

    Enjoyed reading about your day!

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