Thursday, May 30, 2019

Summer Comes In Bits And Pieces

After many days with pouring rain or at least 24-hour drizzle I am longing for some sunshine and some quality temperatures. However, it seems that summer is making a very slow entrance. Typically we get a couple of hours (if any) of sunshine, before dark clouds are conceiling the happy blue sky and cold wind casts make me running for a warm jacket again. Our temps are swinging from high 50s to mid 30s. We are out of firewood within the next 2 days and then the electric heater would have to take over. 

The leaves have finally made it out and the grass is growing, but flowers are rare to see, if you don't count a few trees starting to bloom. The forsythia is still in full bloom and that is unusual as well.

While forest fires are already raging out west, we got it soggy enough that a guy could lose his shoes in the mud. The forest trail I used to walk with Dixie requires rubber boots if wet feet is not what you want.

One day we took advantage of the drizzly day and planted a row of small spruce trees along the road. We want these to grow up to make a spruce hedge. I will make sure they are not getting any higher than 5-6ft. It will one day help to brake the wind coming off the bay.
Due to the wet ground they are all looking pretty good.
We planted some other trees behind the house as well.

I haven't introduced you to our new red firetruck. Well, it is fiery red and 14yrs. old. I bought the GMC Halfton for 1000 Bucks off a lady on the mainland. It'll cost another $1000 to fix it up, but the ting is still looking pretty decent for its age. It's a 2-wheel drive only, but that's all we need for our various around-the-island tasks. 

Bea goes gardening with it and I am hauling new firewood for the next winter. I am aware of that we have an awfully large vehicle park now, but we use all 4 of them.   

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Appendix Or No Appendix?

It’s a while ago, but It stands out as one of my life’s stories I will never forget.

We’d been invited to a sumptuous BBQ event with friends. Quite a group of neighbours had gathered around, sitting at folding camping tables taking in the marvellous odours from the barbecue. After consuming a few healthy-sized pieces of meat, with likewise good-sized portions of potato salad, the hostess broke out the cakes. This was back in Norway where people are in the habit of eating cream cakes and drinking coffee into the late evening.

I have always been a sweet-tooth and cream cakes are topping my list of favourites. And just to be clear, in Europe cream means whipped cream, not some of the calorie-and fat-poor replacements from spray boxes.

I dug in, had several pieces of the various sorts, then leaned back to enjoy the conversation. About another 45minutes later I was jolted by a terrible pain in the general area of my lower abdomen. I leaned back further to ease the pressure, but the pain wouldn’t go away or be more bearable. I leaned over to my better half and told her I needed to go home and that she would have to drive me.

So we left the party.

The ride home was short but I suffered through great pain. What was going on?

Arriving home, I put myself to bed immediately. My wife thought it might just help to stretch out and relax.
The night was terrible, I tossed and ached and at first light I still had the same relentless pain. “This gotta be my appendix” I told my wife, “I better call the doctors office, tell them I’m coming in”.
With no breakfast I got in the car and drove myself the few miles to town.

The doc’s examination was short. When my pain caused me to shed some tears, he rushed to the phone and asked for the ambulance. 3 minutes later I heard the commotion of arriving ambulance staff in the hallway, and before I knew it, they had me placed horizontally in the rear of the car. A staff member drove my car home and it sure caused raised eyebrows in our village when the ambulance was coming to our place to pick up some necessities for a stay at the hospital.

An hour later, we arrived and I had to endure some questioning and several more examinations and tests, before I was put to bed in a room with 2 other guys.
Image result for appendix pain cartoon
The pain persisted through-out that day and was still there the next. Doctors, nurses and assistants came and went. They looked at me but the diagnostics remained uncertain. When the head honcho of all docs came to see me I told him to start removing that darn appendix and relieve me from that pain. His puzzling answer was that it wasn’t my appendix troubling me, yet he wasn’t sure what else could be the reason.

The 3rd day ran up and I could feel the pain slowly subsiding. When the doctor came to see me, I told him about the improvement and he just nodded. They wanted to keep me for another night for observation.

The morning of the 4th day I woke up and my pain was gone. I told the morning nurse and they signed the release. Bea came to town to drive us home.

So what had been the cause of my 3-day stay at the hospital? Not my appendix, for sure. Rather, it was the result of me eating way too much at that BBQ. I am not sure whether I ever was the only person spending time in a hospital for eating too much, but I was too ashamed to ever tell the doctor.

Friday, May 17, 2019

It's The National Day Of NORWAY

May 17 is the National day of Norway and our Norwegian flag is out front. Like the flag of Canada it is a flag I am proud of and I will always display on official flag days. 
Today, many thoughts and memories of wonderful years come to mind. First of all there is the beautiful landscapes of Norway. Especially on May 17 the colours are so magnificent. Green meadows, blue fjords and skies and the blinding white of snow-covered high peaks and glaciers will for ever stand out in my mind. But it is also the way Norwegians are displaying their National unity, their pride of their identity. Instead of rolling out military vehicles they bring out the happy faces of small children, together with their proud young parents and smiling grandparents. 

They are singing their National anthem "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" (Yes we love this country) They have music in the streets and when the parades are over people go home meeting with family members, friends and neighbours to celebrate the day with the most delicious food. It is a day nobody in Norway would like to miss. In many ways, Canadians are doing the same as the Norwegians, which is the reason why both countries feel like home for us.

We congratulate Norway and the people of Norway to their National Day MAY 17!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Wow...We Made It!

Once in a blue moon, you feel like you have accomplished something extraordinary, something that stands out maybe as a milestone into future.
Today, our outstanding crew here on Campobello has handled about a 100 passengers from a visiting cruise ship. Yes, we have had cruise ships visiting here before, but none of them having more than 60 passengers. The Pearl Mist of the Pearl Seas Adventures has a capacity of 210 passengers. We sure got a little taste of half of that number. 

             Pearl Mist and Grand Manan Ferry side by side

             Pearl Mist at Head Harbour Lightstation

We had been up early this morning and Bea had used to find out where exactly the Pearl Mist would be at the time. Well, she was already on the east side of Campobello so we jumped in the van and drove out to Head Harbour Lightstation. After waiting for about 5 minutes she appeared around the eastern point and took course towards us. The weather was still grey and it was really cold. Her first stop would be the "Eastern-most City of the U.S. - Eastport, ME. From there she would come across the bay to Welshpool at 1:30pm. 
                  Running along Campobello Island

The ship is about 380ft long and doesn't fit into our harbour, so had to stay at anchor, tendering their guests in, 40 at a time.
 1st Tender arriving and (below) Declaration of Security signing with Ship Security Officer.

        It was low tide and the walk up the gangway steep.

All of them wanted to visit the Roosevelt Park. It's only about 3 minutes to drive from the harbour, but it took 4 buses to get them there.

All of the folks had a great time and before they went back to the ship they turned into our community hall where home-baked cookies and coffee was waiting for them.

As the responsible person for transportation I got a full plate today organizing the steady flow of buses, making sure nobody had to wait too long for the next bus to arrive. Weather had turned out clear and sunny, even though it could have been a lot warmer. The Nor-Easter was bitter cold and nobody was hanging around outside any longer than necessary.

When the last passengers left in the tender we were all shaking hands. A crew of security volunteers had guarded the wharf, others had been way guides and yet others had set up the hall so welcoming that people found it hard to leave again.

Tonight we go to bed happy and content.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Ghost Army: The battalion who fooled the Germans

The fake army remained the secret of government for decades after

June 6, 1944 is a date that has etched into the history books as the date of one of the greatest military operations carried out during the Second World War. The landing at Omaha Beach on the Normandy coast is referred to as the D Day and formed the start of the secret allied invasion of France.

Two weeks later, however, another invasion took place when a top secret battalion arrived in the same area.

Among the American soldiers who set foot for the first time on French soil, was the 19-year-old student Bernie Bluestein. He had been handpicked to participate in what was called the "ghost army".

"We did not know what to expect and did not know what our assignments were," said the 95-year-old veteran at the EuroNews interview.

False troops and tanks
The "Ghost Army" was officially known as special troops of the 23rd headquarters and counted a total of 1,100 men. The battalion was so secret that even the American soldiers already fighting on European soil had no knowledge of it. The secret army mission was as taken out of a screenplay in classically enjoyable Hollywood style:

They were to be decoys that imitated the Allies' forces with the aim of fooling the enemy around with the help of fake weapons and vehicles.

The American Special Army consisted of more than 1,000 actors, artists and sound engineers. Here it was more important with creativity and intelligence than raw muscles and accuracy, so recruitment first and foremost took place in art schools, in advertising agencies and similar establishments that encouraged creative thinking.
Instead of real goods, the battalion used inflatable tanks that looked real at a distance. They carried out fake radio broadcasts, used speakers to give the impression of the 1100-man battalion counting at least 30,000 soldiers, and staged more than 20 fake battlefields - often as close to the front as possible.

"Here I am, shoot me!"
Today Gilbert Seltzer is a retired architect of respectable 104 years. In 1944 he was one of the officers in the "Ghost Army" and Seltzer still remembers how they learned to produce, blow up and repair the fake tanks.

Their job was to create illusions to lure Nazis into the wrong area, which they did with great success. But even ordinary people were fooled, even though they got an unexpected look behind the curtain.

- We had an event where two Frenchmen saw a tanks lifted by two men. They turned to me and asked, "How can two men lift a tank?" I answered that the Americans are very strong, and they took it for good fish, he chuckles.

In the "ghost army" it was more important with cleverness and intelligence rather than muscles.

The Special Army performed its missions right up to the last weeks of the war. The latter took place in connection with a battle in Germany where several thousand lives were at stake.

"We caught the attention of the Germans by fanning our arms while we shouted" Here I am, shoot me! ", Says Bernie Bluestein while he is waving his arms.

The diversion maneuver was a success and ensured that 30,000 American soldiers barely faced any resistance where they were one and a half miles away.

Got great influence

When the war ended in 1945, the soldiers of the "ghost army" could return home to the United States. All of them came from the war with life intact and received several awards, and several of the soldiers would later have great influence on American art and culture in the post-war years. Among these were the artist Ellsworth Kelly, illustrator Arthur Singer, photographer Art Kane and fashion designer Bill Blass.

But neither the soldiers nor the officers received any form of public recognition for the efforts they had made on European soil. Even decades after the end of the war, the "ghost army" remained secret.

Only in the early 90s did American authorities choose to publish documents relating to the squad.

The battalion's job was to create illusions to lure Nazis into the wrong area. Here, a soldier keeps moving an inflatable car on his own. Screen shot: EuroNews

Strictly guarded
Documentary filmmaker Rick Beyer believes they are the heroes who were not honored.

People wonder why the missions were secret. I think the reason was that it worked and that the army wanted to keep that solution secret.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Waiting For Bea

Dixie and I are anxiously waiting for Bea to return from her trip to Germany. Thursday she had to say a final Goodbye to her mom. My mother in law just turned 90 and she might pass at any time now. I have gone through the same with my Dad last year and I know how hard this is.

Bea has been at Frankfurt International since Friday night at 0:00 Hours. 

                                            Midnight at Airport in Frankfurt

Her flight to Montreal was not scheduled to leave before 9:55am, but even in Germany there was no public transportation to get her to the airport in time for check-in. Hanging around at the empty airport from midnight she decided to check in at 4am. There she was told that there was no booking for her on AC875, but of course, she had a copy of the booking in hands.

In fact, while I was checking her flight schedule on there was no AC875 logged or even in existence. I was quite alarmed.

Bea was further told that she would have to wait until an executive from Air Canada would arrive at 6am, so that she might be re-booked on a Lufthansa Flight to Montreal.

When said person finally arrived around 6am, she had to negotiate to be allowed on LH488. Luckily, the flight was not fully booked and space was available.
The plane lifted off at 10am and at this time Bea is almost across the Atlantic.

I will drive to St.John, NB in the afternoon to pick her up. Dixie is gonna come along and I can imagine there will be much pleasure for all of us to be re-united.

So why and how could Bea have been booked on a non-existing flight?

I can only think of one reason. When Boeing 737 Max were grounded by the hundreds, Air Canada might have eliminated Flight AC875 WITHOUT informing travel agencies and passengers.
Otherwise, I cannot even begin to understand how a computerized booking system can have passengers booked on a Phantom-flight.