First fires then a pandemic and now floods. Please tell me this is it


Its been a rough few days. It’s only Thursday but it feels like forever since the Athabasca river overflowed and came inland. On Monday the ice jam was 25km long, it is now 13km long. That’s a lot of ice! But it is dissolving slowly and the waters are receding, so that’s good news. The bad news is that many people who had finally moved into newly rebuilt homes that they lost to the fires have lost them again to the flood. It puts things into perspective. Hubby and I have been inconvenienced. We have to make the three hour drive out of town for his dialysis, but we still have a home. Unfortunately this situation may last another week. Yet we are able to rent a motel room in this lovely little community of Lac La Biche and it’s a very comfortable room. My brother continues to wait for news concerning his house and whether or not it sustained damage. The whole downtown core was flooded out. Around 13 thousand people had to be evacuate. My daughter and her boyfriend were also among them. And the adventures continue.

The biggest challenge has been maintaining social distancing and isolation. My brother and sister in law had to go stay with a granddaughter, whom they had not spent time with since the lockdown. I imagine there are many in similar situations.

And so I am asking for prayers for our city as we continue to cope with these often overwhelming challenges.

Looking out over the city, a view from the balcony


We have moved! I am still working on getting rid of boxes and totes and finding places for everything but the worst is over (I hope). Moving is never easy and my muscles continue to remind me I am not as young as I once was. But we are here and I thought you’d like to see a view from the balcony – one of the perks of this place is being able to enjoy watching ducks in the pond and looking out over the city. It will be a while yet before I can get back to reading your posts and writing my own but I am getting there. Have a wonderful week and until next time…cheers!

It is nice to watch the ducks in the pond and to look out over the city. As the thunder rumbled and lightening flashed we were safely ensconced in our new home.

Another shot of the view from the balcony

Found a place to live


I dislike moving intensely and what with hubby’s health issues and work, it’s going to be challenging. But, we did finally find a place to call home. This time it’s an apartment, which will be a big adjustment and we will have to downsize once again. Purging cherished items can be difficult, but the up side is that there will be less to haul.

The new place looks over a park and there is a walking trail not far from the back of the building. So, at least we will have a nice view. I have to get back to packing, but I am taking a bit of time to myself today. I just wanted to let the people who follow my blog know that we have found something that I think will work for us. I appreciate you all more than you could possibly know. If I could prevail upon your kindness, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as hubby cannot lift or haul anything at all so we will need a lot of help. Yet, God is good and has provided for all our needs thus far. I will trust in the divine. Have a great day and a wonderful week. Until next time – cheers!

God’s sense of humour


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When we had to move from the home I loved I was extremely disappointed. It was not so much the house itself, but the location. There were several mature trees on the lot and it was right across the road from a nature trail. And so, I prayed about it. ‘Please, God, help us find a home that suits our needs. Send me a sign when we find the right place.’  The new place is lovely – much roomier than our previous abode. I have to say the location is not nearly as ideal, but I had neglected to add ‘must have mature trees and lots of birds’. At any rate when we came to look at this house we moved into I had to laugh for on the wall were several biblical quotes, including “With God all things are possible”. Needless to say, we took the place.

But I have been missing the birdsong and the variety of winged visitors I had enjoyed at the previous address. Then a couple of weeks ago a pair of American robins built their nest in a flower box situated on the railing of my next-door neighbor’s front steps. It is literally a few feet away from us and I can watch her from the window very easily. It is as though the creator read my mind and granted me the beauty of watching this mama robin. A few days ago, the eggs hatched and now we are treated to scenes of both parents delivering food to their chicklets.

God goes by many names and concepts – whatever you may believe, I hope you see evidence of the creator at work and enjoy the wonderful sense of humor. I am grateful and feeling very blessed.

Winter in Fort Mac: not as cold as you think


 

Before my son and brother convinced me to move to Fort McMurray I was wary. I was wary of the frigid temperature that can dip to -40 Celsius.  It took a lot of persuading on their parts to sway me. Eventually they succeeded and this is my third winter in the ‘frozen north’.  On a positive note, the cold temperatures mean there is far less snow to shovel, and seriously, there are not that many days when the thermometer dips to such lows.

For the most part I enjoy living here – cold weather aside.  I am blessed to live across from one of the many Birchwood Trails that crisscross the city. I have had the good fortune to see deer, coyotes, rabbits, and a variety of birds. There are also bears, foxes, and assorted mammals that inhabit the area – though I have not seen any of these. Being a nature lover this is as close to heaven as I can get whilst living in a small city.

Every place I have lived in this fair country has offered its share of pros and cons and while it is very cold here at times, the kindness of its people and the joy of having the opportunity to explore the trails more than compensates.  I count myself most fortunate to live here and call it home.

Counting my blessings


I am not feeling well – it’s either a cold or flu or both, but whatever it is it is sapping my energy and making me want to hibernate under the covers until it’s gone. Still, there are things to be grateful for, like the hot meal my eldest had ready for me when I got home from work. It’s my husband making an extra trip to the store for medication for me. It’s my youngest making me “special” tea to help me feel a little better. It’s text messages from my son every morning to wish me a good day and to say “I love you”. It’s my cat running to meet me at the door when I get home from work every night. It’s a comfortable home in a beautiful setting. It’s feeling safe and loved, even with a snotty nose and a horrible headache, or maybe because of that. I am sick, but I am being coddled and comforted. And I am counting my blessings.

One year after the fire


“Don’t feel guilty for having a laugh at something. You might say, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t be laughing.’ Yeah, you should be. … Your family is with you, you’re alive and that’s joyful.” – Sharon Watcher, Slave Lake, AB

The above quote was taken from a news story talking about how the people of Slave Lake, Alberta, who also survived fire, were reaching out to evacuees from Fort McMurray to offer their support and advice. The quote struck me because one of the long lasting effects of the fire was the incredible sense of guilt I feel for not losing anything of material worth to the fire. They call it “survivor’s guilt” and it’s with me still, even a year later. Mostly it’s because so many people have yet to rebuild their homes, or have taken a substantial financial loss by walking away. I witness faces filled with frustration, sadness, or pain almost on a daily basis.

Last year we spent the month of May safely ensconced in Sylvan Lake, a picturesque little town halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. It was a stressful time, but it was also a time filled with more blessings than I can count. And I do like to keep a positive attitude as much as possible. But a year after the fire it feels like Fort McMurray has been forgotten, except for the obligatory news stories. Yet many here continue to grieve and to struggle with the trauma left by “the beast”. (That’s the name firefighters gave to the inferno,)

For the people of Fort McMurray the fire cannot be forgotten. There are reminders of it everywhere. – Blackened tree trucks and dead wood are everywhere around the city – so it makes forgetting impossible. We live with it. What other choice is there? But I hope that the moments of sheer grief are lessening for my fellow citizens, that there are more moments of joy than of pain. Tree trunks will remain black for years to come, but our hearts need not be.

A Manic March


It’s been a tough few weeks. Moving is never fun but I am so very grateful for the people who stepped up to help. Family and friends are definitely the super glue that holds me together. Through good times and bad times they’ve been there for me to lean on, or to help celebrate life’s joys. I feel like I have been walking along a razor’s edge between these seemingly opposite emotions – one minute happy the next grief-stricken once again. Because you see, it was my younger brother, Chris, who so often stepped up to help us, whether it was moving our belongings or something as simple as a ride to the airport, he was always there for us – it’s been four months now since his death, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Even through the exhaustion of moving, or perhaps especially because of that fatigue, he sprang to mind frequently. I remember when he helped us move and also made sure there was a hot supper waiting when the last load had finally been dropped at our new place. I not only appreciated his strength, I was inspired once again by his thoughtfulness.  He was an amazing brother and friend. I miss him.

So, for what it’s worth – I am back! Thank you for reading my blog and I will spare you further exposure to my grief. For those of you who know my family you know Chris was killed when an impaired driver crashed into my brother’s vehicle. So, once again, I implore all of you – never get into a vehicle with an impaired driver; and be careful on the highways and byways, for I would not wish this pain on anyone. Stay safe my friends.

Life is a gift


I am awake in the very early hours between dark and light. My head is spinning with ideas and memories and golden moments drenched in love. I have been so very blessed to grow up in the bosom of a large, noisy, hectic, and loving family. I think of all the gifts my parents, sisters, and brothers have given me and the precious web of connections that flow out from there. Relationships that have helped develop our character as individuals and defined us as people.

Once again my thoughts turn to Chris…baby of the family and darling of our eyes. Well, most of the time anyway. He and I are close enough in age to have had a healthy sibling rivalry. Still, I am one of four of his “big sisters”. It had to have been frustrating sometimes having so many people bossing you around. Yet Chris took it all with good humour, for the most part. Now, I do not want to present my brother as some sort of goody two-shoes or angelic super human – he wasn’t. He had his faults as we all do. He could be frightfully stubborn, impatient, even self absorbed. Growing up he was coddled in some ways and spoiled by all of us to varying degrees – as I’ve said we were close enough in age to be playmates and often antagonists as well.

Perhaps we treasured Chris more deeply because of the many times we nearly lost him. He was what was termed a “blue baby” at birth and had to be given many blood transfusions and remained a very sickly child for many years. We learned early on that life is fragile. Later, when he was still little, as I have already written about, he could have been killed when he fell out of the car before Dad brought it to a full stop. As a teenager he gave us a scare when he developed meningitis and later still another car accident when he rolled his small vehicle. Looking back it’s almost like there was a foreshadowing of things to come – so many close calls where Chris seemed to stand at death’s door.

Chris faced many challenges throughout his life, but the one that marked him most deeply, I think, was the death of his infant daughter. I have no idea how difficult that must have been to endure or the strength it must have taken to get through it. But Chris took this tragic experience and used it to try to help other parents who were going through similar circumstances. He had a real gift with people.

Later he and his wife would go on to have two more children. Sadly the marriage failed and Chris would face the challenges of raising his children in a two-house situation. I am sure it was very hard for him and hard for his children as well. I hope they know how proud he was of them and how deeply he loved them, even if he showed it imperfectly at times.

In my previous post I described his funeral and the vast numbers of people who came to lend support to his family and to pay their last respects to a man well loved and held in high regard.

Chris was just a regular guy doing his level best with whatever life dealt him. He left behind a legacy of love and an example of selflessness and service to others. I am proud to call him my brother and blessed to have received his love and friendship. Life is a gift and I thank God for Christopher’s.

Because you walk this road


walking-with-mu-hubby-photo-credit-anastacia-hopkins

What’s in a word?

In a touch

In a hand reached out to comfort

In eyes warm and bright

To show love

And affection

Connections deep

And beyond words

How to find a way

To express

The joy I feel

Because you walk this road with me

Expression best revealed

In action

And behavior

I will show you in deed

And not in flowery phrase

And you will know

You are loved