it was a cold and rainy night. . .

. . . but it was a good night, too.  I think I made some new friends, which is always a good thing, and we all did a good thing, which is great.

Foote Field was drenched in rain when we arrived at 3:30 p.m.  We unloaded the vehicle, and while I went to park Kyle and Heather got the tents set up.  Did I say that I love you two?  That was awesome!  Ashley, Saranya and I hung around inside waiting to register and drop off our fundraising envelopes.  Because we were there so early, this went quickly — about the only thing that did, for a while.

When we joined up with Kyle and Heather and got our living arrangements all sorted out we went to find a cup of coffee or tea to help warm us up, only to find that there was none.  This could have made us grumpy, but seeing that the thousand other folks out there on the track with us were in the same predicament, it somehow didn’t seem appropriate to whine too much.  So. . .

. . . we went and grabbed a granola bar and a juice from Sturgeon’s hospitality tent and went and set up our Scrabble game.  The ‘real’ walking hadn’t started yet, so we figured — what the hey? — at least we were out of the rain (which hadn’t yet turned to snow) and having some fun.  We never did finish our game — got too cold and too hungry and had to go searching for something warm.

Though this event didn’t turn out exactly as I had imagined (or, anywhere near what I had imagined, for that matter) it was a wonderful experience, nonetheless.  Unbelievable the amount of people who came out in such lousy weather to support such a worthy cause.  At no time during the 12 hours we were there on the track, or in the Saville Center, did we hear even one person complaining.  The survivor’s parade at the beginning, which kicked the whole night off, was moving and sad and wonderful.  All those people in their bright yellow survivor’s t-shirts, walking past us smiling, waving and saying thank you with their eyes — it was inspiring.  I only hope I have that sense of grace should anything terrible ever befall me.

After that, we got down to the walking.  That’s when it started to snow.  Big fluffy snowflakes, being driven by a sharp breeze right into our faces.  We just laughed, shrugged our shoulders and marched on.  And while we marched, others ran. There were a few people there that I’m sure ran their entire shifts.  More than once.   In all honesty I have to admit that our team did not walk the entire 12 hours in shifts, but, because we chose to stick together as a group during the walking we figured, in the end, that our collective time had to equal the 12 hours.

It simply was impossible to stay out in the cold and the wet non-stop.  Despite the laughs and the jokes and the chatter, eventually we just got so cold we had to go in to pee and get a cup of something warm.  (The Starbucks people eventually showed up around 8 o’clock — thank God and insulated plastic coffee urns!)  Heather, who NEVER drinks coffee, had two, with cream and sugar.  All three of those things can give her deadly migraines, but, seriously, that’s how cold she was.  Not to mention  hungry.  Because. . .

. . . for some reason we couldn’t fathom, there was no food for us walkers until after 8 o’clock, either.  Now, that did make us a bit cranky.  By the time we’d finished our first shift on  the track we were starving, so the pasta, buns, salad and squares they fed us seemed like manna from heaven.  In truth it was over-cooked, too salty and just not that good, at all.  But, hey, it was better than eating cheese popcorn, Almond Joy bits, KitKat nuggets and gummy bears.  (My stomach starts heaving all over again, just thinking about that appetizing combination.)  Truly, though, these things were delicious at the time, the five of us sharing them and laughing as we crammed crap down our gullets.

In between stints of walking we’d clamber inside our tent and wrap up in blankets to keep warm and just sit and talk.  Or, we’d head inside to use the can, and see what was going on inside.  We played bingo, ate more crappy food, drank much too much coffee and laughed a great deal.

I’ve got to send a holler out to Saranya’s parents and her boyfriend Collin and their friend, Lucky.  Twice they came to Foote bearing coffee or hot chocolate, and donuts.  So nice of them to go out of their way for us.  We truly appreciated it.  And, Collin and Lucky got to join us for Bingo.  Let me just say that Kyle is a mad bingo player!  That boy was playing 16 cards!  By the end he was frothing at the mouth and hyper-ventilating.  And still, he didn’t win a blessed thing!

Then it was back out onto the track, the snow had slowed to a light misty, slushy-type drizzle that coated our glasses and soaked through our hats and hoodies.  It was around mid-night by this time, and the temperature had dropped considerably.  Our feet, knees, hips and backs were sore.  I was beginning to feel like that character from Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman’s story, The Long Walk.  The track was dark, and bodies were just shuffling en-mass around it in the wet and the cold, knowing there was a purpose in putting one foot solidly in front of the other, but unsure anymore about continuing to do so.  But then, you’d catch a snippet of hushed conversation from a group nearby and you’d remember.  Or, one of the signs placed as memorials would catch the corner of your eye and you’d think, this I can do, for those who can’t.   And so, on you’d go, round and round.

And then it was 2 o’clock and we decided to try to get some sleep.  Kyle and Heather managed to drift off.  Ashley, Saranya and I talked and talked and talked.  Finally around 3 we quieted down.  I drifted off but awoke 1/2 hour later as Saranya was slipping out of the tent.  “Can’t sleep,”  she mouthed, and went out to continue walking.  I drifted off, fitfully, but around quarter past 4 decided enough was enough.  I was too uncomfortable trying to sleep comfortably in a folding chair, I was freezing and I thought I might as well get out there and put in another hour.  So, I did.

At 5:30 I spied Heather leaving the tent, it took me nearly half way around the track to catch up with her, but when I did, I told her that my hour was up and I needed to pee and get coffee.  Off we went into the warmth of the center.  There the smell of eggs and sausage greeted us.  I had told myself I wasn’t going to eat anything more, but the cold does funny things to your appetite.  So, we both chowed down and I drank more coffee, even knowing that I’d be unable to sleep when I finally got home.  (I managed a couple of unsettled hours, but finally had to give up.  Hence, I’m sitting here blogging.)  Ashley, Kyle and Saranya came in about an hour later and we decided that was it.  The snow had started again, the wind had picked up and so it was time for us to do the same.

Team Sturgeon wanted to do a last victory lap, but as Ashley said:  “The fact that we’re still here, this IS our victory lap.”

So, quietly, we packed up and knocked down.  Kyle went and brought my vehicle up, we hailed a golf cart to haul some of our stuff and then we dragged the rest of it across the sodden field to the parking lot.  We threw it in as best as we could, said some hurried good-byes and that was the end of our 16 hour marathon called the Relay for Life.

Thanks, everybody, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  We did good.

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Relay for Life — May 29, 2010 — It’s gonna be a cold one!

Wish me and my team-mates luck today.  It’s going to be cold — very cold  — and wet.  We may even get snowed on!  Let’s keep all our collective fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.  I think we’re as prepared for the weather as we can be — and despite the freezing forecast I’m really looking forward to doing this.  I just did a quick tally of the money we raised and as of this moment it’s $3021.80.  So, Whoo -Hoo!  for us!  We rock!

Adversity always seems to bring out the best in people and I’m extremely confident that will be true tonight.

I want to thank each and every person who helped us on this journey;  your support and donations is what has made this the terrific success it is for our team.

and last, but not least. . .

. . .This is for you, Jolene, and your wonderful family.

Wednesday in Red Deer

. . . well, I’ve been in Red Deer since Sunday around 4 pm.  I like Red Deer.  It’s a pretty city.  Nestled between Calgary and Edmonton, it’s the halfway point, the center, if you will, of the province.

Why am I here, and not at work?  Because I’m attending CUPE week-long school.  CUPE week-long school is an opportunity to learn more about how Unions function and how to help the people who belong to them.  I never was a big union supporter, but now that I’m in a job that is governed by one I decided to get involved.  I’ve been involved for the past six years, taking on progressively more responsibility, until now I have attained the exalted title of President.

. . . sounds impressive, but all it really means is that I get to do way more work than anyone else.  There are benefits to it, as well, such as it looks great on a resume, and, besides,  education is never a waste.  And in CUPE there are always tons of opportunities for education.  Another nice thing about becoming involved with the Union is that it has really opened up my eyes to what workers’ rights are, and how they are so flagrantly abused much of the time.  Especially for people who are too afraid to speak up.

And let me tell you, most people fall into that category.  They just don’t want to risk losing what they consider to be a great (or at least, good) job, so they’ll put up with abuse and harassment and being made to feel that they should be bloody grateful to have a job, period.  Now, me on the other hand. . .

. . . I love a fight.  Don’t go looking for them necessarily, but if one comes along, well I won’t back away without giving it a shot.  I’m lucky in that regard, I guess, and also in that I have a spouse who makes a good living, so any job I have is a bonus.

But. . .

. . . now that I’ve said that. . .

why should I trivialize what I do in that way?  My job is every bit as important in our lives as his is.  I make a good wage, and if I was working full-time like he does, my income would be much greater, probably not much less than a 2/3’s  of what he makes.

That’s the interesting thing about work, employment, pay  — there’s this tendency to attach a value to ourselves in accordance to what we do and how much we get paid for doing it.  Considering that we’re all children of Capitalist’s and Calvinist’s for the most part, I guess it makes sense.  Or, maybe not.  I’m not really sure, just thinking as I type.

When I think of all the people I know, though, I would have to say that status and making more money is a driving force in their lives.  It is in mine, I know.  I have a perfectly wonderful job as an Education Assistant.  I work with Special Needs students in a junior high school.  I love my job, I think what I do has real meaning and real value, not just for myself and the students, but for society as well.  I am a contributing member of my community, of my province, of my country.  I am helping to ensure that kids with disabilities get the same opportunities as other kids without those roadblocks to learning do.  And that is something to be very proud of.  And yet. . .

. . . I sometimes berate myself that I’m not doing something that has a better title than Education Assistant.  Like: Teacher, or, Speech Language Pathologist, or Behaviour Therapist, or Therapy Aide, or. . .  the list could go on and on.  Then, there’s the fact that instead of even doing the job I do, I could be writing full-time.  I treat that like a fantasy, however.  Something that if only I had more money, and all my debts were paid off, and I had the money to travel, and Tim was retired, and, and, and  —  then I could be a full-time writer.

The truth is I’m not a full-time writer simply because I don’t believe in my ability to pull it off.  And, because I’m actually quite happy (most days) with my job.  I like that I can go to work and help kids learn — it’s  a neat feeling when a kid grasps a concept that they’ve been struggling forever with, or when you see the lightbulb go on in their eyes, because what you’re teaching them finally makes sense.

Anyway, I have completely digressed from my original theme which was being here in Red Deer.  I have enjoyed every day, so far, although, today was rather dull.  We’re learning about duty to accommodate in the work place.  A lot of policy language, but it’s essential to the workplace and I guess if I can take even one thing back to the job and my members then it will be worth sitting in that hard-backed chair today for 8 hours.

Well, I think that’s it for now, I’ve got to walk back to residence and get rid of my laptop and then turn around and walk back to the college for supper, then a meeting afterwards.  Sigh.  I miss home.  I miss my bed.  I miss my husband.  I miss my kid and his kids.  Friday.  I’ll be back home on Friday.

Thanks

I had a lovely birthday, thanks everyone!

Monday

It’s the second week in May.  Already.  I turn 52 tomorrow.  Sigh.

Time.  It just keeps’a comin’.  I have to say, though, that this weekend, it didn’t get the better of me.  I had a great two days off — Saturday got all my damn groceries bought and out of the way, spent a little time at my daughter-in-law’s Norwex open house, then went out in the evening to see Iron Man. (Loved it!)  Robert Downey Jr.  in an absolutely over-the-top performance.  Hilarious.

Sunday, being Mother’s Day, my husband and son took me out for dim sum.  My two oldest grandchildren came with us.  A nice treat.  Hailey is a lot like her father when it comes to food — she’s game to try just about everything, while Timothy is more reserved — he doesn’t like the looks of it, then he’s not putting it in his mouth.  He had a plate of fries while we chowed down on dumplings, sticky rice, noodles and sweet and sour pork.  In the end he tried some rice, and he devoured half a coconut bun.

Tim and I checked out the new Edmonton art gallery afterwards.  I was wishing the kids had come with us, but after a couple of hours they would have been bored silly.  I have mixed feeling about the building.  The outside looks like a bunch of giant silver tongues licking across the top of a gray and glass box.  Inside, it’s all very clean and open with swooping ceilings and bare concrete accented with wood and paint.  In the center there’s a massive IKEA lamp that runs from the main floor all the way up to the third floor atrium.   The stairs climb around it;  I found it just a little disconcerting and odd that the light inside was bright pink yesterday — I’m assuming, though, that it can be any colour.

Seems to me that there is a lot of wasted space — where before it was a stodgy old building it at least had tons more room for displays.  However, the galleries in the new building are lovely — they are beautifully lit, and have a great flow to them.

Currently on display is a collection of Goya’s work from the Spanish Revolution, paintings by Degas, photography by Yousef Karsch  and an amazing installation called The Murder of Crows.  (sorry can’t remember the artists).  The Murder of Crows examines humanity and morality through dreams and sound.  It’s a mixture of spoken word and  music.  I highly recommend it.

Laugh of the day:  they announced my birthday at work today.  So, every time someone wished me Happy Birthday! I got to say, ‘it’s tomorrow, but thanks anyway’.  It’s only one day, but hey it’s MY day and I’m gonna have it!

I’ve come to the realization that I’m a boring blogger.  I’ve been checking out all kinds of different blogs and there are some truly amazing ones out there.  A couple I particularly like: Chin Musik —  http://randyhoward.info/ and The Selvadge Yard —  http://theselvedgeyard.wordpress.com/.  Check them out, they’re very different and very good.

My blogs, on the other hand, though interesting to me because they allow me to talk about my day, my life, my family or my random thoughts on any or all of the above, pale by comparison.  But, I guess, I blog about what is important to me.  And so. . .

. . . but, I do, however, know that I have other ‘stuff’ to say.  It’s just finding the voice, finding the time and finding the courage to put it out there.

One of these days, you’ll see. . .

Sunday, and now, it’s Tuesday

It’s nearly noon and I’m still sittin’ in my pj’s.  Have to say I’m feeling very McDonald’s about it.

Went and visited with our friends last night, whose granddaughter is in the hospital again with cancer.  Was wonderful to see them, hope our visit helped to take their mind off their worries for a tiny while.  We went up to the hospital to see Jolene and give her mom a break from the constant vigil.  Amy is handling it all pretty well.  She’s a tough girl.  Has to be.  Having been through this all before I’m sure emotionally she’s toughened herself up.

Always amazing to me what people are capable of when put to the test.  Oh sure, some fail, but for the most part I think most of us generally rise to the occasion.  Looking at that little girl, a baby really, lying there I couldn’t help think of my own grandchildren.  And gave up a silent, selfish prayer for their health and safety.

So, it’s Tuesday morning, now.  We are in the midst of a terrific Spring storm.  The winds have been howling at around 50 – 80 km/hr all night, and the rain has been driving down in torrents.  Now, it has started to snow.  Yay, it’s Spring – time in Alberta.

The car-bomb in NYC startled me a tad.  As I’m going there this summer with two of my sisters and one of sisters-in-law.  Thank God they found it before it went off.  Don’t know that I’d want to continue with my plans if the city was going to start to be bombed and terrorized again.  That’s chicken-shit, I know, but, hey, I have a lot to live for, damn it!

My essay on time management is still being hashed out.  It’s very slow going, especially when I only have about a half hour a day I can work on it.  Which reminds me. . .

. . . need to look into the WD’s annual competition.  Need to waste $15 US again and make a submission.  It’s my contribution to the world of glossy, commercial writing advice for wannabe’s like myself.

Oh, shit, that was pretty cynical, wasn’t it?  You’ll have to pardon the bitter, whining tone, I’m tired and I wish I had the time to just sit down and finish my essay so that I can submit it, forget it, and start something new.

something wonderful from yesterday — large flock of cranes flew low over my head yesterday as I was driving into Morinville.  I opened the window so I could hear their gurgling cries.  I love the passage of the cranes in Spring.  Usually I only hear them from way up in the air as they’re riding the upper thermals.  But yesterday they were under the clouds and close to the ground.  I seriously wish I’d had my camera and, wait for it, the time to stop and take some pictures.

May Day

Can you believe it — the 1st of May is here!  Unfortunately, because of our geography we don’t have any May flowers, but they’ll be coming, I’m sure.

Lots to be thankful for this weekend:

  • the sun is shining
  • my family is safe and healthy
  • I’m healthy
  • I live in a wonderful country
  • I live in a warm, comfortable and beautiful (to me) home
  • I have time to be creative
  • I can do things to help others

That’s a short list and no where near complete, but it’s what came to mind in the moment.

Moments are precious — so much can happen in one — you can discover love, you can discover faith, you can discover belief in yourself, and you can discover just how fragile all that can be when in a moment your world is turned inside out by tragedy.

At the end of this month I’m going to be walking in a 16 hour event called the Relay for Life.  Teams of 10 put 2 people out on a track to walk and then, in relay fashion, walk for sixteen hours in support of cancer research.  It’s my first time doing an event like this and I’m really looking forward to it.  It’s my little way of honouring and showing love to all the people I’ve known/know whose lives have been affected by cancer. I’m going to post a link here so that anyone who wants to can go online and pledge their support for me.  Any donation is welcome — 5 bucks will be greatly appreciated, but if you can donate more you’ll receive a tax receipt for any amount over $25.  My personal goal is to raise $1000 — I could sure use some help.

It will only take a moment of your time — and it will help so many.

Thanks
Follow this link to find my personal Relay for Life page.  All the tools you need to contribute are there.  You can also find me on Facebook.

http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFL_AB_Edmonton_even_?pg=team&fr_id=6010&team_id=217190