April 24th – Spring has sprung!

I just got back from my daily walk. It is a beautiful, although extremely windy, day here in Fort McMurray.

The amount of dirt in the air is incredible. Thank God I wear glasses! And further thanks that I’m going to the pool tonight. That’ll get the grime gone for sure.

Here are a few pictures from the day. As you can see the river hasn’t quite broken up yet. It is actually looking pretty ugly. Up close and along the banks the water is like mud. The melting snow is black and sludgy.  I’m not sure, but I think the water level has risen a tiny bit.

Further downstream, near the bridge things are looking a little better, but not by much.

We need a good, cleansing rain to freshen things up. And start the trees budding.

A good community clean-up is in order, too. I’m going to check the municipality’s website and see if there’s one scheduled.

 

 

 

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Other than garbage this is all the colour we’ve got right now.

 

 

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Wow! Finally a really nice day.

As I said before I am going to post pictures of the Clearwater River that runs behind the apartment building Tim and I currently live in.

Here are pics from April 14th and 15th.

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The first and third pictures are from April 14th, the second and fourth from the 15th. It doesn’t look much difference, but trust me there is.

Today it was so nice that I wound up taking my jacket off and walking in just my t-shirt. Feeling the sun and the soft breeze on my skin was wonderful.

Here’s a few impressions from my walk today. I walked down to a place called Waterways. It’s in a rather precarious spot if you ask me – really close to two rivers, but it is quite a lovely walk.

First, I spotted two ducks! A mated pair checking out the ditches. I tried to get a picture but they spooked and flew off.

Then, a teeny black bug flew into my glasses.  Completely startled me.

Next, a little boy with a big rock. He was under the bridge with his parents. I’d heard someone tossing rocks as I approached the bridge and wondered who it was.  Seeing  this little guy struggling to carry his rock, then stopping every few feet while he contemplated throwing it, only to change his mind and grapple it back up into his arms, then toddle off after his calling parents just made me smile. A sure sign of Spring.

Then there was the disheartening sight of all the garbage covering the ground that the melting snow has revealed. Ah, Spring!

And, lastly, the one sign of Spring that I could do without – the gagging smell of thawing dog shit.  I love dogs, I really, really do. I just wish they had better owners.

 

Purge – Day 7

Today’s act of purging was to let go of anger. I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been experiencing random bouts of unexplainable anger.

Poor Tim. I’m usually taking it out on him. (Not that he doesn’t sometimes deserve it. Lol.)

We had to head back up to Fort Mac today. It’s only for a week, but leaving my home always makes me a little testy. I’ve been able to be home for about three weeks so leaving today was extra hard.

We didn’t leave at the time I had hoped to. That didn’t help. I had to kick Tim’s butt out of bed. That didn’t help. I had to start loading the car myself to get him away from the tv. That DEFINITELY didn’t help.

Once we were out the door I told him I’d drive the first leg. I thought if I just had something to focus on besides my anger I’d be ok. It helped. A little.

I think most of this anger comes from feeling like I have no control. Which puzzles me, because lately I’ve been taking all these steps towards regaining control. Purging is certainly helping.

The problem today, I think, is that I resented having to leave home, my grandkids, my comfort zone. I know there is so much more I need to take care of there, and now,  because we have to go to Ft. Mac, I won’t be able to get it done.

Sigh. And get over myself.

Because in a little over a week we are going on a two-week cruise of the Panama Canal.

So, once we got back to our home away from home and I got supper in the oven, I put on my boots and coat and hat and gloves and went for my walk. I told dad how angry I was feeling, how frustrated and upset I was. I heard him tell me that it was okay.

As I walked I kept talking, kept voicing everything I’d been feeling all day. Gradually I felt my shoulders loosening up, the knot in my stomach and chest letting go and my breathing become easier and slower.

As the afternoon darkened I felt calm for the first time all day. With a smile I turned and headed back to the apartment.

100 Days — Day 2

I woke up this morning and wondered — will I keep up with my stated goal of purging for 100 days? I felt doubt trying to get in my way, but then I told myself doubt could only stop me if I let it.

I went out for the 1st of my 100 days of walks. It felt great. It was certainly a plus that the temperature had risen to -4 overnight. I smiled at birds flitting about in the sunshine, enjoyed the quiet streets, fresh air and saying good morning to the few people I happened to cross paths with.

I had a conversation with my father, who passed away on October 23rd. This is where day 2 of my purging comes in.

The one thing my father and I shared was a love of walking. We didn’t get to walk together much, but we did enjoy a few walks whenever he and my mother came to visit. I was always closest to him during those walks. Today, I felt him there with me again.

Dad and I were not as close as I wished we were. Ours was always a tumultuous relationship. I have always harboured guilt for not being a better daughter and anger for him not being a better father. Today, I let that go. I said I was sorry, and I hoped he could forgive me. I forgave him. And I told him that I hoped he knew I always loved him.

Being with him in the two and half months before he died was a hard thing. I watched my father who had always been such a powerful force in life wither away to nothing. But, even as his body wasted away and he lost his ability to communicate his eyes still held a look that was both fierce and passionate. I could tell how angry he was that cancer was robbing him of the ability to enjoy the thing he cherished most – life.

It’s such a sad thing to get to know your father, like the man he was, realise, finally, that he loved me — us — all more than he had the ability to say and then watch him draw his last breath as you struggle to say goodbye.

I miss my father, as I know all my family does. My heart aches for my mother, who was married to the love of her life for 60 years. But he left us much to be grateful and thankful for. And he gave us all the greatest gift he could – life, and love for it.

 

July 23rd

Day 205 — Spent a lovely afternoon with my granddaughter and my sister-in-law.  Went for lunch at Cora’s (not all that good), then went out to Salisbury Greenhouses (lovely place) and afterwards, ice-cream at Dairy Queen (always good).

Hailey was a little confused at first about why Michelle and I would want to go see a ‘green’ house.  We laughed and tried to explain, but until we got there I don’t think she truly understood where we were going.  Thankfully, Salisbury, like most greenhouses these days, isn’t just full of plants.  They had lovely furniture, gift ware, jewellery, clothes and ornaments.  We had too much fun looking at jewellery and Hailey modelled purses and scarves for us.  She is becoming such a charming and funny young girl.

Went for a walk in the evening with my friend Shelly.  Stopped by for a quick visit at my son and daughter-in-law’s place, ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in ages and stood talking in the street for a good 15 minutes.  I love living in a small town!

June 27th

Day 179 — Day one of the holidays — and it was lovely.  Got up went for a nice long walk along a different path.  Not the usual 30 minute circuit Heather and I usually navigate when I’m working.  The air was warm, even though we’d had a helluva storm last night.  Lots of thunder and lightning, and, of course, rain.  But, other than a couple of slight showers that was supposed to be the end of the 40 days and 40 nights we’ve been enduring.

I did a lot of little things today — made pineapple marmalade, tidied the house, took care of small chores I’ve been putting off since forever.  I even found time to read my book outside on the deck a couple of times.  (In case you hadn’t figured it out, my deck is my favorite place to be in the summer time.)

For dinner I made crab cakes and salad with asparagus on the side.  Of course, I ate it outside.  Then I finished off a nice little glass of white zinfandel and read a few more pages of my book before going back out into the garden.

I love not working!

June 24th

Day 176 — Well the first of the last 3 days of work before my holidays begin is done.  Two more to go.  Here’s hoping they go by quickly.

I managed to get out for that evening walk I’ve been talking about.  Went out for about an hour.  I forgot how much I enjoy that time to myself.  Time to think, to ponder, to work things out.  And then there was the getting reacquainted with the rythyms of my body as I walked along.  The ebb and flow of air in my lungs, the surge of my leg and torso muscles as they contracted and elongated with my steps and the swing of my arms.  It’s a pattern of motion that is so conducive to calm and constructive thought.  I am definitely going to get back into the habit.

Tuesday morning

We had a big snowfall last week — an early blizzard, actually.  And it appeared the snow was here to stay.

However, over the last couple of days the temps have soared — yesterday we reached plus 9.  So, we’ve got all this melting snow causing the roads and streets to be quite treacherous to walk on.

Heather and I ventured out yesterday morning and again today.  Yesterday was a trial; today was better.

As I walked home from her house down the crunchy, icy street in the dark it occurred to me that it wasn’t that the conditions were so much improved over yesterday as it was that I had got accustomed to walking on the ice and slippery snow.  I had gotten my ice-legs back.

Ice-legs, I thought.  Would that be like sea-legs?  And, yes, I suppose it would be.

Here on our in-bound prairie ocean we have to learn a different way of walking come winter time.  It gets forgotten in the halcyon days of summer and golden gleaming of fall, when we can walk with all confidence and sure-footedness of the flat-land creatures we are.  But, let there come a deep snow-fall followed by a chinook to melt that snow and turn it into a rutted, frozen coating of slippery muck and soon enough we re-discover that unique way of walking that makes us look like drunken penguins.

It’s a head down, eyes scanning the surface before us, teeny tiny steps on stilted legs, arms held slightly out to our sides with backs either ram-rod straight or hunched over at the shoulders kind of stance.  And this is how we make our way through winter.  Shoulders drawn up against the cold, living in constant fear that your foot is going to betray you as you place it gingerly down, hoping, hoping, hoping that the ice has enough of a frosting of snow or grit to give your step purchase.

It’s a precarious way to tread through 5 months of  a year, but, you get used to it.

Gotta love those ice-legs!

Wednesday, blustery Wednesday

Aargh!  They are forecasting snow flurries for today!

It’s too soon, I say, too soon!

Ah, well, it was bound to happen.  We do live in the frozen god-damned North after all.

I’ll just try and remember the beautiful summer we had and the absolutely stunning month of September.  Nothing to complain about there, that’s for sure.  But still, snow?  On October 10th?  It’s just not fair.

This is going to be a quick ramble about the past couple of weeks.  We celebrated our 33rd anniversary on Sept. 29th and spent a wonderful, somewhat leisurely weekend at home.  Tim bought me some beautiful roses and we went for dinner at what was once one of my favorite restaurants, The Creperie.  Sadly, it was not as good as I remembered it being.  In fact, the whole meal was a complete let-down.  The place is old, an institution, really, but whereas some institutions have worked hard to cultivate and maintain that specialty of feeling that goes along with such a designation The Creperie has merely stagnated.

The decor is too worn and frayed to be considered quaint or antiquated; poor Tim was nearly crippled by the time they got around to bringing him a chair that had even a tiny bit of support.  The tables are too small and wobbly — every time the waiter brought something to the table I had to lift my wine glass for fear of it winding up in my lap.

The food was barely mediocre — our parmesan crisps (cut up crepes deep-fried and then dusted with garlic and parmesan) were a soggy, oily mess — inedible.  My chicken cordon bleu was overcooked bordering on burnt, the vegetables were cold and the ‘new’ potatoes were anything but.  Tim said his crepes were fine, but nothing remarkable.  Dessert was a let-down as well.  Pre-frozen then thawed ice-cream filled crepes doused with store-bought chocolate and raspberry sauces.

The service was adequate, but not what I’d consider attentive.  When we mentioned the inedible crisps the response we got was, “yes, it’s a always a mixed bag when you order those”.    Wtf?  But, I had promised Tim I wouldn’t make a fuss seeing as it was our anniversary, so I just told the waiter to take them away.  Then, when we mentioned that Tim’s back was killing him because of the horrible chair he was sitting in and that we would like a replacement, he said he’d see what he could do.  Well, his stellar efforts brought Tim a chair just as we were eating dessert.

I have every intention of writing to the management of The Creperie to let them know of our horrible evening, but I’m terrified if I do they’ll offer us a coupon or something to return and I just don’t think I could.

On to better experiences. . .

We celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada last weekend.  We had our three grandchildren for most of the weekend and that was a blessing.  It was tons of fun — just the medicine I needed.  Prior to that I had been feeling kind of down in the dumps — I think it’s the changing of the seasons.  But with their boundless energy surrounding me I couldn’t help but be lifted out of my funk.

Monday, we went over to my son and daughter-in-law’s new home here in Bon Accord and had a lovely Thanksgiving meal.  It was simple, delicious food — roast chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli, gravy and stuffing.  Followed by pumpkin tarts and apple crisp — which I supplied.  Grandma always does dessert!

After we got home I decided to go out for a quick walk to help settle my tummy and I realized as I walked just how great my life really is.  I had spent a great deal of time earlier in the day talking to my parents and my siblings and that was a joy.  I got to spend precious time with my son and his family, I didn’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner, my husband finally finished our deck, I have a lovely, comfy home in a small, quiet town where I can safely go out for a walk in the darkening evening.  And, to top it all off as I strolled about the streets of Bon Accord the northern lights came out to play.

It was a beautiful end to a beautiful weekend.

Another Saturday morning

Today is the first official day of Fall.  And a stunning day it is.  This September has been glorious.  Fine weather, beautiful skies, bountiful produce and gardens still flourishing.

Bon Accord put on an event this weekend called the Summer Skies Equinox.  A 30 hour marathon of events and activities all associated with the night sky began on Friday evening and will culminate at just past midnight on the 22nd.

This morning, Heather and I got up and went for an early morning walk — 6:15-ish — not something we usually do on a weekend and ended it with a stop for a cup of tea.  Well, I had coffee (thank God they thought of us coffee drinkers!).  The ladies from Vintage Petals tea shop in Morinville set up a little tea station outside the Golden Jems building and a handful of us early risers stood about enjoying a steaming cup while we chatted and enjoyed the dawn.

The morning sky has been stunning these past few days.   Clear, un-marred by clouds and a gorgeous array of colour from cerulean blue on the horizon to darkest indigo high overhead.  Venus and Jupiter have been twin lights shining a bright greeting in the Eastern sky each morning, and we were lucky enough to see them in perfect alignment with the moon one morning.

Had I been up to it last night I’d have gone out to check the night sky through some amazingly powerful telescopes set up by local astronomers.  Heather and her husband did and she says they got some fantastic views of the planets and even a couple of nebulas.

But, I was satisfied with my walk this morning, the clear, crisp morning air, the sky overhead, the town still mostly asleep and our footsteps crunching along the gravel road as we made our way towards the warmth of tea and community.

This is a picture of the sky as I see it on my walks. Not my photo, but it is in Alberta.
I found the photo here: http://amazingsky.net/2012/09/12/september-dawn/

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