Gout & Cross Country Adventures

Within a months time span, slaDE and I have been blessed twice with the company of my Father w/hen he made a cross-country truck trip from home — Ontario. On Dad’s first visit, I was very tempted to travel back home with him. I’m feeling a bit homesick and weary of the Calgary winter, longing for a much-needed vacation. Florida was our last spontaneous trek of any length, and prior to that, our Level 3 Yoga teacher training in Abbotsford. Before that a blur of travel and momentous occasions (i.e. our wedding, Nelson yoga retreat, Lost Prairie, etc). Experiencing a whirlwind summer and then living through a quiet snowy haze has left me wanting and longing for more. I dream and yearn for the day when we can set foot in our Airstream and travel at our whims delight! Never in my life have I ever been so busy with such a full-on schedule. Adjusting to a full-time job after contracting for 7 luxurious years was quite difficult and extremely challenging. but 2 years into it, I’m enjoying my life and the community of friends and yoga I’ve built at work. But holy smokes, teaching 4-6 classes on top of full-on employment has left me feeling rather drained and looking for a retreat of any kind. And that opportunity came when Dad ran solo this trip out to Calgary. Spontaneous travel is my forte, so I decided that now was an opportune time to head back home on a quick visit. It’s been ages since I’ve run a long trip with my Father. Unfortunately slaDE~ has less freedom in taking a vacation, so this trip is a solo journey for me, for uS. However, I am truly happy to spend this quality time with Dad. Little did I know how eventful and meaningful it would be!

When Dad arrived in Calgary Sunday morning, he was suffering immensely with a swollen inflamed ankle and a gout-riddled right foot (of course that would happen to be the foot he has to use the most when driving — poor Dad; driving an 18 wheeler and suffering such pain is not a pleasant or meaningful way to live through one’s days). In the afternoon, we spent some quality educational time with my herbologist friend Ray, who provided a consult with my Dad on trying to help cure his gout naturally. Although we intrinsically believe in healing without the use of pharmaceutical drugs, when immediate relief is needed and a short-term solution has to be guaranteed, sometimes medicine is the only way to go, unfortunately. An eventful evening was spent dodging between hospitals for the quickest possible way to see a Doctor for my Dad’s serious gout inflammation. With the hospitals behind us, we dropped Dad off at his truck and went home to spend a lovely evening together before my journey adventures.

I was up until about 3am packing, cooking and tidying up. The night before any big trip is usually rather hectic. Although I’m not a big time procrastinator, I find that things on my to-do list scramble for individual attention, like needy children yelling “me first, me first!”. And being a good ‘mother’, I have a hard time favoring one task over another. Hence prioritizing objects is not my strength nor forte. Especially knowing that I’d be getting up in 2.5 hours. BlaH!

Sleeping solidly and soundly (but never enough with only 2+ hrs to my name), the alarm clock bolted me out of bed so that I could get slaDE off to his work for 6am, shuttling the car to my workplace, only to arrive 2 hours early. Double blaH! Luckily I had things to do, ‘gripping’ enough to keep me wakeful through the morning.

Fallen angel

Wanting to enjoy the most of this summer’s day, I set out on my bike, soaking up the sun, celebrating in the purity of the clear blue sky. It was divine and indulgent. Perhaps a bit too indulgent? After visiting with my friends Sara and Michael, I hopped on my mountain bike and started the uphill journey to my friend Susan’s foreign exchange / end-of-Stampede barbeque. Perhaps daydreaming a bit too much, I somehow caught my u-Lock on my handlebars and quickly locked up any steering capabilities. When trying to steer around a corner, the bike refused my cornering input and henceforth sent me flying off, landing abruptly on my right wrist, sending shockwaves through my injured shoulder and cre8ting instant pain and swelling. My first reaction was to find an immediate source of ice and elevation. I gently hopped on my bike and carefully, but quickly, ‘hobbled’ home, there encasing my injured arm in ice for an hour. Realizing that the pain was persistently complex, I gingerly made my way to the new Urgent Care centre (luckily only a few blocks away) and silently awaited my turn in Triage, the waiting room and finally was granted a visit with the on-duty Orthopedic Assistant Surgeon. After several xRays and an anxious turn in the waiting room, I was given an uncertain answer as to the extent of my injury. Neither a break nor a fracture could be visualized; however, precaution was taken with the ‘gifting’ of a partial plaster cast, encased from thumb to elbow. The pain I was experiencing was characteristic of a scaphoid fracture, and an appointment for 10 days back here at the Urgent Care would be needed. How convenient that this would fall on the day before slaDE~ and I were to leave for our trip to Nelson, BC for our Level 2 Teacher Training. Ack!!!! How this would change things was yet to be established.

Yippee, yahoo. The end of the Calgary Stampede. Not quite the ‘bang’ I was anticipating ::>{o

Voices from the Street 2008

Last night was an eye-opening experience. One that I will never forget (I pray that I will always remember). ‘Voices from the Street’ … the volunteer opportunity of my lifetime.

What started out as a noble gesture to reach out and provide an opportunity to serve, turned into a life-changing experience, recounted through the eyes of 7 different narrators. Homeless souls on the ’empty’ streets of Calgary.

The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre has a blog {I highly recommend this as a notable read} which is updated by individuals who work there and this entry sums up last night very well ….

Last night I was part of Voices from the Street 2008. A group of social service agencies and volunteers conducting a homeless street count in Calgary on the night of May 14th. Over the course of two to three hours, one hundred volunteers wandered the city streets identifying how many people were without shelter, sleeping rough. Each group had a specific geographic area to walk, a clipboard with census sheet to mark off how many people were ‘visibly homeless’ and a shopping bag full of ‘goodies’ to give away to those willing to engage in conversation.

The purpose of the count is to identify trends — the count has been conducted by the City every second year since 1992. Homelessness has risen by 32% every two years since the first count. Is that continuing? Are more people sleeping out? Are more people drifting into homelessness? The count helps project forward what facilities will be needed. And, helps identify what’s working. What’s not? Where are the gaps?

One thing that this entry didn’t note was this year was the first time the City of Calgary has taken a homelessness census by talllying numbers at the shelters only. Hence, the need for volunteers to go out into the community last night and hear the voices from the street.

copyright of http://www.citynews.caFrom my volunteer experience with the homeless, there are few voices from the street that have the resources and resilience to overcome their addictions, loneliness, mental illness and turmoil that many experience on a daily basis. Thank God for the help of outside institutions who support those living on the street (such as the sponsors of last night’s event: The Salvation Army, The Seed, CDIRC, Alpha House, CUPS Housing Registry Network and the Calgary Homeless Foundation); homelessness is an incredibly dire urgent social human dilemma that goes beyond the tallying of numbers and the rallying of voices.

All of the stories from our conversations with the homeless stick out poignantly in my mind. However, what really burns a vibrant image of remembrance was the sentiment which resoundingly came through with each and every person …. fortitude, honesty, integrity and friendliness. Of course, these are all judgements based on my perspective of what I saw / heard or perhaps wanted to see or hear. But with the fading of the sun and the warm night bearing down on us like a thick fog blanket, I saw light gleam in a few people’s eyes …. pride in strength and resilience seemed to shine through.

Dennis was a perfect example of the unexpected truth to my evening … he was a surprisingly fit, smartly dressed 54 year old First Nations Aboriginal from Saskatchewan pushing a shopping cart [holding what I deemed to be his worldly belongings, carefully bound up next to a scattering of bottle depot returnables]. Dennis was freshly showered with a beautiful bright smile, clear eyes and a curiosity that left me both inquisitive and breathless. His story of being on the streets for over 12 years (his grown children also somewhere displaced in the night), working occasional to full-time as a construction worker for PCL, was typical of the homeless males we encountered in our walkabout of Fort Calgary and the riverbanks. A common thread … seems that there is plenty of work here in Calgary, with money to be made. However, the housing situation is way out of control and hopelessly beyond the means of someone with addictions and / or mental issues that fuels the inability to maintain a stable and supportive lifestyle. Addictions tend to bring out the tragedy in humankind …. instant gratification is a reality of our society, especially prevalent with those that live moment to moment for their next fix. Stability for those on the street is not a common denominator in the lifestyle which I often take for granted.

Life on the street is a tough, rough, cold environment reflected in the pavement the destitute travel and sleep on. Homelessness is often overlooked, hidden and ignored. But last night, I was proud to be a part of this census, helping to support the often unheard voice of our people, our brothers and sisters.


It was quite the sight to see the Men in action over the weekend in slaDE~s world of concrete and steel. Currently my husband is working on another huge project with Harris ReBar (The Keynote), but he has worked at ‘The Bow’ on several occasions, as Harris has taken on the mammoth EnCana building.

This spiel was put out by ctv.ca:

Massive concrete pour runs all weekend
Let it pour. A huge concrete convoy is in downtown Calgary all weekend at the site of EnCana’s new office building. The Bow Project is between 5th and 6th avenues, and between Centre Street and 1st Street.
A long convoy of trucks is continuously pouring the foundation for the 58-story high rise. Talk about a base. It will be 10 feet thick. The Bow Project involves the biggest concrete pour in the history of our country, and the fourth largest in the world. The pour will continue throughout the entire weekend at a pace of 50 trucks an hour.

What I found incredible in watching the pour was the tremendous amount of noise and the overwhelming smell of diesel fumes (an unending procession of cement trucks, running non-stop in an enclosed area over 48 hours; a constant flow!). Also, the depth of the hole and the magnitude of such a project is mind-boggling.

Big concrete pour at EnCana building
EnCana hole in the ground
Cement trucks a go-go!

I found this photo posted below on Spooof’s flickr blog, just to give you an idea of the massiveness of this project.
Big EnCana hole

Interesting Wiki tidbit … more concrete is used than any other man-made material in the world. 15000 tons was being laid this weekend. EpiC!

Earth Day revisited

forgivenessYesterday was such a beautiful day to bless, protect and respect our Mother Earth!
Initially slaDE and I had hoped to either plant a tree or pick up garbage, but with 10 cm of recent fallen snow hampering those efforts, I felt the need to contribute in another way … so at work, I simply offered to add anybody’s composting efforts to our own. I placed a simple small bowl for the floors contribution in our big kitchen, and I found that by midday, my bowl runneth over! Swiftly another container was gleefully put in place. I am happy to say that my work composting experiment is a necessity that I am thrilled to provide, especially for those who wish to honour Mother Earth, in their own little way.
Small baby steps, one tea bag at a time ….

My friend Bill gifted me with this heartwarming story about his friend in Mexico, where he is currently residing. I hope you enjoy the fruits of Maria’s labour!
And to think that Maria was the recipient of such a gift, on Earth Day, no less, is symbolical to me of the hope, goodness and potential that shines in each one of us.

When Marie came to Mexico over 15 years ago, she brought a Honda rototiller with her that she had used for seven years in Canada. I can remember even back then wondering how much more abuse it would take, but it just kept on churning up the ground year after year. Well, last year it got tired and stopped and Marie had to convert to a horse and plough.

bless Mother earthHowever, this isn’t the end of the story. Marie wrote to Honda and described how faithful the rototiller had been and the good work that it had done in contributing to the success of teaching organic farming to the Mexicans. She ended her letter with a request that Honda replace the old rototiller with a new one.

Yesterday, Marie received a brand new rototiller from Honda. Honda was very prompt in responding to Marie’s request but bureaucracy and red tape caused the lapse in having it delivered.

So Marie is the proud owner of a brand new Honda rototiller, and a bigger model than she had before. I don’t think I have to paint any picture of the delight and pleasure, and the productivity that this new replacement is going to provide.

I guess there is someone in Honda’s management that is thinking beyond being a bean counter and looking for profits.

Busy as a Bee!

A busy bee I amI’ve been so GOOD at keeping my Project366 photos updated lately, but I’m finding that there just isn’t enough time for everything. SIGH 🙂
This weeks theme is a great one and I want to spend some time going through my photos to find those that best reveal this months / week’s theme. So you’ll have to wait a few days, sorry!

What pray tell has been keeping me a busy bee? Well last weekend I spent three lovely days studying Anusara yoga with the beautiful inspiring couple Martin and Jordan Kirk, laughing and learning through some incredible yogic breakthroughs, on my part. I felt so inspired within my own practice after just 3 days. It was a phenomenal educational experience, and I can’t thank them enough for their valuable time and intricate guidance.

Tomorrow is my full-on 3rd weekend of Aromatherapy Certification. I truly enjoy Blaine’s humour and style of instruction. However, I tend to get run a bit ragged with a full-time job and a crammed weekend of fascinating information action-packed with anatomy / chemistry / herbology / history tutelage. I give incredible kudos to my inspirational best friends Sandy and Lisa who are full-time working Moms going to school and with 5 children between them both! They are truly remarkable. And my workload indelibly pales in comparison ….
Life is grand! What an adventure 🙂

Tomorrow evening I’ll have the pleasure of spending a girl’s night out with my Niece, who happens to be in town from Vancouver, working at the Saddledome for a clothing designer. Should be a riot! And another full weekend.