Restoration

Spring was a little wild here in northwestern Ontario because we had a lot of snow during the winter and it melted quickly before the ground could thaw and absorb it so…. we had floods and major road washouts and therefore road closures. Our little community was literally cut off from the outside world for awhile. Sheesh, if it’s not forest fire evacuations, it’s floods; climate change for sure.

Anyway, Rick and I were able to catch a plane, eventually, after delays, in May, and take a little vacation out west to see my brothers and son. It was awesomely amazing. I’ll just share a few pictures.

We were unable to get out to the trapline until later in June because the road was flooded. As soon as we could we began the clean up projects and have been able to enjoy countless hours there, restoring the cabin and in the process, our lives. I’m very proud of us. It has been fun and exercise at the same time. It has also been stepping back into time, remembering all the times with my parents and children when they were young. What a blessing.

Since Rick’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), we have been making adjustments to our lives and changing our plans. The trapline has become a refuge. It has also become a goal that keeps us both going forward. So grateful.

A circle

My mom’s parents were trappers. My mom learned to trap as a child. She married my dad and he became a trapper in his later years. She trapped with him on his trapline. I am now a trapper. Officially. But not experientially. But yes, believe it or not, I’m head trapper on my dad’s old trapline.

It has been a process. It was not something I had ever thought would happen. My dad finished trapping and sold his cabin that he built many years ago. Other people have trapped on that line since. But a few years ago, maybe five, my cousin, Leslie, who now has the trapline that our grandfather had eighty years ago, told me I should apply for the trapline because he had heard it was again available. So I did. It wasn’t available, I was told, so I forgot about it. Then a little more than two years ago, before the pandemic started, I was informed that it was again available. So I sent in my application. I decided that I did want to continue the tradition in my family and yes, that life indeed is a circle. Well, to make a long story short, the pandemic happened and a lot of things were delayed. It has taken two years but now officially it is reality.

What does this all mean? I don’t know but I’m going to find out. I’ve taken a trapper’s course that was so beautiful because it was taught by a friend and I learned the whole beautiful culture aspect of trapping and what it meant to my Indigenous ancestors. It has reconnected me to the land.

Spring is here so I have some time to prepare before I actually try to trap.

My dad has been gone for almost seven years now and mom lives in long term care at the age of 89.

I hope you’ll get a kick out of this Dad!

Five Years at the Lodge

Mom went to live at the Lodge in January of 2017. Dad had passed away in July of 2015 and we applied for a bed at the Lodge at that time, so it took a year and a half to get her a room there. Our Lodge is a 30 bed long term care residence.

For the year and a half that mom was in her own house alone, it was very difficult. Her dementia was worsening and she was continuously looking for dad. We were worried about her safety but there was no other solution but to keep her in the house in which she was familiar. I was able to do her shopping, cooking and cleaning and my boys helped with lawn care and snow care. Every day I walked to her house after work to check on her.

When finally, we were offered a bed, we had to figure out a way to get her to go to the Lodge. We ended up telling her that some major maintenance needed to be done with the house and she would have to go and stay there for awhile. My brother came from BC to help move her belonging in to her room. It was quite an organized feat. He and his friend carried chairs and TV and stuff down the hallway while I kept her occupied in the dining room. We then cleaned out the house to prepare it for sale. Difficult times.

For the first few months, mom was angry and yelled at me when I went to visit. She phoned me at home and at work threatening to phone the police. She phoned her Pastor to come and get her. She disowned me. I left the Lodge more than once in tears. But I kept going back of course as I knew it was the dementia talking and that my mom loves me.

Slowly she adjusted, her memory of her house faded away. She talked more and more of her childhood home and her parents. She wanted to go and visit her reserve. She stopped being so angry with me and seemed more like the old mom. This has made the visits easier.

She was settled in and we had a nice routine going. I took her out for drives often and we could stop and get some fries at the chip truck or go to a restaurant for lunch. Then Covid came along. And everything changed for me. Nothing really changed for her. She has not seemed to have been impacted by it even though everyone around her is wearing masks, there have been times of no visitors, times where we’ve visited from outside though a plastic wall or inside across a table and six feet apart without touching. Her dementia somehow is at the place where she doesn’t question these things, just accepts them. For me, I was left with worry about her when I couldn’t see her, guilt when I couldn’t go and visit and frustration when I wasn’t able to take off my mask.

Two years now into the pandemic and we are managing. Mom’s dementia and health slowly declines but she is cheerful when I visit and always telling the stories of her childhood that I love to hear. Even if I hear them over and over, I love to hear her tell them and to see her smile and hear her laugh. We have been fortunate that she is coping so well as many others have passed on during this past two years in the Lodge. I am grateful for the times that we have together yet.

We made it

Survived Christmas! Another Covid Christmas has come and gone. I haven’t written anything since July?? What!! Really? Nope, haven’t been motivated. Have been sucked into the vortex of complacency. Anyhoo, I mentioned in my July post which was about the horrific forest fires we had all summer, that I was looking forward to cooler winter weather 😊 And yes; I’ve received my wish. It’s cool today again. It was -30C yesterday morning when I walked to work. That’s -22F. Totally refreshing.

As it is the beginning of winter here in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, I am still enjoying the snow, the beautiful crisp air and the fresh animal tracks in the snow. Yes it will most likely be a different feeling in a month from now when you ask me how I am feeling about winter. But rather than whine about it; try to enjoy it!

Okay that’s all for now, but I’ll be back and will have updates. Stay safe everyone! Let’s hope and pray for health and peace in 2022!

When life’s a smoky haze

Smoke gets in your eyes

it makes you cough and hurts your throat

and floats down into your lungs

We’ve been breathing smoke here in Northwestern Ontario for most of July and there seems to be no end in sight!

Winter looks so refreshing and cool and clear.

But for now, grateful that our community is still here. Praying for all those working in horrible conditions to fight fires and to support those who are out fighting the fires.

And grateful that I live near water and can get water to water my little garden.

Sometimes masks come in handy!

Waiting for a forest fire

Our community of Red Lake is on standby to be evacuated from two nearby fires. Three communities north of us have already evacuated some or all of their community members. Last year we evacuated on a moment’s notice because of a fire that started very close to town. This year we have warning and systems are in place. But now we wait.

My mother was evacuated with her long term care home to one in Kenora two nights ago. She is safe.

We are packed. We have decided what we are taking with us.

We have let all of our loved ones know where we are going and what is happening.

We continue to go to work.

We watch Facebook.

We read the news updates.

We wait for the next update from our Mayor.

That is all we can do now.

Wait and be calm. Encourage each other. Be nice to each other. Help each other.

Pray for rain and pray for wind change.

Our firefighters are working hard. We pray for them too.

Look around

I saw a boat going by yesterday. It was a beautiful, hot summer day and a great day to be out for a boat ride.

There were two people in the boat, one was the operator, sitting in the back, steering the outboard motor. The other was sitting at the front of the boat. She had her hand out and was looking down.

At her phone.

I saw a mom walking down the street the other day, pushing a stroller with a small child in it. It was a beautiful day to be out walking with your child, enjoying the weather, the blue skies, the blooming flowers and listening to the birds in the trees.

The Mom was looking down at her phone.

I saw three young people the other day sitting at a picnic bench outside the street vendor’s truck. The sun was shining; it was a beautiful day to be young and free and with friends.

They were all looking down at their phones.

Wow, did you see that? A beautiful eagle just flew by…

Oops, no.

I was looking at my phone.

The Impact of 215 — Life Has Meaning

Sadness, anger, horror, incredulity, shame, regret, and repentance are just a few of the emotions and responses that cycle through my soul since hearing of the discovery of 215 children’s bodies buried at an Indian Residential School in British Columbia. Read it here. These are people that died away from their homes and communities; people…

The Impact of 215 — Life Has Meaning

Contentment

Finally, it has come, a bit of contentment with life. Sometimes a lot of contentment. Content to just be. And really it’s because I can’t be anywhere else than where I am. I have to be content to be right here right now. It is like a gift. Usually as winter approaches, we dream of a vacation to somewhere else; somewhere warmer maybe but just to be somewhere else. With that dream can come a lot of stress. Decisions to be made and agreed upon. Arrangements for travel made. More stress. Plans and more plans. And then travel and meet deadlines and run through airports. Well, not this year!

It is peaceful. Don’t have to fill up my already full brain with all of those extra decisions. Can just stay. Be. Rest.

I see families hanging out together, enjoying each other. I see people spending time outdoors, enjoying creation. I see many things to be grateful for.

Yes, there is a terrible pandemic and people have died and are very sick all over the world. That is a fact. I worry about my mom, in long term care. That is a fact. But I see hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.

And right now, I am content in being.

New Year New Ways

Every day is a new beginning. I love that. If you were grumpy or bitter or jealous or envious yesterday you get today to change that. I am grateful for this.

There was a time when I opened my eyes and did not want to face another day. The pain of losing my child was so huge. Immense. Gigantic. Enormous. Smothering me.

But I got up and fumbled through the day hoping for relief. I did that for a long time. It was lonely. Then I prayed for faith because I had lost my belief in a Creator. I kept praying. And praying. It worked. So I am grateful for healing. For waking up in the morning with a prayer of thanks in my heart instead of an emptiness.

I haven’t written anything for a long time. Like others in this pandemic I’ve been staying close to home and focusing on my world around me, trying to make some peace with the confusion and fear of the unknown future. I’ve decided that I will write whatever I’m thinking about because writing is part of my healing process. I have to write for me. It might not always make sense to others.

I get tested weekly for covid so that I am able to see my mom in a long term care home where she lives her final years in her world with dementia.

I have continued to work throughout this pandemic in an essential job for which I am thankful. Violence against women has not stopped during this time.

Each day is an unknown. And each day I embrace. So with those thoughts I’ll share some photos of my walk the other day. Peace.