In the Year of 2022

It’s time to look back on my year and see what I’ve come through. And ponder where I might be heading. And wow, it has been quite a year once again. I think I have five vaccines now for Covid? And yes I will keep getting boosters; that is my decision. I will also not be driving a semi across Canada for freedom from what?? I have freedom. Blessed freedom.

Mom is now 90 years old and doing quite well. I treasure all of the moments that I get with her. I appreciate all that she has taught me and all that she has sacrificed for me. She is the most amazing woman that I know.

Our community did not get evacuated for forest fires this year. Instead we were trapped due to floods on our one road out of town. What will it be in 2023?

The trapline cabin has lovingly been restored to how I remember it. There is still work to be done another time and I officially started trapping this winter. Having a great time with friends. Learning a lot. In the woods. On the land. Beautiful. Granddog went through the ice on the creek. Scary, scary. I was able to reach him, grab his collar and pull him out.

Came close to losing a son which I won’t share details on, but I am so grateful to have him and to look forward to good things happening for him (and all three sons) this coming year!

And my hubby and I continue to adjust to his Parkinson’s disease and all that it involves. Finding out it is not so much about tremors as it about brain changes that affect mobility, energy, anxiety, depression, the ability to process information and so much more. We are managing thus far. With the help of God.

Hopeful for 2023. Good things will be happening! Life is life. Have to live it and not wait for it to happen. I’m not sure what to blog about in the upcoming year and about the regularity of blogging. I would like to blog more often. When I started this blog, the topic was suicide and losing my oldest son. I’ve blogged about Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, grief and survival. Hmmm not sure what is next.

Ohh and we went to see Burton Cummings at the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg!



I’m sitting outside in my vehicle waiting for hubby who is at a medical appointment. I’m waiting. Again. What do you do when you’re waiting?

do you read a book or a blog or search your friend’s social media?

do you walk around the block or through the park?

do you phone or text a friend and have a catch up chat?

do you bring work with you when you know you have to wait?

Or do you close your eyes and have a catch up nap?

His name is Ryan

I hate writing this post. Every year. It is one more year without Ryan. Sixteen years ago he died. He left this world for another journey. He left us all behind. As time goes on, the fierce, cutting, pain softens but it is always there. It is part of me now. Something that I live with. Something familiar. But I also have joy. Joy has returned in the morning when I rise. Joy is there.

I’m grateful for joy. I’m grateful for the years that I had with my boy. I’m grateful for all of my memories. I’m grateful for all that he taught me.

I like to picture him now, having a weiner roast in the forest with his grandpa and his Auntie Shirley and many other family members and friends who have since left this world. He’s smiling and they are teasing each other. He is at peace. And today I’m going out for dinner with friends.

Returning Home

I lived in the same house until I left home at 19 years of age. My children all spent their childhood years in that house with grandma and grandpa. A lot of memories made in that house. My father built the house in approximately 1960. He bought a small corner lot and built the two bedroom home with the help of mom’s brothers.

We did not have water and sewer until I was twelve years old. Mom hauled water from a town well, from our own well and also saved rain water and melted snow to get water. She worked hard, that woman. We had an outhouse and also an inhouse that had to be emptied regularly and where its contents went I do not recall. I believe there was a poop truck at that time that collected poop in town from places where there were no town services.

The house had a basement. The basement leaked and flooded. So dad put some boards down that we could walk on.

The woodstove was in the basement and that is how our house was heated. We had to get wood every fall and cut and stack it and then bring it in all winter to burn in the stove. If the fire went out during the night, it was cold in the morning. Another job that mom was on top of. She kept her babies warm. I don’t remember ever being cold, but I do remember frost in the corners of the living room.

Eventually when we were connected to town services, dad put a toilet in the basement. This was an emergency toilet with a curtain for a door that you could use if there were visitors over and you needed more privacy.

Dad also built a bedroom in the basement when my oldest sister was planning to move back home. That room became the bedroom I shared with my next older sister and then when she moved out it was my room. My brother had the bedroom on the main floor with mom and dad in the other bedroom.

When dad passed away in 2015, mom stayed on alone in the house for a year and a half until she moved into long term care home. The house was sold at that time. And from then on, whenever I’ve driven by my childhood home, I always look to see if I see the ghosts of childhood past.

Then recently, the young woman who is currently renting the house reached out to me via messenger and invited me to come and see the house. She had a piece of trim from the house that she asked if I wanted. On the trim were the names of my boys and the markings of their heights at different ages. (Dad loved to measure the kids as they grew. He did that at the trapline also.) Of course I said, “YES”.

Would I cry when I saw it? Would I feel sad?

Nope! Felt happy! All of the happy memories came to me, not the sad ones. The house looked totally different inside which really helped. It has been nicely updated and is still a work in progress. The woman now living there was interested in all of my stories so I shared memories with her and sent her some old pictures. It was a pleasant experience and great for healing. I left with the trim of my children’s height markings and a smile.

Me and my bro 1972ish
mom in the kitchen
dad in the living room
The trim

The Outhouse Blues

That’s been my tune lately. I’d never thought much about outhouses before. I grew up with an outhouse because we did not have town water until I was twelve years old. But my parents looked after it. We lived on an island during the summers until I was fifteen when my dad was commercial fishing and we had an outhouse there too. And then when my dad built the trapline cabin he also built the outhouse. I was eighteen.

It is still there. In tact. Forty years later.

But is it usable? That was the question. I was afraid to open the door and look inside. But I held my breath and opened the door. And yikes!!! The mice had taken over so it was full of leaves and stuff made into nests. But…. it did not smell.

So then I opened the toilet seat lid. And yikes!!! It was full to the top. I was hoping for a nice hole that could be used for awhile yet. But it was full of garbage. Empty cans had been disposed of in the hole and it didn’t look environmental to me but again….there was no smell. Bonus! So then, what to do? We weighed out our options and went with the one that seemed the simplest and the most accomplishable for the two of us. We would removed the whole seat and then removed the garbage and dig out the existing hole. Yeah, really.

Easy? No. the ground is rocky and full of roots that hold everything in place.

Determined? Yes. I am determined to have an outhouse. It will just make life so much better.

Loo is going to be beautiful.

The Loo
Let’s dig

Yes really


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!