RAM

The Edmonton Tourist respectfully acknowledges that we are located on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Blackfoot, Metis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/ Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, Inuit, and many others whose histories, languages, and cultures continue to influence our vibrant community.

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Who remembers visiting the Royal Museum of Alberta as a kid around Christmas and riding the moving sidewalk to get a glimpse of the Teddy Bears? That was one of my favourite memories around this time of year. My family would clamber into the vehicle and we would go to the museum, visit the poinsettia display at the Muttart, go say ‘hello’ to the donkey at City Hall and then spend the evening driving around the city looking at lights. This usually happened the Sunday before Christmas, but not always or it was spread out over the season.

The Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) is back open and in its new location after a long hiatus of collection transfer to the new site downtown. It is a beautiful facility with lots of light and collections I have not seen before. I purchased a Mammoth Pass for $35.00 which I think is a steal. I can come and go, checking out the different galleries including the features that rotate on a regular basis. After spending the day on Monday, I realize you need at least two days to see the Human History gallery and the Natural History gallery. I spent 4 hours in Human History and didn’t read it all. I plan to take my time with RAM over the next few months and really explore it. My grandpa always read every single word in the museum and it was painful to go with him because I just wanted to see stuff, not learn about it. He never went through it fast enough.  I am ready to learn about the history now so I find myself reading more.

RAM has some random exhibits in the Human History Gallery that seem odd. Newfoundland junk food? A mechanical horse that I used to ride when we went to Safeway? Beekeeping and Edmonton Oilers history? There is a lot of my childhood in this museum. It was cool to take a trip down memory lane. These weren’t the only artifacts that were interesting.

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My ChatterBox attended with me and she laughed about my things being in a museum. She is now a second-year University student and studying the history of things and stuff. I have learned so much from her. We looked at the Indigenous displays including the Residential School display and this opened up a conversation. We sat down in front of the Metis exhibit and discussed what it meant for her family and how things have changed and what it must have been like for her grandfather attending Convent School, while it wasn’t a Residential School for him, we suspect it was part of the genocide movement to remove all cultural history of his Mother, Grandmother and his Aunt. My hubs said his dad never spoke of his cultural history so in that respect the Church was successful in eradicating a culture. The bottom line is we don’t know what her grandfather went through. He may have been fine but he may have suppressed it. We also talked about the importance of reconciliation.

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What I know is this, you cannot expect generations to assimilate into our white culture after the past they experienced. These children were removed from their parents. They did not grow up with their mom tucking them into bed and kissing them goodnight. This is Blood Tears by Alex Janvier 2001. One the back side of the canvas, he wrote his memories and feelings. It is raw and hard to take in. I was shaken.

Having spent 10 years at Blue Quills Residential School, Alex Janvier shared his experience on canvas. He shows us the things he saw, experienced, and felt. We see a dark figure, a cross, a leg, a fish, a scared figure with his hair cut off, and a jumble of colours. The yellow paint may signify hope, light, escape.

 

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When people say, ‘why can’t you get over it?’ all I can think is it is easy to say it, its difficult in practice. I don’t want anyone telling me when I should be ‘over’ the sexual abuse I experienced. They don’t know what I went through because it wasn’t their experience.  Feelings just are and how they are managed is different for everyone. If the First Nation’s leaders are asking for things so their people can move forward, I don’t think its unreasonable all things considered. Part of that is, stop idolizing racist men of the past. Acknowledge their role, provide a complete picture to understand the history. It can’t be easy walking past a statue that is revered knowing that person tried to eliminate you from history. It says people today still don’t care. I think people today don’t understand. Reconciliation is part of that conversation to understand. Canadians need to listen more and talk less. RAM provided the space for the conversation to start. Is it perfect? Nope. Is it a start? Yes. 

Check out RAM and get that conversation started.

 

 

Bear Grease and Gingerbread

Nostalgia is hitting me hard and I find myself thinking about the good old days. My Little Gram and my Grandpa W. have been in my thoughts a lot lately. I think about visiting them and where they would sit so we could talk. I now own the sofa my Little Gram would sit on. I would sit on the floor playing solitaire or at her knee while she taught me something important, like counting to 100 or a new card game or even just telling her about my day. She always had time for me. Even when she was sick in bed, she would hold my hand and listen to me talk. She was one of the absolute best people in my life. She taught me to take the time to be present with the people who mean the most to you. Be kind, be polite and always say yes when asked if you have a minute.

When I think about Grandpa I can smell ink and tobacco. I think of flannel and some made up story he was trying to convince me that was true. I knew when he was teasing me because he would smile like he swallowed a canary and his eyes would get all sparkly. He taught me about making great kites and how to identify birds. He made things so extra. That is a trait I get from him. If you want a shed, make it an edifice. If you make a birdhouse, make it a condo. Go big or go home. Add details that are hilarious and creative. Hide Easter eggs that only you know about. Do nice things for yourself because you deserve it.

Since I have been on this nostalic kick, I have been reviving recipes from my childhood. I made meatloaf and goulash. I think about fried macaroni in bear grease because grandpa said it was good. I pulled out my gram’s Ginger Sparkler cookie recipe. My uncle called them Molassios but he was wrong, they were Ginger Sparklers. The first time I saw the recipe it was in a faded and yellowed cookbook from the 30’s. It was a publication Robin Hood flour put out. Gram made these cookies every year at Christmas time and I can tell you they are the best when dunked in tea. I made a batch last week and they lasted 3 days. They were the very first cookie I ever made for my children. My son loved them and could eat an entire batch in one sitting. He prefers chocolate chip to these, but he never complains when these cookies fill the jar on the counter. One bite of these cookies and I am back having a tea party at the big round table at my gram’s house on Evergreen Street. I would go there after kindergarten and we would have tea and cookies. Sometimes digestive biscuits and cheese and sometimes ginger sparklers. The conversation was always divine.

Because I love you, here is the old Robin Hood flour recipe. If you love yourself, only use butter, not shortening or margarine. This recipe doubles well and freezes beautifully if you need to hide them for Christmas.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (50mL) molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups (500 mL) Robin Hood  All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground ginger
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) coarse sugar
  1. reheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg. Beat well.
  3. Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture. Beat until mixture is well combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1” (2.5 cm) balls. Roll into sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2” (5 cm) apart.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes ( I bake for 10 minutes to get the perfect chewy/crispy combination) Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets; transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. (Or eat before they cool – warm cookies are a gift!)
  6. Dip in Red Rose Tea (steeped for 4 minutes) with milk for the authentic Little Gram experience.

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The Shift

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I am feeling a shift. I feel better than I have in a decade. I am excited about things I haven’t been enthusiastic for in years.

I think it is because I have meditated for 700 consecutive days and the payoff is finally happening. When I say ‘payoff’ I mean that zen optimism those yogis promise you. I am beginning to feel it.

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I want to decorate the Christmas tree. I haven’t been excited to that in forever. Last year, that time I died (my daughter calls it that. I was sick and in the hospital with organ failure. No adults around except my 19-year-old daughter and she stepped up. She nurtured me back to health and I love her more than I thought remotely possible.) I sat in a chair looking at things as if I saw them for the first time. There was a shift of consciousness.  I became aware of things I had no idea about. Some things were validated and somethings just plain ol’ felt good.

I got out of bed this morning and baked cookies. For those of you who knew me as a young mother, I was a baker. I baked everything from scratch including bread. I canned vegetables I grew in my garden, I made dinners from real food not processed or packaged, I picked fruit and made jam. I sewed things including enough quilts for my family never to be cold again. I made Halloween costumes from scratch. I painted, I sketched, I played the piano, and I sang. I read everything I could get my hands on and I loved to spend my days with my children. We would play, explore, learn and try new things. I did all those things. Then one day it stopped.

I became more tired. I made friends with the wrong kind of people. I fell into a depression cycle. I had to go back to work. I worked on a team filled with assholes. Seriously – some of the cruellest people you would ever meet. It is a dark time I don’t think about anymore.

About a month ago, I began to feel the third shift. The second one was ‘that time I died’.

I work with one person who makes me remember how creativity is supposed to feel. Feeling that good at work is fun. There is no other way to describe it. I felt this way at work once before. It was on a team my very first year teaching. I was naive enough to think teamwork would always feel this way. HA! Not so, it took 30 years to find that synergy again. Then I found my ‘people’ at work. One person who we can chat about anything from cooking to books and everything in between.

I continued to meditate every day because I loved the peace and calming feeling after my sessions. If I have a bad day or a few days, I continue to meditate. The sour feeling comes and goes quickly. In the old days it would last forever, now its done in a few hours or a day at the longest. I have learned to lean into feelings. Allow them to come, I experience them rather than stuff them down and then I am happy again. Meditation has truly changed me.

I have baked for three consecutive weeks. Strange since I hadn’t made cookies in a year and that was only because I made them for my son as a Christmas gift. It was one of the few things he asked for. I bought a new rolling pin. An embossed pin that will make pretty cookies. I have planned out my Christmas baking list. The last time I made one of those I was living in my old house.

I am writing again. I have submitted short stories for publication at different magazines and I entered the CBC Reads prize. I am working on my 4th book. Maybe this will be the one I publish? Its currently in edits. It is a long process to get a finished product.

I am planning out vacations again. I want to visit my parents when they travel to the states. Just me and them. No kids, no siblings and no husband. Just me and my mom and dad. I don’t often get them all to myself. As the eldest child, I had to share them with everyone. Not this time. I want to have a memory of just the three of us.

I am reading again. I used to read 50 books a year. This year I am only at 25 for the year. But I read because I want to not because I think I should.

I plan things so my children will want to spend time with me. We went for dinner Friday night and I love how they make me laugh. We rented a cabin in the mountains a month ago and went hiking to some waterfalls we had never seen before. Sometimes we just watch Doctor Who or the Good Place together. Yesterday we all sat on my new king bed chatting with my mom who is in England today.

Since my meditaion journey began, I now believe in signs or nudges. That flash of impulse that compels you to try something or go somewhere. Do it. I like to believe its the universe showing me the right direction. Out of the blue 10 minutes ago, I received a link to this from an old friend. She saw it and thought of me, so she felt she should send it. Its what I needed to see today. With the added benefit of knowing someone you care about is thinking about you. Thanks, Chicken Hawk!

I have been looking up old bloggers that I used to read. They had stopped writing or a long time and now they are back at it again. It feels like the perfect introvert reunion. Visiting with old friends without having to have a face to face conversation!

I am making dinners again! With the hubs retired, I have been lucky enough to come home to dinner ready for me after work. Lately, on weekends, I feel like cooking. Today I am making soup. A big pot of chowder and some fresh biscuits to go along with it.

This shift is feeling good. Meditation is a big part of that but so is staying in the moment and focusing on good things. I often wish people a Happy Birthday with a ‘Do all the fun things’ as an add-on. But you want to know something? Always do all the fun things and your day will be much better for it.

 

 

 

100 years

It was a sunny fall morning in October 2010 when I arrived at the Charles DeGaulle airport. I had slept intermittently on my flight from Edmonton. We had a single stop in Toronto so I figured I could snuggle in an sleep the rest of the way to Paris. Seven hours seemed like a proper night sleep then I would be refreshed when my parents arrived to meet my family. Canada covers a very large land mass. I woke up 5 hours later only to be disappointed that we were only in Newfoundland. Still in Canada.

The sun was still in morning reverie while I waited with my family for my dad to zoom by in the caravan. My parents and my grandmother had been travelling in Europe to celebrate my dad’s retirement. We decided to join them for a week. This was my second trip to the continent but my children’s first trip.

We boarded the caravan and I snuggled into my seat around the table in the back. Mom caught us up on all the things they had seen and now they were trying to navigate out of Paris and head north to Belgium where we would spend our first night and get reacquainted with the culture. The vibration of the vehicle quickly hypnotized me and lulled me into a hard sleep for about an hour. I tried to stay away because jet lag is easier to overcome by going to bed when the rest of the time zone does.

I woke up and watched the French countryside zip past me. I heard the hubs say, “Oh hey, Vimy Ridge is over there.” My mom and I looked at each other when we realized dad wasn’t stopping. Mom and I spoke at the same time, “We need to go.” She called my dad to stop and he had to navigate a U-turn on a tiny French road.

We pulled into the parking lot and all funnelled out. I took in my surroundings. To my left was the Candian cemetery. Over 10,000 people were injured or killed in the battle of Vimy Ridge. 3598 soldiers died at Vimy but only 828 Canadians were buried there. To my right was hilly ground fenced off and a flock of sheep were grazing on it. Moving closer we saw a sign on the fence, ‘Danger! Unexploded shells are still in this area.’

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You could see how the shells and explosions had ripped apart the earth, leaving everything hilly and uneven. I felt for the sheep being used in this manner. We kept walking along the path.

Vimy Battle field

In a break in the trees, we could see the monument in the distance standing on the ridge. A Canadian flag waving in honour of the country that came to France to fight against the Kaiser, protect the French and fight for King and Country. Vimy Ridge

The path was red, it immediately reminded me of Prince Edward Island, and was lined with maple trees. It felt respectful of boys buried beneath the surface.

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We walked along the beautiful path. The quiet countryside was noticeable. There weren’t sounds of traffic or people, I didn’t hear planes overhead, I only could pick out the sounds of birds in the trees. I tied to envision the sounds of gunfire and artillery rounds, men screaming and people calling to each other, but all I could hear was the sound of birds.

As we approached the monument, I expected to see the 11,000 names engraved on the walls but I did not expect to be so moved by the sculptures that lined the stairs. These felt like angles weeping at what man had done.

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I stood at the top of the stairs and took in the monoliths.

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I didn’t know the artist until I came home to research, Walter Allward (1875-1955). I was afraid I would forget the feeling I had standing there. I did not. I can conger it up and immediately I am transported to that cool morning in the French countryside. I stood at the top of the steps and looked out over the ridge and the morning mist covered the valley. I turned to look the other direction and caught glimpses of trenches that snaked their way across the hill.

As I walked back to the caravan, I thought about the men in my family who fought in Europe, trained in Canada and guarded prisoners in Alberta. My family was touched by both wars. I thought about how the trauma of those times had a trickle-down effect on their families after the wars had long since ended.

Vimy remains the single most significant place I have witnessed. I hope all Canadians get a chance to discover it now that 100 years have passed. For more information please visit and support the Vimy Ridge Foundation.

 

 

 

Kindred Spirits

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There was a gift sitting on my chair today. An early Christmas present. An infinity scarf with words written on it. Well, it’s more than words. I picked it up and read “When Mr. Phillips was in the back of the room hearing Prissy…” I knew immediately the text on the scarf was an excerpt from Anne of Green Gables. I cried a little.

To have a friend know you well enough to see the perfect gift and then be thoughtful enough to get it for you? I have to admit I cried. I got exactly what I wanted for Christmas.

I bet you are thinking I wanted the scarf. I didn’t even know I wanted the scarf until I received one. But that is not what I wanted. I asked for a friend who I can have deep and meaningful conversations with. I got one.

It has been years since I had a girlfriend who I can share everything with. I have had two of these types of girlfriends in my life. The first one was in Grade 7. She was new to my school but lived fairly close by. We slept over at each other’s homes, her mom was my other mom and I felt as comfortable being in my jammies at her house as I was in my own home. We were the original BFF. After high school, life changed and we drifted. I still think of her fondly and we are Facebook friends.

I met my second BFF when my son entered kindergarten. She was the mom of one of his friends. She just moved to Canada. We had the same humour, the same interests and loved coffee. When our kids graduated from junior high school we drifted apart. She is still in my phone and when we run into each other at the grocery store we stand and chat for hours. If she called me in a panic I would still run to her. I think of her fondly.

I asked the universe for a friend I could share deep and meaningful conversation with. Someone who was similar in age and shared the same values and who would listen to me. Friends who listen are rare.  My new friend arrived and we love books. We often read the same ones and discuss over lunch. Sometimes we talk about existential questions and search for answers. We strategize, we dissect, we both have husbands with the same name. She is my Diana.

Diana Barry was Anne Shirley Cuthbert’s bosom friend, kindred spirit and best friend. We aren’t quite there yet but anyone who knows me well enough to get me an Anne of Green Gables infinity scarf is very important to me. This is an old family favourite series for reasons that differ from most.

My Great Grandmother was born on Prince Edward Island. She talked about ‘Lucy’ in a way that was more familiar than a reader/author relationship. My first complicated novel was a gift from my little gram. Anne of Green Gables. She inscribed it “1978, For Robyn, Love Little Gram” Every birthday and Christmas I would get the next edition. All eight volumes were given to me. Only the first three were in hardcover.  But I have the complete set all gifted by my Little Gram. I read the stories because I wanted to know more about PEI, ‘The island you could walk across in a day”. I kept reading them because I was Anne. I was the mischief maker and child with a wild imagination. I was too sensitive and I had imaginary friends. Mine was Lucy, not Katie.

I travelled to France and was sad for Anne knowing Walter was buried there. I had a hard time separating fictional Anne from my best friend Anne. Intellectually I knew she wasn’t real, but she felt real. Still does. I am caught up in the Netflix series Anne with an E. Its different from the books but the spirit is there and I am caught up in expanded adventures. It takes me back to Little Gram, my childhood chums, my adult friends and my love of reading. I recognize the true gift of what I received today. I received a friend who truly understands me. It’s been a long time since I felt this way.

Thank you, Friend.

The lure of YES

Performance reviews are coming up this week and I was given a two-page questionnaire to fill in. The main topic is about me and all the things I did this year. The first question intrigued me. ‘What are you most proud of?’ That’s easy but it isn’t polite to talk about yourself. Thinking back to my childhood I can tell you my grandma said it wasn’t polite to brag. But her mother always asked about me what I was good at. Her son (my papa bear) always asked about my day. What was good about it and what was not so good? At my old jobby job workplace, I was conditioned to do my job, keep my opinions to myself and do more with less.

I quit that place. It felt oppressive.

I’ve been with my current employer for thirteen months. I’m given the freedom to explore new ideas and express my opinion. Then they ask me what I think I’m good at. Finding words to talk about achievements is hard. No one ever wants to be that guy who is her own biggest fan. It took me two weeks to get the words out. I would have my evaluation opened in a window on my left screen and in between tasks I would go back to it and think about how to talk about myself.

I finished my evaluation today. The meeting is on Friday.  Oprah always asks her guests “What do you know for sure?” Well, Oprah, I will tell you. I know that I need to ask for what I want because no one is going to give it to me without the ask. I asked. I mapped out a plan. I set goals and I can visualize the end. I am prepared for no, but if they say yes? YES is an exciting future. YES opens new doors. YES is taking risks. YES is trying new things. Yes is harder to ask for. No is plodding along.  If no is the answer then I will keep asking because I believe in yes.

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Relatable

I have to admit I am a ‘This is Us” fan. I love everything about it except Kate. I don’t think Kate is written well. I understand she is based on the writer’s sister but its evident to me that she isn’t written by a person who is obese. At the very least, this character is written in a way that does not reflect any obese people I know nor does it reflect myself. I can relate to Beth. Beth and Randall are so normal to me. I am Beth, and I completely understand her life aside from the wealthy part. But I aspire to be wealthy, so that’s a start.

Relating to people and characters in books or on the screen is important to me. I rarely can see myself in others. It makes me sound like a weirdo. I have a hunch that everyone feels the same as me – unrelatable. I can be empathetic and find small pieces of sameness.  For example, The Baker’s Secret’s main character Emmanuelle takes care of everyone. She does this until she collapsed. I get that. I do that. I did that. I learned from that experience. Boundaries are essential, and I am learning to set them.

To be understood is an empowering feeling.  Women are banding together to lift each other up and support each other. Well, sometimes. I am mostly surrounded by women who support each other. I am tired of those women who don’t help. Who use hate and anger as a weapon to hurt and maim people who could be supportive if they let them try. I am choosing to be empowered.

To further my empowerment, I have begun the process of finding my natural hair colour. Apparently, it is now silver on top and grey in the back. My daughter says I am sporting a Cruella Deville look with brown ombre at the ends of my hair. My stylist is assisting me with my transition. Five blonde foils to reduce the colour block stripe. She thinks by April I will be entirely natural. I was inspired by was a female colleague at work. She is grey. It is beautiful. She is brilliant. Her brilliance is not affected by the colour of her hair.  I spoke with her on how she transitioned. I am glad I did. It’s my turn. I made this decision for many reasons:

  1. A good haircut gives me confidence.  I feel good about myself. Colour is a hassle, and I no longer want to feel hassled or resentful for giving so much of my day to the process. I want my time to be spent on fun things.
  2. With age comes wisdom. I am wiser than I was when I was 21. I had married a guy for the wrong reasons, and not one of those reasons was for me. They were all for someone else. My hair colour was a luscious brown, and I had a great figure. Did I appreciate any of that? Nope. I was just focused on doing what everyone wanted from me. I am 51, and today I am myself. Doing my thing, being kind to others and living my best life.
  3. What I look like has nothing to do with my ability. I am good at my job. I am a loyal friend. I am kind and will always fight for the underdog. I am compassionate and respectful. My hair colour does not influence those qualities, ever.
  4. I will save $150 every six weeks. Saving $1200 a year is something I can get behind. What would you do with an extra $150? I am going to travel more and fret less.
  5. My health makes me conscious of what I put into my body. I am now aware of what I put on my body. Harsh chemicals are not making me feel better. The things people do for vanity is strange. My Great Grandma never coloured her hair. It was white as snow. Did it change the way I felt about her? No. She was soft and smelled like Pears soap. She was brilliant and resourceful. I loved all those things about her. My hair is beginning to look like hers. If people think of me in the same light as they thought of her, I should be so lucky!

Want a sneak peek at my new hair? It looks blonde but is mostly platinum. This is me. No makeup and greying hair. Does it change anything? Yes and no. It changes me. I am not trying to be something I am not because no one cares anyway. I am embracing me because I like being me. If we all be ourselves and worry less about what other’s think, it might be a better place to live.

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Practice

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To get better at anything, you have to practice. The consistency of practice was never something I embraced. When I was learning piano, I would sightread. When I sat for a test, I relied on my memory. I had skills that would save me and get me by. My mom always said, if you put just a little effort into it, imagine how great you could be? I was thinking, why be great when lazy was easy?

I am inspired by a friend from my childhood. We are facebook friends now. We never chat on the phone, nor do we meet up when in each other’s town. I am not outgoing in my personal life and keeping great friendships takes an effort or practice. Neither of which I am all that interested in. This friend of mine is a writer. She has a desire to be a published author. Just like me. We have many things in common still and as long as I can remember I have admired her. She introduced me to music genres that were foreign to me. She taught me about sports the way I hadn’t learned before and she understands politics in a way that resonates with me. For all of these things, she made an effort to work at or at the very least, she put in enough effort to make it look like an effort. I know how that works. Do just enough to do well.

My friend from Junior High has begun blogging again. Not for me, not for you but for her. She is writing with the intent to improve her skill. I stopped blogging in a way that was meaningful to me because someone said it bothered them. So I stopped and just documented things I saw. In doing so I lost a piece of me. I use writing as a tool to sort out my thoughts and ideas. It helps me understand what I am thinking before I realize what it running through my mind.

Friday night I spoke on the phone with one of my very best friends. I learned some new things about his life and learned some new things about mine. I thought about some of the new things and found myself angry at the circumstances. Angry in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. This triggered other things in me and before I knew it, I was angry at a lot of ridiculous things. I texted him and asked rhetorically, “what is wrong with me today?” and he gave me a wonderful piece of advice. He said, “no idea. Breathe in, breathe out, and ask yourself why should what she does ruin one minute out of your day?”

Good point friend. Why indeed? She isn’t thinking about me at all. This is usually the advice I give people. It’s not often I need it given to me. But that is why friends are important. I have a few who will speak to me in a frank and honest manner. I suppose that is why I love them. I asked the universe for a friend who I could have deep and meaningful conversations with. I was given three. One I travel with. One I drink wine with. One I read with. I know I can call them when I need them and they will always be brutally honest with me.

During this time in history when the world is angry all the time. Places I used to go for fun are now frustrating and hurtful. It is comforting to know I have people who have my back and will talk me down from the ledge when I need it. I will continue to nurture those relationships, but more importantly, I need to write. I need to get my thoughts out. I need to continue to improve. Practice until it is easy and then practice some more because I need to do this for me.

You can expect this to be a different space. This is, after all, my blog.

EDMONTON TOURIST: ᐄᓃᐤ(ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞

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I wanted to visit Queen Elizabeth Park for a while now that the Walterdale Bridge is finished along with the surrounding landscape. The path below the bridge is now open on the Northside of the river and it leads to Irene Parlby Park. I haven’t had a chance to explore that trail yet but I did get to Queen Elizabeth Park with my trusty pal Cap.

My family has a long history with this park, from swimming in the outdoor pool, picnics and picking lilacs. I am sad to report the lilac shrubs are no longer at the entrance to the east side of the park. However, the changes that were created to the west side of the park is beautiful.

I drove north towards the river on Queen Elizabeth Road and turned left into the west side of the park. The new parking lot and entrance are all shiny and new.

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I parked next to the shelter and began exploring. I think the location of the shelter is where the old Queen Elizabeth Pool Building used to be. Directly to the west is a marker signifying the location of the old pool. I hope the City continues to tell a complete story of City history. Here is a lovely blend of Treaty 6 Nations art and a brief history and the story of the pool. Interesting fact, there were two moose held captive here for two years with the intention of expanding into a zoo. Happily, they were released.

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Cap and I strolled the circular path that led to the different art installations.

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My first stop was mamohkamatowin (Helping each other). Lovely intricate mosaics depicting various symbols including the beaver, raven and people, all working together to build a community. 42665030_10161082336421337_1631326757678219264_n

A few steps later is the valley lookout.

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My city is quickly changing, I almost don’t recognize the skyline. Continuing on, I came to mikikwan. This is a hide scraper for the past, present and future.

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I stood in front of Preparing to Cross the Sacred River for a long time. I thought the birds were geese but after learning about this installation I learned they were magpies. They are deferential to both petroglyphs and beadwork. I was quite mesmerized.

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Pehonan is a storytelling amphitheatre. The highest seat at the top references the deep past. Its the farthest from reach when you are at the base, but when you are sitting at the top, you have the greatest field of vision with the greatest perspective. When you are closest to the future but not able to see so far into the distance.

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Iskotew is fire. It is written in the Cree language.

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Finally, I saw Reign. Fox and Hare with hadrosaurs traversing the valley floor.

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Each of these installations had benches nearby to give a person time to ponder and think about what is before them. I thought about the history on this land long before I began visiting with my family. It is called ᐄᓃᐤ(ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞. Reading one of the cairns indicate this was the homestead of Métis farmer Joseph McDonald. His actual home has been moved to Fort Edmonton Park and is located next to the North West Mounted Police building. During the Treaty 6 recognition, I spoke with McDonald’s great-granddaughter.  She said he wasn’t Métis but his children were because he had married a Cree woman, her great-grandmother. He was Scottish and that meant his children were ‘half-breeds’ not Métis. Of course, that all has changed and now her family is referred to as Métis. We spoke for a while and learned about the script and how her grandmother was a medicine woman. To honour that, the Fort plants medicinal plants in the garden outside the home. She was an interesting storyteller and what lovely validation and recognition for her family.

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Captain and I then crossed the busy road to see if there were any other changes to Queen Elizabeth Park. I was happy to see my bench is still in its same spot. I hadn’t been able to sit on since the construction began years ago. I sat for a while and noticed the view is more obscure that is was the last time I sat in this spot.

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The view of the Rossdale plant was more open and the river is now obscure but it’s still lovely. In the past, I have sat in this spot to read, talk with friends or just to think. I am incredibly happy to my park back.