Monday, 24 June 2013

A River of Tears

Fort Calgary - Friday
Fort Calgary, and the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, Friday morning

Last Thursday morning, the first wave of water barrelled down Cougar Creek in Canmore, and since then, life's been interesting here, to say the least. Many areas of Calgary were eventually evacuated (up to 100,000 people, or about 10% of our population), although I was lucky enough to find myself high and dry. Sadly, it appears that all of High River (about 45 minutes south of the city) is an entire write-off as well.

Fort Calgary - Saturday
Fort Calgary, and the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, Saturday day morning

Following the instructions of our mayor, I've been happy enough to stay home, with the odd foray to the grocery store for necessities. Not crazy enough to try to take the car anywhere, because I was flanked east and west by emergency evacuations, closed roads/bridges, so getting anywhere was problematic at best.

Fort Calgary - Sunday
Fort Calgary, and the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, Sunday morning

So I've made great strides reading my current book (Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago), and am almost finished it. If it sounds like dry reading, it isn't: this was one of the primary sources for the script for the movie Patton, and I've found it fascinating to see sections that were lifted straight from the book, some that were combined, and other incidents that were either gently or not-so-gently manipulated.

Fort Calgary - Monday
Fort Calgary, and the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, this morning

Apart from a neighbourhood gathering I had committed to go to last week, truth be told, I haven't been great company in the last few days, knowing that today would be another one of those difficult days, and it has been, although less so than the two previous birthdays. Unlike last year, when I was where we scattered the ashes, I've tried to make today the sort we would have together, and that's been a good thing.

Plus this year's mopey with moments of weepy is infinitely better than last year's hysterical shrieking.

Friday sunset

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Projects, and projecting

Homemade pizza

I wrote in Retracing and remembering on April 29 about waiting for the day I could make homemade pizza again, but I couldn't see that happening any time soon.

But even just writing that thought developed into a project, and as the picture above, taken June 5, shows, I actually made one. It wasn't without difficult moments, and not a few tears or sleepless nights (before and after), but done nevertheless.

(And it was delicious too, especially as leftovers for lunch.)

If there is anything good about sleepless nights, especially Saturday ones, it means that I get a chance to catch The Philosopher's Zone, one of my favourite programs on Radio Australia. When the originator (and host) died last year, they made a commitment to continue the show, although with fewer episodes.

For awhile, CBC Radio Overnight didn't carry it at all, and I had to resort to listening to it online, and sometimes, the topic would be a difficult one for me to deal with at the same time as I was trying to patch up my own life.

Today's episode, entitled Happiness is... is probably one I couldn't have listened to before now, as it explored C.S. Lewis's A Grief Observed, which he wrote after the death of his wife. I haven't been much for grief books, but they certainly have helped start the psychological wheels in motion every time I've made the leap to a new level of recovery.


Something else that has helped has been returning to pleasurable projects I've worked on in the past that don't require the same amount of hard cognitive thought, and inevitably, that means knitting. Three years ago, I was asked to submit a piece to be auctioned off to support arts programs for two of the local homeless shelters, and the result was the piece above, entitled Wherever I Lay My Hat. I have been approached both years since, but haven't had the time or mental space to do another one.

This year, I was, and I decided to work with all naturally coloured yarns -- mostly wool, but with some mohair (from angora goats) and even a small skein of dog (the narrow tan stripe on the brim is handspun chow-chow) went into my interpretation of local geology, and a storage facility for what comes out of the ground.


There is another larger project I'm working on, after having so many people ask me what I was going to do with the photographs I took while spending the year on the road. The most frequent idea suggested was to do a small book, and for a change, I've decided to do it as a print-on-demand book.

Part of my time has been spent filling out the paperwork required to obtain an ISBN number (free, no less, with the deposit of the required number of volumes with Library and Archives Canada), and figure out the best way to generate the barcode to go on the back. I didn't have to do this, but I like the idea of it being a "real" book, even though it's a vanity project.

And the other part of that project means going back and revisiting photographs, blog entries, and especially journal entries from that time: it's not been easy, and I've discovered how much my brain has simply excised incidents that happened but that it couldn't -- or wouldn't -- deal with in self-defense. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it has been rather disconcerting sometimes, with stretches of days having mostly disappeared.

The good news is that since I returned to Calgary, that doesn't seem to be happening, at least in the sense of reading back through my journal now and going "I did what?" anymore, although there are still days when I definitely feel like the stranger.

Books for Sale

The shop is currently empty.