Family Lines

stories for you

Month: June 2014

Flooded with memories: new book shares homeless perspective

Rushing river over bridge.

Bow River on Saturday, June 22, 2013. For a link to see the video of the rushing river, click here.

It has been a year since the waters of southern Alberta rose, gained speed and rushed over the land. The floods destroyed lives, property and deluged downtown Calgary. Friends were told to leave their homes and watched while the river took over their possessions. Others came home from vacations to find they had nothing left other than what they had packed in their suitcases. It was a terrible time and everyone experienced it, including those who were homeless before the flood. Now a book, Flood Stories 2013, is telling the tales of the people without four walls pre and post the surge of the rivers.

The flood stories and photos were collected by Calgary organization, This is My City (TMC). TMC brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status. I have been volunteering with TMC for over a year and facilitate four-week, life writing workshops at the Calgary Drop-In Centre and Alpha House. These two agencies are part of the book and some of my participants wrote about their experiences with the rising waters.

This Wednesday evening, June 25, Shelf Life Books (1302 4 St SW, Calgary) will be featuring the book as well as a performance at 7:00 p.m. Flood Stories is a limited edition, hand-printed book and is on sale for $75.00. Proceeds are in support of TMC programs.

Much ado about nothing

Family photo.

My sisters, me, my nephew and my nana. 2004.

There are so many things to write about but I sometimes get stuck thinking about what to write about and can’t come up with anything. Probably lots of people who are looking to record their corporate or personal stories are in the same boat. They don’t know where to start but given a prompt – their memories will be set in motion.

Writing prompts help get your tale on its way. It gives you a focus such as: what do you remember your grandmother saying? This opens up myriad of possibilities for many people and one particular story for me.

One time my nana, my mama’s mama, come to visit us in Nova Scotia from northern Ontario. My family had driven to Canning, a small Annapolis Valley town, to run an errand and we were parked on the side of the street. My mom went into a store leaving me and my middle sister in the back seat with my nana sitting in the passenger chair.

My sister and I were being bad. We were arguing and fighting and kicking the back of the seats. My Scottish nana turned around and said:

“If you don’t stop that I’m gonna hit you in the lugs!”

That stopped us. Dead. Not because of nana’s stern tone but because – what are lugs? (Her accent lugs turned into loogs.)

“What are loogs nana?” one of us asked.

“Loogs, you know, loogs.”

Legs? Is that what she meant? That made us laugh.

“Haha nana. You say legs funny.”

Not the right thing to say and she was furious and sputtered something else at us.

For years my sister and I have thought lugs were legs. Until one day we were watching Coronation Street, a British soap opera, and one of the characters mentioned his lugs – his ears.

What’s in a name?

Thornhaven Estates.

Thornhaven Estates Winery in Summerland, B.C.

This past weekend I went on a wine tour with some friend in Summerland, B.C. The weather was sunny and warm; a nice respite from Calgary’s grey days, and the wine was tasty. We hit eight vineyards to taste the whites, reds and roses of the region. (No $@# Merlot for me.)

What made the best wineries stand out wasn’t just the vino but the name of the businesses. There are a lot of vineyards in the Okanagan and most of them have unique labels. The stories about how these places got their business monikers were shared over a glass (sip) of wine. These stories aren’t just a marketing ploy; they are intertwined with the grapes and are part of the history of the people bringing Canadian wine to our tables.

Silkscarf Winery.

Silkscarf Winery.

Silkscarf Winery

Named after the scarf pilots used to wear in the early days of aviation when the cockpit was open. The scarf’s connection to the winery is that one of the owners flew for the Israeli air force. Silkscarf is a great place for reds.

 8th Generation Vineyard

As you might have guessed, 8th Generation has something to do with family. The wine makers, a husband and wife team, are descendants of a long line of grape involved ancestors. Bernd Schales is an 8th generation winemaker and Stefanie Schales is a 10th generation winegrower. This is a great place for frizzante wine.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard

The name of this winery comes from a rather unusual mercantile combination in Summerland. A Chinese man who was working on the rail road in early 1900s decided to start a laundry in the area. Since the town was full of miners who didn’t care about clean clothing the business didn’t do so well. That’s when he decided to add gambling and a brothel to the mix. The locals referred to the place as Dirty Laundry. The winery owners liked the name and it certainly brings in a lot of curious customers. The story is told over the wine tasting. A good marketing move.




True love

Thursday and her book.

Thursday reading a compelling book.

Our furry family member is very sick and my husband and I have been busy with vet appointments and animal hospital visits. There’s been no time for blogging but lots of time talking about our orange and white cat’s nicknames and silly things she’s done over the years. We don’t have time for memories yet because Thursday, the cat, is still with us. We’ll have some more time with her to create new anecdotes and tales.

Several friends have lost pets over the last few months or are dealing with a pet illness. For them, and us, pets are more than short creatures that run around or sleep all day or bite your toes. They are our kids and sisters and brothers and aunties and uncles. They are our family and they accept us no matter what shape or form and love us beyond our human understanding. True love.

Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. ~Alfred A. Montapert

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