31 May 2013

Flat-Out Friday: Like a Fish

I've found the "thing". You know. THE "THING". The "thing" that everyone has, only some of us don't know it until, like a fairy's magical wand, it whams us in the head and leaves us seeing sparkles.

I have a lot of friends whose "thing" is running. A LOT. Running is not my "thing". I have a friend whose "thing" is pole gymnastics. I can't help but admire her, but that's not my "thing" either. I've got rock climbing "thing" friends and boot camp/PX 90 "thing" friends and paintball "thing" friends. None of these are my "thing" either.

My "thing" is swimming.

I realize I should have thought of this before, but the fairy and her stupid wand wasn't around yet. Growing up, my family had a cottage that we would visit every Sunday of the season for... as long as I can remember. I have pictures of me as an infant crawling around in the sand. The lake was shallow, perfect for beginning swimmers, and I can't remember ever not swimming during a visit. My parents would often have to drag me out to go home. Getting older, the cottage was a place for us to exert our independence, and my cousins and I would often have sleepovers there sans adults. But the water was always the real lure. I took swimming lessons when I was younger. Later, I took my cousins to the beach for picnics. If you looked out my bedroom window in my house growing up, you could see a lake. Water was all around me. My parents moved in my first year of university to a house on waterfront property and it seemed like a perfectly normal transition. Plus, I've always been a strong swimmer. That's something I'm grateful for all the time. I have no fear of water because I know my way through, under, and around it; freakish buoyancy definitely helps.

Aww, look at how cute I was. Let go, cousin, because swimming!.

So today in the pool, when I realized that nothing ached or pulled, and that the clicking of my bones was in no way followed by pain, that's when the fairy and her magic sparkles whammed me. I love swimming. Swimming is my "thing". I could swim until I was jelly legged and pruny fingered; I have before, and I will again. I could swim laps, tread water, do some crazy syncro stunts if I felt like it, all without the need to stop because I hurt or was tired from holding myself upright. No! The water does that for me! Like little tiny hands stretching out from the H20 atoms saying, "Hey, we want to help you help yourself", because they're super chill like that.

Someone once said the human body wasn't truly designed for swimming - no one thinks a hairy, gangly ape with ridiculously weird digits is going to be a good swimmer. But I am. I know lots of others that are. I'll be damned if some dumb biologist is going to tell me that my "thing" wasn't really something I was meant to do, because I was. I was meant to swim.

29 May 2013

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

A short post today, because tomorrow my family arrives! My mum and grandma are coming in from Ontario to spend 12 days with me so I don't go super stir-crazy and get eight more cats. Expect lots more photos and tales of our exploits in the coming days.

In the meantime, I would like to share some more of the photos I have taken out and about in our neighbourhood. I love cities where things actually grow and there is real plant life. Let us never speak of the barren wasteland of Medicine Hat again.

This is detailing from a Chinese pagoda by the RAM. I love the colours!
And here's one that my husband sent me. As you can see, he's working hard in Wainwright and yet still has time to groom his dashing cavalry moustache.

Isn't he handsome?

27 May 2013

Week in Review: When in Doubt, Duct Tape

When their husbands are away, some people run marathons. Some people spend time with their children and relish the connection they are making. I, apparently, debate pornography with a Padre and duct tape my couch.

Let me elaborate: last week my dear friend The Mad Padre posted on his blog about the sad state of affairs that the current military is engendering in relation to assault on women. He argued that the commonplace attitude of pornography in the field actually did harm to a solider's views on how to treat women both in combat and as civilians, and cited recent examples of highly-ranked officers behaving badly and making headlines. Now, being a rather progressive woman in that I automatically assume men read and watch porn as a way of life, I suggested that maybe the attitudes about the subject at home could be changed so that the effect is that it also changes in the field. The Padre tossed back a real-life example, and given that I could probably name each of the soldiers in that scenario, my mind went "ick" and I left the debate at that.

However, that got me thinking about what would happen if, somewhere down the road, I had a son and, sometime after that, I caught him with a magazine or a video hidden in his bedroom. I figured I would probably be irrational for a few minutes, but then wondered what my logical, progressive side would do. And here's what I came up with:

I'd give him homework.

I know, right? First, I would introduce the concept that porn is a way of objectifying women and that, as a man, he had the decision to make on whether or not he agreed with it. I'd have him write ten Pros and Cons for each and then go over them with his father, debating them both objectively. He would have to present his decision to me and back it up using examples as one would during a school debate. After that, I would get him to write a list of all the non-physical things about girls that make him "excited". Again, he would have to go over the list with his father for review. Lastly, I would get him to make a good copy of the list to post on the back of his bedroom door, and have him throw out/get rid of the old porn himself.

What I've now done is teach him the value of women as people rather than objects and made him think about the kinds of things that make a woman beautiful (not just her fake boobs). And all the time he is now in his room with the door closed, I'll know that the list is shouting the positive aspects of lust at him in my stead.

I think it's brilliant.

As for the duct tape, I totally did that. I have cats, y'all. At least it matches the whimsical decor.

It's got penguins on it!

24 May 2013

Flat-Out Friday: It's a Guy Thing

Today I thought I'd do something a little different: I'm not going to talk about me. I'm going to talk about my husband. Why? Because there were more people injured in my accident than just me.

I met my husband in summer 2010 over Facebook, introduced by a mutual friend. He seemed like the sort of guy I would be interested in: he had funny pictures of himself with hats on, there was a full-sized Boba Fett standee in his bedroom as a teen, and he had that physical appearance I've always been drawn to - short and ginger. (A university friend once teased me that my children will be transparent. He might not have been wrong.) We started talking via Messenger, and when we felt comfortable enough with one another, he gave me his phone number and we began texting. He was funny, sarcastic, easily embarrassed by compliments, and angry. Our first telephone conversation began with him ranting about how the old ladies at JYSK were useless. I remember one not long afterward about the insanity that is IKEA on any given day. At the time, I just figured he needed something to vent about, and when he told me he was hanging out with the Padre from the base, I figured he was in the right place to be. In those early days, I had my phone with me and a smile on my face at all times.

When he came for a course in Kingston, we met in person and it was love at first sight (for me). We were inseparable. And despite having a messy divorce in progress, in just over a month he got drunk enough to finally admit he loved me too. It was awful when the course was done and he had to leave. Like cutting a limb off. But you know what made it all better? He wasn't as angry any more, and the people who knew him saw the changes that had come from being with me. I heard it from his mother, from the Padre, from his friends: he became a different, better man after he met me. They were all worried that he had been about to flame out, and now here he was, ready to take on the world again. We only lasted about two months apart before I dropped everything and moved three provinces away to a town I could barely find on a map. But we were happy. Delirious.

Taken at my cousin's wedding, November 2010
Then the accident. It was only six months after we had moved in together, less than a year since we had met for the first time. We had just moved into our own place two weeks prior after having shared a house with another soldier. I was wearing a promise ring on my left hand. Things were perfect.

And then they weren't.

Matt tells me that the instant he realized what all the phone calls were about, he left the base without looking back, not even to tell his CO where he was going. When he arrived at the ER, they briefed him on my condition before he came to see me. But he was so calm when he did, I felt like everything would be okay. He drove up to Calgary when they took me by air alone. He stayed with me there as long as he could, and when they moved me from intensive care and began talking about sending me back to the Hat, he left to catch up on what he had missed at work before I arrived. Once I was settled in back home, he came every night after work and stayed until I fell asleep. On the weekends he took Saturday morning to run errands and then spent the rest with me. He would come home from work, my newly-arrived mum would pack him and I a supper, he would change and come to the hospital, eat with me, talk with me, tuck me in, and then go home exhausted. When he got home, my mum would hand him a glass of red wine and they would talk while he killed people with his PS3.

He was there every day for me, even when he was suffering from severe Scotch poisoning and throwing up blue Gatorade in my sink. When I walked for the first time without my casts, I was ecstatic and so was he. He proposed that night, and whether serendipity or a grand design, it was the anniversary of the night that Cpl. Hornburg was killed in Afghanistan. In four short years he had gone through so much, and here he was promising to go through whatever else life brought us with me, forever.

Dressed for Moreuil Wood, March 2013
I was the most physically injured victim of my accident, but that doesn't mean there weren't other victims too. Matt was most certainly one. As the Padre pointed out, he fulfilled his duty of "for better or worse, in sickness and in health" long before he took the vows. I could not have done what I have done without him. He was strong enough to sit beside me through all the awful things; as a result, every day I hope to be strong enough to stand beside him. We both look a lot older now than we did when we met. 50 years from now, we will be older still. But I don't doubt for a second that we will still be together. We are too much part of one another to be otherwise.

22 May 2013

Upcycled and Updated Art

I have been on a crafting binge. I know I mentioned it last week, but the urge still hasn't left me. I've knit, sketched, glued, hammered, tied, and painted. I actually even did a little writing (aside from blogging, that doesn't count). I've made new art for the bathroom (partly because the old art looked amateur, and partly because the handyman left behind a giant cock-up when he installed our new vanity and mirror). I've made a new sign for the front door. I've taken more photos. I've framed and hung pictures I've been meaning to frame and hang for ages. I've also rearranged my blog space. I think I'm empty nesting or something.

Anyway, I thought I'd share with you some of the things I've created:

First, the bathroom art. My main project went from looking like this -

Gag. What a gross dollar store version of a vintage clapboard advertisement.
To looking like this! -

The inkjet printed words-to-paint transfer worked! I recommend having a fine tip black felt pen or marker on hand to help solidify some of the lines. Also, I liked the white around my words - if you don't make sure you use a white or cream coloured background.
The other piece in the small room is a plain white canvas with brown kraft paper podged messily on it, followed by two wash coats of blue acrylic paint and water -

I really like the way this looks. It's like they are flying through the sky, or over water. The birds were $1.50 for a set of 12 from, you guessed it, the dollar store. They are plastic and come with their own sticky backing. All you have to do is peel the back off and place them where you want them. You could easily paint them or podge them as well.
I love having our name on the front door to let people know they have the right apartment in the sea of mediocre grey that is our hallway. We have a very fall/winter feeling one and we needed a summery injection of colour, and so I used the birds again to create this -

I really love the way our name stands out against the damask print. It's tissue paper podged on a canvas!
Finally, I'd like to share some ponies. Yes, I know, I've got an addiction. Don't care, I am still sharing. Here's a quick and fun drawing I did of Matt and I as ponies -

Sorry about the yellow in this one, it's a rotten quality photo - my cutie mark is a book with stars.
The crafts were all done with materials purchased at the dollar store. All of them. I often buy things when I see them and then store them for a while until the perfect project comes along, and that's exactly what I had done with all of this. The only thing I didn't get there was the Mod Podge, as I prefer the brand name stuff over the off-brand, but if you aren't as picky as me then you can pick some white glue up there as well. It really is the only way to craft these days, as crafting store pricing keeps going up. I coupon clip now for when I need to purchase yarn (another thing I'm picky about), but if you're just itching to craft and you need a quick fix, there is no better place to swing by than the local Dollarama.

Next on my project list I am going to start sketching in earnest, and hopefully some of the beautiful photos I have posted in the past will come alive again as charcoal pencil art!

20 May 2013

Week in Review: Urgh, Do I Have To?

So this thing happened where my alarm woke me up this morning and I rolled over and started crying. Yeah. Not an auspicious start to the day. I had my alarm set so that I could get up and go swimming. And instead all I could think about was that if I stayed in bed I could pretend I wasn't so lonely. That didn't work.

After 45 mins of laying there in despair, I got up and put some clothes on, washed the dishes, and ate some breakfast while filling out my "Thoughts and Feelings" worksheet. I like homework revolves around me feeling crappy. Once I was done that, I texted my mother and went back to lay on my bed, hugging my cats while I cried some more. Like I said, this day wasn't shaping up great. My mum phoned and we talked for an hour and a half, all while I continued lying on the bed and crying intermittent tears. Finally, finally, I got up. And then I washed my face, popped a few Tic Tacs in my mouth, and grabbed my purse and keys. I had no idea where I was going, but I knew I had to get out of the apartment for a while.

I ended up at IKEA. And Michaels. And the dollar store. I didn't buy much - a bedspread to use instead of the duvet for the summer, a dinosaur light-up key chain for Matt (this is his second keyRawrrrring; the first went for a short but sweet flight into the dumpster with the trash a few months ago), and some new paintbrushes. But it wasn't the purchases that mattered - it was the destinations.

IKEA is pretty much on the other side of town from us - 16 km according to my odometer. I went there on purpose because I knew I would have to drive a good distance to get there and that I would feel proud of myself when I did. Which happened. I also went there with the intent of walking through the entire store no matter how long it took. Which also happened. And after doing both those things, I knew I would then have to drive carefully and attentively back home again. Which definitely happened. Now I feel more confident than I did this morning. I don't feel helpless. I don't feel like doing exercise - any form of exercise - is a chore. Yes, this probably wasn't as good a workout as going for a swim would have been, but I'm pleasantly tired and for me, that's a big factor; it means I didn't overdo it and I didn't underdo it. Tonight when I go to bed I know I'll be waking up alone again, but it seems a little easier to bear. And hey, the YMCA isn't going anywhere. Like my therapist told me at the very start, "If you have a bad day, just make sure you get up and try again tomorrow".

In other news, I did make good use of the gorgeous weather this weekend, and went for a long walk on Saturday with my camera. We are getting to be great buddies, my camera and I. All the blossoms are just starting to bloom and the honeysuckle is now out and smelling extra sweet. I ended up over at the RAM at a picnic table where I did a little drawing and soaked up the sunshine. I also inadvertently ended up witnessing a wedding ceremony (whoops). It was pretty informal, but still. It was kind of like listening in on somebody having sex; it's awkward and it brings up memories of when you did it. Anyway, I took quite a few photos while I was out and about, and I have a route planned for my next walk in the area to try and capture some of the amazing architectural variety of the neighbourhood.

I also watched a new (for me) Studio Ghibli movie, From Up On Poppy Hill. I liked it quite a bit, and that made me go digging around the interwebs to try and find some of their other, quirkier titles. It has a more grown-up feel to it which is refreshing coming from a film studio that Pixar/Disney have partnered with, and by the looks of things, I would say that some of the other ones I found have that too. If you are into Miyazaki and his work with Studio Ghibli, be sure to also check out The Ocean Waves and Only Yesterday. Like I said, they're more adult than the others but still retain the amazing quality of art and cinema that they are known for.

And I guess that's it for me. Yes, I had to get out of bed and experience today. And yes, I'll get out of bed and experience tomorrow. That's fully half the battle won right there.

17 May 2013

Flat-Out Friday: Perseverance!

Perseverance (noun)
1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
2. Theology: continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.  
(Latin) persevērāre - to persist, derivative of persevērus - very strict

The last few days I've been going over and over this word in my head. It's the regimental motto of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), and one that Matt uses with pride. (He has taken to pronouncing it "per-severance" just for the laughs, however.) It's something you find in all comic books - indeed, it's one of the defining features of both a superhero and a supervillian. It's a synonym of words like tenacity and persistence. But what I really like about it is that it not only suggests a certain stick-to-it-tiveness, but that it also indicates a deep-seated faith that everything will turn out all right.

My OT made this for me while I was in the hospital undergoing rehab - apparently he thought I was a superhero too!
I like this word. I like it because it sounds much better than stubbornness, which is what I routinely suggest has gotten me through most of the aftermath of this accident. As someone rather high-handedly once said to my husband, "Stubbornness is a COA" (that's a "Course Of Action" for all you civilians out there). It has been for me. And it will continue to be. There are days when I just wake up, look at the ceiling and think, "Again? I have to do this again?" but I always get that voice, that nagging voice, telling me to get my sorry ass out of bed and get a move on. Some days it sounds like my mother. Some days it sounds like every single bully that ever picked on me in school. Most of the time, though, it sounds just like me, with a big Darth Vader-esque sigh attached, telling myself that I can do it, I have done it, and I will continue to do it each time it comes up again.

But "perseverance" is sexy; way sexier than a word associated with mules. It sounds like something all those heroines from the feel-good movies I like so much would say: "It's called 'perseverance', darling. I put some in my tea every morning." Or as the rough and tumble ones would spit out with their teeth and blood: "Perseverance, girl. It has the word 'sever' in it for a reason." I totally wish I was that cool - like a roller derby girl*.

I have faith everything will turn out all right. Sometimes I just forget it. I know that no matter what, we will get through whatever gets thrown at us. We have made it through a bone-crushingly terrible ordeal, for goodness sake, so I know we can make it through the aftermath. Know why? Because Matt and I have perseverance, and we are not afraid to use it.

*Before the accident I had every intention of joining the local roller derby team. Matt was planning to get me skates for my birthday and everything. I even had my name picked out: Steamy Nix. Yeah, I was totally gonna be badass. I'm still badass, just in a completely different way.

15 May 2013

Oh So Crafty!

I've been feeling really crafty lately. Whether it's the spring that has finally arrived here in Edmonton, or the shot of inspiration I got while mountain gazing in Jasper, I don't know. But my crafticitis has just gotten more severe. Last week, I did up a small gift for Holly at Domestic Dork as a way to remind her to take some time for herself as she now is a mother of 2. It wasn't much, just took a little creative Photoshopping, some cardstock, and a corner of a sheet of "macky tack" (that's what my husband calls paper laminate), and voila!, or Allons-y! as it were.
Make your own bookmarks featuring The Tenth Doctor making a crazy awesome face: Doctor Who Bookmark PDF Free Download

I'm also working on new art for the bathroom. I found a wonderful tutorial on how to transfer inkjet printed materials to other surfaces, so I'm jazzing up a dollar store find with some acrylic paint and word art.

Speaking of the dollar store, that's where I do most of my shopping for craft items. Being a renter and not having a shed or yard or garage to pop in to for supplies or tools or that bit of cool stuff you kept just in case, I have to make do with cheap goodwill or retail finds. In both cases, it's super easy to find things that just beg to be brought home and updated. Dollar stores in particular have lots of premade signs that I gaze at and rub my hands over evilly, thinking of all the things I could Mod Podge onto them. I've got paints and tapes and nails and yarn and I'm just itching to use them. Most of the time I go to the dollar store looking for something specific, and all of the time I come out with some item I just know I can makeover into something a real person would want to hang in their home. I will provide a whole tutorial next week in my Wednesday whimsies on this ink transfer/paint makeover when it's finished. I can't wait to use my bathroom once its done - it'll be so refreshing!

13 May 2013

Week in Review: Sacrifices

Today is the day I've been dreading. It's the last day Matt is home before he's once more sent to Wainwright for a month. I'm lucky in the sense that its just me I have to take care of and that I've gotten the last two weeks with him at home, but seriously, could we stop with the exercises already?

But today's post isn't about me or my specific situation. Instead, it's about all of us - military and civilian, kids, no kids, here, there, wherever. It's about the strength inside ourselves and the choices we make every day that determine what kind of person we are and will end up being.

This past week I've met with my doctor, my lawyer, and my psychologist. I've driven hundreds of kilometres across Alberta and back. I've been somewhere beautiful, somewhere moving, and somewhere I'd rather not be again. And in all of these places, in all of these meetings, I've had to make choices. Choices for my future, and choices that will continue to define the kind of woman I want to be. Let me tell you, it's been challenging. It's been emotional. It's been good feelings and bad feelings and hope and despair, frustration after frustration and quiet simmering anger.

And then I saw something that made me pause. While we were visiting The Military Museums in Calgary, we stopped in the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) wing and stood for a moment in reverence. Housed in their own display were the two rocks from Masum Ghar, Afghanistan that honoured the soldiers who had fallen while attached to the LdSH(RC) during their tour. Their names were Nate and Mike. They were my husband's friends. They were both killed while Matt was on tour. Because fallen soldiers are returned to their home to be with their families, there is nothing left in the war zone to memorialize them. Soldiers instead painted rocks to stand as monuments, to symbolize that yes, they had been there, and yes, they have made the ultimate sacrifice to be true to the person they were inside. It allowed others to grieve properly. It allowed them to be reminded of the real dangers of being where they were. They gave the other soliders strength.

Tpr Mike Hayakaze and Cpl Nathan Hornburg's memorial stones display
And they gave me strength. I stood there, holding my husband's hand in silence, and watched him as he looked over the display. For a moment or two, my mind was blank. I couldn't even begin to think of something to say. Then it hit me, and I realized: I don't have to say anything. Being who I am, having gone through what I have, all I had to do was honour their loss and commend my husband's strength, and that didn't need words at all. So I squeezed his hand a little tighter and when he was ready, we moved on.

The meeting with the doctor was positive. The meeting with the lawyer was, in its own way, positive. But the news we wanted to hear didn't come, and we were left feeling frustrated, scared, and resentful. We have no idea what is going to happen once August rolls around. But after being to the Museum and seeing the display, you know what I do know?

I know I'm strong enough to take whatever comes our way. I know that I have a huge support base that will do everything in its power to help us. I know that I could not have stood and looked at that display if it hadn't been for the choices I made every single moment after the accident, or the choices I make every single moment of my newly reborn life. I am strong because I choose to be. So is my husband. So were Mike and Nate. So every single one of us can be, if we choose. We all have steel inside us, we just have to choose to bury it deep and lean on it when we need to. We have to choose to make the sacrifices, and because we have, our steel is stronger for it.

10 May 2013

Flat-Out Friday: No Money, Mo' Problems

We met with my lawyer yesterday.

I won't go into detail, but I will say that this whole process is apparently going to take a lot longer than I thought. Yes, I knew from the beginning that it would be a two-year waiting period to see how I was healing, etc., but my recovery has been sporadic: I make some progress, plateau or reverse for a while, and then make some more. It's been a slow and steady race, like the tortoise. The only thing that has changed dramatically is my weight. I can ambulate much better and for much longer. I can now drive again and feel confident doing so. A year ago, I barely made it through a week without Matt being home, and now I can (with whining) make it through months. Slow and steady is certainly the way to do things and I'm thankful for the time I have had to get this far.

The funny thing is, I have had the same physical complaints for about a year now. My break sites ache. My feet and ankles feel punished by just standing on them for long periods. My right leg and foot still swell and turn purple. My lower back is numb, swollen and achy. As you know, the list goes on. The actual physical healing hasn't changed at all. My body has done what it can, and now I just have to find ways to make it easier to cope with day to day. My mental complaints aren't any less diminished either. I can't stand loud, sudden noises. The unpredictability of life outside my apartment sometimes makes me cringe. I have to find a happy place whenever I'm faced with crossing a road or riding a crowded bus. Like my doctor and physiotherapist, I see a psychiatrist and a psychologist to help me work through the healing process, and like my physical condition, slow and steady has been the way to approach it. It just seems like, again, the issues I have been facing are still the same ones I was confronting a year ago.

In short, the length of time the legal process will take is directly related to the length of time I will need to reach my "maximum medical improvement" (sound familiar?). According to all my medical professionals, I ain't there yet. Which means, according to my lawyer, it ain't time to be startin' somethin' either.

In the meantime, between coping physically and coping mentally, Matt and I now have to find a way to cope financially. Tax season being officially over, we now know how much more we will be sending to Matt's ex for child support. We know how much less we will have once all the various fees and charges come out of Matt's take-home pay. And we know the clock is ticking away on my disability payments. We have put money aside as we always do, prudently saving for the future, but there seem to be a neverending parade of things demanding immediate financial attention.

So it seems like we are back to where we were when I first moved in with my love. Me, looking for a way to bring in money to help with bills, and Matt, looking for a way to make everything I wish for come true. It worked out last time and I know it will work out this time. In the fuzzy in-between-while, I'll have to reevaluate our bills, clip all those coupons, and keep my wishes small and inexpensive, because if we don't start nothin', there won't be nothin'.

08 May 2013

More Majestic Mountains

Today I wanted to share some of the photos I took during our trip to Jasper. This is by no means the whole lot of them, but enough that you get the amazing sense of awe and beauty that surrounded us during our stay.

The elk were abundant in the Park, and I was able to walk through a herd, getting as close as 3 ft to one as it grazed!

This beautiful scene takes in Lake Beauvert, and you can see where it gets the name "Pretty Green" from.

The air was so clear and clean, it felt like we were in a completely different world.
This old stump on the lake's edge was so interesting, I took several shots of it.
This photo is framed through the hole in the stump to view the Lodge across the lake.
The Athabasca River - before the spring melt. And this photo isn't mine! Matt took this one and managed to capture the wonderful play of the sunlight on the lens, which makes this shot simply joyous.
Gorgeous Lake Annette
This stream runs from Lake Edith to Lake Annette, and generated the most current we saw in any of the lakes.
The craggy top of this ridge was crystal clear to pick out against the true blue sky.
This bluff was the first and last peak we saw entering and leaving Jasper National Park. Its memorable face looked almost manmade.
 I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. I cannot wait to visit the area again - hopefully next time I can get some more wildlife to pose for me.

07 May 2013

Week in Review: Mountain High

This week's review is so full of fun things, I don't even know where to begin. First of all, Matt came home! He arrived home from Wainwright on Monday afternoon, and I went to pick him up at the base. It is so nice to have him here. I told him that we needed to make a hologram of him that says key phrases so that when he leaves it will still feel like he's here. Things like, "Good morning princess", and "Damn cats!" just so I don't miss him so much.

Friday we went to the Edmonton Public Library book sale and scored some excellent reads for super cheap. Thanks EPL! We had dinner at the Sherlock Holmes pub (because it is so good), and followed that with Iron Man 3. The movie is an excellent end to the series, but if you don't need to see it in 3D, don't bother. It loses nothing in the original 2D format.

Bighorn Sheep are just as cute as farm sheep!
Saturday was Free Comic Book Day! We went to our local comic shop and spent a couple hours taking it all in (and getting free stuff). Matt also picked up an air canister for his paintball gun. He is now completely outfitted to go shoot colourful pellets at other men next weekend. We had a quiet night in, some avocado chicken quesadillas, and Matty played some video games.

Sunday we loaded up the car and headed to Jasper! This trip was a bucket list item for both Matt and I. We couldn't have asked for better weather for the drive. It was just beautiful. I didn't realize this, but the town of Jasper is actually smack in the middle of the Jasper National Park, which explained why we had to stop dead on the highway for a super cute roadblock. Once we entered the park itself, the attendant at the gate gave us a helpful guide to spotting wildlife, and maps of the town and park highlights. I began using the list at once to help identify all the animals we saw, and I got to check off Bighorn Sheep right away. Check!

Our stay was fantastic. We were treated to gorgeous scenery coupled with fantastic weather. We saw caribou, elk, and bald eagles as well as the sheep. The town of Jasper is cute and unhurried, with all the amenities one could think of. We took in the shores of 3 different lakes: Lake Edith, Lake Annette, and Beauvert Lake. We got to wonder at the peaks of Mt. Aeolus, Whitecap Mountain, Sirdar Mountain, and the Whistlers in the distance. I would love to go back in the late summer and enjoy the Miette Hot Springs. The Athabasca River was running low, but even just overnight we could see the difference as the mountain run-off began to pick up speed. I felt like I was walking around in a postcard, or an advertisement for Tourism Canada.

Map from PlanetWare.com

We were sad to leave it behind, but we left Jasper yesterday afternoon and came home to the kitties, who were not sad at all to see us. When I booked the trip, I meant it to be a complete getaway from everything - the army, my ongoing struggles, even the world at large. And it was. It was an idyllic two days of peace and relaxation, of no worries and no problems, of stepping outside of it all and just living in the moment. I felt renewed. Getting close to our beautiful world was exactly what we needed. We can't wait to head back.

03 May 2013

Flat-Out Friday: Hurry Up and Wait

Sometimes I feel like time slows down, speeds up, and stagnates all at the same time. I can't believe it's already May, for example. And yet, if it was closer to August, I might be able to plan for my future better. However, I'm worried about what might happen with my settlement (it can't be helped) so I almost wish we could just go back to January. Since the accident, time has played many not-so-funny tricks on me, and the agonizingly slow process of getting my future sorted out is a slap in the face every time we try to plan something more than a month ahead.

There's the "maximum medical improvement" diagnosis I've been waiting for a doctor to sign off on. Many of the physical disabilities from the accident need at least an 18-month window of healing to better tell what the long term effects will be. Since we've finally passed that, I can now get a medical professional to make that diagnosis. And once it has been made, we can proceed further with legal action. Getting to this point was no picnic, and I'm saddened by the fact that there are some things that will never heal. But this milestone now opens a gateway to more milestones, each with their own interminable waiting period attached.
Here is a chart of my injuries, showing the permanent effects of the accident.

There's also the mental improvement barrier I'm coming up against. I've been seeing my psychiatrist and we have a strong bond, but he's only just been able to get me into a therapy program. I had my first session with my psychologist on Monday, and I feel it will be very beneficial. But, like all things, when the diagnosis of PTSD was first made, there was a 1-year period of drug therapy that I was required to do. 20 months in, the drug therapy shows no signs of slowing and I've begun to make plans for the future based on needing these medications and therapy sessions for a significant portion of it.

On top of all this, there is the fuzzy unknown of what will happen. Will I get so riddled with arthritis that I'll be crippled at 50? Will we ever be in a place where, if we want to have a family, we will have the support network available to do so? And what about our finances? Will the settlement be enough so that I don't have to work again?

I know it doesn't do to worry about the future since I can't change it. Nor is there much sense in worrying about the past since it is over and done with. Thanks to family and friends I have been able to take advantage of this "present" as a point where I am getting myself physically and emotionally in to shape, and it has helped with the waiting period jitters. But honestly, this fuzzy limbo period we are in now kinda sucks.

01 May 2013

Annnnnnnd We're Back!

Hello everyone! With todays's edition of the "Wednesday Whimsies" file, I am returning to my regularly scheduled blogging program. Since my parents live so far from anywhere that they do not have internet access, I had to cut down to one post per week to keep the data plan on my phone from exploding. But now I'm back in Edmonton, plugged in, and ready to rock and roll.

First, I have been listening to a lot of remixes, mash-ups, and acapella since watching Pitch Perfect with my sister while I was away. I gave that movie too little credit when it first came out - it is hilarious, the music is infectious, and the characters are endearing. I even got to relive my first year of university dorm hell through the main character, as her roommate is eerily similar to the one I had. Because Matt and I are gearing up for a trip to Jasper this weekend, I have been searching for new music to load on my iPod for the drive. This movie is full of it, and full of inspiration to seek out other awesome music. If you haven't already, give it a shot. I dare you to try not laughing.

Second, since Matt is now home from Wainwright (insert studio audience applause here), I have been feeling much more myself. I have been sleeping better. I have been baking and crafting. And I have been laughing. I love having my best friend back.

Third, as I mentioned above, we are going to Jasper for the weekend! I'm so excited! Neither of us have ever been, and since Matt won't be here for the May long weekend (because he'll be back in Wainwright; urgh) this is our spring vacation. It will be a bit of a drive, but totally worth it. I cannot wait to see the mountains or the glacier or the lakes or ALL of it. Whee! Anyone have any must-see suggestions of things for us to take in?

And fourth, it is May 4th this weekend. As you may not know, it is Free Comic Book Day. I encourage everyone to head to their local comic shop and partake of free comics. It is also Star Wars Day, so while you're there, you can tell all the nerds, "May the 4th be with you". Seriously. I'm not kidding. I'm totally doing it when I go in for my MLP comics.

(Ha! And you thought I was going to go a whole post without mentioning ponies!)