Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Don't worry ...beee happy."

June 30,2009
The highlight of my day was getting a phone call from my friends in Ontario. I have emailed them a couple of times, without response. So my imagination kicks in, what if someone is sick ...or god forbid dead. What if no one thought to let me know or assumed I was unreachable on the road. So it was a relief to hear her voice and know everything is alright. It seems they check my blogs and it is as I feared, people forget that I want to know how they are doing to. She worries about me living out here among, (to quote Simon & Garfunkle) the ragged people.
I believe we die when we die, we always risk death by simply living. Crossing streets... very dangerous, riding in cars... swimming, climbing in and out of a bath tube. Which makes me way safer staying shelters because they mostly have showers LOL. Yes this is a leap of faith but I can't believe the Creator would send me on this journey unless it were to a good purpose. And I trust that whatever I experience here is necessary to my (all of our)understanding of this community within our communities.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New / Old pics

June 29,2009
Hooray...I have been able to recovered the last few snapshots from Regina and they are now posted in the gallery. There will never be photos of other clients for reasons of their personal privacy. At least not any with identifiable faces on the website. Now that I know the camera and I are going to be friends, I will try to provide more gallery shots. I have put the murals under art. And the purple house is also under art rather than photography, although that was a close call. The purple house with the teal roof is between da'hood and cathedral village in Regina. It is just a house and I imagine the people who live there must be the happiest people ever. I had a collection of photos that included the soup kitchen and the Osler / Halifax St areas but alas I mishandled the file and my early attempts at digitally recording my journey were sadly erased. Fortunately I am only 1/24 through my trip so I have plenty of time to hone my photo journalistic skills LOL.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


June 28, 2009
Today is my youngest daughter's birthday...I obviously couldn't buy her a gift so all day I sent MMS text messages to her on the cell phone. Anyway today was pretty good, not so much because of breakfast (no porridge ;-(.) but because people have stared recognizing me. Joining my table and asking me to join theirs. One fellow, a self-proclaimed artist gave me his cell number. In case I want to hang out.
Spent some time this evening with a lovely woman who has lived at the centre for about a month. Until then she was rooming with another middle-aged lady. The lady became ill.; my friend was evicted from the home and now she must wait until the lady is released from hospital before she can really do much of anything. Something like that happened to my grandma, when the man she kept "house for" died suddenly and his kids evicted her in 24 hrs. But many middle-aged women fall into the category of working poor with incomes or pension of under $25,000.
My new friend was surprised to find that the shelter, not only houses battered women and women in trouble but also addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill,the elderly and infirmed. I was not surprised... This place is like taking ladies 3rd and ladies 5th at the DI and combining them. Everything here but intoxed. Have to say if I were going to stay in this town I would probably like to work at the Mission where I eat lunch. Overall the staff there seem very happy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New friends and old souls

June 27, 2009
Sorry about not blogging yesterday but except for going out to the Mission for breakfast and in search of a dress, I just stayed in...wasn't feeling 100%.
Today was different, I went to the mission for brunch, ran into a few familiar faces which is good. I was starting to feel like I'm spinning my wheels here. After brunch I went downtown where they are having a public arts festival, all free and quite enjoyable. As I was sitting in the shade listening to the open air concert, I saw a young man (clearly in need of a smoke) across the street. So I walked across the street offered him a cigarette, and asked to join him. We talked all afternoon, about spirituality, religion and matters philosophical. He is Metis from Manitoba, and with his reclaimed recovery, is a new found interest in his cultural heritage. It is always a joy to meet a young person whose heart and mind are open.
My young friend Hank, once spoke to me about being raised in a culture of greed and about his need to find a deeper meaning for his life. Money is not a bad thing nor is it a good thing... it is good for what it will buy and to some extent necessary to survival. Money is a tool not an end. Money does not insure or prevent happiness. Joy is a soul thing...It is found in living authentically. Following our hearts, our hearts feel good when what we do is good. The thing that is good differs for each person and we can never judge another's path to happiness and the way in which they contribute to the larger good of humanity.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to say about today

June 25, 2009
If I don't blog something my youngest will be really annoyed with me, she's a bit of a worrier. So here goes. Tried to access some clothing at one of the local Missions, this is significant because the request was during off hours. The staff I dealt with was considerate respectful and went out of her way to accommodate me.This is the kind of organization I would enjoy working for. I give this agency an A++. When dealing in any human services field there are always variables, specifically humans. Over the long term there is a fine line between maintaining order and institutionalizing the client. When every decision is made for you (as a client), I think it is possible to forget how to make decisions for oneself.
I have during my career met social workers for whom policies & procedures are not guidelines but granite. There is no human give and take, no flexibility, at least within the confines of their job, they are institutionalized. A wise young woman once said these types of people lack confidence in their own judgement and fear making a mistake. I will pass on the best advice which was given to me by my mentor and friend Greg Smith, "Don't do anything you can't justify". Once you can articulate why you are making the choice you have made...you will grow more confident in your ability. In time you will trust your instincts and be the most effective social worker. Remember humanity when working in human services...if you don't genuinely enjoy your work get into another field. The pay is no hell here anyway, you gotta be in it for the love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

a crocheted cozy

June 24,2009
Wow, George added the hit-counter a couple of weeks ago and today we broke 200. Thanks for checking in. The other day I found out, quite by accident, that this particular type of yarn I have is very good for removing smudges, fingerprints and dust, from my computer screen. So yesterday while I was waiting for my laundry I crocheted a small cloth just large enough to fit over my keyboard. By placing it on the keyboard when I close the laptop, I don't get those grubby little key impression on my screen. Necessity is a mother...or the mother.
Went to the clothing provider was able to get a couple of thing to change into. I only have room in my bags for 1 of everything, plus 4 pair socks and 4 underware. So I acquire a few pieces from whatever agency is giving away used clothing. Then when I move on I give it away to other homeless ladies and do the same thing in the next town.
The good news is no weird dreams last night...bad news is just didn't sleep. Not sure if the problem is physical or fiscal. The bank account is almost empty, sorta knew this was coming, but when something is important to us we find a way to make it happen. Traveled 775km (approx.550 miles) to my first destination and 800km (approx 575 miles) to my second. It is 6100km (4000 miles) from Victoria to Charlottetown. I'm not good at conversions so forgive the inaccuracies. My point is that this journey isn't over until I have lived homeless right across this country. Homelessness is a national problem, and maybe national awareness can bring a national solution. When I get like this, feel free to kick my soapbox out from under me. I just have to keep the faith and know the Creator would not have sent me on this journey if the resource weren't going be there to keep it going to the end.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Too tired to blog

June 23, 2009
Wow, don't know why I'm so tired, weird dreams the past couple of nights, maybe that is keeping me from getting a good rest. Today was house work day so I did laundry and washed the floor in my room. Went for a long walk, checked out the other hood (north of the Greyhound station). Dinner was really good, roast beef, mashed potatoes and ceasar salad. Also two brownies which I am saving for later. And sent out much correspondence to friends old and new. Mostly emails. I sent out about 30 emails last week and only got 4 replys, so quickly forgotton ;-(. LOL It's ok I know how busy life gets and as long as people keep logging in to this site I know I'm not really alone out here. Check back tomorrow I'm sure I'll have something more interesting to chat about...ttyl

Monday, June 22, 2009


June 22, 2009
Really feeling sad today, not entirely sure why. Maybe just a little homesick and missing you all. Could also be a build-up of negative energy...I've been to church six times. I feel that church is an important element for any community, maybe I'm hoping to see some new attitudes blossoming. Those of you who know me, know I don't take a lot of comfort from organized religion. And in spite of the large Native population base, I can't find anyone to give me sweet grass or sage so I can do a smudge.
Last night I went to a service at Sacred Heart, a church which claims to be Native-centric Catholic Christian. When I entered, the place smelled of sweet grass. The crucifix hung at the centre of a large medicine wheel. Stunningly beautiful images of dancers depicted from the eagles eye, were on the wall behind the pulpit. I can't really hope to describe all the beautiful images by native artists which adorned this building. The liturgy was covered in deer hide with a medicine wheel quilled onto the front cover. While this is a noble effort (for most Organized religions any effort to acknowledge the beliefs of others, is a noble effort). The decor and the addition of one short prayer to the Creator was the only integration of the Native Spiritualism to Catholicism. I felt "bait and switched" ...and was extremely uncomfortable through the whole service, which was thankfully short as masses go.
This morning I went to the Aboriginal Day Celebrations at the federal building... Lots of talented Native artists and crafters (sucks to be poor could have added to my collection). Also good musicians and singers. Had a couple of pieces of the fried bannock, my favourite kind. Would have brought a couple of pieces home, but I didn't have a baggie...clearly I am a slow learner LOL.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My kingdom for a baggie

June 21, 2009
Happy Father's Day, Happy Solstice and Happy Aboriginal Day... That said, I slept in again today and took brunch at the same place as yesterday. What can I say I like oatmeal. There was no jam today because, we had the yummiest Cinnamon biscuits instead of toast. Eggs were a giant baked omelet and I gave my piece to the guy across from me. so the girl next to him gave me her biscuit. And I traded the guy next to me a cigarette for his biscuit. One to eat two to take home. I sat carefully wrapping each one in a napkin and slipping them into the side pockets of my backpack. Which now goes with me everywhere (wishing I had invested in a net book)lol. My new Muslim friend (the man who traded his biscuit)took me over to the drop-in centre, I didn't know they were open weekends. We lined up again to be served an opulent lunch of finger foods. Two sandwiches, two treats, fresh fruits and fresh veggies...sooo good really wish I had a baggie...next week.
Also a first for today was I sold a smoke. What can I say, every 50 cents helps LOL. Tonight I am off to Sacred Heart , Aboriginal peoples / Christian church. ttyl

sometimes a banana is just a banana

June 20, 2009
I have accepted that the place I am staying at has bedbugs... I don't feel them biting, just wake up each morning with half a dozen new itchy little welts on my person. Since there is nothing I can do to remedy the situation I have decided to give them all names and teach them to square dance.
Today was a very good day on many levels, First I slept late then went for brunch at a mission about 10 blocks from where I stay. Every one lined up for about half an hour to get in (just like the DI). We had watery oatmeal, 2 hard boiled eggs, coffee and 2 slices of toast with a side of jam and peanut butter (I mixed my jam into the oatmeal). This is the best part they gave me the most perfect banana ever...it was beautiful absolutely flawless, like that imitation wax fruit. I put it in my bag for tonight, I find I get quite hungry between dinner at 4:30pm and breakfast at 7:30am. There was a young man at my table who's friends was trying to entice him into moving to Calgary next. We talked about how Calgary would just be more of the same...where ever we go we take our demons with us. Turned out he is scheduled to go Pound maker in August. We talked alot about how he got here and how to figure out where he wants to go next. Reminded me of the best of all my reasons for being on the street, do any good I can anytime I can for anyone I can.
After brunch I took what turned out to be a painfully long walk to a park that was having Aboriginal Day events. There were native musician and artists and a story telling tee pee. A tent serving soup and biscuits and another gave me a small bottle of water for the long walk back. On the trip back I detoured to downtown Shoppers to pick up something to treat my bug bites, that took me about 8-10 blocks out of my way. It was very hot and I was in sooo much pain when I finally got to the shelter. Relief is in sight (remember these people have all my Tylenol) I hear crying... looking across the street there is a woman sitting on the curb. I really want to go inside...but I cross the street sit on the curb beside her, she looks at me and I take her in my arms and hold her while she cries it out. then we talked about what is going on and she decides to go to her church for help. I stayed until I couldn't stand the sun's heat or the pain in my knee any longer I gave her what was left of my water and that one perfect banana before I left her.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Assimilation Complete

June 19, 2009
In my last city the homeless first assumed I was staff, then a volunteer...I would have to tell everyone I was a client. That has all change in my new location. Day one I was taken for a user, day two I was taken for a dealer and today I hit the trifecta(sp) on my way back from a healing service at an area church I was taken to be a hooker. LOL
Today my room-mate received approval for her new place...she will be able to move in Friday next. I'm so happy for her, sadly for me I will now be playing roomie roulette. The healing service was nice but I couldn't stay long. Sheryl Bear was playing guitar and singing. People were dancing and a young man was in the corner doing katas and a sword dance. Very Asian discipline but anything that focuses our energy brings us closer to the creator. Meditation is meditation, not everyone can sit and contemplate their navel for hours.

Some how seems familiar

June 18, 2009
Blogs may frequently be posted next day while I am here as I have been cautioned not to use the laptop openly in this building. The place I'm staying now reminds me of 5th floor ladies' at the DI. We have around 50 women here crossing every demographic, and level of needs. My room-mate is a pleasant, quiet 50 something lady. She is mostly a victim of economics, and has applied to a seniors housing initiative. Other reasons for being here are MH or physical infirmities, displacement by abuse, recent release. There are, I am sure, some addicts, but this is a sober building so we only see them on good days. Another resemblance to the DI is the lining-up for everything. I was required to surrender my Tylenol and supplements when I arrived. now I have to line up to get a maximum of 2 and come back in four hours to get 2 more (which come with a little cup of water so they can witness me take them). If I am going to be out during the day the will give me just enough, on my way out the door, to cover during my absence. Bear in mind these are all over the counter products which I paid for myself. No wonder people in these environments get resentful. I wonder if over the long term one could lose the ability to make judgements for oneself?
Yesterday I took my walk about and discovered this city's version of The Cecil Hotel, decided I will have to pop in and check it out before I go. Also discovered a drop-in centre open all day and serves lunch. This location has job training and many supportive services, On Thursday they are scheduled to have an Elder on site. Hung out there for a while, met a few people, then went to the library to do my blog. The mural art is in this neighbourhood is amazing. If I ever figure my camera out I'll add some photos to the album. ttyl

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Long Day

Arrived at my destination in the wee small hours of the morning. Had breakfast in a fast food joint and took a walk about. I know... boring but here's the interesting part. When on my walk I found the provincial employment office, that office gave me a list of shelters and soup kitchens. The women's shelter told me to check in at 9pm.
The day was interesting at times, it turns out the bus station is a very lively place. I met an amiable young man, who kept popping up through-out the day. I walked around where the men's shelters and services are, letting people know I was looking for one of my DI boys who had moved out here. Then I met a lovely woman waiting for her transfer to a bus going east and we chatted about the Angels of the Road project.
In the morning I went down town and found out the federal employees were having a fundraiser, hotdog, pop and candy cotton for $2. Funny thing, the woman behind me in line and I were engaged in conversation, until I mentioned staying at the shelter. Then she quite abruptly turned to start a conversation with her co-workers and eased herslf back about 6 feet from where she was previously located. It was a very visual demonstration of the discomfort many civilians feel around homeless people. Perhaps it is unsettling to find out homeless people can be sober, articulate and intelligent...in other words it could be you.
Then at 8pm I left for my new temporary home, reached the corner I was supposed to go to, then took a wrong turn. So I ask a group of young people for directions. The young man offered to walk me over to the shelter because this is a really "dangerous" neighbourhood. He and one of his friends a banger with Red Alert kept me company while I waited til 9pm. We were talking about gangs and I mentioned Hannibal a young man who served some time with my boy Ron. Turns out the young man is a cousin to Hannibal who is also a Red Alert member. Small world. Don't worry, I plan to remain unaffiliated.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


June 16,2009
Sadly my stay has been too short, due to over stressed resources I have been told shelter space is reserved for in province residents only. I spent the afternoon hanging out with some of the locals... plus talked to social workers, to try and get some idea of the situation. These shelters are billing the province $65 per day per bed. That includes the Salvation Army mens hostle. The locals (pre-rehab users) have formed a close community and when one gets a place they open doors to others...this has the obvious downfall of evictions and inevitable loss of housing in a tight market. When this happens there are areas along the river which are sufficently hidden from police and preditors, according to a native woman I was talking with. Her boyfriend, a man well over 6' disagrees on that. So I am thinking you would have to get seriously loaded to sleep in the park.
Tonight I am moving on to my next destination... but this experience has given me cause to retink the way I am approaching the problem. There seems to be denial within the civilian population about there even being a homeless problem in this province (to be named later). If we don't provide any services...we don't collect any statistic... therefore we don't have any homeless people. BRILLIANT

June 15th revisited

June 16, 2009
Well forget what I said last night... after many phone calls back and forth and much admonishment toward me for even needing a bed, I was permitted to stay at the shelter. It is the basement of an old hotel with about 20 beds and unsecured storage. Women only and must be clean and sober. Also I won't be welcome back tonight without proof of I.D. or a case worker (actual city social worker) to assign me a bed. So in other words these are not charitable organizations...unless someone is paying your way you don't get help.
I asked Stacy (day staff where I stayed last night) about the situation for intox beds and she doesn't believe there are any, male or female. So I guess I'll have to find some street people to show me the ropes in this town.
Don't worry if I happen to miss a day blogging... I'm going to be locking most of my things up at the bus station until I find a place to stay or move on from here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

tough room

O.K. this will be short and sweet. My new city has 0 emergency shelter beds for women. The Sally Ann will put me in a hotel for 1 night and the YWCA has me on a waiting list...maybe tomorrow, maybe soon... who knows. Fortunately the weather is good if I have to crash in the park for a night or two. I was at the park earlier today and there is a port-a-potty which is a definite necessity for me LOL. Needless to say dear friends, you will hear all about this little adventure. Where is David Cook when I need him??? LOL.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

what to say...

June 14,2009
Here it is my last day in this city... what can I say. The only thing in this world of any real value is TIME... we do not will it into or out of being, when it is gone there is no replacing it. You have only two choices, to spend it well or spend it poorly. The time I have spent here has been well spent. I have experienced a system far different from the one in Calgary. I have met some amazing people, some of who will stay with me always.
I have found the hardest thing about this, is not being able to be completely open with everyone. Which is why this last day has been nice because I have been able to share my true identity and my true purpose with my friends. I have been very fortunate that they have all been understanding and forgiving of my small deceptions. While here I have made it a point to be truthful, in everything that matters. My feelings, beliefs, values and even stories of my life and family are true. The only lie was in the name I chose to use and my true purpose for being here. There are a few people I won't get to say goodbye to but I wish them light and love in all things.

Apologies to all

June 13,2009
So sorry about the late entry. Seems my outing yesterday left me with a little bit of a sunburn and a whole lot of heat stroke. Got some leftovers from the kitchen, took a fistful of acedominaphine (ok..3) and went directly to sleep (got to love Sundays) for 12 hours. So the following took place on the 13th of June.
This morning I met a new worker (new to me)... Shawna is the most amazing young women, intelligent, articulate, funny and adventureous. She reminds me alot of me...not when I was young....NOW. How I envy this girl and the glorious journey unfolding before her. I only wish I had more time to know her better.
About the heat stroke, I am usually more cautious in such matters but circumstances led me astray. I did my daily walk about, an hour or hour and a half. Just as I was about to sit down for a bit, my friend came by and told me she was off to visit our friend in the rhab centre. I didn't know the girls could have visitors so I ask if I could tag along. There was no shade in the outdoor seating area and both of my friends smoke, so that is self explanitory. After our visit I was walking back to the library to sitdown and read some more from a book I had started the other day, when another friend phoned and asked to meet. We met up and walked around stopping by his place for a visit (out of the sun but no a/c). I would have bused back from there (it is way across town) but he wanted to walk me back, and I really couldn't refuse such a gallant geasture.
That was yesterday, today has yet to unfold.

Friday, June 12, 2009

no good in goodbye

June 12, 2009
I spent the morning with two of my new friends, I hope to see them again before I go on Monday. I chose Monday to depart because this shelter will let the girls stay in all day on Sunday. That would allow me to catch up on both sleep and paperwork...I have no idea what the situation will be in the next city so it could be a long time before I get another chance to do either LOL
Both of my friends asked me to stay on,"just another week or two". I suspect that there will always be a reason to stay just a bit longer. And it will always be difficult to say goodbye on this journey because it is unlikely that I will be returning. Perhaps we will keep in touch at least for awhile but ultimately that will likely fade. Though I am sad to leave, I have been blessed to have had my life touch by these beautiful souls ...if only for a moment.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


June 11, 2009
Today I saw a man sitting in the mall... there is a large semi-circular sofa placed at the entrance. The man was 40ish, heavy set, wearing jeans and an old stadium length jacket in a khaki beige colour. He sat completely motionless staring, not blinking or even shifting his glance. There was no spark of awareness in his eyes. He looked for all the world like a wax statue, so life-like ...but not quiet. Later he passed me on the street, his gaze fixed straight ahead, he didn't see me approach or hear my greeting. I wonder how someone comes to be all alone in the world. Literally, alone... so out of touch with your surroundings it leaves the people who occupy the same space as imperceptible ghosts. Is he on medication or self-medicating or is it something more.
I want to call him Ira, because no one should move through this life without an identity, without someone, somewhere at least knowing of your existence. Did Ira abandon us, or did we abandon him? Did he lose the people he loved and who loved him...? Did fear of loss, fear of pain convince Ira that being alone is better? I am sure he had parents (biological imperative and all that). Did he have a wife and children or siblings? If there is no-one in your world, there is no one to miss when they are gone...but then who will miss Ira when he is gone. Something changed for me today, my world has one more person in it. Although I may never see Ira again, in my world he exists. And I thank him for making me ask the questions I have shared with you here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

June 10, 2009
Well it is crunch time...I have one more night paid for in this shelter and then I have to put up more money or move on. Guess I'll take a cue from Frank Sinatra and "...see what tomorrow brings". The cute guy that works at the soup kitchen spoke to me for the first time today...not sure that should be included in the blogs LOL.
Anyway the Native community is quite small (not in numbers but in relationships) here ...today I met the niece of a man I came to know over the past few days. In the afternoon I met the son of a woman I met last week, a few days ago I found out one of my roomies is a sister to the girl who works at the SWAP drop-in. Oh yea and I met the brother of one of my DI coworkers.
Small city...small world. Have letters to write home...and emails to get out so I'll talk to you all tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Comings and Going

June 9, 2009
Last night I said goodbye to one of my new friends, a Native girl I met my first night here. She has been accepted into a treatment program and they have a bed for her. She will be incommunicado for the next week, by then I expect to have moved on to my next city. But this morning I went to the SWAP drop-in, where I met a very nice Native man, who is recently taken control of his own issues. We talked for a couple of hours about all manner of things, philosophical, political, personal and social. Meeting people like these make this journey well worth the taking ;-)

Monday, June 8, 2009

divine intervention

June 8,2009
Hi All... this is my first attempt to blog on the new page George created, but I won't know if it is 100% until one of you post a comment ;-). Yesterday was Sunday and I went to check out the church scene not once but twice. In the morning it was the Revival Tabernacle, the music was great but the sermon made me so angry I walked out. Reducing the congregation by just under 10%. If I had the password to blog yesterday you would have been ranted on...so thanks to divine intervention you have been spared. Last night we went to a Native Gospel Church...that was pretty cool, if I'm still here next week I'll try visiting the other ecumenical church in the neighbourhood.
Well now I know why homeless people panhandle... it costs $20 min to live homeless (at least here) now that is only $600 a month. Which is about the cost of a bachelor apartment in the civilian world. I could save $300 if I was willing to crash on some strangers floor and maybe one day I will just for the experience. For now I'm not pushing the envelope... just watching and learning. ttyl

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Glitches and Gaffs

June 6, 2009

Hi, welcome back, I have good news and bad news...the good news is, we now have a hit counter on the site. That could be fun. The bad news is, we have a glich in the comment section (and all this time I thought you just weren't interested enough to comment). My friend Wolf mentioned a problem with this a long time ago, but we attributed it to the site not being fully launched at the time. George is working on the problem, and I'm hoping soon everyone will be able to share their thoughts with me ;-)

When I arrived in town the girl at the YWCA told me a room was $45 per night...today I met a gentleman who stays at the YMCA for $310 per month...clearly I should have inquired about their monthy rates ;-) Oh well won't be staying a month unless something interesting comes up. Just haven't decided where to go to next.
This place is really quiet on the weekend and the usual haunts are closed 'til Monday. There is one place open providing breakfast and lunch for men only. Guess that's because (a I noted in earlier blogs) there are no homeless women in this city. Hope I have something more interesting to report tomorrow.


June 5, 2009

Today the weather turned quite chilly but it seems to be getting a little brighter again now. If it is sunny tomorrow I will have go down to the park and see if I can pick-up a little cash busking (not sure about the spelling on that). Today I withdrew some cash to pay next weeks rent, so I'm going to try to replace that a.s.a.p.. There was a neighbourhood BBQ on the other side of downtown (that is where the men's shelter and the soup kitchens are). They had a D.J. bouncy castle (the only thing in the world I'm too tall for LOL) door prizes and hotdogs. The park was filled with families in spite of the cool weather...not a lot of food but nice to just sit and watch the young ones playing. I picked-up a little dress and a hat at the clothing depot so I can go to church on Sunday. There is no room in my back pack so when I leave here I'll pass that stuff on to one of the girls at the shelter. Sharing what you can seems to be all part of the homeless experience. ttyl

500 Miles (ish)

June 4, 2009

To quote an old country & western song; "Away from home, away from home. Cold, broke and tired, all alone. Lord I'm 500 miles away from home.  It is nearly 500 miles or 660 kilometers from my home to my first stop on this journey. After only 4 days here, I am pretty sure I'll just about equal that distance walking the city before I move on. Too bad this isn't a walkathon, at a buck a kilometer, this project would pay for itself .LOL.  

Spent the morning helping the SWAP drop-in get ready for an open house they were having this afternoon. I spent the afternoon doing the usual, except for a stop at the bank to pick-up my rent for next week. Tonight I came back with every intention of trying crash a workshop with drummer Kenny Aronoff. I think I was just missing my friend Vern (also a drummer) because after I talked to him (Vern) on the phone I was quite content just to stay in my room tonight. Yes, in case you hadn't guessed I do miss my friends and family.... that's just normal.

The Villagers are Friendly

June 3,2009

Today I spent the morning touring "da hood" and just like my hood in Calgary it is an older neighbourhood filled with friendly working class people. Then I went downtown for lunch and at 5pm dinner. Any women I have met at the soup kitchens seem to be housed... and the only shelter they can refer me to, is the one where I am already staying. When I asked one lovely young native girl about places to stay, she offered to take me home to her place. Now that's hospitality ;-))) 

Food for thought

June 2, 2009

          Not too much sleep last night either.... my room-mate snored, talked in her sleep, and is more than a bit m.h. Tonight I expect to sleep a little better... if no one else comes in the next 15 minutes, I will have the room to myself.

          Anyway about my day, first I walked across town to a soup kitchen (lunch only) put on by the Catholics, it is for women and children. I met several nice native ladies about my age. Lillian invited me to the Rain Dance Gathering on June 11th, would love to go but the reserve is 35 miles from the city, we'll have to wait and see on that one. Although the women are low income none seemed to be actually homeless. Then at 3 p.m., I went to another soup kitchen (supper only), this one is co-ed so I had a chance to meet some guys...still haven't found any other emergency shelters for women. I can't help but wonder where the intox ladies sleep????

On an up note, I met the world's littlest pan-handler today. I was walking down the sidewalk and the cutest little girl about 4 years old was sitting by her fence. As I past she said, "Hey lady got a spare piece uh gum?" It could turn out to be a useful skill one day. lol.  Also I got my first hug today ;-)   I'll take that as a good sign. ttfn

So it begins

June 1, 2009

The bus was an hour late leaving Calgary but still arrived at our destination on schedule. The trip took all night, I didn't get any sleep, but it was necessary so I would arrive early enough in the day find a shelter for the night. Turned out not to be too difficult. I called the YWCA from the bus terminal and they referred me to an emergency shelter that has 12 sober beds for women. There are 3 beds to a room in 4 rooms the rest of the building is affordable (transitional) housing, 2 ladies sharing each room. The men are housed on the other side of downtown. The Creator must be easing me into my new life, these rooms are really very nice... shower, fridge, microwave and a 1 channel TV. They lock down at 8 a.m. but we can leave our stuff behind during the day. I can stay here free for 7days the after that it cost $10 per night.  

Failing to plan is planning to fail

May 23, 2009

Thanks for visiting again, the drudgery of paperwork and preparation will soon be out of the way and I should be able to launch Angels of the Road at the end of the month as planned. I have been trying to learn some new software and thanks to the patience of my friend Vern I should have a working knowledge of this stuff before leaving. Beyond that it will be trial and error, probably more the latter LOL.  Thinking of maybe hooking up to do some video blogging...feel free to let me know what you think about that ;-)   ttyl

Shanty Town

April 12, 2009

This week I want to thank the four Calgary University students who built cardboard shanties and spent a few days camping out to raise money, and awareness of homelessness in our community. But just to clarify...there are no shanties in Calgary. If a homeless person attempted to set up camp pretty much anywhere in the city (including on the U of C campus) they would be ticketed and harassed until they moved or were thrown in remand. But good hearted people like this should be commended for their efforts. We thank you for caring. To quote and old toast, "May your good deeds multiply and spread; like butter on hot ginger bread."

No free lunch

April 9, 2009

My good friend, who was homeless herself for more than a year; asked me why I need money to live homeless. I don't drink, smoke or use drugs. There are many reasons to need money. Not every city is like Calgary, where everything is free... clients tell me of places that charge for food and lodging. The fees are modest but still must be met. Although I personally do not smoke, cigarettes are very important and useful in the homeless community. They open conversations, calm conflicts, and show respect or gratitude to another person. Plus they function as currency for trading. When completely strapped for cash they can be sold for fifty cents each. 

My biggest expense is going to be electronics.... the best way to record and archive the information I gain on this journey is by computer and internet. A laptop, digital camera and cell phone are not only lifelines to family and friends but also the basic tools of research. Unfortunately these tools are high profile targets for theft. Also the services (air time, data transfer, internet etc) all cost over $100.00 a month.

Beyond that are simple basic needs, such as bus fare, medication, fresh fruit, a new pair of socks. These all cost money. Doing day labor will earn me about $60.per diem, but every day I spend with a temp agency is a day taken away from the Angels of the Road project and the work I am supposed to be doing .