Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Camp

July 31, 2009
Well I have returned from homeless summer camp...tomorrow I will retell you all about it I just had a complete blog disappear from my computer prepost edit. Unless I find that one I'll get back to you on that I'm too tired to redo it tonight.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

sadness and success

July 28,2009
This morning I woke-up in a bit of a funk...told my twitter people I was needing a sign from God. My daughter cited a number of biblical signs that would certainly have done the trick LOL, Unfortunately God doesn't shout he whispers and we really have to be listening. In my current state of mind I'm not so sure I would hear. For the regular readers of my blogs, you know this has been a particularly difficult week on a personal level, something of an emotional roller-coaster. My kids have been great, putting up with all my whining. I am very lucky to have a supportive family.
The whole trip I have had to face intermittent waves of depression. There is (understandably) a very high level of negative energy within this population. It might surprise you to find out, this hopelessness and frustration does not come from the street people. Hardcore addicts are only focused on their next hit/fix, and recovering addicts are grateful to have come as far as they have, while focusing on moving forward. The drop-outs long ago lost any expectations of society or others.
The negativity comes from the homeless... people who sort of fit in... occasionally housed, often working and always struggling. Some are elderly with what amounts to a subsistency pension, some have health issues, age issues, mental health issues, educational issues, opportunity issues etc. All compromised from success in any traditional sense. Feeling judged, dissatisfied and angry with themselves and the system that they feel has failed them.
It doesn't help that we live in a world where money=success=happiness. And every where we look some new book/guru is telling us that we only have to think it to make it so. Like the faith healer who can only fail to heal you because you lacked the necessary faith. So if one is not successful/wealthy it is because you don't want it badly enough... you are not trying hard enough...YOU ARE A FAILURE.
There is a book which Oprah featured called "Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow". I always laughed at that, because what I loved was helping the homeless and they don't have any money. Maybe for some of us laughter=hugs=joy is really the best equation for success. Funny the more successful I am the less money I have... I'm not saying that is a good thing, it is month's end bills are unpaid and yes, I (like you) am stressing about that. Money is neither bad nor good it is simply a tool... to some extent necessary to sustain existence. Perhaps the day will come soon when what we ARE will be more important than what we HAVE. A day when each of us can measure our success by the laughter we bring to those around us, the hugs we share with those who need us and the joy we bring to the world by just being a part of it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

conspiracy therory

July 26, 2009
I know it is early for today's blog...consider this yesterday's really really late. About this Homeless Summer Camp thingy...what if it is just a conspiracy to rid the city of homeless? I am seeing shades of Hansel & Gretal here. Think about it, city people abandoned in the wilderness. ..could it really work... yes I am becoming suspicious..
but I'm going anyway, in fact as a wilderness canoeist in my younger days I am well equipped to survive in the woods. I'm bringing extra batteries for the camera...either its summer camp or a t.v. movie. But I am so on board for what ever is coming LOL. have good day ttyl

Saturday, July 25, 2009

kid stuff...REALLY

July 25, 2009
Being homeless has many similarities to life in the civilian world. In the civilian world you get up, drop the kids at school / daycare, then go to your work place. At particular times during the day you eat... chat with co-workers, seek out individuals who will be able to enhance your knowledge or enjoyment of the day. In the evening you will watch television, take in a movie or the occasional concert. Your day is routine but different from the day of other civilians.
The world of the homeless mirrors that in many ways, we get up and go through a series of activities to sustain our existence in much the same way as the civilian goes to work. My daily "work" is different from that of my housemates, each of whom differs from each other. But for each of us every day is repeating over and over in endless drudgery; not unlike working 50 weeks a year as a civilian. So just like you, homeless people need a break from the daily grind. Enter "HOMELESS SUMMER CAMP" I had never heard of such a thing before, each one is only a few days long. Just to be able, for a few days to leave the heat and stench of the city behind...not to mention the drama that is my residence. The drop-in centre I go to runs 5 of these camps a year...themed mental health, family, adult, native (just missed that one) and arts & crafts (which I am attending next week). I'm so excited I haven't been to camp since I was a kid.
Something else I haven't done since I was a kid is gone to the wading pool.Right in the center of this city is a huge fountain and on hot days everyone comes downtown and plays in the water. Every age, every race, every socio-economic strata...all looking pretty much the same when wet, LOL. For me, it is fun to watch the young families; children and parents, laughing and splashing... just enjoying this moment. Everyone starts out life as a child... innocent, uncomplicated, fearless, smart and beautiful. Gifted by God with everything they need to be healthy, strong and happy. If only we could hold onto that for our lifetime... if we could learn to hold onto that inner child. To once again be fearless and joyous and live in this moment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

kid stuff

July 24,2009
This is wonderful up to 22 hits today...I love you guysss rr thu beshtt guyssss. O.K. I really haven't been drinking ;-) My daughter tells me that the counter counts IP addresses, so that means 490 different computers have viewed our site. I used to worry that I was the only person who thought the shelter industry needed changing. But I've never been one to criticize unless I could offer up an alternative solution. So Angels of the Road is in large part about finding those alternatives. Let's face it, homeless people are not as cute as baby seals... and ironically I'm trying to make homelessness extinct. I did try to bring in the baby seals, on a tweet (twitter site) the other day, but nobody was believing it. The issue of homelessness effects every person in North America, billions of dollars are spent annually on services, which merely sustain existence. The growing tide of homelessness has become a tsunami... for the reasons you will find under the "WHAT I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR." tab, back on the website. So what is it that we need to do differently to effect real and lasting change? That question does not yet have an answer, but I am willing to take the time necessary to find out. I have good health (for someone my age) and I have made this research my focus for the next few years with the sometimes reluctant support of my beloved children. I will happily share my findings with an academic (person or agency) that brings funding to the table. Living homeless may be cheap, but research does have costs... If I had a dollar for every hit on this website I would be able to stop stressing about keeping my phone turned on or getting a ticket to the next town. Wow... it would be so cool to just focus on the project. This wasn't my intended topic for tonight... But that's what happens when the bills go past due and you haven't got an actual pay check to rely on. You get distracted easily. So please visit the "TO DONATE" tab ... right now I need any help you can offer. My own funds are gone and the initial donations will run out before this month expenses are covered. Thank you for your support (spiritual as well as financial) and bless you for caring about Angels of the Road. Tomorrow I promise "KID STUFF" ;-)

Just a little blog blip

July 23, 2009
Sorry about the unblogging yesterday had a little blip accessing the google blogger site...all good now. Today was a lock out day... which means we must amuse ourselves from 9 am - 4:30pm really not too bad; the dorms at the DI are closed from 6 am - 7 pm. Which may or may not be the case any more. The only thing constant at the D.I. is change. LOL When I went to the drop-in this morning to kill some time until lunch, the police had the next block taped off. Apparently a young person (rumour is female) was killed in a machete attack. I hope it isn't one of our girls. Haven't noticed anyone missing. A wise man once said,"The only thing worth killing for is the thing worth dying for." This is grounded in the principle of universalism, any right we claim for our self we must be willing to extend to everyone else. The only thing I would be willing to die for is to protect another human life...sorry Sparky. Therefore the only thing valuable enough to warrant killing for is to protect another. If every pissed off person asked them self "would I be willing to die for this?"...before they took some one's life maybe we would see less death, and more lawsuits. Words are not worth dying over. Kipling said "if neither foe nor loving friend can hurt you..." Why would you give a crap about the opinion of someone you consider an enemy, and if a friend hurts you it is unintentional, tell them their remarks wounded you, accept their apology and move on. Life is far too short to sweat/or bleed over the small stuff.
For those of you following the saga of my young felon friend, no I have not as yet heard from or about the boy. But I have resigned myself to the reality that I can do nothing about it, and I will just have to wait for word. So I am now back focusing on the task at hand. There is a common prayer that says" God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change....The courage to change the things I can....And the wisdom to know the difference." At this moment I can't change the boy's situation (even if I was in Calgary)... I can change my own stress over it. Accepting those 2 small facts is the wisdom of knowing. Besides I have more important issues...Ronnie was in charge of paying my phone bill. Guess I'll have to step up the campaign for donations. Or what I like to think of as electronic panhandling feel free to visit the donations tab and contribute to keeping the Angels of the Road blogging (Telus also provides my internet). Hopefully the events of tomorrow will be more mundane. Sleep well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


July 21,2009
I stayed close to the shelter today... still worried about my troubled young friend and the tension he is causing within my family. I guess the most pertinent topic for today would be helplessness. I am hundreds of miles from home... my daughter is justifiably upset and all I can do for her is to listen while she vents her frustration. Although I completely sympathize with her position, she was victimized by this young man's thoughtless, selfish, stupid actions. However none of that alleviates my fear for his safety. He is reckless and self destructive when he is drunk... the police will ultimately take him into custody. When that happens it can be easy or harsh depending on the level of impairment my friend is under. I pray (literally) that he will sober up at turn himself over to the authorities without incident. But all I can do is pray and I am somewhat cynical about the power of prayer at the best of times. Also I am of little help to his wife... who is dealing with her own concerns for the future. Three little kids, one on the way and no family in the city to help her. Literally I am torn today, my body is here but my heart and mind are back home. Even if I returned, I would not be able to do anything useful at this point in time... All any of us can do is wait for the unfolding of events. Reaction is a very helpless feeling for those of us accustomed to action.

Monday, July 20, 2009


July 20, 2009
I really don't know what to say about today... facing my biggest crisis and my greatest fears. And none of it has to do with being on the street. A young man whom I have taken into my heart and into my family, had a serious relapse today. He had been sober for the better part of 7 months. He has a beautiful woman and 3 small children who love him, a new baby on the way in September. Friends willing to help him find work. Every reason to stay sober and build his life from here... but it wasn't enough. So what is enough... if I can't help one person whom I love dearly and deeply, how can I be of any use to an entire population. I can't determine at this point if I have failed him somehow or if he has failed himself and I am impotent to change that. When does an addict admit they need help.... and I mean more then the quasi religion that is shoved down everyone's throat while serving time. Jesus may be an answer for many troubled souls but clearly it is not sufficient for all.
I have often pondered the question of rehabilitation vs retribution as the focus of the Canadian justice system. Usually I ponder such things when one of my boys (homeless clients) is doing a stretch of dead time in remand or a provincial jail. I think we feel that inmates got themselves into trouble and do not deserve the expense of staff addiction counsellors, academic programs, or esteem building programs such as art / creative writing/ meditation or philosophy. These programs (including NA & AA) are offered to inmates when volunteers are available to teach programs or facilitate meetings. I am sure there are statistics on the cost of recidivism (repeat offenders) to the court and penal system. But has anybody calculated the cost to victims... even in property crimes. If the victim is insured there is the cost of deductible, new security systems, replacement of locks, stolen property and time away from work. Let us assume that only 50% of offenders can be rehabilitated, wouldn't it be worth the investment to the penal system and our communities and the individuals touched by crime.
My faith is shaken and I will weather this emotion storm... perhaps a bit battered about, but still standing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


July 19, 2009
There is a new poem in the "Various Artists" section under the POETRY & FICTION tab. I am adding the new poetry to the top so you don't have to scroll through things you have already read to find new works. This particular poem speaks to a very harsh was difficult for me to listen to, when Hank read it to me the first time. And I found it equally difficult to transcribe for you. To know this sweet young man has had to struggle with such pain and confusion in his short life breaks my heart. A poem like this could be an anthem for street people... there is so much hopelessness out here.
If there were only one thing I could wish for the people I encounter on my journey it would be the knowledge that ever new day is a new beginning. A chance to do one thing differently, a chance to change one moment, and thus change the outcome of that moment. No matter how weak we may feel or even be... we have power, in each second of life to control how we respond in that second. It need not be a big victory, the choice to smile, not scowel. Ignore a rude comment or say," you have a nice day anyway". The choice to be grateful for one more day, one more breath, one more chance, to have one moment be different then the ten thousand moments that passed before. Don't ask for the strength to change it conquer your world. Just enough strength to change one moment, enough power to act... not react. A moment to claim as your one small personal victory.

First ride in a Big Rig

July 18, 2009
I am tucked away in a new bed at my old shelter. Again I am sharing with a senior lady...which is nice, makes me feel like the young kid on the block. Well today's first was trying my hand at hitch-hiking. Al dropped me off around 9:30 at the highway leaving Grande Cache...after about an hour I was picked-up by a nice young man in a big old semi truck. It seems he was carrying a karmic debt from the night before and saw me as a chance to balance things out. I took another run at hitch-hiking when I got to Hinton, but didn't have any luck. Basically it is not my forte, so I am resolved to go only to those places I can access through the greyhound or similar services.
There new donors on the list tonight...thanks so much for helping. It is the generosity of caring people like these that keeps Angels of the Road on the road.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quick Hello

July 17, 2009
Just a qiuck hi from Grande Cache,this is a pretty little town but too small for any kind of a shelter system. Scott says the only homeless people here are the 6 guys who were too drunk to stagger home last night. LOL Tomorrow I'm on a Greyhound on my way back to the shelter and back to my search. It was great to have these few days off. To be able to spend time (for the first time) with an old friend and to make some new friends. Now I have to shake down my purse and pockets to make sure there is enough cas for the is slightly more expensive on weekends. It's all good... Keep visiting the website we will mak our 1st 500 hits eom no problem. Thanks everyone. Talk to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Part 2

July 15, 2009
Had coffee with Judy and Al this morning really nice people "authentic" They are the kind of people that give Christianity a good name. They walk the talk, no hypocrisy... I think all the delays in getting me here were so I would have a chance to meet these lovely people.
About my visit to "the Institution" as the locals call it. The prison is located a few miles out of town the walk is about 40 minutes for me, 20 minutes for everyone else, and 10 minutes if your an inmate on the lam. LOL The walk is down hill going out and a very long uphill coming back.
Each visit is 3hrs, no Plexiglas and dirty phones. You can sit at table, touch each other and there is a courtyard where we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine. We talked of many things, philosophical & personal. Visits are 3 hrs long and I was able to book 2 for tomorrow and 2 for Friday. Saturday I will head back to my journey... renewed by the break in tension and the fresh mountain air.

Just Hi

July 15,2009
Hi All, I was off line yesterday because I was travelling to Grande Cache AB. I guess you could say I am taking a few days off to do a personal errand. For 2 years I have been corresponding with a young man who is serving time in federal prison. Last May he was granted parole (with strict conditions)while on parole he phoned me. During our conversation I told the boy I would come to Edmonton (where the halfway house is located) for his birthday July 15th. Within a month he violated parole by drinking and was returned to custody. I spent about 2 months trying to find him, before the "moccasin telegraph" put him in Bowden Institution. We continued to write and I told him I would come down there for his birthday to visit. Some months ago he was transferred to Grande Cache Institution. A nice minimum security facility the middle of nowhere. It has been absolute hell trying to pull this together. The warden said I could not use my scanned I.D. so I waited until 2pm yesterday for the real thing to arrive by express post. The warden also told me I did not have visitation approval...worst 40 min of my life (to date). Call Mr LeBlanc in visitation who reassured I am on the list. Yesterday I called to make an appointment for today, with no idea of when I would arrive. Just knew that even if I had to walk I was going to be with this young man on his birthday. What can I say I take my word very seriously, and I wasn't going to disappoint someone who probably has had enough disappointment in his young life.
Last night I boarded a Greyhound fully aware that there is no public transportation to Grande Cache itself, got off at the closest stop (150km away) around midnight. I was fully prepared to curl up in a doorway and start hitch-hiking at the crack of dawn. Thankfully I met a very nice family who was going to GC and gave me a ride into town. When we arrived my new friends Judy, Al and Scott invited me to spend the night in their trailer. It is 8am I will tell you all about this trip when I come back tonight.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What is a home?

July 13, 2009
I'm going to try something new. I'm going to try adding a photo to this blog. We'll see how that turned out. The photo is a shopping cart packed full of personal possessions and on the back next to the handle hangs a small mirror surrounded by the words "Home Sweet Home"... Home what does that mean?
If home is where your stuff is then I guess that shopping cart is some one's home. Is home a place to find shelter from the storm, both literally and figuratively? If home is where the heart is then, any place your loved ones are should be home. What about things like feeling safe or a sense of belonging? I have a confession to make, I have never really felt at home. I have spent years in the same house, decades in the same town and I have always been surrounded by friends and family whom I dearly and deeply love. But I have always had an underlying sense that I am only here waiting til it is time to go there. "There", is no place in particular it is just the next place.
Whenever we tear down an old residential hotel or "revitalize" some neighbourhood, we displace people... often into homelessness. Isn't any home better than no home? I walked by a sign for Heated Indoor Storage units 12'x12' renting under $100 per month...If I got a humus toilet and a wash basin why couldn't I live there? Seriously though, make those into 20'x 20' with small bathrooms (think RVs) why couldn't such units rent for $300 monthly? I knew a woman whose husband built steel framed prefab houses 1000 sq ft under $8,000. These were mostly purchased by small countries rebuilding after natural disasters. Canada has its own national disaster a tsunami of homelessness washing over every major urban centre.
I commented to my children how I thought that our best option for affordable housing was to provide land to Habitat for Humanity. HH has the blueprints, materials, and labour...the only thing that slows them down is a lack of dirt to build on. My son said "where's the graff?" The problem with that idea, is the only thing anyone gets out of that arrangement is affordable housing. And politicians don't work that young, so cynical, so observant. We all need someplace to hang our mirror that says Home Sweet Home.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hit me, hurt me, love me

July 12, 2009
There was a disturbing (to me) incident which I will share with you all today. It involves a young couple who were in front of me in line for brunch at the mission. He's is about 6' she is around 5'4" both early to mid twenties. He is hitting her, grabbing her face roughly between his fingers, twisting her arms, pulling her hair and holding her down when she asks to get up. This is all taking place in the spirit of affectionate horseplay. As I watch this all I am thinking is, "I don't want to be around those two, if that boy gets drunk or angry".
Partner violence is an insidious thing, it never starts with a punch. Males and females can both become victims. If your new partner starts trying to separate you from your friends and family, by accusing them of not liking him/her. If they make you feel guilty about spending time with others, that is a warning sign not to be ignored. Trying to control what you wear, when and where you go or how you do things...warning sign number 2. Embarrassing you in public so you will prefer not to go out. Berating you,...If he calls you a stupid slut, HE DOESN'T LOVE YOU!!!! And the subtle introduction of violence into otherwise innocuous interactions, such as I witnessed today. All indicators of a troubled person whom you should probably distance yourself from. RUN don't walk.
I wish I could teach every young person to love themselves, first and best. Treat everyone with respect and kindness...demand nothing less for yourself from others...especially from the one person who is supposed to love you. I often hear woman in abusive relationships say "...but I love him". My response is if you really love him don't let him go on thinking violence is an acceptable way to handle his feelings. One day he could kill someone or at the very least do jail time for assault. This is equally true for men in abusive can't stop the violence but you can stop it from happening to you. Tell your partner to get help or leave. Battered women's support groups excuse staying in these relationships by saying that 50% of women murdered by abusive partners were murdered after attempting to leave the relationship. That of coarse means that the other 50% stayed...endured continuing abuse for possibly decades and ended up dead anyway. I'm not seeing a downside to the exit plan. This is not particularly a homelessness issue... It happens in the nicest neighbourhoods too, as movies of the week will attest. But the issue is front, in my mind so that is my rant for today TTFN

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Could be a curse

July 11, 2009
Today I am missing my D.I. friends, both staff and clients. I called a couple of staffers last night/this morning. It was good to catch up. But it leaves me a bit homesick. Then this afternoon a couple of the guys (clients) called me, that was a mixed blessing because it was a drunk-dial. I have to remind myself that ultimately the only person we can control is our self. Each person must take responsibility for their own actions and whatever consequences result. As painful as it may be to watch the people we care about hurting themselves it is not in our power to save them. All we can do is be supportive and hope for the best.
Enough about old friends, this morning I left at 5am to locate the day-labour office again. As I crossed the street I ran into a new friend, Anthony the young man whom, I met my first night in the city. He recognized me and gave me a big hug...We spoke briefly about about the choices he was making and how they affect not only him but the people who love him. I was happy to run into him again later in the afternoon,when I really needed a hug. Pretty sure the boy doesn't sleep.
Again, no work from the labour office, starting to think it is not how God wants me to spend my time out here ;-). But being outside that early did put me back in touch with Anthony so I am grateful to have made the attempt.
The mission had its annual Bar-b-que today, must have been 500 people there. A dozen or so I know quite well by now. I stood in line with a fellow in his late 30s, whom I have spent a lot of time with over the past couple weeks. He had a sad but very interesting tale to tell. He was in possession, yesterday of over $100... money is a trigger for addictions. He started to fear he would take the money, buy crack and relapse. So to protect against this he ask a friend (who is much further along in his recovery) to hold on to the money until the next day. So this morning when he went to retrieve his money, he found out that his friend had relapsed himself and spent the money on drugs. It almost feels like the money was cursed...destined to buy drugs. My friend does not feel lucky at the moment, but perhaps one day, he will come to appreciate the courage he showed in handing off this temptation. It is only too sad that his friend was not so strong.

Friday, July 10, 2009

waiting games

July 10,2009
The world of homelessness is filled with lines. Line-up to eat, line up for towels, line up for meds (aspirin purchased with my own money), line up for laundry, line up to get a bag lunch... Today I was introduced to a new line, line up for the possibility of going to work. The temp agency we went to hires for a number of unskilled labour position including waste management. This involves sorting recyclables... there are a regular half dozen or so people who are given these position but I am hoping because it is the weekend tomorrow a couple may take the day off. For this opportunity to add yet another line up to my day, one gets up at 3:30 am, is at the agency and signed in by 4:30 am and waits for work to start at 7 am. Essentially you work from 7am - 3pm or 6am-6pm (for construction), and the temp agency pays cash (I don't know if that is same day or next day). Take home is around $60, I am told. Hope one day to get back into a real job, but I appreciate the learning experience of all this.
This becomes something of a work trap for homeless people. It eats away the biggest part of the day so there is no time to look for full-time work. There isn't really enough money to put any aside, for the day when you find a regular job. Because when/if that happens you will go without a cheque for 2-3 weeks. It will be interesting to talk to an employer and find out why they choose to go with day labourers over employing full-time regular staff. That will possibly be the subject of tomorrow's blog. I do believe the temp agencies provide a valuable service... some people either cannot, or choose not, to have a full time job, for reasons of health, mental health or addiction. And as I pointed out in my previous blog today... homeless may be cheap but it isn't free.

Changes to the website

July 10, 2009
You can think of this as a late blog from July 9th or an early blog for July 10th. It is actually just a heads-up about some changes on the website. So, shame on me, I was blogless yesterday. The friends of the angels tab has been replaced with TO DONATE because yes I would welcome any assistence you could offer. The sponsor lists are still on the side panel, as before, but the intro page now has an outline of costs. Being homeless is not actually free, some people need money for booze or drugs. I need it for airtime, internet and transportation. Buying the bus tickets is a whole lot cheaper than paying the fines. I have found, I can walk pretty much anywhere in the small towns, but those towns only have resources to feed people free 5 days a week, 2 meals per day. For those of you who don't know me personally...I do not smoke. The cigarettes I buy are tools to introduce myself to people in the homeless and street population. They can also be used to mediate disputes, show gratitude or show respect to someone.
The bottom-line is Angels of the Road needs financial support from people like you to stay on the road. Please keep visiting our site some days (and blogs) are more interesting than others. But there is always something new to be learned out here among the homeless.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rainy day musings

July 8,2009
It was a rainy horrible day, again. I'm grateful to be in a shelter that allows us to access our rooms all day...most days. On Thursday we are locked out for a few hours to allow for maintenance. The mission sleeps about 150 maybe and they are out except for meals. The rooms upstairs are open 24hrs to the best of my knowledge. Those are reserved for clients attending the mission's Christian based recovery program. During a brief morning outing to "breakfast club" at the Lutheran church about 14 blocks from here, I came across a newspaper article. It was about the Tory backbenchers being all pissy over tourism promotional dollars being given to Toronto's Gay pride week organizers. If Harper's government had done any research they would have discovered that "Gay Pride" initiative bring more revenue into a city then any other festivals. The minister in question (forgot her name) should be applauded for a job well done... she was appointed to diligently administer a fund, NOT BE THE MORALITY POLICE FOR A BUNCH OF VICTORIAN MINDED NEANDERTHALS.
What does this have to do with homelessness you are thinking. Two things the obvious being accepting other without judgement. I have found that when we get self-righteous or judgmental or insensitive toward our fellow man, God has a way of stepping in to teach us a little humility and understanding. So for your own sake take Johnny Cash's advice and,"Try a Little Kindness".
The other thing about this article was it mentioned something about traditional family values. How long do we have to be doing something before it becomes a tradition? And whose traditions. We see very few Chinese or Japanese in homeless shelters, because it is their tradition to take care of their family members. Three and even four generations in a single home. As recently as 100 years ago in Canada, families worked together and lived together in multi-generational households. A woman raised her children, helped them raise their's, then when she was old those children took care of her. I'm not saying we should go backwards... quite the contrary I say embrace social evolution and find solutions that work for today. I'm just saying if you are going to pretend to believe in traditional family values go all the way, yank grandma out of that nursing home (or homeless shelter) and put her up in a cozy little room at your place. Then step aside and let the evolution go on without you. Let the gays marry / divorce and have an equal opportunity to be as miserable as the rest of society.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


July 7, 2009
Thanks for visiting the site, you really don't know how much it means to me. Now that my money is gone, someone (with only my best interests at heart) has tried to convince me to end my journey. Go home, go back to a job that was killing me slowly and lead a sensible life. The temptation is certainly there, but call it instinct, or insanity, I just know that seeing this through I'll write my book and find the home (and job) I seek. And ultimately I will improve the homeless situation in Canada, if only by helping the civilian population to have a more realistic view of the homeless and their daily struggles. One of the gentlemen I worked with at SunAlta asked the question, "What if you find out that the homeless are all a bunch of lazy bums who don't deserve any help? and there is a backlash from your book." I told him I can only tell the truth... the truth will always lead to the right result. If my findings lead to bed closures then that is what is the right result. I am a huge believer in the value of truth. What I call living authentically. Being true to our spirit and our words keeps on the path to our destiny. This is where we meet the people we are meant to teach and/or are meant to teach us. This is where we find the lessons that enrich and enlighten us. For the next two years this is my path I don't know where it will lead, I only know that it will take me where I am meant to be.
Since my Louis Leaky reference is lost on most people I have started to explain my motivation like this. Think of homelessness as if it was a house (ironic I know) in the middle of a block. Many people pass by without much noticing it is there, others notice but don't give it much thought. As social workers we are looking in through the windows, some of us are happy with one perspective; others care enough to walk around the outside of the house peering in every window, to get every possible vantage point. Even then there are hidden corners, views obscured by angles, and sounds muted by the window glass. The only way to get a true picture is to go inside the house and walk around, spend some time and look at it from every angle in every room. I have no idea what I will find looking at this situation from the inside. But I know it is time someone took a serious, unbiased, and intimate look at homelessness in Canada...and I guess that would be me.

On my list of bad ideas

July 6,2009
Well to begin with the weather took a turn for the worse, preempting any foolish plans I had for outdoor drying of laundry. Thinking about it in the light of day I realized that 1/ the fence is probably dirty and 2/the parks inhabitants would probably be grabbing anything they thought would fit. Now if I got a gun and shot a few I'd likely get fined for hunting homeless out of season... or at the very least illegal baiting of homeless.
The lady who was going to take me to the day labour office came down with a sore throat so we couldn't go. Just as well since we have an elderly lady with dementia who kept dropping by our room all night to visit my room-mate. So I was blessed with maybe (cumulatively) 3 hours sleep. Can't get to mad at her, poor thing really has no idea what she is doing.
Tired of being broke I took my tarot cards downtown, but still didn't have the nerve to solicit anyone. I was talking with a young woman about my dilemma and she suggested a particular park the has a lot of foot traffic. Maybe when the weather gets nice again I'll give that a try. Had lunch at the mission where my friend Craige said he wanted to marry me LOL. It's a step up from the offers I was getting at my last port-o-call. I stopped at the clothing depot and was able to pick-up a clean change of clothes. It will be 2-3 days before I can do laundry. To book an appointment I have to be at the drop-in by 6:30 tomorrow morning. Speaking of which I should grab what sleep I can before visitation start again. good night everyone..;-)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Life is for Living

July 5,2009
What a beautiful day, perfect weather for shorts. Which is significant because the only thing I have left to wear is a pair of shorts. Normally I prefer not to appear in public wearing short and I am sure the public prefers that too LOL. We have 50-60 women, 3 washing machine and only 1 working dryer, a delemia which plagued us at SunAlta often. There however we had the good sense to shut the correspoding washer so wet laundry wasn't backing up all over the place. Across the street is a little park (a dozen or so young people campout there on nice nights) with a small wooden fence at the one perimiter. It is my intention weather permitting to wash my clothes and hang them on that fence to dry shouldn't take too long. Tomorrow afternoon I am spending some time with an artist friend from the mission. Maybe that will be in tomorrow's blog.
This morning I was seated across the table from a man who made the mistake of saying, "I don't deserve to be here I'm not like the rest of these people...I didn't do this to myself." So I took the time to explain why that statement was just WRONG on so many levels. Then I patiently listened to his story...He is 58 years old, 3 years ago his retirement savings were stolen by his broker. He never married, his family has passed on. He spun into a depression and lost everything else over time. Because he doesn't drink or use drugs he doesn't belong in a shelter. He is still looking back, resenting his loss and compounding that loss, by sacrifice precious (irretreivable) moments of his life nurturing his anger. I can empathize with his situation, to wake up and find the life you thought you had in shambles; the future you planned wiped out, through no fault of your own. I felt exactly that way about my second divorce. I remember when my youngest daughter said to me "Mommy, God never gives you more then you can handle". My response was ,"I wish He had a little less confidence in me." What I learned from that experience was to live in the now, plan for the future but live in the is the only thing we can control. Every moment is precious because it can't be saved. We must spend each and every one as it comes to us. We can choose to spend it wisely or poorly but either way it must be spent. While we are on this subject I'll let you in on a little secret. Happiness is a choice, we can't always choose the circumstances of a given situation but from one moment to the next we can choose what we feel. When something sad happens I take a moment to embrace my feelings of sadness, but I refuse to hold on to that saddness. And take joy in the next small pleasure that crosses my path. The sun's warmth, a breeze caressing my face, a stranger's smile, a child's laugh, or simply drawing breath. Because with each new breath comes is a new opportunity to enjoy life.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Memories of Hank Williams

July 4,2009
Happy Insurrection Day to all my American friends LOL. That said my twitter addiction is out of control. I may have to seek out a 12 step program...Partly it is really fun. I know John Larroquette isn't going to respond to my texts, but his and other peoples comments are interesting and funny. Some people do nothing but peddle, so after a while I take them off. And I remove the porn right away. It is always some naked young woman...if it was some hot half dress young Native man I would do the same..maybe..I'm thinking.
I am surprised to find myself struggling with a bit of depression. It can get somewhat lonesome out here, not for lack of people. But for a lack of connections with anybody. I can't really be up front with everyone I meet because I want to be treated just like everyone else in the homeless population. Went to brunch with a student I met from McKewn, Laura is a charming girl with her whole world ahead of her. We met a very bright young man at brunch today...we had a marvelous conversation about religion, recovery and such things. These conversations are rare and treasured. Research, indicates that excessive drug and alcohol use stunts emotion and social growth. Many street people started down this road as adolescent and are stuck in a 7th grade mindset. Now you throw in the schizophrenics, manic-depressives, and senile. You can see why it might be difficult to find good conversation. Also the place where I'm staying has alot of (understandably) just bitter women and this entire mix is PMSing at the same time LOL. I hang out alone with my computer when I have to be inside. But thank you all for visiting the blog site, as the numbers on the hit counter go up, I feel less alone out here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


July 2, 2009
Today I want to talk about generousity... While I am living homeless, can only carry 1 each; tank, short-sleeve, long sleeved t-shirts, 1 each jeans, shorts, Capri's. Four underwear 2 bras 4 pair of socks. 1 hoodie, 1 top coat and 1 windbreaker. Last week my daughter phoned to say her friend will be visiting in this city and wants to take me out to a nice dinner. Awk, nothing to wear...LITERALLY. I've been checking the clothing depots all week. Money is tight, so even the thrift shop is out. But one keeps checking back, because donations come in every day. This afternoon I was chatting with a young worker at the drop-in and mentioned that I was killing time til the clothing depot opened across the street, because I was still trying to find a dress. Several minutes later I came out of the washroom and this lovely middle-aged Native woman stopped me. She asked, "Do you wear dresses?". I told her yes that I just happen to be looking for a dress. She said,"I don't wear this any more I hope it fits you." We introduced ourselves, and I thanked my sister Flora for her generousity. I am quite sure Flora does wear that dress, when everything you own must fit into a 2' x 2' locker you don't have anything you don't need or use.
Altruism is by definition giving without self interest in any form, by that definition even Mother Theresa wasn't altruistic. The two years that I am giving up of my life for Angels of the Road, isn't altruistic, I expect to learn enough out here to make me a better and more credible advocate for my homeless clients. I'm in it for the education. Mother Theresa was in it to please God. Altruism or true generousity is not a personality trait, it is an event. A moment in time and space when a perceived need is met by a perceive ability to satisfy that need. Flora saw my need, and she believed that in that moment she had the power to fulfill my need. I gratefully accepted the gift because there is a joy of the heart that comes from being able to give. And that moment of joy should not be denied to anyone, no matter how poor. My altruism comes not in the fact that I am making this journey but in all the moments in which I can reach out to those around me, with a kind word, a hug, or a smoke. Spreading the "sunshine that is Bonny" as we jokingly referred to it at the D.I.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Miles to go before I sleep"

July 1,2009
Happy Canada Day to everyone. I'm sitting on my bed at the shelter trying desperately to stay awake until the fireworks tonight. My room is on the third floor facing the river, so if I'm lucky I should be able to see it all from here. Management has extended our 9 p.m. curfew to midnight, but I'm in way too much pain to go out again today. Some of the girls were going to a local park this afternoon, I thought it would be a good bonding experience to go with them. Turned out to be a very long walk (literally miles) and my poor old knees are punishing me for punishing them LOL.
The bottle pickers had a great day today, I guess summer can be very profitable with all the public events. The bottle pickers, binners and panhandlers have their preferred routes. These guys can be very territorial, so I am reluctant to employ any of those options when funds get low, wouldn't want to incur anyone's wrath. Not all homeless people are well adjusted middle-aged ladies. Some of these people are quite unstable, not to mention just plain cranky. To some extent living homeless is like living in the old west...pre law and order. This community does not get or expect the protection of the police; therefore they live by their own code and exact their own justice. I did promise my family and friends I would play safe. So I keep my interactions non-confrontational... besides I am here primarily to observe and learn. I do of coarse extend myself where ever I can... I am employing the same principle I used when I worked at the D.I. Any day I am here should be a little easier and a little more enjoyable than a day when I'm not. My role is simply to spread "the sunshine that is Bonny" LOL