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This past May 2, 2016, in Fort McMurray,Alberta,Canada, a sudden burst of flames had apparently started in a few trees and due to high winds,had spread rapidly until it engulfed the entire city.At this time, around 40 wildfires at latest count. It had already affected a huge span of land ( approx. 150,000 acres)and probably still growing yet and most of the residents(around 88,000) had to evacuate immediately and drive down to the nearest big city of Edmonton or travel out to other parts of Alberta province as well as to other parts of Canada.

Amazingly, no one got hurt or killed from these still ongoing wildfires and accdg. to experts, the fires are still raging at this time and the effects from these wildfires will last a long time. It’s highly unlikely that things will go back to normal soon.

Fort McMurray or what we call as Fort Mac was an evergrowing city of migrants coming from all over Canada to take advantage of job opportunities in the oil well industry. Unfortunately, due to the world wide oil price crisis and now the wildfires, it only exacerbated the careers and bottom lines of these workers and their respective families.

It hits home here in Atlantic Canada since a lot of folks from New Brunswick,Nova Scotia,Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland had gone to Fort Mac to look for work in Alberta province, the land of milk and honey especially in the oil  well business. Some of these Maritimers  came back home with only the shirts on their backs and  probably no careers to return to from there.

It really goes to show how life can be unpredictable when a fire can wipe out your life or lifestyle in a flash. The silver lining  is that charity and the drive to help out kicks in. As they say here in Canada, it’s the Canadian way—to help others in times of need.

Around here in  Canada, most of the stores and other business establishments had set up posts to receive cash donations for the Fort MacMurray victims, all proceeds to be given to their local Canadian Red Cross office.

Even our prime minister Justin Trudeau will match $ for $ each cash donation on behalf of the Canadian government with this regard.

Overall,  here in Canada ,one can make a donation online through the Alberta Fires Appeal online—-www.redcross.ca  or 1-800-418-1111. One can also go their local Canadian Red Cross office to give monetary donations whether cash,check or credit.

It is much better and more convenient to give monetary donations since it’ll reach the province of Alberta much faster and much easier there to purchase whatever supplies would be needed.

For all of those Canadian expats  and anyone who live abroad and would like to help out, they can go their local Red Cross  , Red Crescent office,.Red Cross Society base,etc. to give their monetary donations.

I am fully aware of what this entails since I am an employee for the Canadian Red Cross in my district. Even though I’m not directly involved with Search and Rescue nor in the Volunteer Services Department, my local CRC branch feels like a big family trying to help out in any way possible.

I feel that with my blog, I could help in this endeavor  by being a voice for help because with the Red Cross, we are here to serve.

My prayers go out to the Fort Mac victims.

Josie

Today,April 20,2014 is Easter Sunday—Happy Easter everyone! So is the spring weather which is so late this year. Considering that Spring officially started on March 20,2014, with this year’s crazy,prolonged and unpredictable winter season, well, I guess that Spring’s arrival is better late than never.

In spite of all the ongoing problems and disasters in this world like the still missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 ,the Ukrainian crisis, the South Korean ferry disaster,the Mt. Everest avalanche,etc.,etc., it’s still imperative that we not lose hope and persevere in resolving these ongoing disasters and subsequently accept their respective outcomes(good or bad) and then move on with our lives.

Life is hard with all its struggles and problems but dealing with them is part of living. The celebration of Easter brings hope,renewal and expectations of a better tomorrow in whatever degree it is.

The delayed arrival of spring weather is a physical manifestation of the coming hope of fantastic weather and the forbearance of summer after dealing with a very difficult and harsh winter.

Since both Easter and Spring are here right now, I couldn’t help but feel that they both parallel one another in terms of their innate significance(harsh winter ,great spring weather,life’s problems,life’s hope and renewal).

Enjoy each day as it comes and make the most of it. Only then will you  look back later on and say that you had no regrets in making your life your own and to paraphrase a famous song , you did it your own way.

Bonjour! Joyeux Pasques!

 

Josie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had mentioned in  a previous blog dated 1-12-2013  about the Canadian Arctic Blast Experience. With these past few weeks,especially this week, not only is Canada experiencing  very extreme freezing weather but also in the United States and other parts of the world.

Ice,snow,wind chills,freezing rain,polar vortex,constant struggles in dealing with it in a regular basis, travel delays and cancellations, power outages,frostbite, frozen pipe explosions,etc.,etc.

It makes me think that Mother Nature is trying to tell us something about global warming.

Preparing and dealing with the big chill is no different from preparing for a Doomsday scenario in my opinion. Dressing warm,getting edible and non-perishable food items, flashlights,generators,etc.

There’s a Canadian expression here which goes like this  “Is it cold enough for you?’  as a conversation starter. Canadians take great pride in their winters and as to how to deal with them as a badge of honor.

I really don’t know if I would like to say such an expression with the current chill we’re all experiencing right now. It might rub the wrong way to a suffering listener.

Keep warm anyway! Be careful of the ice. It’s challenging to deal with it. I’d rather deal with nice,fluffy snow even if it’s more than 6 feet because you can navigate around it. The chances of falling down into the snow wouldn’t result in  bone fractures unlike if you slip and fall into ice.

What a way to start the new year 2014!!!

Josie

Eversince this past Monday August 5 here in Canada, most Canadian provinces and territories were celebrating their respective civic holidays( as I had last discussed about it on my very last blog) when the unthinkable and horrible had happened.

On that fateful early Monday morning, breaking news came out of the small city of Campbellton,New Brunswick( population : 10,000,near the Quebec border and a 4 hour drive from my place)of 2 little boys apparently strangled in their sleep by an African rock python weighing about 100 lbs and approx. 3-4 meters in height. The boys’ names were Connor Barthe(age 6) and Noah Barthe(age 4).

Initial details as mentioned by the police were that the 2 boys were having a sleepover with the son of a reptile shop owner at the apartment  which was located above the shop called Reptile Ocean. Accdg. to the owner, he woke up early that morning and was going to check on the 2 boys who were both on the other room and upon opening the light, saw in horror the 2 boys now dead with the python nearby.

Further police details reported that apparently the python was in a cage inside that upstairs apartment and not downstairs in the reptile shop. The latch apparently gave way and the python slithered out and went into the ventilation system located above the cage and due to its weight, had fallen through the ceiling into the vicinity where the 2 boys were sleeping.

An autopsy was performed on the 2 boys and preliminary results revealed asphyxiation by the python as cause of death. The python was put to death and a necropsy was performed. A full autopsy report on the 2 boys will be available sometime next month,together with the python. The python upon initial examination appeared healthy.

The police will continue their investigation now deemed as criminal and will decide on further charges depending on the full autopsy report yet to be released. Determining the actual events which led to the boys’ death is high priority.It’ll take a lot of detective work on that for ,considering so many inconsistencies found during the investigation.

For example, there were a lot of inconsistencies in terms of the python’s behavior accdg. to the reptile experts and it appears that the python in question is a banned species in New Brunswick province and that no permit was ever issued by the provincial dept. of natural resources nor was there any awareness on their part that the python was there in that shop in the first place.

The reptile shop now and still deemed at this time as a crime scene had been inspected and 27 banned reptilian species have been uncovered. Arrangements had been made to transfer them to various zoos and certified reptile shops all over Canada  except for 4 crocodiles which had to be put to sleep since no accomodations can be found for them.

This entire episode is tragic ,horrible ,unthinkable yet preventable if precautions were made in terms of laws regarding possession and care of exotic animals. For sure,animal rights groups will have their say too but in the meantime, 2 boys’ lives are now gone and their parents’ anguish is something that was imposed on them and will stay on forever for as long as they live.

I had just watched today, the TV coverage of the funeral mass for the 2 boys both placed inside 1 coffin per parents’ request since both of them had lived and died together,therefore they get to be buried together as well.

For their sake, I hope their deaths had not been in vain and may actual reform in terms of the laws regarding exotic animals be implemented in light of this horrible event.

Exotic animals in my opinion should thrive in their natural habitat and not be in surroundings like a cage since it usurps the ecological balance of life. They act and react by natural animal instinct and we humans should always bear that in mind especially if they’re considering these animals as potential pets.

I just hope that the boys weren’t aware of what had actually happened to them that is, they died while asleep.

The ongoing onslaught of news coverage both local,national and international had besieged the city of Campbellton beyond the local residents’ imagination. Hopefully, their regular pace of life should return soon though I strongly believe that it’ll never be the same again for them  after this python incident.

My heart goes out to the parents. If it’s any consolation for them, it’s to see how so many people empathizes their situation right now and giving their all-out moral support to help them through this.

2013 may be the year of the snake accdg to  the Chinese lunar calendar but what a tragic irony that it had happened at this very moment in Campbellton,New Brunswick, Canada.

To Connor and Noah, may you  both enjoy your new life in Heaven ! I’m pretty sure that both of your parents will be looking forward to seeing you all someday once their time in this world is over.

Au revoir!

Josie

Here in my neck of the woods, they always say that a final winter blizzard will occur on or around St. Patrick’s Day. This year, the first day of spring occurs on March 20 but mon ami, you wouldn’t know when all the salt trucks, snow ploughs and shovels make their presence, anticipating hopefully Father Winter’s swan song.

The meteorologist predicted 2-3 days of heavy snow and winds and then it’ll turn into flurries. Talk about transition weather! March is really a messy month but April is too. I usually notice that once May comes around, the weather starts to improve significantly.

Well, I gotta go ‘coz very soon, I’ll have to buckle up for the blizzard and afterwards, the shoveling begins!

Au revoir!

Josie

Growing up, I have always remembered the element of suspense when anticipating Christmas Day as all my paper-wrapped gifts with fancy- looking bows of ribbon are decked out for all to see. Come the Big Day, the element of surprise comes when I unwrap/tear off the fancy paper wrapper to reveal my gift(s) for Christmas.

Nowadays, with so much focus on saving the environment and considering wrapping paper as potential hazards for our sewage system as well as unnecessary clutter for our landfill, reusable gift bags are now being used more as a way to carry our gifts. There’s still the element of suspense and surprise but the only difference is just lifting off the bunched-up pile of gift tissue paper that hides the gift underneath. Afterwards, reusing the gift bag again either for regifting or for other household purposes is a gift that keeps on giving in itself.

In my opinion, wrapping or bagging a gift is a matter of individual taste. What matters is the sincerity and goodwill that comes from the giver to the recipient of that gift. Watching the recipient’s joyous face in receiving his/her gift  is a given gift in itself.

Josie

Is there such a thing such as the mundane chore of shoveling snow? I believe that there’s such a thing as common sense in how to shovel snow. There are techniques on  how to shovel snow as well as how to protect your body from overexerting itself during shoveling.

I have had my share of learning how to approach this chore with careful precision in terms of what kind of winter outerwear that I’m bundled in to the type of shovel that I use as well as to how I position both my body and shovel lest I sustain backaches,etc.

Lately, for the past 2-3 weeks, I have been having a good share of blizzards and snow accumulations reaching up to 2 ft everytime so there has been a good deal of shoveling on my part.

Everybody has their own technique and approach and I always believe that whatever works for you,then do it.

Now if all else fails and if your budget permits, get a snowblower ,LOL.

Josie