Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Easter weekend at home…  It is home?  Where is “Home”?

So many errands to run around Pointe Claire and Montreal, breakfasts out, and dinners to see as many people as we could. It is odd not having a home to invite people into.

Schatzi, our indoor princess cat, has adapted well to living with my mother.

“She’s not just a princess,” my mom complained. “She’s the Queen of the House!”

Another important stop was to visit Sami (a.k.a. “Spit-fire Hell Cat”) at our old neighbour’s house.

When summoned, Sami reluctantly came downstairs, leaving her warm bed-nest. She sauntered nonchalantly past us standing in the doorway and flopped down in a spot of sunlight in the yard about two feet away, with her back to us. Her ears were flat against her head and her tail whipped back and forth like a live wire. Yup, she was sure happy to see us.

We sat at the dining room table, and Sami continued to stroll back and forth, staring ahead, making sure not to make eye contact. Finally, she consented play with a small string toy, but made it very clear she had interest in only the toy, not us.

Sipping my tea, I glanced around at the quiet chaos of a lived-in house.

“This is exactly what things were like across the street a few years back,” I told Andy.

School projects spilling over into the living room, friends coming and going, moms picking visiting kids up (or dropping them off?), leavings of a crêpe breakfast for sleepover pals.

I miss those days. I have become accustomed to the quiet order of things in my tidy world, but would gladly go back to the days of cooking dinner for a full house of teenagers. There were days when everyone had last-minute alternate plans and we had a fridge full of leftovers, and days when Andy and I had planned a cosy dinner for two, when suddenly, all the kids appeared, along with a friend or boyfriend. There goes another potato into the pot and another place setting for the table or two.

On our way out of Sami’s new castle, we could see the bare bones of our old home. Four dumpsters were filled with its contents. At one point, our neighbour said she could see right through the kitchen window to the back patio, so obviously walls were removed.

Right now, I am still trying to figure out where “home” is.

My Photos were Published!

Elder Alfred Coon Come

Elder Alfred Coon Come

 

A photographer, I am not; I just happened to be there to write an article, and I was the only one with a camera (a simple little digital thing).

The article is at:

http://www.nationnews.ca/index.php?option=com_zine&view=article&id=1822:traditional-cree-fishing-and-chisheinuu-chiskutamaachewin-project&Itemid=150

 

The National News Magazine is at: http://www.nationnews.ca.

Of course, I should refrain from reading anything I’ve written that has been published, as I always think I could have done better.  No more reading!

Walkers and Walking out Ceremony

Image of Walking Out Ceremony

Image of Walking Out Ceremony

A notice for a Walking Out Ceremony on snowshoes was posted on the bulletin board at Meechum. This ceremony occurs when a girl or boy is introduced to the community and to the traditional roles they will play.

A beautiful description of this ceremony can be found at http://www.creeculture.ca.

The idea of toddlers taking their first snowshoe walk and the ceremony involved was irresistible. I had planned to attend.  Also, at noon, the “Walkers” (see link below) would be welcomed on the final leg of their journey. I wanted to witness this too.

Over the last few days, I had watched the construction of smaller longhouses, set up for the ceremonies. These structures were erected skilfully and quickly, with spruce flooring, and a tent stretched over a wood frame.

Some of Andy’s students had slipped out at lunch time for a moose rib or two.

By the time we arrived at the site, after Andy finished work, it was too late. We do miss a lot of local events because they are announced in Cree on the local radio station.

It wasn’t too late for the town’s dogs. We found them gnawing on moose hoofs, with hide still on.

Here is a link about the walkers.

http://www.ahki.ca/journey-of-nishiyuu.php

Arbitration & Mitigation

I stopped by the shop after my errands and daily walk. One of Andy’s students asked for help with writing a letter.

The student explained the details to me and I drafted a letter to the band council requesting funding for an out-of-town event. I pulled the letter off the printer and read it to him. We worked on a few changes, and removed some embellishments at his request (hey, I’m a writer … and that’s what we do!)

Another student asked if he could dictate a letter for presentation to the band council requesting a new bedroom set to replace his children’s furniture ruined by mould from continual floods in his basement.

Call me arbitrator Andi!

Moose, Moose and More Moose, but where’s the Bread?

jeanpierre05_stdWe were out of eggs for our late morning brunch, so we walked to Meechum to pick up a few things. As usual, I checked the bulletin board at the entry for local events. A fundraiser brunch was being held at the town’s longhouse.

“Might as well go and check it out,” I said to Andy.

He heartily agreed.

This was our first visit to the longhouse. It was large enough to host a typical Montreal Greek or Italian wedding. The floors were buoyant with fresh winter greens, and a tent stretched from the wood siding to form a roof. In spite of the cold, two giant wood stoves kept the building cosy and warm. Bright, plastic table clothes, sprinkled with an apple motif covered the long tables. The building can be rented for a very small fee for fundraising events. Today, the event was to sponsor a broomball team, as evidenced by a group of girls practicing their technique in the parking lot.

For $10 we were treated to moose sheppard’s pie, lasagna, moose stew and several types of bannock, jello and fruit salad … but no fry bread, my absolute favourite.

We sat with a group of women and were soon engaged in conversations about education, children, and the commissioning of someone to sew crests for Andy’s student’s navy blue shop smocks.

This was much more pleasant than cooking brunch at home.

What’s up at Waswanipi

Andy’s students were invited to an open house at the Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre at Waswanipi, about a three-hour drive south-west. I tagged along for the experience.

The vocational centre is an expansive complex set up for programs in nursing (I was deemed “healthy” by the technicians who took my vitals), ore extraction, food & beverage services, cooking (excellent chocolate chip cookies…), carpentry, heavy equipment mechanics, accounting, essential skills & adult education (I passed the high school equivalency test!). There is a residence for students who have families, single parents with children and students from outlying regions, as well as a cafeteria.

The students find employment within their communities, in daycare centres, old age homes, or outside their communities in mining and as heavy equipment operators in the developing north.

This amazing centre could easily rival a southern Quebec CEGEP .

No Longer Homeless

We are homeowners again!

Our original intent was to purchase a van for overnighting on our trips up Rte. Nord towards James Bay and the Trans-Taiga Hwy.

Andy was seeking a comfortable alternative to our years of ground camping, and I wanted something that would protect me from bears. I have encountered too many and too closely for comfort (bear stories anyone?)

My brother in Montreal checked several vans for us, but they were rusty, ill-maintained, and generally awful. After much research and discussion, we settled on a reconditioned vehicle from Cruise Canada. It appealed to us because it had been completely reconditioned and has a years’ warranty. It is a bit larger than what we need, but it is sound and will provide us with a hard roof over our heads as we cruise across Canada this summer to Pacific Rim Park. It will also be a place to stay when traveling south to Montreal.

No jokes please:

  1. We will NOT be wintering in Florida.
  2. We will not have a silly bumper sticker about being retired (we are NOT retired).
  3. We are NOT becoming members of KOA.
  4. We will NOT be wearing baseball hats and sitting under the awning of our camper with a Coors light at 11:00 a.m.
  5. We will NOT be sleeping in Walmart parking lots.

OK?