My Earth Hour

Feast Table

Ok…there is just something so peaceful about sitting in the dark with candles lit…no electronics, no television.  I am guessing I would go to bed much earlier without such distractions.  When you put lights on, all of a sudden, the night is filled with the things that must be done.  When you turn those same lights off, you start talking to the cat and curl back on the couch.

Warm Atmosphere and Gratitude

I wonder how Calgary did?  I DO know that my neighbours were not all participating.  But, I’m really glad that I did.  Earth Hour was a blessing hour.

Putting the feet up.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 31, 2012

This is the first day since my Lenten journey began that I haven’t been outside, changing the landscape, one bag at a time.  I decided that today I would head out into nature, the way most people do…with the intent of taking it all in; no garbage bag…no rubber gloves, no rubber boots.  It was a glorious day outdoors at 12 degrees, although the last couple of hours it has looked as though the clouds are stirring some weather up.

At two o’clock this afternoon, I had a meeting with Tim Coldwell, Chandos Vice President of Corporate Accounts and his wife.  We spoke informally over a coffee, about the project, my findings during the project and the nature of the solutions that will be offered.  I really appreciated Tim’s accountability on behalf of Chandos and their handling of the South Fish Creek Recreational Association, specific to the clean up.


Prior to meeting with me,  Tim took a walk around the site that has been primarily cleared during this stewardship journey of mine.

I brought along a brief, explaining the points on the Chandos website that I most admired and wondered about, along with a few photographs from my archives of the project.  I’d like to post a couple of the vision statements here.

Under Communities

In the communities where we do business our people keep us connected. We support the passions of our people with corporate donations to the charitable causes that our employees and friends are involved in. With this approach, we contribute to the communities that create our business opportunities.

Under Sustainability

Like the spaces we construct, we are an organization built to last. Our planning, decisions and daily actions are all guided by the notion that we are here for the long term. This sense of corporate social responsibility has resulted in our position as the green building contractor of choice – these are just two examples.

We built the first LEED® buildings in the prairies and have developed award-winning expertise in construction waste diversion. Where others saw a financial burden, we saw an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by diverting construction waste at no incremental cost – now standard on all projects. Last year alone we diverted more than 300 train cars of waste from landfills.

Tim flipped over the paperwork that I had prepared and began to draw a map of the area where I have been picking litter.  His map was a good one and he made reference to the slope that has recently been frustrating me.  Since clearing all the large pieces of foam, insulation,  and industrial packaging, there now remain countless wee pieces that will require raking or they WILL end up in the pond and have impact on the environment.  He has agreed that I won’t have to clean these up.

A series of events will now take place as a follow up to the meeting.

1. A team will be established to go out sometime within the next week or two, to rake and clean up the remaining small, but countless items on the slope and the flats that edge the asphalt.

2. The large and obvious items that remain, edging the pond and the fencing will be cleared away.

3. When the ice melts, one or more Chandos employees will bear hip waders/rubber boots and clean out the remaining industrial garbage from the job site.

4. Tim and I will follow up with an inspection of the area before landscaping is pursued.

5. A case study may be developed based on this site by Chandos sustainability department in Edmonton…a study that might convey the importance of environmental issues to every extent for the sake of employee training, specific to expectations.   Words from their website

Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Ask yourself what they expect and what they appreciate. Think about how the small details can make a big difference in the lives of those you serve. Engage Chandos today for industry insight, recent achievements, issue analysis and more.

6. Tim has approved a contribution to the charity of my choice, a cheque for $1,000.00 to St. Albert the Great Parish, earmarked for our recent drive to support the Feed the Hungry Program.  At 1.97 per meal, this means that Chandos will provide 500 meals for one Feed the Hungry event.  I am most grateful for this contribution.

I felt that the hard work of these past many days has been rewarded through Tim’s authentic listening and the willingness to set in place, appropriate action…action for a better community and a healthier environment.  The culture of the landscape is many-layered and many-faceted.  High school students need to be better stewards, busy or not and teachers and administrators need to encourage this.  Sports facility users need to walk to their garbage/recycle bins and take a degree of pride in the sports center that is now theirs.  South Fish Creek Recreational Association needs to take a stance of pro-active control wherever possible, rather than a stance of defeat.  This is NOT an insurmountable problem.  The landscape CAN be changed, one bag at a time.  The retail stores…Home Depot and Wal-Mart need to look in their back yards.  It’s a disgrace!  Time to take responsibility for each wee piece of land and not wait for someone else to do it!

From Chandos…

Livin’ ‘er up at the Ritz!

Lady of the House

I’ve watched several generations of sparrows nest in this neighbour’s kitchen vent.  This year, I’ve watched this wee couple prepare like crazy on beautiful warm days like this one. 

I'm behind my kitchen window, but he's keeping an eye on me, anyway!

Unfortunately, we always lose one or two or three babes during their flying lessons.  The birds in the neighbourhood are beautiful to watch.

Man of the house, delivering some plastic lining for her nest.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. Stephen King

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 31, 2012 4:00 p.m. Weather 12 degrees, thick dark cloud gathering and threatening rain.

It’s midnight and I decided to upload a quick clip.  First thing this morning, I wrote a letter to Tim Coldwell of  Chandos Construction.  I intended on visiting Chandos on site at the South Fish Creek Recreational Association, but thought I should scope out the website first of all.  It was at this viewing that I decided to contact Tim, Vice President of Corporate Accounts in Calgary, directly.  It was less than minutes from the time that I wrote down my concerns, that I received a very thoughtful response by telephone and we have agreed to meet regarding the matter of the less-than-successful clean-up after this recent project.  He is adamant that this situation be used as an educational tool and we will be discussing the matter very soon.  I was very disheartened yesterday, but am feeling optimistic today.  Thank you, Tim.

What remains at the site anymore is ‘small stuff’ and I am not able to fill an entire bag in an hour. It is a very time-intensive experience now…countless plastic straws, bottle caps and packages, along with new plastic bags and fast food containers that that day’s lunchers toss onto the ground.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 29, 2012 4:00 p.m. Weather 12 degrees, sunshine, wind 40 kms/hr  I stood at the edge of the pond, sad.  Two seagulls, bright white ships, beaks pulled under wings…protection from the wind.  Two geese…a couple…landed precariously on the dark thin ice. Wings stretched out…angled…miraculous flying machines.  My first robin, perched on a low branch.  All this beauty.  But to get to the edge of the pond…to stand there…I had to walk on a blanket of plastic sheeting, pop bottle lids, straws and human refuse.  It’s tricky being grateful and sad, all at once.

I got spider bites on my leg yesterday when I did my pick-up, so I tackled the footwear differently…pants tucked into socks and rubber boots.

Oh Yeah!

My cousin has encouraged me not to blog the photo I took of my leg and I think she is right.  I’m perfecting my approach to this pick-up as I go and have a great pair of thick rubber gloves as well.


I went into the South Fish Creek Recreational Center after I did my picking today and now have the contact information to talk to Chandos Construction, a company that just completed the construction, but in my opinion, neglected their clean-up duties.  Today again, I located large pieces of insulation foam and sheeting in and around the pond.  I think that they need to be held accountable for this job from its beginning until its conclusion.

Wednesday Afternoon: The Tree of Life

It may seem that this project has been going forever, but that’s ok.  Very gradually the branches of the tree are reaching up to the outside edges…the bubbles are being developed with layers of paint and the angels are one-by-one embellished with marks that create a bridge with the background.  Today was the first day that I felt as though this major project is almost completed.  I have really enjoyed having Marilyn join me on my afternoons in the St. Anne’s room.


I felt excited as we worked this afternoon…time flew and everything seemed freeing where the paint was concerned.  As a result, I left the church later than I had planned.  I was looking forward to the Confirmation this evening, of 90 grade six students.  I’ve been keeping a number of those students in my heart and prayers as I’ve painted on the wall this past month.  Their names are on the wall.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 28, 2012 10:30 a.m. Weather:  8 degrees Sunny, intermittent cloud.

I decided to tackle the section of Frank’s Flats where dog-owners like to leave their responsibilities behind.  From everything the City believes,  dogs are responsible for the big mess at these parks.  While this wasn’t my favourite day working on this project, I did determine that there is no way that the worst of the dog messes comes close to filling a single bag!  On the other hand, I’ve filled almost 40 bags with person-made litter!  What does that tell you?  I had fun making this film and considered, for one short moment, leaving the bright blue bags behind.  In the end, I imagined that they may be thrown onto the other side of the fence, so chose to retrieve them and get them into my bin.

I met Darlene today, outside of the Tim Hortons that edges onto Frank’s Flats.  I gave her one of the toques that Elma had knit for me last winter.

Darlene holds out her new toque.

 She is Cantonese and has learned her english, just by being with people.  She let me photograph her recycling and her material possessions.  We chatted for some time about my project and some of what she does.  She took the Tim Hortons coffee that a young lady passed to her, transferred the coffee into an insulated thermos and then put her cup into one of her bags on her cart.  I told her how much I appreciated that she doesn’t throw her cups onto the ground.  She said, “Oh yes, that would be a disgrace.”

Darlene's Stuff


Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 27, 2012 3:39 p.m. Weather: 5 degrees  The sun came out after a day of intermittent snow.  It felt warm outside…a real sense of springtime at Frank’s Flats.  In fact, there was Frank…soaking in the good feelings also, surrounded by a stand of evergreen trees.  He told me he’s likely heading for the coast, in search of work. He also got into telling me stories.  One was about a time when he watched a pick-up truck pull over onto the shoulder of 22X, throwing up a terrific amount of dust.  A guy rushed out of the truck and spent, what seemed to be, hours, scouring the ditches and the slope on the far side of the pond.  The next day, the same guy appeared again with an entire contingent of his friends and again, gave the once-over to the area.  Frank surmised that something very valuable must have been lost out of the back of that pick-up truck, so the day after that, he road his bike over there and spent a good bit of time looking for himself.  He said that he believed there was some sort of treasure over there, yet to be found.  I smiled…and just kept on picking.  I told him, before leaving, that I had named the place Frank’s Flats.  And he said, “Well, I appreciate that.”  I told him that not many people have a beautiful park named after them…just kings and princes.  He smiled…and we said our good-byes.

What God Leaves Behind: March 27, 2011 Frank's Flats

The litter today included many granola bar packages and many plastic bottle tops and straws.  I topped off the bag of countless little bits of plastic and packaging with a part of a large cardboard box I found on the east side.  I’m thinking that health food bars and granola bar packaging should really reflect a more sustainable approach.

What people leave behind.

Morning Coffee With Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier’s 5 principles:

 1)All humans are sacred
2) Our world and our human lives are evolving
3) Maturity comes through working with others
4) Humans need to be encouraged to make choices and to become responsible for their own lives as well as the lives of others
5) We need to reflect and to seek truth and meaning

A friend recommended that I subscribe to the wonderful Jean Vanier’s quote of the day.  I’ve been saving them all in my archives because they have been so wonderful, thinking that I might do something with them one day, here in the Chapel.  Today’s quote was so appropriate, that I have to post it here.  It’s a fresh way of viewing old behaviours.  See what you think.  I know that when one thinks about the aesthetic of their surroundings, there is an inward peace.  It’s easier to pull out a book and read, put on a piece of music and dance or simply enjoy a cup of coffee while checking electronic messages.

Tuesday 27 March 2012
Material Things

One of the signs that a community is alive can be found in material things. Cleanliness, furnishings, the way flowers are arranged and meals prepared, are among the things which reflect the quality of people’s hearts. Some people may find material chores irksome; they would prefer to use their time to talk and be with others. They haven’t yet realized that the thousand and one small things that have to be done each day, the cycle of dirtying and cleaning, were given by God to enable us to communicate through matter. Cooking and washing floors can become a way of showing our love for others. It is celebration to be able to give.

Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 297