Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to Help Southern Alberta

There are lots of ways to help out in Alberta right now! I'm frustrated because I'm limited by school, allergies, and physical limitations, but I'm trying to do what I can. Maybe this will give you some ideas for how you can help too.

YYC Helps is a website that's coordinating volunteer and donations requests. Needs seem to change from minute to minute, and they're on top of them.

The Volunteer Calgary site is similar, coordinating needs and offers.

Samaritan's Purse mobilizes mud-out units to go into communities in the days, weeks, and months following natural disasters, and stays after the media attention has died down. You can sign up for their volunteer database (physical labour or admin jobs) or make a tax deductible donation.

If you're on Twitter, check out the #yychelps hashtag for the most up-to-the-minute needs. For instance, NeighbourLink is in desperate need of pillows and bedding before 8 pm tonight. They also need hygiene items as they put together toiletry kits.

Most places are indicating that they're full up for clothing donations, although some places were still saying they need men's clothes. I'm sitting on a big pile of women's clothes (mostly business casual) I'm planning to donate to Dress for Success when I can get down there. (I have a final tomorrow! Eeep!)

There are two First Nations communities just south of Calgary, and they were hit really hard and are in need of food and water donations. A MLA in south Calgary, Jeff Wilson, is doing an amazing job of coordinating donation drop off/delivery out of his office. The city is asking people to stay off the roads as much as possible, but I was able to send a couple of boxes of food down with someone from the university who collected a whole bunch of stuff in the north west and drove it all down at once. That type of opportunity seems to form fairly quickly - stay tuned to social media for that kind of thing!

And on the topic of food, the Calgary Food Bank is busy feeding, and while donations are pouring in, there are never enough, and they need hands to help sort.

The town of Exshaw, west of Calgary, about half way to Banff, is a somewhat overlooked disaster zone. Mrs. Harper (Canada's equivalent to the First Lady) was in Exshaw today helping with cleanup, so they're getting more media attention now. I heard from a friend who has a friend who lives in Exshaw that 75% of the 400 homes have been damaged in some way, and they were (or maybe still are?) without power, running water, or any kind of sanitation. If you want to go in and help them mud-out, you have to first register with the Municipal District of Bighorn.

The city has guidelines on organizing your own clean up team, and a booklet on how to safely clean up a flood muddied house. The silt left behind can have all kinds of toxic things in it, and has to be totally removed. It's a crazy intense process - the pictures of the piles of debris along affected streets is mind-blowing.

And last, but I hope not least, our youth group/church is right by the university, where they have 400+ displaced people staying right now. We're hosting a bit of an open house on Saturday afternoon from 1-4pm for people to drop in, have a drink and a snack, and let their kids plays some games, do some crafts, and hopefully make some good memories in the midst of so much uncertainty.

If you want to help, there are dozens of ways - find your strengths and see what you can do! Clean up will be doing on for months, so don't forget about it after the news attention dies down!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Calgary Floods - Friday Night

After the sun came out yesterday evening, we walked back to the ridge to check out the river again. It was really quite beautiful!

Looking toward the mountains
Little island - still under water, and will be for a while!
There were even more people out looking around then there were in the morning.
Same house from the morning - looks like the water level went down a bit, but not enough to make much of a difference. It really sucks for all those people!
It will be days before the business core is up and running again, and months of cleanup. Trevor's gone over to a Samaritan's Purse briefing about ways to help - it's ironic that this organization usually has to deploy to other countries to help with disaster cleanup, and this time the disaster is right at home. Although on a scale of disasters, with only three confirmed deaths, the community has been quite blessed. Business will lose money, and people have lost possessions, but most people's friends and family are safe, and that's the most important thing!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The First Day of Summer, Calgary-Style

Things in Calgary are a bit discombobulated today! I've never seen anything like it - after surviving winters of -40 wind chills where the roads are dangerously icy, the trains can't run, and people still nearly kill themselves to get into downtown, I didn't think anything would just it down, but not-frozen water did it today! Low-lying neighbourhoods are evacuated, including downtown. Train tunnels into downtown are flooded, and most of the bridges are closed, as are government buildings and offices. Everyone who doesn't need to travel is being told to stay home, although of course a lot of people aren't listening...
We went for a walk to the top of the ridge, which is a couple of blocks from our house. We're very, very far above the water line, thankfully! There were two choppers circling around the bridges, and another one just flew over our house.

Looking west - you can see the train stopped on the bridge. The clump of trees on the river-side of the building in the top left corner is Bowness Park, which is apparently completely under water.
I don't think I've ever seen so many people in our park - there was a steady stream, and the parking lot was full.

This house usually has a nice wide lawn between it and the river. We talked about buying in that neighbourhood, but it's too far from the C-Train. VERY thankful we decided to buy at the top of the ridge instead!

A little island, completely submerged.

People who are out and about are tweeting lots of interesting photos. The photo of 11th Ave shows floodwaters stopping just a block away from where we used to live! The Stampede grounds are submerged, and the lower levels of the Saddledome are under water. It's all very surreal!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Finals and Papers, Oh My!

No post today...I have two papers due this week, and two finals next week! But after next Friday, I'm done until September and I'm really looking forward to reading and writing just for fun!

If you're looking for summer reading suggestions, the Calgary Public Library is running a thing on their Facebook page today. You give them the  last three titles you enjoyed, and they suggest one or two more they think you'll like. I'm waiting to hear back now... :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Bag of Hair and a Trip to Vulcan

Lots of people who haven't seen me in person have been asking for a photo of my new haircut. I give you a bag of hair, and the back of my neck. :)

I sent 12 inches of hair to 360 Hair in BC - they make wigs for children with cancer - so I'm really happy about that. And people donated $225.00 through my Canadian Cancer Society fundraising page as well. I'm THRILLED to have short hair again, so all in all, a successful endeavour, I think!

Last Saturday I went down to Vulcan with Shelli to check out the parade, visit the new Star Trek museum (but the grand opening was actually cancelled :( ), and gawk at Robert Picardo (who played The Doctor on Star Trek Voyager). He was also there with Ethan Phillips, who played Neelix.

Parade Float - it played music, and there was smoke coming out of the nacelles.

Phillps and Picardo, in a blue Mustang.
(A vintage blue Mustang convertible is my fantasy car...)

This is HILLARIOUS on so many levels...

An old-school school bus.

There were bagpipes! I didn't get a good shot of them because there were too many people in the way. :P

Picardo and Phillps clearly understand the weight of responsibility that comes with being inducted into the Star Trek Walk of Fame in Vulcan, Alberta.

They gave him a replica of a hypospray used by a Star Trek doctor. I think it might be an original series hypospray - I couldn't hear very well! But it was a very cool gift.

The tourism centre

I give you tweets, mostly by Picardo, who is HILLARIOUS. He's wearing his "You never forget your first doctor" shirt in some of these shots, which is of course a Doctor Who reference, but his Doctor was MY first Doctor, so I really appreciate it. :)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Steampunk Details!

Once upon a time I read this blog post by Jen at Epobt, and I thought it was one of the coolest things ever. I'm no where near as crafty as Jen and John are (although Trevor could be if he had as many cool toys as they do!) but I thought I'd give it a try. It took pretty much two years to pull together, thanks to school keeping me busy and me being a perfectionist whose fine motor skills don't function to perfectionist standards, but I went steampunk on the Sunday of this year's Calgary Comic Expo.

My friend Teresa Rehmann asked if I was interested in doing a photo shoot, so I ended up with some waaay better photos then I would have gotten doing them myself. :) (And she made us dinner!) All of the photos of me in this post are by Teresa! If you want to see some behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot, I've posted some here.

The ray gun is super fun! Trevor gave it to me for Christmas in 2011 - he bought a toy gun, took it apart, and spray painted it, and we added the gears on later. It makes very non-period-accurate noises, but I like it. :)
My earrings I got at Comic Expo, but I'm not entirely happy with them. Modifying them before next year is on my to do list...
I'm also wearing a watch on a chain that you can't see - Mom gave me the watch, which actually does keep accurate time, and I got a chain from Value Village for it, so I didn't keep pulling out my anachronistic cell phone to see what time it was. :)
And the hat! My mother-in-law picked it up somewhere, and while it was the general look that I wanted, what a lot of work it was trying to figure out a way to wear's a burlesque dancing hat, and came with an elastic chinstrap, which was not at all the thing.

I ended up sizing a paper bowl to the opening of the hat, sewing a headband to it, and then Trevor glued it inside the rim of the hat. It took like, a year of thinking to come up with that... Sadly in the end, the hat was too heavy to stay on very well, so I only wore it for the photo shoot when I wasn't moving around much! I have NO idea how burlesque dancers would have been able to keep it on...hopefully I'll come up with a better solution in the future!
(Dax wants to know why I'm trying to take a picture of something that isn't her...)

I really like this's my second favourite! This is an old building in Union Cemetery.
I'm thinking about how nice it'll be to go back to my airship and have my clockwork butler serve a cup of tea just the way I like it. :)

This one is my favourite - I love the light!
My cuff bracelet is one of the pieces I'm most happy with. I got it for a few dollars from Value Village, and it was just a tacky, battered, faux-silver discard. Add a coat of copper paint, glue on a few gears and a key charm, and voila! EXACTLY what I had in mind. The glass amber beads on copper wire, on the other wrist, were also from Value Village, and all I had to do to them was wash them. :)
The goggles were never really meant to be worn. They're the flippy-bit off a pair of welding goggles my brother gave me, painted copper (seeing a theme here?!), with some added gears, and a brass button with a military-ish logo on it. I glued gears to the sides and sewed a brown ribbon to them, for hanging them from my belt.

This is my third favourite shot! I'm aiming for the airship piloted by my arch-enemy, that French scoundrel called Jacques Pierrot.
My blouse I had in my closet - bought on a whim and never worn. The navy velvet skirt was Mom's, passed down to me randomly, and also in my closet, never worn. The black velvet vest is a total credit to my mother-in-law, who modified it from a weird sort of housecoat with odd sleeves (bought at Value Village for a few dollars...) into what is now EXACTLY what I had in mind. Why not a corset, you might ask? Well, have YOU ever tried to fight off airship pirates in a corset?

This little hat I adore - I got it at Claire's pretty cheaply, and liberally adorned it with dollar store feathers. It came with really awful fake pearls, so I chopped them off and replaced them with buttons that are shaped like gears. My friend Shelli found them in a button store in Vancouver! (She also brought me a large antique silver belt buckle that I love, but haven't found a use for...yet...)
The earrings I'm wearing in this one were a gift from my mother-in-law as well, 'Demure' by lia sophia. They're not exactly steampunk, but I like them!
I'm also wearing a vintage cameo pin, which I think Mom must have given me, but I'm not sure of its provenance at the moment.
The 'silk' parasol I got in Chinatown on a memorable rainy day...and Trevor sawed off the bamboo handle and attached a brass candlestick, and added an eye hook on the end so I can clip it to my belt or bag. (He's SO HANDY!)

The slightly 'Oriental' aspect of the costume was influenced by (a) finding a velvet jacket-thingy with a mandarin collar and clasps, (b) watching Firefly, and (c) the fact that the Opium Wars are frequently steampunked, so it all seemed to fit together rather nicely!

I still have lots of things I want to do. I'd like hot air balloon earrings like these, or maybe earrings from this Etsy vendor, I'd like to turn an old powder compact into a gage, kind of like this:

I'd like to turn some of Dad's old air force pins into a medal,

I'd like a cloak, and a white lace petticoat,

And a chatelaine,

adorned with keys and little vials, like this!

Shoes that are more steampunk would be nice too - I quite like these!

And last but not least, I would love an arm bracer! I haven't been able to find a picture of one that's exactly like what I want, but this should give you an idea, if you don't know what I'm talking about. :)

I have this 'leather' holster in brown, and I got it on a heck of a sale, but I don't love it. It's a smidge big for my ray gun, and you can't really see the gun when it's in it. So if you have any ideas on modifying it, I'd love to hear them!

Ok, there's my steampunk life! Now, back to student life...midterms start tomorrow!