Black Friday: 25 Years On (Personal Memories)

Black Friday:  25 Years On (Personal Memories)

Black Friday —say that to anyone who was around the Edmonton area on July 30, 1987 and strong memories are evoked — and I am no different.

It was a hot sticky day that Friday. Blistering sun and the promise of a great long weekend beckoned. I was a month away from being married and was to have a pre-reception tasting at the Fantasyland Grill. That all changed at 3:25. The first indication I had that anything was wrong was a call from my father who was at home in our house near the then named Heritage Mall (now known as Century Park). He called to say the wind was really whipping, a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued, that hail was coming down in softball sizes (he saved some and they stayed in his freezer for years). Then while on the phone Dad tells me he has just heard on the radio that a tornado or something like that had touched down in Mill Woods (actually had touched down in Leduc and Beaumont before heading for Edmonton). The first funnel cloud touched down in the southeast part of Edmonton, in an area that was still fields, most of the land between 34th Street and 17th Street where the greatest winds were focused in the Mill Woods area hadn’t been developed yet. The time was 3:27.

A tornado, with no frame of reference I nonetheless decide to close up the Travel Agency I managed and send the two other employees home. One of the women lived close to where the first touchdown occurred and she called her at home husband who told her he had seen it coming up a field and had taken the roof (or roofs) off houses really close and that she should get home ASAP. She promptly told him to get the heck away from the sliding glass doors and into the basement.

Now some seriousness was starting to be felt. Closing up the agency (the building was on 106 Street and 106 Avenue) just behind where MacEwan University is now. In those days the rail lines were still active and it was a quiet area bar the odd vagrant who would hang around. When I walked out to my car, parked right in front of the two-story walkup I was quickly soaked as the rain/hail was now intense in downtown Edmonton and ankle deep in the parking lot. There was also an eerie green in the sky, the once bright shining sky was now darkly multi-coloured.

I needed to pick up my soon to be Hubby#1 who worked near the Alberta Legislature in Petroleum Plaza, colloquially known as Pet Plaza (108 Street and 99 Avenue) – a drive that even in rush hour long weekend Friday traffic never took more than 8 minutes. Not that day. Setting off about 15:29 I was immediately confronted with what roads/bridge or tunnel to take? At that time there was a bridge over the railway lines at 105 Street and the infamous “Rathole” which was dank and wet on the best of days. (Writer’s note: I loved the old Rathole, loved the darkness, the tightness, the inevitable honking, the close-calls – the uniqueness. I didn’t like the two lanes merging into one and the almost daily stuck trucker who ignored the height restrictions and invariably got stuck or had to back out. Now the High Level Bridge is the Drivers Height Test Area and it too seems to have a trucker every day or so not believing the numerous signs and warnings.) Thinking higher would be best I set off to access the “Fifth Street Bridge” in my new to me car, in my new to me, mid-size car.

It was flooding badly near the underpass under the “Fifth Street Bridge” but I gamely navigated the roads to the bridge approach. This proved to be easier said than done as bigger vehicles than mine were already rolling backwards and I could see water coming over their
vehicles. Hum, maybe this wasn’t the way to go. So towards the “Rathole” I go, crawling along 107th Avenue I see trucks and cars backing up and when I get within eyesight the reason is apparent – there are flooded and floating vehicles in the Rathole which has water nearly to the top. Crap.

Back towards the Fifth Street Bridge I go (remember the rail lines were still active and there were few options to get over them). This time on the approach I am determined to go slow but steady and not stop! This was the right tactic as I spluttered but was successful! Great now I was downtown proper and “only” had a few blocks to get to Pet Plaza, over one way roads which were now filling with office workers waking up to the fact this storm was one that they wanted to escape as radio stations were now starting to carry stories about this severe storm. (My attempts to get over the rail lines had taken nearly an hour and a half.) I manage to get on 106 Street (a one way southbound street) with slow moving traffic. Roads are flooding from the torrential rain/hail and manhole covers pop due to the intense pressure on the system.

I am listening to the radio all the way, CJCA, with reports from Gord Whitehead and Glenn Yost (who came on the air at 3:30 P.M. just as I am getting in my car). Behind the scenes and also supplying reports were Ed Mason, Bob Layton, the late Bob Lang, Ken Davis, Bill Douglas, Murray Blakely (on CHQT Skyhawk), Sid Smith, Brian Hall, Lesley Primeau and the legendary late Bill Matheson as they do their best to keep up with all the phone calls and relate the news to listeners. There are no words to fully convey what a fantastic job this radio station did during that horrible day and into the evening. They were the voices of calm and reason with relevant information, later it was estimated that 94 % of people turned to CJCA that day. I even hear the report from my Dad about the snowball size hail he had collected and measured and I hear which roads are considered impassable (the Rathole, Fifth Street Bridge, First Street Underpass, the dip at 110 Street and the list went on and on).

Then the news comes in another touchdown near the Sherwood Park Freeway industrial area – this one sounds more serious as it is unknown if infrastructure is compromised but there are reports that semis have been tossed about like dinky toys. Byers Transport would become a name never to be forgotten. CJCA knew people were dead because they were being called from people out there saying they were seeing bodies, send help but the station couldn’t say that until police confirmed the fatalities. Somehow I knew though as the reports were coming as fast and furious as the rain and wind and it seemed impossible that Edmonton would come out of this unscathed.

This was only my second July in Edmonton so I was a neophyte, barely knowing the neighbourhood I lived in let alone know the numerous and far flung neighbours that make up Edmonton. It was not until much later that I appreciated how the tornado had “spared” (a relative term to be sure) refinery row and just how catastrophic explosions would have been had the twister just turned a little more east.

Then more news, Clareview has experienced a touchdown. As I continue to drive through flooded streets I am aware that many on the road are NOT listening to THE News station and have no idea how bad things are. That chilled feeling that has nothing to do with being cold comes over me. It is starting to sink in that people have been hurt and even killed! Then there is THAT report which I hear as I attempt 106 Street which has water lapping my car hood (just keep going, just keep going and do not stop is the mantra I keep telling myself), another touchdown near Evergreen Trailer Park (I had no idea where this actually was but trailer park has increased the grimness in the reporters and I intuitively know this is bad). As I continue the last two blocks to Pet Plaza this storm, this tornado, has already claimed lives that much is known by me as unconfirmed reports are filtering in on the radio. How many people need help is not known as all medical services in Edmonton scramble to get to the affected areas and access situations that no one has a frame of reference for. Then the “All call” is broadcast over the radio station. Huh? All emergency personnel on or off duty were being told to report for duty as tornados have touched down in Edmonton and everyone was needed. A state of emergency was declared for Edmonton so 9-1-1 exploded at 4 P.M. as there was talk of more storms and people overloaded the system to get information, desperate for information, any information. The shock is being replaced by numbness; a sense of the surreal has taken over.

I finally approach Pet Plaza North where my now Hubby#1’s office was and I don’t see him and cannot find a place to pull over. Then I spot him midway between the two towers. I pull over (double parking) and he jumps in the car blasting me the moment he sits down. “We are going to be late, what the hell took you so long, why didn’t you leave on time when you knew we have to be at West Edmonton Mall for 7:30 P.M.” are some of the utterances from him before I can interrupt. It is now 6:30 P.M. and it has taken me THREE hours to get to his workplace. Before he can go on, I say, “There is NO way we are having an advance wedding dinner tonight.” He starts to complain but I interrupt him with that this was no severe rainstorm but that tragedy was unfolding throughout Edmonton with an unknown number of people having been killed and hurt by TORNADOS.”

He had no idea. Didn’t listen to the news and again like many Edmontonians had no reference to Edmonton and Tornados. Those happened in the US Midwest not a city like Edmonton.

We set off for his house (where we still live) it is now 6:38 P.M. with roads a nightmare and me having NO idea how to get to his place in northwest Edmonton without going through the Rathole or one of the over/underpasses. I cannot fully remember which direction I took (I vaguely think I went to 101 Street) I do remember driving on 107 Avenue and seeing vehicles with evident hail damage – dents and shattered windshields. 107 Avenue is not moving but emergency vehicles are trying to get by in all directions (there was an ambulance station along 107th Avenue and about 106 Street at that time and all of them seemed to be trying to go somewhere – anywhere – all at the same time.) There are few places or space to pull over as the road is flooded and there is debris littering the roadway. I had a full tank of gas when I set off for work that morning and am now at half of a tank. There are no gas stations open and vehicles are running out of gas. Gas lines were affected as were water, power and phone lines and this was 1987 so no one had cellular phones or hybrid vehicles, actually most vehicles are front wheel drive mid-sedan types. (I never let my tank get lower than a half a tank since then because running out of gas would have made a horrible situation that much more desperate.)

On some cross street I don’t remember which I end up on 118th (Kingsway) Avenue and it is as bad as 107th Avenue was but I need to get to St. Albert Trail to get to my fiancées house. I can see cars stuck as we pass through 127 Street. The outside and inside lanes in both directions (east and west) are vehicle deep in water. Other cars are turning around or just staying put but I decide to short cut through the adjacent neighbourhood since it is across from our neighbourhood.

It is so dark one would think it was midnight and not eight P.M. or so on a northern summer evening and it is raining again. Pounding, blinding rain that fogs up the windows and which the wipers cannot keep up with as I try to navigate neighbourhood streets that are flooded and unfamiliar to me. Somehow I finally approach St. Albert Trail at Dovercourt Avenue – where I need to cross except I cannot see a thing and neither can my navigator. After a few minutes of seemingly no traffic going by north or south I gun it and without being able to see I cross St. Albert Trail! I was so scared of hitting or being hit but knew that there was no other way of getting across without taking that leap of faith.

Whew, now we are home free or near as. The roads in our neighbourhood are not too bad considering the ones I had just travelled and despite the alley being a foot or so deep in water I park in our car park (we never used the garage in those days) and then we both brave the wind and rain and enter the house. No power, no water and no phone service. Since we cannot call anyone to tell them we were okay or check on anyone else we find a flashlight and check the basement for water. There is none! Other than a few loose fence boards we had no damage. No physical damage.

The power comes on, flickers off and then finally stays on. It is stifling hot but we don’t open the windows or doors because we didn’t know what could still happen. We turn on the TV and there is some local coverage on the “disaster” in Edmonton and area but it is sparse and cuts in and out. The radio proves to be the best source for information that night (CJCA somehow never loses power or transmission). Finally the phone gives us a dial tone and we start making calls. I call my Dad who hasn’t heard from me since he called at 3:25 P.M. and check on my sister and Grandmother who are all fine. Then my at the time fiancée calls his mother who is living in Yellowknife then and is only vaguely aware that something has happened in Edmonton (she owned a restaurant which was still open so she wasn’t watching TV).

National News is now reporting about the Tornado in Edmonton and CNN about a Tornado in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. There are reports about fatalities and numerous injuries, extensive damage but no one yet knows the full scope of the disaster. Edmontonians are told to stay off the roads and phones except for emergencies as both are overloaded. Yes, lookey loo’s were already appearing in the areas hit, the southeast, the industrial area on 75th Street, Clareview and the Evergreen Trailer Park. Meanwhile emergency crews are still digging through rubble as frantic relatives and friends try to locate missing people. Edmonton Police and “ordinary” people did extraordinary things during those next few days. Many drove the injured in their own vehicles to the closest hospital (the Royal Alexandra for Edmonton East and the University Hospital for the Sherwood Park Industrial Park and Mill Woods) all the while needing to avoid flooded over and underpasses and trying to get around grid locked traffic with no place or ability to move over.

I need to get to my then home in southwest Edmonton but want to wait until the roads are not flooded and free of emergency vehicles (as free as they would be). I wait until about 10ish and then head out along St. Albert Trail/Groat Road and through the University area. I remember that the traffic circle at 114 Avenue and 72/73 Street was particularly showing signs of damage as there were tree limbs strewn throughout the circle making it hard to get navigate. 111th Street is scary calm and there are few vehicles on the roads as I pass Southgate and then Heritage Mall. It is like the day after a nuclear bomb I imagine, silent and calm but somehow foreboding. Finally I get home and call David to tell him I had made it safe and sound.

The next day, Saturday, August 1st fully reveals the devastation the storm has wrought. In the gleaming sun the next day, the day after Black Friday, people are still unaccounted for and damage to all four quadrants of Edmonton are being reported.

The final toll would be 27 dead and hundreds injured with millions of dollars of damage and a city that was no longer innocent because of a F5 tornado, Mother Nature’s worst fury unleashed. No longer would any Edmontonian who was around on July 31, 1987 view a summer storm as a distraction or as a mild inconvenience. I have talked to people who lost relatives that day and remember one many telling me about losing his brother on Black Friday and having to go to the Medical Examiners to identify his brother’s body. He told me that personnel were so compassionate as if he was the only person there to do the unthinkable. Chilling.

Yet from that day, what made and continues to make Edmonton a true “City of Champions” were the strangers who rallied to help those displaced, as people came together to grieve and Edmontonians became resolute to rise from the previously unthinkable and rebuild, no longer innocent but stronger and determined. In memoriam and respect please know Edmonton will never forget nor will time diminish our collective grief.

Then Edmonton Mayor Laurence Decore a longtime Edmontonian upon viewing the devastation of what was left of the Evergreen Trailer Park was moved to tears and then witnessing the fortitude of the survivors declared Edmonton a “City of Champions” it was more than a moniker, more than a slogan but a proud and true declaration of the spirit of Edmonton. A spirit that was born and challenged on that Black Friday 25 years ago but which proved our mettle, it proved that Edmontonians are more than worthy of the bestowed title. Edmonton: City of Champions.


Comments (1)

Black Friday and a City shows why we are Champions

Black Friday and a City shows why we are Champions

Tuesday July 31, 2012 will mark the 25th anniversary of one of the most tragic and triumphant periods in Edmonton’s history.

I know there were countless people affected by the tornado and I appreciate that it is a painful, painful subject for many but I also believe that discussion about it is cathartic and essential for progress.

Furthermore I also believe that from the rubble of that black day arose the best of Edmonton—our community came of age and showed its mettle of determination, strength and unity by coming together to help and rebuild.

Our “City of Champions” phrase is attributed to the spirit shown after that tornado ripped through Edmonton destroying homes, taking too many lives and altering others forever.

Edmonton will forever be scared by July 31, 1987.

However, scars serve a purpose as they are reminders, legacies of wounds.

I dedicate this thread to the true city of champions—to the volunteer to those who perished and to those left behind to carry on—survivors and champions one and all.

Share your stories and experiences of that dark day and its aftermath in Edmonton’s history so that those who did not live here or were not born yet can appreciate what makes this special city great. Why we ARE the city of champions.


Comments (1)

What wound did ever heal but by degrees.

What wound did ever heal but by degrees – Shakespeare, Othello

I am going to start this with the ending of the first part of my story.

It happened. Rape. It changed me forever, but it did not break me. Bent like a tree, a new sprout, a new person has emerged from the bowed pieces and she is better than the old me who died alone one night in a cold parking lot.

I do still believe I died that night. Alone and afraid. But I like what has emerged. I no longer feel alone. I still feel afraid at times but I am working on that.

It has not been an easy process nor has it been only upward or positive. But it has ALWAYS been worth it as I have never doubted that healing the wounds — healing me — was worth doing.

So no matter how hard or how long it takes I will heal.

But by degrees.


I am re-blogging/re-posting this in light of a friend’s recent suicide at age 24. On April 30, 2012 he would/should have turned 25. I had no idea he struggled with depression. The world cannot afford to lose more great contributors like him.

There is always help and hope!

Use the Twitter hashtag #NotMyselfToday
Partners for Mental Health: 
Where to find help:

For immediate help — PLEASE REACH OUT — call 9-1-1, a crisis line or a trusted person. You are NOT alone and there is always hope.

Please share, take the pledge and do something to remove the darkness from yourself or for your loved ones.

Comments (5)

I am proud to be a woman

International Women’s Day is March 08

I am proud and honoured to be a woman.

I accept and respect the privilege and responsibility that being female is at this point in humankind.

I am proud of being a mentor and trusted confidante in my relationships.

I am proud that no matter the situation I have never compromised my integrity.

I am proud that despite my Mom dying when I was only twenty-one we were friends. I learned how to be a maverick from my Mom.

I am proud that I have a great relationship with my Dad and that he taught me girls could do anything!

I am proud that I am like my paternal grandmother, a fighter who never gave up despite a handicap and very tough times she always did everything with cheerfulness and grace. She was a great role model.

I am proud that I am also very much like my maternal grandmother, a woman who although having handfuls of children always had room in her home, at her table and most strikingly in her heart for everyone. I try to emulate her example.

I am proud that despite the usual sibling bickering, rivalry and teasing I have a sister who is also a friend and is someone I would choose as a friend even if she were not my sister.

I am proud that I married the love of my life and that over twenty-two years later I love him more each day!

I am proud that I have a loving relationship with “Mom” (the in-law part being superfluous), that she loves me and I her.

I am proud that I have family and friends who have known me since I was a baby or through the years and that so many are still shining beacons in my life.

I am proud that at forty I returned to post-secondary full-time to pursue my dreams and that when I returned to school I never shirked my volunteer or life passions and indeed took on more.

I am proud that despite the seemingly endless obstacles and my disability I graduated! (I am also secretly proud that I received high marks including A+’s during my studies because I am competitive!)

I am proud that I have always voted in every election as one vote makes a difference.

I am proud that I am an engaged and active citizen because that is the only way to affect change.

I am proud that despite the tons of lemons that life has handed me that I have always continued to keep making lemonade (or lemon tarts, lemon meringue, lemon chicken…). Bitter or better is a choice and I have always chosen better.

I am extremely proud of the strength it has taken to be a survivor. It matters not what I am a survivor of.

“While I don’t expect a parade, and it is hardly an accomplishment I can put on my résumé, it is an honour, and it is one accomplishment I am most proud of.”

* Editors Note: This is a repeat post, which was originally written for the YWCA’s Edmonton ‘Women of Strength’ contest. My sentiments are still the same as when this post was first written. I am now however, looking forward to celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in September with my ever suffering (according to him) and who I adore more everyday Hubby#1 aka David!

I am encouraged with the changes that are happening in the world however, more is still needed, and in some countries and on some issues, improvements are needed desperately and forthwith.

I hope and believe that one day I can simply write, “I am proud to be a person!”

IWD2014 Update:

On September 5th, 2013 we (the Royal, Ward we) celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary.

Mum had a debilitating stroke on January 25th, 2013 and adjustments have changed all of our everyday lives, these days being happy with the small successes is vital. We are now down to only one dog in our lives as our two Golden Retriever’s both passed away too young of Cancer. Dieter, is a rambunctious and gorgeous, too smart for his own good two-year-old German Shepard who is a regular (and favourite and most asked about) visitor to the extended care centre in St. Albert where Mum now lives. It is amazing to see how this big (goofy) but intimidating looking dog has all the residents at Mum’s so enamoured! We jokingly referred to Dieter as Mum’s and she seems to have taken that to heart as she lights up when he walks in and proudly holds his leash as we wheel her around the Centre. (Pecking order for visits is Dieter, then me and then David; followed closely by other family and friends! Her first-born son, Hubby#1, is a “tad” miffed at this lineup but is so thrilled that Mum is still here.) He and Mum play crib on many visits and it is wonderful to see Mum’s competitive streak as she wins (without much “help” from David) and the grin she gives him when she skunks him is positively evil!

I am fortunate to continue to have a great group of family and friends in my life and I am trying to show appreciation and affection to everyone as much as possible. Learning how to live with adjustments and (hopefully) grace is how I would summarize the last few years.

Comments (1)

#YEG Twitter Hashtags and Hints – Addendums

#ABHealth Alberta Health and Wellness is the provincial government department that oversees AHS
#yegmusic Great tips and discussions on the fantastic music scene in Edmonton

I have had suggestions such as #yegmediacamp but as there have only been two, I did not include the hashtag.

#yegdemocamp or #yegIdeaFest or even #yegGirlGeekDinners have been held many more times and could be added to the list as well.

Events such as Heritage Days, Folk Fest, Capital Ex (CapX), Taste of Edmonton (ToE) and the Fringe use updated hashtags every year and reflect the current year (so 2012) or how many years the event has been held especially if it is an anniversary type year or what this year’s event is being called.

#yegTweetup was also suggested but I made the decision to exclude it for the same reason as event listings – it is usually #hashtag specific such as #yegTweetupMay or #yegCoffeeTweetup or #yegTweetupCharityName.

Essentially the convention is to #yegEventOrIssueOrDate or #ABEventOrIssueOrDate. I say convention because these are hints not rules. I would simply recommend when making up your own hashtag to use the KISS method and ensure it makes sense to your target audience!

#yeghealth was suggested and I am open to comments. Since health and wellness is a provincial and then a zone issue, it was not a hashtag that I could see garnering a lot of traction.

In addition, the question was asked if #yegmedia was used (tracked) by the dailies, radio or TV (so media!) or was it more a public relations or communications types specific hashtag? Please weigh in on this!

Please use hashtags, however, in moderation! Do not subscribe to hashtag soup or condense so much it is hard to figure out your tweet.

So no [#YEG #yegmedia #yegtraffic #yegfood #yegcoffeetweetup 4 #yegCharityName on #March132012 @ #NAIT pls #RT & pls #Share w/ #Edmonton#peeps & #StAlbert & #AB …]

Most of all have fun with Twitter! Engage with people and if you are following a specific hashtag and notice a Tweep with many good posts please follow them as this illustrates why using hashtags is useful!

Thanks to everyone who have made corrections to my lists (#pcaa NOT #pcca and #UAlberta NOT #UOfAlberta) think the University of Alberta would have been a no-brainer for me since they keep the roof over my and Hubby#1’s heads!

Keep them coming and if you have suggestions or comments please, please let me know!

Thanks Peeps!

Now let the fun continue…

Leave a Comment

#yeg Twitter Hashtags and Hints

The #yeg Twitter community is an active and engaging one and here are some hints to help “Newbies” or gentle reminders to the more seasoned Twit!

Try to get into the habit of using Hashtags when tweeting. Hashtags are preceded by the pound sign # and these allow aggregating and searching of/for tweets. While  the hash # has no defined function within Twitter, Twitterers and some 3rd.-party utilities use hashtags (remember a  hashtag is ANY word preceded by a #) as keywords to help index and track particular themes on Twitter.

Some hints:

  • Numbers in a hashtag are okay (ok) such as #Run4TheCure but punctuation does not work (it breaks the sequence) for example #St.Albert will only show as #St use #StAlbert or even #StAb (beware that this can be confused with ‘stab’) if space is really limited.
  • Use #yeg or #YEG (I am a purist and love my capitalization) but not #Edmonton as this is not in common usage and takes up valuable space.
  • Please (pls) remember people (ppl) you (U) only have 140 characters in a Tweet and (&) that includes your name! Brevity as long as message is clear is a great (gr8) thing especially if you have information you want other to re-tweet (RT). Want that post shared? ASK! Pls RT or Pls share. If you have more information (info) for (4) your Followers to see than do a blog post and insert the URL in your Tweet. If you really need to conserve space than remove vowels for shorten words to something that is readily apparent for example deets for details or RQ for request(ed).
  • Be respectful of other Twitter users Tweets. Always acknowledge the Tweet originator like this RT @DebraWard or via: @DebraWard Correct spelling if mistake(s) make the message (msg) unclear or to condense BUT MT if changes have occurred.
  • Do not do the hashtag hustle! Do not use #yegtraffic or #yegwx if your post has nothing to do with traffic or weather as polluting a particular twitter feed stream (especially if you are selling something) will have the exact opposite response. Peeps will unfollow, mute, block, report you for spam, or simply ignore you. It will be like the “boy who cried wolf” when you have a legitimate #yegtraffic or #yegwx post.
  • According to statistics compiled by Mack Male @Mastermaq the busiest time on the #yeg feed is 16:00-18:00. Something to keep in mind if you want to ensure maximum readability or engagement. Alternatively, some Twitter users will repeat a post for the AM or PM crowd (if duplicating a post it is good form to indicate it such as #ForThePMCrowd or #InCaseUMissedIt or #FYI.)

Some popular hashtags for Edmonton, Alberta, Canada or #YEG and area plus some miscellaneous ones that are used regularly!

#yeg or #YEG Edmonton
#yegtraffic Anything to do with Edmonton traffic, accidents and construction
#yegfood Great restaurant, horrible restaurant, food truck events
#yegmedia A call out to all Edmonton Media
#yegwx Edmonton weather
#yegdt Edmonton downtown
#yegcc Edmonton City Council
#yegarts Edmonton Arts Scene
#yegcensus Edmonton’s Spring Census
#yegRV Edmonton’s River Valley (not commonly used)
#yegWoD Edmonton YWCA’s Women of Distinction Awards
#ableg Alberta Legislature info
#TEDxEdmonton Edmonton’s TEDx talks and saloon series
#AB Alberta
#EPS Edmonton Police Service
#EFD Edmonton Fire Department
#EMS Edmonton Medical Services (paramedics, ambulances)
#ETS Edmonton Transit Service (can include LRT but usually refers to busses or bus operators, delays)
#EPL Edmonton Public Library
#EFR Edmonton Fire Radio
#NLRT or #SLRT North or South Edmonton Light Rail Transit discussions
#LRT Edmonton’s Light Rail Transit
#yegarena Edmonton downtown arena discussions
#Sq or #SQ Prefaced with “The” and meaning Sir Winston Churchill Square
#Arena This is also used for Edmonton downtown arena discussions
#Oilers Edmonton NHL Hockey Oilers discussions
#Esks and #Eskimos See both in reference to the CFL Football team
#ShPk Sherwood Park
#StrathCo Strathcona County
#StAlbert or #StAb St. Albert
#RHW / #SPR Rice Howard Way / Stony Plain Road
#SPR Stony Plain Road
#FtSask Fort Saskatchewan
#Tweetup An event spread on Twitter but usually open to anyone
#AHS Alberta Health Services
#pcaa Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta
#CdnPoli or #cdnpoli Canadian political discussions
#MentalHealthMatters Mental Health Matters
#EIA Edmonton International Airport
#STARS Alberta Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service
#Air1 EPSs helicopter(s)
#Global1 Global and 630 CHEDs Edmonton’s Helicopter (Traffic & Edmonton –area shots)
#BVJ Big Valley Jamboree held in Camrose the August long weekend
#smbyeg Social Media Breakfasts held the last Friday of the month
#PKN[insert number – next one in Edmonton will be ##] Pecha Kucha events – 20 x 20 presentations
#ABRoads Traffic, accidents updates on highways and roads throughout Alberta
#FF or #FollowFriday A shout out recommendation on someone great to follow. Has more meaning if the tweet says WHY others should follow this person or company such as they are very engaging, knowledgeable about such and such…
#yyc or #YYC Calgary
#yyj or #YYJ Victoria (has a VERY active Twitter community!)
#CoE City of Edmonton
#GoA Government of Alberta
#GoC Government of Canada
#Canada Canada for non-official Canadian discussions
#AbEd or #abed Alberta Education discussions
#TW Twitter
#FB Facebook
#LI LinkedIn
#LetsTalk Bell’s Mental Health “Let’s Talk” campaign
#UAlberta University of Alberta (U of A is too confusing)
#abvote Alberta Elections
#2012Oly 2012 Summer Olympics in London
#GP (some people use the airport code of #yqu (#YQU) but rarely) Grande Prairie, Alberta
#ymm or #YMM Fort McMurray / Ft. Mac
#Census Federal Census

Comments (9)

I have a high pain tolerance but —part two or alternate title: Debra/Debbie is in pain and grumpy!

I have a high pain tolerance but —part two or alternate title: Debra/Debbie is in pain and grumpy!

Oh, yes, the incessant pain continues.

I went to my GP and made it clear that none of the remedies to date have helped in the least.

So now I have new anti-inflammatories, I went for a preliminary X-ray (not expected anything will show up on an X-ray but things have to be done in order). Next up is an MRI which (Deity I hope reveals something so a more tailored treatment plan can be set) as now it is hit and miss, (all miss so far).

A comment on getting an X-ray inEdmontonbeing such a spread out city one would think that X-ray services would accommodate as much of the geographical population as possible. Wrong. I checked all locations only to find that only TWO locations have patient friendly hours. Most sites are open 08:00 to 17:00 and some even close during the lunch hour with no Saturday hours offered! How in heck is someone who works or is reliant on someone else for a ride (such as from someone who works) supposed to have X-rays taken without there being lost time from work?

The two locations that are open until 20:30 and 21:00 respectively are Tawa (Edmontonfar South East) orCenturyPark(Edmontonfar South West). Both these locations also offer hours on Saturday for X-rays only.

 I live close to St.Albert, which is about as far away as one can get from either of these two locations and still be an Edmontonian. I have been to Tawa before so my “driver aka Hubby#1) and I decided thatCenturyParkwould be the easiest location (I used to live in this area back in the day when it was called Heritage) so I am comfortable in this part of town. (Okay, with the exception of the far North East part ofEdmonton, I am extremely familiar with most areas of the city but I am in pain and sitting in a vehicle for 45 minutes or so does not help.)

Wonderful, wonderful location with great staff and bright new equipment but really in an area of a combined population of one million having only two locations with patient friendly servicing hours only being in South Edmonton is not acceptable.

End rant on Magnetic Imaging Consulting (MIC) the service provider for X-rays!

I continue to be in a holding pattern. Pain is constant with no relief in sight.

I cannot remember the last time I attended anything, as I never know how bad the pain will be (when it is a 12 there is no way I can sit, stand or even walk). Last Saturday I had to skip a long-time friends 50th birthday party because despite being as cautious as I could during the day by the time came to leave for the party I was in agony and Hubby#1 had to go alone taking only my regrets with him.

Yes, I am frustrated and upset that this has gone on so long. SCREAM!

Comments (1)

I have a high pain tolerance but …

I have a high pain tolerance but …

* Editor’s note: I have been unusually quiet on my blog for the last seven months because I have been in pain and like all animals when I am in pain I hide and try to lick my wounds. On May 7, 2011, Hubby#1 and I made the heartbreaking decision to let our four-year-old Golden Darby go as his cancer had progressed to the point where pain for him was inevitable and approaching like a steamroller. Neither of us could fathom the thought of seeing our baby go through that and watch his quality of life deteriorate. It devastated our remaining seven-year-old Golden Dustin and us. I have several posts about how unique and special Darby was but events have prevented me from posting them and the post below is part of the reason why.

The other day a colleague said how awesome my smile was as I said hello to him. Yes, I have a high wattage smile usually but because I have been living in such a haze of pain for months that I was amazed I was still managing to smile. I guess some things truly are reflexive.

I have been struggling to heal from a broken shoulder. I broke my shoulder in the most boring of ways. Slipping and falling in the pouring rain as I arrived for a meeting. The location was ten feet from my destination. That destination was the University of Alberta Hospital (UAH) and yes, I slipped mere feet from the 112th Street entrance. I knew right away that I had hurt my shoulder – declining help on that side as witnesses rushed to help me back up. Yep, I went to the meeting. For a few minutes when I realized I simply could not lift my arm at all and made my way to Triage. I was not crying (I have never cried when I have hurt myself) but I was wincing in pain —I have a high pain tolerance but I am human!

This occurred in May of 2011 (May 25 to be exact) and in the early months when my right (write) shoulder was completely immobilized I was helpless – ack. Not easy for an archetypical Type A like myself who finds asking for help of any kind near impossible! Though I would do anything for family or friends and casual acquaintances if I can asking for myself fills me with terror. Nevertheless, I had no choice at times, I was unable to drive, and cut my own food, brush my hair properly even getting dressed was a challenge if I deviated from a t-shirt and slip on yoga pants! (I had to dress up at one point when I was still fully immobilized and I have determined that putting on nylons (pantyhose) should be included in the rehabilitation process. It took me over half an hour to pull them on left-handed only without ripping them and it was quite the exhausting workout!)

The fact I tried to attend the meeting before receiving medical attention says a lot about my pain tolerance level and stubbornness!

I have always been like that…

I tripped and fell slicing my forehead on a glass door before I had even turned one. Once I got over the initial shock of the injury and the pooling blood, I never cried again. Not a peep when I was in the emergency room, when the doctor put a needle in my forehead to numb the area for stitches or even as the gash was stitched up. Indeed my Dad says I very helpfully held my bangs up, out of the way while chatting (in a very limited manner I am certain, wow how that would change!). I had stitches again by the time I was two and again on my forehead same attitude. (This would continue to be regular pattern for me as I would gash some area or another and would need to be stitched up.) I have scars from stitches in several places on my forehead, under my right eyebrow, several just under my chin, my right hand and too many to count on my forever bashed up legs and knees. Once when I was getting stitches put in my hand, the anesthesia amount was inadequate and I felt the first stitch go in before saying that my hand was not fully numb. Getting a local in your hand is the weirdest experience – it swells up like a baseball glove, which is a disconcerting feeling. I even once had stitches put in “bush style” as in with no anesthesia and a very big sewing needle. Can you sense a pattern here?

Yes, I am extremely clumsy and accident-prone. My husband has jokingly (I sincerely hope!) that identifying my body would be a breeze as I have scars and healed fractures that would be impossible to miss. Oh yeah, I also had eight of my top baby teeth knocked out by a steel bucket when I was four while defending a younger cousin from a bully resulting in expensive  and extensive orthodontic treatment when my permanent teeth (finally!) came in when I was seven-eight.

I have had broken bones ranging from the aforementioned shoulder to various toes, fingers, cheekbones, nose and a nasty ankle AND leg break on the same night but in separate falls! I got up and walked on my broken ankle despite knowing it was fractured before I had even hit the ground because it was cold, I was alone and unable to summon attention without “walking” up to my neighbours house.

I have torn ligaments galore, been cold cocked, been knocked unconscious (received concussions, explains a few things!), donated bone marrow and have never uttered a peep in pain and have refused pain meds except perhaps for the initial day of injury.

After surgery on my broken ankle about a year later one of the titanium screws worked its way out of the bone, (I could feel it under the skin). I insisted on watching the orthopedist and his intern remove it because it was MY ankle and it was cool seeing them slice a spot and then use a screwdriver to take the offending screw out of the bone!

I am not grossed out by anything and my pain level tolerance is high but the repercussions of my broken shoulder have strained even my forbearance.

My shoulder still aches and my range is no way near back to 100% but I have gamely tried to get back to life resuming working, driving and the like with my former vigor. Except I have favoured my right side, using my left arm and side far more than before and as a result I have been crippled with lower back pain on my left side.

This has been a daily occurrence since October and not a day has gone by where my pain level from that area is not between a “good” 6.5 -7 out of 10 to a “usual” 9.5 to 12.

I have sought medical treatment. I now take arthritis (I have arthritis not surprisingly considering my banged up body but usually do not take medication for it) anti-inflammatory drugs. I go to physiotherapy, bought an inversion table, have had acupuncture and Bowen therapy (a form of massage therapy), done nothing (and I mean nothing), lain flat, sat up with a heating pad behind me, used a full body heat and massage pad but NOTHING has given me more than a few hours of relief from the relentless pain.

I am at the end of my rope.

I am back to the doctor the week of January 23 to see what else can be done, cortisone shots, x-rays, MRI, anything to relieve this never-ending cycle of pain. When it is at the high range (9.5 to 12) I whimper trying to get into the passenger seat of Hubby#1’s Explorer as this range of movement brings excruciating pain (which is saying something since I am already at the top end of pain). Getting into my little banger some days is no easier as I have to lift my left leg into the car because I cannot simply swing my self into the car.

Something has to give and it will not be me. I am not a complainer when I am in pain (usually) but everyone has their limits and I have been pushed past and then some.

Nevertheless, I am smiling through the pain and as in laughing the adage “fake it till you feel it” applies because the body cannot differentiate between the fake or real response. Therefore, if you do see me around and I am smiling for all I am worth just smile back but do not expect a bear hug —ouch!

On a more positive note, we brought a squirming and adorable ball of fluff into our home on October 06, 2011. Dieter, a purebred German Sheppard, was exactly eight weeks old and weighed about 16 pounds. He has brought love and chaos into our lives at a time when it was most needed. Although he is our fourth dog, there are days I despair this will be the puppy that is the death of me! He is now five months old, smart, curious, weighs about 50 pounds is nearly as tall as Dustin and Dustin’s tail is his favourite chew toy!

Comments (2)

Slave Lake Fundraiser @ Bunkers Sports Pub

Slave Lake Fundraiser this weekend (May 20 – 22, 2011) at Bunkers Sports Pub – 615 Hermitage Road, Edmonton

            Entertainers Relief Fund for Slave Lake Victims

Rising funds and collecting donations to life the spirits and assist the many residents displaced and devastated by the Slave Lake fire.

For more information: (Check back regularly as this event is very fluid and gathering momentum moment to moment.)

 For the Kids: During the day, there will be numerous fun events.

For the older “Kids”: This is a three day event which will feature live bands, barbeques, breakfast, silent auctions for example bid on an opportunity for a ride in Chopper One courtesy of Canadian Traffic Network (CTN), signed sports memorabilia, a 50/50 Draw and much more!





As a result of the devastating and horrific fire In Slave Lake, which has left a third of that community homeless and countless businesses destroyed, entertainers from across Alberta are banding together to raise funds and collect clothing donations this long weekend.

CHANGE IN VENUE!!!!!!!!!!! 

To do this they are staging a marathon variety show at  BUNKERS SPORTS PUB, 615 Hermitage Road, Edmonton.

Musicians like Colleen Rae, etc and comics like Tim Koslo, Sebastian Steel, and many more, are donating their time for the cause.

A BBQ will be held outside Bunkers in the parking lot, and donations of clothing and toiletries or cash if you prefer will be accepted. Two small men with big hearts moving company is parking a moving truck in Bunkers parking lot all weekend so we can “stuff the truck” with donations!

Come, enjoy a weekend full of entertainment, food, and drink specials.

Former CTV Weatherman and ACT Telerama host John Berry will be your MC.

$10 cover charge. All proceeds raised this weekend will go to the victims of Slave Lake. There will also be a 50/50 draw.

Breakfast will be served on Sunday with proceeds from the breakfast also being donated to the Slave Lake Relief Fund.

Acts on board so far: hypnotist sebastian steel, country singer colleen rae, rock band swarm, comedian tim koslo, dj naZty, motley crue tribute band the dirt, musician mark mcgarrigle ,musician wayne alchin, musician/comedian paul sveen, musician anthony poirier ,rock band drt comedienne dar germin,comedian james ross, musical artist paula quilty perro, rock band looking east, dan the balloon man, world reknown photographer/artist con boland will be photographing one of the nights.

Please note we need more entertainers! Singers ,dj’s, comedians, musicians, improv troupes, buskers, get in touch with me via the number provided.


12:45 DJ


12:30 (OPEN SLOT)
12:30 DJ NAZTY

Thanks and see you there!

For more information, call Sebastian Steel at 780-641-4973

Leave a Comment

Congratulations to the YWCA Edmonton 2011 Women of Distinction (WoD) Nominees

Congratulations to the YWCA Edmonton 2011 Women of Distinction (WoD) Nominees

* Editors Note: The following was written two years ago during an extremely difficult time in my life with Hubby#1 having a medical crisis which required emergency surgery for the weeks leading up to the Gala (he was released from the hospital the day before) in other words a tumultuous and whirlwind time.

The category I was nominated in was “Turning Point” –a category I did not feel I had fully done in 2009 and definitely something I know I have yet to do in 2011.That is okay.

To me life is not about awards, becoming stagnant, or being too comfortable in my place in this big wonderful world. Life is about always changing — always turning a corner, turning challenges into opportunities and taking those small leaps of faith every day. I like always being at a turning point in my life; I do all I can to ensure that the direction is a positive one and that on the journey I do my best.

Congratulations to all the 2011 nominees – I am certain you are all extremely deserving of this honour and I am certain that everyone of you are winners –where it matter most—in life!

YWCA Women of Distinction (WoD) 2009 was a wonderful honour and experience

Debra is a lifelong learner, passionate community volunteer and supporter. Although she is not originally from Edmonton she is proud to call Edmonton home “by love and by choice.” While recovering from serious personal and professional ordeals, Debra became a tireless worker for women’s rights and an educator at the ground level. She exemplifies the willingness to tutor, educate and empower women, and volunteers with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) to help other women recover from traumatic events. Debra plans to never grow up, never stop learning and dreaming and believes that life is too short to just do a job. Family, friends, volunteering, mentoring, contributing and fun is her motto. Debra loves and lives this motto every day and in any way she can.

This was my bio in tonight’s program. It is factually correct but in my obviously biased view it does not fully convey my “Turning Point”, which was the category I was nominated in.

Five years ago when I was functionally catatonic, when I was so mired in pain and in the acute/crisis stage of my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I did not know how I was going to survive let alone thrive ever again.

What I knew then and what I never lost sight of was that by being a part of the community, that volunteering and mentoring was the only way I was ever going to see any hope or good in the world ever again.

I am humbled to be nominated. That anyone would think I have made any difference in the community is incredible.

Tammy MacDonald who started Hair Massacre when her youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer was who I was cheering for in my category and I am truly glad she won as I felt she deserved it. To Tammy (and ALL the other nominees, winners all of us) I say congratulations and thank you for making such huge differences in the community. The world is a better place because of you, because you care and have the willingness and determination to make life better for others.

These are my personal most favourite accolades that I have received in the last few years.

From my first mentee/little sister “Thank you Debra for being my friend.”

From some of the people I have spoken to on the SACE crisis line, “thank you” and “thank you, when I called I did not know how I was going to go on, I had no hope. Now I realize that things are bad but that I am not a victim but a survivor. That being a survivor is something to be proud of.”

Yes, thank you means more to me than anything. Certainly it is wonderful to be acknowledged but I am most proud of being a friend and of being a survivor.

Leave a Comment

« Newer Posts · Older Posts »