yuuago: (Finland - Coffee)
There was smoke in the air today.

The fire is in the national park. Up near Lake Claire, about 200km away. Not a threat to us. But it was a little unnerving to see the smoke roll in this afternoon.

Everyone was kind of on edge today. Not that anybody was about to run home and start packing, mind you. It's far away. And at this point, there isn't much forest left around the city to burn, not after what happened last year. But after that kind of thing happens once, you start to feel a little jumpy when you smell smoke.

I looked out my window. Usually I can see the other side of the river valley rising up, and the spaces between the charred tree trunks at the crest. But there was so much smoke that I could hardly see it. Cleared away toward the end of the day, though, at least mostly.

It's exactly a year since we were allowed to come home, too. What timing.

At least it's raining now. Downside: it's a thunderstorm. Well, I guess you can't have everything.
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Together)
It's the evening of May the 2nd. This time last year, I couldn't sleep, because it was unseasonably hot - around 20C. There was smoke blowing in from a nearby forest fire, and it was so thick that you could smell it even when you were indoors.

The next afternoon, my city was smothered in smoke and fire, and everyone in Fort McMurray - over 80,000 people - was evacuating.

If you look at a map, it becomes a little clearer why getting everyone out was such an amazing feat, and why it's a miracle that of everyone who left, only two people died in traffic, and nobody was directly killed by the fire.

We're in the middle of an enormous forest. There are no other cities. There are no other towns. There is only one road - and aside from a bit of road leading to the oil plants and to Fort McKay, it only goes in one direction: south. The few small settlements north of us, many of which were once trading posts, can only be reached by air and water.

If you leave Fort McMurray and travel down Highway 63, the next place that you can buy gasoline is about 200 kilometres away. The road doesn't branch until after roughly 250 kilometres.

It took until July 5th to get the Beast under control, and by that time it had burned over 5,900 square kilometres. For reference, this is over twice the size of Hong Kong.

I'm putting this into numbers because it's easier to process than the things that I saw that day. There were ashes falling from the sky. As we left work to run to our homes, my coworkers asked me, "Yuu, is this normal? Has it been like this before?" They were looking at me for reassurance because I know this place, I was born here, I know how our forest fires work, and I couldn't do anything to reassure them, because this wasn't normal. The smoke was so thick that it blocked out the sun.

On our side of the city, we thought the river would protect us, but the fire jumped across the Athabasca as if it wasn't even there. The radio kept playing an evacuation announcement between songs, along with the notice "This radio station is unmanned. Do not call the station seeking assistance." Before we locked up the house and left I said a spell for protection against forest fire. When we drove through downtown there was fire on both sides of us. The trees were so hot that some of them were exploding. Abasand and Waterways and Beacon Hill were burning.

As we left the city, we were stopped and instructed to drive on the wrong side of the twinned highway - the northbound side, even though we were going south. They needed to send people down both parts of the highway in order to get everyone out. "Keep to the right side of the lane," the traffic officer said. "Help is coming up from Edmonton on the left."

Edmonton is five hours away.

That was last year. This is this year. I'm alive. My home didn't burn down. The forest is coming back. The burnt trees are everywhere, all you have to do is look, and you'll see it. If I look out my office window, I can see the bare burnt edges of the river valley. But when spring comes properly, there'll be a thick carpet of green and purple. It isn't here yet; Winter hasn't gone to sleep yet - the river broke on April 25th, and there are still thick chunks of ice along the bank.

I'll be fine. I'm still not okay, not really. The sound of emergency vehicle sirens, or the scent of smoke - and I've been smelling a lot of smoke lately, the city is still doing controlled burning in the Birchwood - it still makes me panic.

But I'll be okay eventually. It's just going to take some time.
yuuago: (Germany - Reading)
I haven't done a Reading Wednesday in a while, so... here's what I've been reading lately:

Currently reading:

Packing For Mars by Mary Roach. Yes, still. It's going slowly, but I still do enjoy it. The only thing stopping me from breezing through it more quickly is the fact that I'm reading it electronically. Should have seen if the library had a paper copy... Anyway, if you're interested in the history of space travel (and the possibilities for the future), it's pretty interesting - not to mention funny. Roach has such a lively prose voice, it's great.

Lady Franklin's Revenge by Ken McGoogan. I love reading about the Franklin expedition, so it's really interesting to see the story from Jane Franklin's perspective. I had no idea that she travelled so much herself - Turkey, Egypt, Greece.... I'm still in the early parts of this book, not all that close to the part that actually deals with Franklin's expedition, but I'm looking forward to the rest.

Eventually One Dreams the Real Thing by Marianne Boruch. This one is a volume of poetry. It... is not quite to my taste; stylistically, some of the poems in here edge close to what I like, but it's not quite there. She uses a lot of imagery that I might enjoy if it phrased just slightly differently. I don't dislike it enough to anti-rec, though.

Not started yet:

Xweliqwiya: The life of a Sto:lo Matriarch by Rena Point Bolton & Richard Daly. Like the title/authors suggests, it's a memoir/biography/oral history of a Sto:lo elder. Should be interesting! Probably going to tackle this one as soon as I'm finished reading the book on Jane Franklin.

as if by E. D. Blodgett. Poetry again. This one looks very sparse and minimal; bare, with lots of nature images. I think I'll love it, considering that's the style I usually like best, but we'll see.

Fire and Sky: A Canadian Anthology of Poetry. This... I don't know if I'm actually ready to read this book. It's a limited-run anthology of work centred around the wildfire evacuation we went through back in May. I'm not very plugged in to the local writing scene, and if I had known about this, I might have contributed to it. But, I didn't. And I'm not sure I'm ready to write poetry about it anyway, though I've thought about it. (I have enough emotion about this to fill an entire volume.) Not to mention the thought of being published gives me hives. ...Anyway. I'm looking forward to it, but at the same time, I don't know if I'll be able to handle actually reading it. Still - this is the library copy, but I might purchase my own, just as some sort of bizarre memento, I guess. The sales go to the local library, so it's a good thing.
yuuago: (Norway - Cold)
Ahaha. It's been a few months since I last saw someone saying that the wildfires were God's punishment for - insert laundry list of bullshit here, including drugs and prostitution and who knows what else. I didn't read the whole thing, though funnily enough, this one didn't mention climate change.

Continued )


Aug. 18th, 2016 11:04 pm
yuuago: (SSSS - Emil - WHY)
I thought the nights of "can't sleep because I'm too busy crying over memories of the fire" were over, buuuut I guess not. Fuck.

The subject came up at work today, and of course I couldn't avoid hearing about it. In detail. Lovely. And of course in local events, it's been present as well, because they're still working to get the most highly-damaged areas safe for occupation, and there have been some developments in that regard re: demolition and so on.

Aaand now thoughts and memories of that whole fiasco keep cycling around in my head like a terrible infomercial.

This is ridiculous. Yes, it was a horrible experience, and I would never wish it on anybody. But I had it pretty damn good. I wasn't one of those poor sods stuck in Fort McKay, I wasn't one of the people who didn't have anywhere to go after leaving the city, I didn't lose my home, I didn't lose my job. I'm okay. My family is okay. We're okay. I shouldn't be so upset. We're okay.

Then again, it was, uh. Well, it was horrible. And, I don't know, what's an acceptable level of upset before you're allowed to randomly cry about it, anyway? I guess I shouldn't be hard on myself.

Ugh, this shit sucks, but I guess there isn't much I can do about it. I should probably read some poetry and then try to rest my eyes, if not get some sleep.


Jun. 25th, 2016 10:25 pm
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Kantele)
☆ Football: Man, that Switzerland-Poland game was SO not worth getting up at 7 AM for, pffft. But I got a lot of knitting done, so that's all right. ;p The Copa America match this evening was a lot more interesting (no surprise there, as it was the third place game, but still). Thank you, USA and Colombia, for keeping things interesting enough for me to at least pay attention. Going to be interesting to see who wins the final tomorrow. (GO CHILE GO! ...When in doubt, cheer for the country your friends live in, I always say. ;p) ...Damn, it starts during suppertime, hopefully I won't miss too much of it. :Va

☆ So, Stanley Barkman arrived in town today. He's the guy who walked over 2000 km to raise money to help people affected by the wildfire here in Fort McMurray. What a guy. That's some real awesome, right there. (At the time of this post, his crowdfunding page is still accepting donations.) Tomorrow, there's some kind of welcome ceremony for him down by city hall, and I'm going to try to go. It'll probably be busy, and crowds set off my anxiety something awful, but... I really want to go to this. The plaza it's to be held in is right outside my favourite cafe, so I'm pretty sure that if I go down there, and get a seat outside, I'll probably be able to hear everything pretty well, though I'm not sure what the view will be like. Apparently there's supposed to be a drumming circle and such too, and that sounds pretty cool to me.

☆ Note to self: buy Mari Boine's Idjagiedas album as soon as you have the spare cash on hand. You've already listened to pretty much every track already; time to admit that it's Just That Awesome. The title track, "Idjagiedas/In the hand of the night" is especially good - and it sounds awesome live, too (the song proper starts at about 1:30). Fff, part of the problem with getting into her music is that she has been putting out music for quite a while, so there are a lot of albums - it's a question of "Where the heck do I start?" But this one, I like everything I've heard of it, sooo... yes. <3
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Kantele)
☆ Boil water advisory has been lifted. Air quality advisory has also been lifted. I'm so happy. Hopefully this will mean that normality will come even more quickly. It's good to be back, but the city is still really quiet, and there aren't very many businesses open. Hopefully that will change soon?

☆ There are so many story notifications in my inbox, holy shit. Might be a small fandom, but SSSS fans sure do have a lot of energy. Unfortunately, I don't have enough energy to read any of these. xD [/nudges them to the bottom of inbox] Ahhh well, hopefully on the weekend. Aaaand with rarepair fest coming up soon, there'll probably be some things written for that, which will be exciting. *_* Depending on how many people sign up with SSSS/aRTD, I might try to treat everyone who requested it, again. I finished my request letter last night, but I should probably tweak it a little, add some more details, or something. Kind of considering adding another pairing to the Hetalia list, but I'm not sure.

☆ ...I can't think of a third thing. Damn. Here, have some Mari Boine: Vuoi Vuoi Mu. I really should listen to more of her music; she's so good. Since she's been making music for a long time, she has a ton of work out - which is awesome, but it also means there's a lot of music to go through (and I usually end up wanting to listen to ALL THE THINGS, so... y'know.)
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Tuonela)

I got zero sleep last night. Zero.

It was hot out, which makes it hard to sleep even under normal circumstances. But it kept reminding me of the night before we had to leave, when it was so incredibly hot, and I couldn't sleep, and I kept smelling smoke even though the windows were closed. And then I kept thinking about the day we left. Not exactly conductive to anything, let alone sleep.

Tried to sleep a couple times, but I couldn't manage it, so I said "fuck it" and just... read an entire Mercedes Lackey novel all in one go. Magic's Promise. Fun stuff. Oh, Vanyel. <3 Oh, Savil. <3

...Anyway. By the time I finished, it was around 4 AM, and starting to get light out.

And then I started smelling smoke.


Most likely cause: blowing from the forest fire which is still burning, but mostly under control, like it always does in summer.

But that doesn't make me feel any better.

This weekend, my parents are going down to Athabasca for a while. My brother's going to be in Edmonton. I'm going to be up here looking after the dogs.

To be honest, even though it's very unlikely that we would have a second evacuation scenario, the thought of staying up here alone makes me kind of uncomfortable. I don't want to go to Athabasca, but I still feel kind of... scared of being alone up here, because what if. Enough that I find myself hoping that my parents will drive down with my father's truck, and leave my mother's car here, because I know how to drive her car. Well - okay. I can't legally drive without supervision. But I am capable of getting it from point A to point B in an emergency situation. I think. If I make sure to kennel the dogs in the back rather than letting them sit loose while I drive.

Jesus Christ, I can't believe I'm thinking about this.

...Well. My parents are leaving on Friday, I think. So, maybe I should look at the conditions on Thursday, and make my decisions then. Maybe I'll be less scared on a day when I haven't been up all night. :T


Jun. 2nd, 2016 05:22 pm
yuuago: (SSSS - Purrito - Twirl)

We have internet! We have power! We... don't have gas yet, but somebody will come by to turn it back on soon. AHA we have gas now, hooray!

The power never went out! Which means cleaning out the appliances was a breeze. We can return to almost-normal, hooray!

Downside is, my brother lost power, and his basement was flooded - we're still not sure why, but suspect that the storm water sewers were backed up due to all the water use in town. Okay, it turns out his hot water heater broke, and has to be replaced. All that carpet and whatnot is going to need to be completely ripped out, eugh. But, that's something for the insurance and his landlord (AKA mom) to sort out.

And now all the unpacking and cleaning and bullshit... well, one can take one's time with that.

I'm just so glad to be home. orz


Jun. 2nd, 2016 07:22 am
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Together)
Going home today! Hooray!(?)

No idea if my internet will be working in Fort Mac. It's possible that it won't.

I don't know what things are going to look like. Apparently, driving through downtown is... a pretty rough experience. Not to mention getting into town to begin with. I mean, the last thing most people saw of it was the Super 8 motel going down in flames, which... yeahhhh.

Maybe I'll take some pictures to match the ones I took when I was evacuating. :| (Which I haven't shown, because they're on my father's phone. We haven't had a chance to remove them yet.)

So... yes.


May. 29th, 2016 07:44 pm
yuuago: (SSSS - Lalli - Thoughtful)
☆ Wrestled with EI details today. The good: I managed to get almost everything taken care of, hooray! The bad: Because I received some pay from my previous employer after the date that I applied for EI, I'm going to need to call them and sort things out. (I applied on X date, but my final paycheque didn't go through until a few days later.) It should be pretty easy to set this all straight, but uh, I hate having to call about these things, and wait on hold, and blah blah blah. But as long as I write out a script beforehand, it'll be fine. orz

☆ Shaeiira fiiiinally was able to open the package of the SSSS book that I sent her aaages ago. <3 Seeing her reaction made me so happy. Totally worth it. Though, good lord, was it ever a long wait for that package to get to her, pf. Once everything returns to normal, and postal service is restored, I'll be doing another giveaway - this time it'll be for a necklace like the one in aRTD. But that'll be a while yet, maybe in July.

☆ Only a few days before we go back home. x_x This will be... interesting. On the one hand, I want to be back home. On the other hand, the city is going to be a mess, and I don't know if I want to drive through that again. Ugh. Well, there's nothing to be done about that.

☆ SPEAKING OF INTERNET, I don't know if I'll have internet in Fort McMurray, because our internet provider doesn't have detailed information about which areas have restored service and which are still waiting for it. Soooo I might disappear for a while. ;p Upside: I have downloaded sooo many public domain horror movies, I'll have no problem keeping myself occupied when I do have free time. Films + knitting, yay!

☆ Depending on how re-entry goes, and what ends up happening with work, I might possibly end up travelling somewhere in August - either to Calgary or Victoria, not sure which. BUT that is very fuzzy not-sure stuff yet; it's just an idea that's on the table. Maybe. If things go smoothly.


May. 27th, 2016 10:16 pm
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Best friends)
Good things that happened today:

☆ I received the letter from Service Canada that I need in order to complete the online application for unemployment insurance. It's fucking ridiculous that in this day and age, they make you wait for a code that is mailed to you, rather that completing the entire thing online. Especially in emergency situations like this one, where you have a lot of people who DO NOT HAVE ADDRESSES. I swear, aside from the night we evacuated + the day after, I think the most I cried during this bullshit was when I was trying to fill out my EI stuff and was informed that the information that I needed to complete it would be mailed to a house that I could not return to. (Sea noticed something was wrong... orz how awkward. Sorry, mate.) Anyway. At least I received it. Hopefully when I finish it tomorrow, there will not be any problems.

☆ I also received my tax return. :D So that's another thing that I don't have to worry about any more. (Yes, yes, I'll send in that direct deposit application, sigh. I don't know why I'm mentally stuck in the dark ages.) Time to look up the nearest bank in Sherwood Park, I guess....

☆ But on the subject - even though I'm receiving mail through the forwarding system, I'm going to have to ask you all to remember not to mail anything to me until I'm back in my house and Canada Post is operating in Fort Mac again. We're using this for important mail only right now.

☆ This morning, managed to catch one of Shaeiira's art streams, which is a rare pleasure. I don't always manage to watch them due to time zones - she's in the Philippines - and her wifi isn't great, so she isn't able to do it that often. It's so nice to watch her work.

☆ Had a nice conversation with Starfallz today! About knitting, mostly. <3 I don't go in the SSSS IRC chat all that often, so I don't get that many opportunities to talk to her in real-time, so that was great.

☆ Watched Apartment 1303 with the horror movie gang this evening. What a weird film. It started out pretty decent, but toward the end it seems like it couldn't decide what kind of movie it was going to be, and it started throwing out a bunch of horror tropes at random. ...I'm curious about the remake; I wonder if it's different (or better?).

☆ Wine and potato chips is kind of a weird combination, but I am A-Okay with being weird right now. <3
yuuago: (Norway - Hush)
☆ TO TOP EVERYTHING OFF, I've come down with a headcold. Ugh, fml. This is just peachy. And by peachy I mean jfc, why.

☆ I am seriously considering writing fic of Dami Im's "Gladiator" music video. Or like, adding it to my list of stuff to potentially request for Yuletide or something. ...I mean hey, that song + that video is basically begging for fantasy knight/princess femslash to be written, far's I'm concerned. ;p Ehhh we will see what comes of this. (And noooo it's not too early to be thinking about Yuletide, what are you talking about, if I don't write a list down then by the time it's actually time to think about it, I'll be sitting there stunned and unable to remember anything that I want!)

☆ I can not brain, so I've been doing very little except sitting here knitting and watching old horror movies that I downloaded from archive.org. Not gonna lie, Grave of the Vampire certainly is... interesting... in a very "1970s B-rate horror movie" sort of way. Vampire pregnancy? Ooookay. Pretty cracktacular. But there were some things that were interesting in concept, if not execution. (Reluctant to go into detail there because hella' spoilers, but yeah.) Another film that I watched was the 1910 short of Frankenstein. Silent era films are always pretty fascinating for me - there's this sensation of, holy shit, this film is over 100 years old, and here I am, watching it. Anyway, this film - it's worth watching for the creation scene alone; the way they did it is pretty cool. And in some other parts, there were some really neat filming/composition/framing choices. But mostly, this just reminded me that I should totally watch more silent film. I just find early cinema so fascinating.

☆ Speaking of horror movies, I managed to catch VVitch this past Friday with the horror movie gang. It's pretty good, I thought; I liked it a lot, anyway. It's more of a quiet, atmospheric kind of story about a family dealing with loss and getting drawn in by a supernatural evil, rather than in-your-face horror. Normally I'm not crazy about films that deal with witchcraft (of the "worshipping Satan and dancing around a fire while naked" sort) but I found this one pretty interesting in spite of that. It's well worth a watch, I think.

And in fire news....
Cut for length )


May. 19th, 2016 06:31 am
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Tuonela)
That feeling when you look up one of your favourite indie yarn shops to find out if they have a physical store, since they're located close to where you are, and you discover that they're donating all of their profits from May to your city's recovery effort.

Six-thirty in the morning is too fucking early in the day to be bursting into tears, goddamnit. But here we are. Apparently Kaleidoscope Dyeworks is awesome for more reasons than just their gorgeous yarn.

...Anyway. Yeah, I'm going to see if I can get my hands on something to knit with (though not from Kaleidoscope, because it turns out they're online-only, alas). Probably going to have to get my brother to drive me in to Edmonton or something, but that's okay. I have so much spare time, and there's only so much reading and fucking around on the internet that I can do before it gets really, really old. I'm honestly not in the mood to write, which is a complete bummer, but nothing much I can do about that. So... yes. Ought to try something else. Might do another one of those Curiosity scarves, since I already know that they're easy and relaxing to work on. But I guess I'll have to see what I can find.

(Just watch, I'll end up having to buy yet another set of size 7 circulars. I ALREADY HAVE THREE.)
yuuago: (SSSS - Lalli - Thoughtful)
The provincial government put out an announcement about a plan for phased re-entry to Fort McMurray, starting June 01 (Source).

My impression of this is: sounds like they're pretty organized. But as far as I'm concerned, June 01st sounds like it's too soon. I doubt conditions will be safe to return at that time. True, anything can happen in two weeks, but the fire keeps getting bigger. All of the oil plant lodgings have been evac'd. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually have to evacuate Fort McKay, too. There is so much smoke, and the fire is so big, it just - two weeks doesn't sound like it will be enough time. Not unless we get a ton of rain.

My parents are... too optimistic, I think. Either not understanding, or not wanting to acknowledge, that it is very likely that we won't be able to go back so soon, and that whenever we do get to go back, things are going to be a clusterfuck, and it will be a very long time before things return to anything resembling normal.
yuuago: (Estonia - Unease)

RL stuff )
yuuago: (Netherlands - Rest)
Arrived safely in Canada. Currently in Edmonton area with relatives, as planned.

I am sick of airplanes, and airport terminals, and flying, and security checks. I am not flying anywhere else for at least another year, thank you very much.

Wish I could have spent more time in Sweden, or basically literally anywhere else, but that's okay.

One of my relatives is coming up to see us tomorrow. That's nice. I haven't seen him in a long time. Since Grandmother's funeral, I think? Or maybe there was another time.

Dad says that he's been in contact with my boss and that they might put me to work in Edmonton... there is a lot of stuff that needs to be taken care of due to the evacuation and having to fly our employees off the work site quickly. Unfortunately, it isn't stuff I'm trained to do, but that's okay.

I dunno. I'm tired and drunk and it's not the time to deal with this nonsense. Good night.
yuuago: (Netherlands - Oh?)
Wow, what a Eurovision. The final voting was intense!

Ukraine wouldn't have been my personal choice, but the song by itself is pretty cool, and it's growing on me every time I listen to it, so I'm not all that disappointed. (I'm more disappointed that Spain didn't place higher - I loved that one.)

We dumped [personal profile] diplopod at the airport this morning. As for me, I go home tomorrow. Long flight, bleh. Not looking forward to that. But I guess it can't be helped.

I'm trying not to think of the stuff I'm going to have to take care of when I get back to Canada. I guess I'll let it sit for a day or two before I get around to it - it isn't like any of it is an emergency, anyway. I have a place to stay, and enough money that I'll be able to keep going with my bills and such for a few months, and no pets or dependants. So. It could be much worse.

It really bums me out that I won't be able to go back to work right away when I get back. Kind of weird that this is what I want the most, considering everything. But I guess it's just - my job is very steady, it's very reliable, and it's... a constant in my life. It also is, by definition, doing something. I go to work every day, I do my work, I come home, I get paid. But now, I'm going to go to Edmonton, and go to my relative's place, and... do what? Sit around until we're allowed to go home? That could be a month or more. And they live out in the boonies, and there isn't anything to do, not even anyplace to go walking or anything, and... ugh.

Well, I don't know. I guess I'll just find a way to make it all work out.

[edit] Satellite data has been released of post-fire Fort Mac, and my house is confirmed safe. I already figured that it was, because it is in one of the areas that suffered the least damage, but it's another thing to look at the map and see that it's okay.
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