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The Compost Pile, Special Issue -- Death and Floods
November 07, 2013

Death and Floods

Thanks so much for your patience. I am afraid this is not a compost newsletter this time, rather it is an explanation of why I've been so out of touch…

Mom's Illness and Death

The last couple of years were very tough for my Mom. Mom lived with my son and me until we could no longer meet her needs. Even once she moved to a seniors facility I remained her main caregiver which was at once a privilege and a gut wrenching experience. got the short shift through these times.

On July 6th my Mom died. The last few weeks of Mom's life I had a chance to just sit with her watching the rabbits and deer gather outside her window, just quiet time, conversation not required, other commitments ignored.

Her last 8 days I spent by her side. You know those movie scenes where everyone arrives to say farewell and then the dying person slips into death… well that didn't happen. My Mom went slowly and I know she found those last days frustrating. She was ready to go but couldn't quite cross the line.

For me it was an opportunity to surrender to time, to life and to death. It was also a time for me to see my Mom through the eyes of others. She was clearly a favourite of the staff somehow bringing her sense of humour forward through all the indignities the frailty of age brings. I was so proud of her and so glad to have been there to hear these stories.

I miss her.

Meanwhile… A Flood

This picture shows a fireman rescuing an elderly woman. He's laughing because she said "The last time I was carried like this was my wedding day."

My town flooded. I live in High River Alberta. On June 20th we had a colossal flood… they say it was a 1000 year flood. Up in the headwaters of the Highwood River 14 inches (36 cm) of rain fell over a two day period and 39 inches (a meter) of snow melted. A flash flood came through.

I couldn't sleep the night before the flood hit… it was raining so hard all night it sounded like hail. The whole town was evacuated as all the infrastructure… power, water, sewer… had major damage. Of 4000 homes 3000 had serious damage.

A flood can be an ambiguous event. Once the waters recede many of the structures are still standing, damaged but still there. In fire they are gone.

The first wave of returning refugees were allowed home July 1st. There was time for those decomposers we composters are familiar with to get started breaking down the houses. In short mould spores bloomed and fungi began attacking the wet muddy structures left standing. Let's put it this way I now totally get what the Katrina and Sandy storms did and how it disrupts and continues disrupting the lives of people affected.

The headlines are over about our town but a few thousand people still can't live in their former homes, many businesses are still not open and those that are are often struggling, and even those living in homes still lack things like a functioning furnace… dark times here in other words.

We were very lucky. My home is on a hill… we now call it salvation hill. We are near the Fire Hall and seem to be one of few - about 100 - homes that did not even lose power. At one point during the flood we had 10 people, 5 dogs and 3 cats with us.

We all survived but our friends are all still in various difficult states of commotion in trying to rebuild their homes and collect from insurance and disaster relief.

So… What Now

In short I have been preoccupied. I am back now however and just wanted to let you know.

Your Questions… There is a backlog. I am going to discontinue the format for questions. Instead I will combine similar questions and put a page up on the site with a detailed answer. If you included your e-mail address with your question I will send you a note with a link to the answer.

Those of you who have questions, want to share stories, or comment on something on the website, you are still welcome. Use the contact form on the contact me page. FYI the comment box will take long comments and stories - it just looks small so no need to trim.

I am looking forward to the next few weeks of going over the website. Things are going to be moved around, I want to reorganize things so it's easier to find the information you are looking for. I also plan to update older pages as I go.

If you want to keep right up to date subscribe to the RSS feed. It's pretty straight forward thanks to SBI and any changes will appear there with links for you.

Happy Composting

See You All Soon


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