This whole unpacking business is taking a lot longer than I thought. Not that it hasn’t been fun to have the freedom to have the time to be able to do that. I am being careful and deliberate with what I do. Each thing that passes through my hands or requires my attention has been analyzed and placed where it belongs or with other things that are similar. All those things in a temporary place will at some point find a place to call home. That place or that space is taking shape as the forces of organization gather strength. It’s kind of like the forces that are taking shape in the world as history itself gathers in the many protests that have sprung up spontaneously or otherwise in response to the new President’s policies.
I watched the Inauguration with a strange foreboding building inside me. All those little traditions that they have as part of that peaceful transition of power. Watching it stream live into my home and then in the time that followed looking at the scrutiny that resulted from the audience’s reaction. A lot of stuff pops up on my feed shared by others, a lot of stuff comes up as I browse the various sites that display such content. I was struck by how small the audience at the Mall was. That white ground cover amplified the size of the audience. The size of the crowd didn’t surprise me. The new President isn’t someone who inspires joy and hope but more like fear and dread. In some ways watching this event I was wondering what kind of disruptions if any will happen. What will he say in his speech? In a way I was transfixed for a few hours as all of this happened. I don’t think the cameras lied but they exposed something more than the size of the crowd.
Talking about crowd size how about the size of the crowds the next day at the Women’s March! That was a lot of people answering the call to join and voice their concern about rights that women have fought so long for. The signing of the executive order that eliminated funding for abortions by international NGOs a few days later justified their concerns. Chrl and I attended the March that was organized here in Saskatoon. I listened to the various speeches by the various women who came up to the microphone. They spoke about the long struggles by women to be recognized as full citizens with equal rights. There has been a long struggle to attain a certain recognition in society. That struggle to attain equality is an ongoing battle. It begins at the top but on the ground in our everyday lives it has seeds that sprout. The way that men and women interact with each other has evolved with culture and certain things no longer have the same kind of acceptance as they once did. The new President represents that old school that refuses to die. Women today don’t like to be objectified and treated as empty vessels and adornment. They don’t want men in power to have control over their bodies eliminating the choices available to them. The protest was about more than just the new President. Many other groups and individuals came out in solidarity to voice their displeasure at what the new President represents as a person. I came out in solidarity and to photograph the event.
The march was cute. It snaked its way around the core of the city pulsating with the changing lights. Everyone stayed on the sidewalk and there would be the occasional honking of the horn from a passer by. Signs were held aloft by gloved hands. It wasn’t freezing cold like it had been recently but the water is frozen and there is snow on the ground. I wore thinner gloves and found that I could operate my camera quite effectively with them on. It has been a while since I got to photograph a scene like this. I darted around like a fly thinking of how to best frame my shots. I kept looking for the red umbrella that Chrl was holding up in a symbolic way. We were told to meet at least one person on this march. I wasn’t counting Chrl’s friends that joined her. I got to talking to a man who like me was capturing the event through a lens. He owned the same brand of equipment as I do and that’s how the conversation started. He said that he has never seen a march this size in Saskatoon. A lot of people apparently came out. Like they did in that town in Nova Scotia with a really small population. This city is not that big and the march was over in an hour. It wasn’t the marathon that some places had to endure. The world reacts to events.
We invited Chrls friends over for brunch and one of them took us up on the offer. The place at this point was still a mess. There was space but things needed to have a place for themselves. There was still a whole bunch of organizing to do. Every day I’ve spent the whole day working on this. I really should have time lapsed it but it would have just eaten into my time dealing with it. Organizing is a creative process. It is really putin likes together. These likes congeal to form the shape of the answer needed to solve the riddle of their existence here and now. While some things have been discarded many things remain including the bags and boxes that housed them. Some of them might be needed to house some of these likes. Each solution is bespoke to the problem that raised it in the first place. There isn’t much storage for things that are out of season. We have a lot of luggage that needs storing, a lot of bags and a growing collection of empty plastic tubs. Things that are needed at specific times. Things that can’t just be thrown or given away. Space is limited and I am determined to have space and not be cluttered with furniture or stuff. We also need time to sort through the things we have in order to organize it better. Things like old writings and photos, clippings and projects that have been on hold for too long. This is the space we have and we have to adapt to it. This is that cave in the mountain which we are furnishing with love.
Chrl has a lot of schooling however she is not bothered by my puttering as I go around doing things. Sorting through things is not just an exterior activity. Seeing things again triggers memories of a time long ago and that sometimes leads to other thoughts. New problems keep arising and new solutions flood the scene clearing the slate clean. Our furniture arrived finally. This was a much needed injection of solutions. I began to be in a holding pattern as these two items were the answer to a lot of my problems. The books could finally be taken off the ground and our bed has storage underneath for Chrl’s wardrobe. This extra space is not there to cram stuff in it’s there to have things neatly and comfortably spaced. One of Chrl’s school friends drove me out to the depot to pick it up. Her SUV was just big enough to fit the length of the modular boxes. She offered to help me carry the boxes but her five foot frame was a bit small for that. I had her hold the door for me. Some of the boxes were heavy and it’s just easier for me to do it. Her holding the door allowed me to move it quickly. I started putting the bed together but couldn’t finish it in time before the night’s activity. We were attending a Town Hall style meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada. Chrl got us RSVP tickets somehow. Hours before the show we were still trying to get hers. She put the wrong email into the registration and whomever was emailing it kept getting it wrong. There was tension and a running commentary about her being allowed in without a printed ticket. Those fears were unfounded as we entered the lecture hall at the university. I wanted to get a clear picture and we kept switching seats until I snagged some choice ones out front below the news crews filming the event. The people there got to go out front and sit behind the PM during the event. It was a lovely medley of people from many different parts of the world. It certainly made for a nice backdrop along with the giant canadian flag. The PM was long winded in his answers but did a good job with the answers. There is certainly a message that he is trying to put out. We chatted about how we would have never gotten an opportunity like this to see the PM in Vancouver. We have a much more direct line to things here.
The work at home just pauses at these times as it does when I go and take care of other responsibilities. I am enjoying cooking again now that I have a kitchen again. For the most part we are making due with what we have but some things need to be bought like spices and some assorted utensils. I’ve been trying to vary the types of dishes that we eat. I fleat certain ideas by Chrl to see if she would like them and then I go out and do it. I’ve baked banana bread and made some different dishes always making sure that we have at least some left over for lunch the next day. This is a more economical way of eating. I have been working my way up to making a paella one of my favorite dishes. The unpacking is getting to a point where the finer things are being put in place. That doesn’t mean that it takes less time. At this point things take a lot longer. Like how to arrange our pictures and artwork. What do we want to put up? Where should it go? What to do with all the stationary and associated supplies? But we still have to eat and I still have to go to get the supplies. A chance to get away from the confines of this space. At times it felt claustrophobic. Repeat this daily over the past few weeks. These were long days but it wasn’t rushed. There isn’t any deadline yet.
The biggest issue I had to deal with was getting my paperwork for work sorted. When I first got news that I got the job I was also given a list of things that needed to be in done before I was able to begin work. The record check as well as copies of my certifications and educational accomplishments were sent already. I even arranged to have a copy of the “Letter of Professional Standing” sent over to the regulatory body in Saskatchewan. Or so I thought. About a week after I got a bit curious about the state of my application. What is taking so long? Is there anything missing? Am I being rejected? I made a few calls. It turns out that they are still waiting for that letter to be sent.
When I inquired about this a week ago I was under the impression that it was sent. It turns out that the letter was sent to Nova Scotia. It was sent by the person responsible as we spoke. On Monday I called again just to make sure. They still haven’t received it. I was a bit fuming by this point. How hard is it to send a bloody email? I gave them a fax number and the email that I wanted it sent to. I asked that both sides inform me when the letter is sent and when it is received. I if course kept myself in check. I didn’t want to be the guy who yells at the receiver. I did use language that said that I am treating you like an adult child because you are unable to follow instructions. Plus I am loosing money because of this. They had to feel embarrassed. The receptionist was nice and she understood that I was trying not to be an ass but that this was unacceptable.
My weekend didn’t differ much from my weekdays except that I took it easy with the organizing on Sunday. Chrl had a big important factum that she was working on all wekend. She was working with a classmate on this and she had a big insight into how to structure her preparation. When she described it to me I chuckled a little as I knew exactly where she was coming from. She learned the strength of gathering all info and then structuring the argument from all of the data.
We have been enjoying this time together. Even though I am working long days at organizing we still have lots of time together. We make certain decisions together but Chrl trusts my judgement too and allows me room to creatively solve our issues. Certain things have to be solved creatively and the fact that I can picture the solution and excecute it accordingly helps. If I kept messing things up I don’t think this level of trust would exist either. Chrl is not above saying something. Like one time I made her lunch and half jokingly asked her if she wanted mustard and mayo in her bread as if she wouldn’t. She said no but I put it on anyways. As we were eating dinner she spoke up. With an inquisitive look on her face she was like “did I not say I didn’t want mustard and mayo?”
To me a sandwich isn’t a sandwich without these two ingredients. I put some cold cuts on there as well as lettuce, cheese, tomato, and avocado. It was a great sandwich. Chrl was not amused. She said that she didn’t know if I did this intentionally to spite her or if it was just a mistake. I told her that I don’t know why I asked. I was going to put on mustard and mayo. I wasn’t aware of how much she disliked those two ingredients. Lesson learned I shall never more put mustard and mayo on her sandwich. We are alike in many ways but on this one issue we differ.
We laugh a lot and spend a great deal of time embraced. I tend to wake up earlier so I sneak out of bed but come back in just before Chrl wakes up and act as a gentle alarm. Every day that Chrl comes home a little bit more changes inside the flat. These last few days were spent unpacking and sorting all the clippings that I made. I’ve finally found a deadline as I’m going to go to the island to help my brother out with his home renovation. He is finally at the stage where he will be drywalling. I spent four hours organizing all of our pens, markers, and pencils into one drawer. I made a cardboard grid that will help me separate all the different writing utensils and keep it upright in the drawer. We sure have a lot of these things. We have a whole lifetime supply of pens for sure. Neither of us use a pen and paper as much as we used to back in the day. It’s all becoming digital.
It was satisfying to bring the last load of cardboard downstairs into the recycling bin. The last few days were quite cold with the wind and as I organized I listened to the howling wind outside thankful that I am not out there. This is the reality of living out here in the prairie. I am happy and optimistic at all of the opportunities that are available to me here and that we are here together. I am really happy that for the most part we are unpacked and fairly organized in our flat. Maybe now I can keep up with the thoughts that have passed through my mind over the past couple of weeks. The world is gripped by controversy and it is reacting to provocative policies with anger and disgust. This is just the beginning.