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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's My Christmas Week!

This is it, I know some of you have been waiting for me to start, and I have been patiently waiting to start talking about Matt Minglewood. But I won't wait any more!

The next three nights are the best nights that I have in Fort McMurray. The nights that Matt comes to town and plays at the Boomtown Casino are my Christmas. I count down from the time that I hear that he is booked, and I start reminding people about 100 days out. And here we are, this time tomorrow night, I will be sitting at a table, waiting for Matt and band to take the stage.

So here's the plan. Tomorrow night is girl's night! Whoever wants to join us for supper, a few of us are heading to the new Town Hall on Fraser Avenue for around 6:45p.m. And then we are off to grab tables at the Casino to hear Matt.

If you don't like me, and you don't like Matt, then the next few days are not a good time to be following me on Facebook, here or Twitter. This is my time to have fun, dance, sing, and catch up with all my old and new friends. Every single year I get to meet some new people in town, or ones that are in from camp. And I get to sit and see friends that I went to school with, friends that I haven't seen in years, and best of all? I get to listen to a Canadian legend on the stage. How does it get any better? For me, the only things that could make it better would be more friends. I wish that some of my oldest, dearest friends and some family could be with me this weekend. I wish that my old friends that love Matt almost as much as I do could be here to share the nights with me.

And one extra bonus for me this weekend is that my oldest, Mitchell, is going to be going with us on one of the nights. Several other young people who come here all the time are also going, and that is so special to me. This marks the official weekend that a fourth generation in our family will go and listen and sing along to Matt's great songs! So if anyone has a younger, sensible daughter, bring her along to meet my son, lol! Good thing he doesn't read his old mom's writings!

We always have so much fun, and it's always way better than I even imagine. So if you have a friend or relative out here in Fort McMurray, tell them to head to the Boomtown Casino this weekend, and if I haven't met them before, tell them to go introduce themselves to me. I will be the redhead up front, dancing and laughing and having the time of her life. It all starts in less than 24 hours now!!


Monday, September 21, 2015

I need motivation!

I am still trying to figure out how to get my motivation going. I am down 5.4 pounds since I started about three weeks ago. Not a lot, but slow and steady, and better than any gains!

But I still haven't been adding in any exercise. And in talking to other women, I realize that I am not alone. The days that I get the house work, and a little writing, then there is no time for exercise. If I do some interviews and a meeting for work, I get nothing done at the house, so then I feel like I should clean up the next day instead of once again fitting the exercise in. See, no balance. My goal in the next few weeks is to start planning my days out better, and getting the exercise done.

So far the easiest part has been the healthier eating, as everyone is on board in the house. I will start posting more of the recipes that have been a hit so far. The first one is supper easy, and everyone loves lettuce boats.

I use romaine lettuce hearts. For the stuffing, I cut up boneless chicken breasts and fry them in some olive oil. I add about a tablespoon of red pepper flakes, and about a half a bottle of hoisin sauce(for about four chicken breasts). Then I add whatever the kids will eat, like red pepper, corn, chopped water chestnuts. and matchstick carrots.

I hope you all are working towards your own goals, and know that there are many of us going through the weight loss struggle.


Monday, September 7, 2015

I hope this is the beginning of a new trend!

I did it! I kicked off my first week of weight loss with a great start. I lost 3.2 pounds in a week, yeah me! But I didn't incorporate any exercise in the last week, so that is one thing that I plan to change this week.

I did try to add some extra steps to my fitbit, but it was really just better meals in the last week that made the difference. I had smaller portions, more veggies, and I also made things like stuffed peppers, and skipped fast food and desserts.

Now this week I am going to get back to Oranj for some classes and keep up with the healthier eating.

Of course life threw me another curveball this week, as Tim has been assigned to a new project at work, so he isn't going to be home after Christmas. For the next few months I am more or less going to be a single parent again. Tim will be gone before Shayleen and the boys get up, and Shayleen will be in bed before he gets home. And with the long hours, he will be in bed before the boys are.

The other wrench with this new plan is that I will have to make two suppers again each night. Hopefully I will restrain from eating with the kids and then with Tim.

For now, I'm happy with my loss this week, and I feel like I am still on track for this week. Thanks to the ones who have joined me, keep checking in and we will do this together. I wish I could figure out how to link my fitbit or my fitness pal onto the blog. I will do some research this week to see if I can do something like that so that I can be more accountable with my exercise on here. I will let you all know what I find out. And I will start posting some of the healthy recipes I am using.



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wine Wednesday!

Okay, before you start emailing me, I realize that it is diabolical that the first blog I do after saying that I am going to lose weight is one about wine. But lighten up.

For months now I have been watching Matt Bellassai do his Wine Wednesday posts, and every week I get tempted to do my own version, Fort McMurray/Cape Breton style. And then every week, I chicken out. I can't think of anything I hate worse than getting my picture taken, except maybe making a video of myself. The other night a loved one "Face timed" me on my phone. It's a good thing I love him, because otherwise, I wouldn't have answered. All I could see was my huge red nose up in the corner distracting me the whole time. And yes, I'm working on finding a fix to that stupid thing.

So instead I thought I would offer some of my favourite wines every week, because, you know, everyone loves wine. And everyone loves trying new wines and talking about a great find.

It's funny, I don't think people believe me, but I didn't really start drinking wine until a few years ago. I would have the occasional glass at a wedding in Cape Breton, but I didn't really start enjoying the different wines until I moved out to Fort McMurray. And yes, I realize the irony. And it has turned into a huge signature for me, I love wine jokes, I love nice wine accessories, and I love a good wine, especially with good friends. So on Wednesdays I will share some finds.

To kick off the series, I am going to offer some Canadian, Australian and another from the States. Which is kind of funny, because anyone who knows me would say that my favourites lean more to the Shiraz and Cabernet picks.  I have two from Canada, one from the States,  and one from Australia Regretfully, they are all a bit more pricey, but the Canadian ones are not too bad.

If anyone ever asks me what my absolute favourite wine of all time is, I will quickly answer, it comes from the Larkmead Winery in California. And my favourite so far is the Cabernet Sauvignon. Hands down, best wine ever, ever. Friends and relatives have gone in on a case with me a few times now, because it is becoming harder and harder to find at a liquor store up here. And while we all say that we only drink it for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, we have been together and looked at each other and said, "Why not?" and cracked a bottle. It's a bit more pricey, since it usually comes in at around $55-$60 a bottle. But it's cheaper to order a case with friends.
And when I can't find a Larkmeand, my next best find is a little cheaper, since it usually costs around $47 a bottle, but it is Kilikanoon. It is an Australian Shiraz, so I guess it would be my favourite Shiraz, but it's not one that I would buy on a regular basis. Instead it's another one of those "treat" wines that I get for special get togethers.

My two favourite Canadian wines came to me through friends. My first pick was given to me as a gift from my bestie, Brooke. It was so good that after she gave it to me, and then I went to Toronto, we drove down to the Jackson Triggs Winery in Niagara just to buy some more. It is the Sparkling Merlot by Jackson Triggs. And again, sadly, it's a hard one to find. I just went to see if I could order it, and it's sold out. And I have never seen it in any liquor store out here, we and Brooke and Kevin have only found it at the actually winery. But if you ever get the chance, it's one of the best wines you will ever try.

And finally, my last pick for favourites has a local connection. Bob Campbell is a lawyer from Fort McMurray who invested in  Dirty Laundry a few years back. Get your heads out of the gutter, lawyers are not always associated with everyone's dirty laundry. This time around, Campbell did us all a favour, the buzz around town was that several local people had invested in this company, so of course, everyone was curious to try it to see if it was any good. In the last year this wine has become one of my favourites. It's one that I would give to a good friend as a Birthday gift, and it's one that I would buy myself at the end of a particularly hard week. It is usually $38 in the local stores, and my particular favourite is the Kay -Syrah, but I want to try the Dangerous Liasons, which always seems to sell out before it even hits the stores. Wineries alway have wonderful stories behind how they came up with their names, and Dirty Laundry is no exception. Go to www.dirtylaundry.ca to read about their history, their wines, and the fun things they do at their winery.

As you can tell, I definitely favour my red wines, but I will also share my favourite white wines in the weeks to come. I hope that you will all share your picks with me, and cheers!


Monday, August 31, 2015

It's time to start all over again.

229.4. There it is, the great big ugly number. It's the number that came up on the scale this morning. It's the number that took me all day to put into print. It's the number that needs to be defeated, again.

Yep! Over two years ago I had hit a slightly higher number, and I had done well for several months at losing the weight. And then life threw me some curves, and I found that my weakness during stressful times is food. I had thought I would never go back, I would never lose focus on my health, I would never gain it back. And here I am. Starting all over.

Around supper time one of my best friends texted me, and asked me how my day went. This morning on Facebook I made a statement that it was "Operation Take back the house, and the body" day one. I had all the best intentions today, but didn't do as well as I had hoped. My goal was to get back to the gym, and that didn't happen. I got wrapped up with back to school details, work and other crazy life details that I had been putting off over the summer. But I did eat healthy today to kick it off, and I went for a little walk as well. But in order to lose some major pounds, I have to get back to the gym, and one other thing...I need to get the family on board.

Tim(hubby) actually printed off some healthy meal plans to kick off the first month, and I will post any recipes that turn out well. But having him on board is huge. I fight terrible guilt since his accident. It took me a while to admit it to him, but since his accident he has not been able to be as active as he use to be, so every time I could be active, I was having guilt. But now the weight is affecting my health, and my happiness, so it's time to get better. And it will help us all.

So if you want, you can join me on my journey. Come up with a meal plan that works for you, and perhaps some exercise too, and I will give you the ugly details each Monday about how I am doing.  I realized during my last journey that putting out the ugly numbers, and telling about the funny struggles I was having helped to keep me accountable. But that might not work for everyone, so find what works for you, and join me.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer's End

Last summer I remember saying that I tend to be a seasonal writer. And this summer I once again proved that this was true. But in the last few days, I realized it wasn't so much because I take the summer off, because I am just as busy in the summer with the kids off as when they are in school. But I guess my priorities change during the summer months.

Years ago there was a time that I thought I would never have children. I have been blessed with three, and with being foster parents over the last few years that number has fluctuated from time to time. So having the opportunity to spend my days trying to entertain them and just spend some time with them is by far the biggest blessing in my life.

Tomorrow Nathanial will go to Holy Trinity to register for his Grade 11 year, and Shayleen is off to MacDonald Island for a week of summer camp as we try to get her back on a schedule as she will be back to school next Monday. For the last 14 years or so I would have been getting Mitchell ready with back to school clothes as supplies as well, and I am still sad that he graduated and will no longer be needing his mom to do those preparations any more. In fact, September always seems to be somewhat of a challenge for me, as I get a bit blue with the kids going back to school, and the thought of another cold winter starts to take root in my thoughts.

This year will be a bit different for another reason, I am back doing some reporting work for the Fort McMurray Connect newspaper. I will be reporting more on council and with council starting weekly council meetings, it should be a fairly busy fall for me as we all get back into some regular routines.

I have already started working for the Connect, and I have found that there is one other thing about me that is true, and that is that when I am writing more for work, I tend to write more personally. So in the coming weeks I will be sharing more in the blog again, and am even playing with the idea of starting to share more of my fictional work, which I have never done before in the blog.

Hopefully all will go smoothly in the coming weeks, and it already feels good to be back sharing here again, and I have several ideas jotted down for upcoming blogs. I hope you all had a wonderful summer, and suck up the last few days with your children and the summer sun during this last week.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Untamed Feast

I am always searching for new recipes ideas, and when I find things that appeal to everyone at the table from 5 years to 42, I have to share.

During the fall trade show my friend Jon Tupper texted me a picture of a bottle of morel mushrooms. I suddenly had to make the trip to MacDonald Island, I was totally bummed that they did not come back during the recent trade show. So I went looking for their product online and was happy to find out that they will ship to Fort McMurray. This will now give me the chance to try some of their other products that I haven't yet.

The other night I was craving some morels, so I tried the recipe that they included in the bag for their "Classic Mushroom Cream Sauce" and used it on farfalle. I adjusted the recipe some, to suit the kids(no onions, and left out the cheese for one of them), but at the end of supper there wasn't one single bite left for Tim to take any leftovers for work.

Here is the link to the website for the recipe, they even do videos, so there is no way you can screw them up.

https://untamedfeast.com/eat/classic-mushroom-cream-sauce/

And here is how it turned for me the other night:
It really is hard to find something that everyone says that they loved it, so I will be ordering more product! As I went to the website, I also found out that I loved the story of the company. In order to obtain the morel mushrooms they have to go where the wild fires are, so they go into Northern British Columbia, and Alberta and even the Northwest Territories in search of the delicious morsels. So yes, you are going to pay a bit more for these mushrooms, but when making a special dish for a special occasion they are so worth it.

The risotto was also really good, and so easy compared to the traditional way of making it(imagine, no stirring!).


Friday, April 24, 2015

What does Margaret Atwood and Kevin Thornton have in common? Brilliance.

When was the last time you got so excited that you started crying? You know that kind of excited happiness that just overwhelms you, and then you end up crying like a fool. Well, for me, it was last night, and I am still bursting this morning so I had to sit down to share it with all of you.

Last night I found out that a friend, Kevin Thornton, has been short listed for Best Short Story by the Crime Writers of Canada for the Arthur Ellis Awards. To be honest, I had not heard about these awards until a few years ago, but it was established in 1984. Kevin has been nominated five times, so that alone tells you his level of writing. But this year, the extra kick is that he has been nominated against Margaret Atwood. When your name starts getting put on short lists with the literary Queen of Canada, people should start paying attention. But I am not going to leave it up to Kevin to toot his own horn, as he never does.

When I first started reading Kevin's work, I found myself reading it out loud to hubby or the kids. I only read out loud when I get really into a piece, and it doesn't happen as much as I would like. I thought Kevin was only writing columns for the Today, and then happily discovered he had a blog. I would patiently wait for the morsels that he would throw out for me to devour. I was hooked. I can remember reading one piece that he did around Remembrance Day about three years ago, and at the end of it I decided that I wanted to meet him. It was around the same time that I discovered he also wrote fiction. He really does suck at self promotion. The way that Kevin uses words makes other writers like myself wish that we were better. And although he doesn't realize it, after spending any amount of time with him, I am always inspired to write something, or at least try to, because when he talks about writing, it invokes a passion or pull that only other writers can understand. It has happened with a few people in town with me over the last few years, and I feel lucky that they all share their passion so freely with the rest of us.

On May 28 the Awards will presented in Toronto, and I am so hoping that Kevin will be able to attend. Can you imagine if you were nominated against Atwood and then if he wins? No one deserves it more, Kevin works so hard, but also enjoys the whole process so much, and he is so completely humble about his talent that it just makes you like him more.

No matter what happens on the 28th, we already know you are an amazing writer Kevin, but it would be pretty sweet to take the award home and sit it on your desk and let it be a reminder of the time that you kicked Margaret Atwood's butt and made us all so proud.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You never know what's going on behind closed doors.

If you tell me to sit down and write something professional these days, I don't have much of an issue. Although the first two columns after the election were garbage, last week I actually had friends that sent me messages and said, "I was worried about you, but this week's column shows your spark again." So even my closest friends had not realized that I have been stuck the last few weeks.

On April 2, my Aunt Jennie passed away. I was blessed in every way to have had her in my life. Even on the last day that I had talked to her, she still referred to me her as "her girl", which she had done for as long as I could remember. I had hoped in the last few months to go home to Nova Scotia to see her, but with Tim's grandmother passing away unexpectedly and life in general happening, I didn't get to make the trip. But this past summer when we were home, she made the trip from Halifax to Cape Breton for the wedding that was going on, and I am so glad we got to see each other then. Jennie was one of those people who loved unconditionally, and I always felt so lucky to be on the receiving end of her attention.

As many of you who have read any of my work over the years, I often will write about those that pass away. I often do it as a tribute to the person and their family, but it is also helps me to acknowledge the loss, and really writing is always the way that I deal with everything in life. And I couldn't bring myself to write about Jennie. If I wrote about her dying, about how awful cancer stole someone I loved again, it would be true. I would have to deal with it. And I couldn't.

Shame on any of you who said I was licking my wounds because I lost the election. Don't think I haven't heard the rumours. Shame on those who like to talk crap about others just for the fun of it. I have realized during the last few weeks that I might not have made much of a politician. I don't like the games, and I didn't like that people would say they were friends and when in fact, we were never friends, not by my definition anyway. And I suck at lying and acting like I like someone who is actually not a very nice person or negative, and I will be the first to admit it that I suck at it. I can debate until the cows come home, and I respect people who have different ideas or ideals that I do, but I more likely to say someone is not nice or full of shit than not. And that doesn't always work in politics, lol.

Besides the loss of my Jennie, our family suffered another terrible personal loss during the campaign that I have not gone public with until now. After almost 7 years of being foster parents with our agency, McMan, here in town, we found out about three weeks ago that the government put the contract out for tender, and no agency in town got the contract. St. Aidan's did not even bid the contract, so they will no longer have foster services in town either. I was and still am devastated. We worked so closely with our agency, and our workers, they often were like family as they helped us through adjusting to having new children in our home, helped us grieve when they left and cheered us on when we adopted. And after months of rumours, and absolutely no information from Children Services, our lives changed. We are now, like many foster families in town, at a loss. We know now that a company from out of town got the contract, and we are again making one of the hugest decisions we have ever made in the last few years. Will we try to put our trust in a new company that is not even from here, after feeling so betrayed by so many different experiences with foster care over the years, or do we make the decision to not foster any more? I have to tell you, we are really struggling with the decision, and feel that the government has dropped the ball and left the foster parents and the children here at a loss. I will say that Don Scott has been a support for our family during the last two years or so with various issues, but the foster care system in Alberta, and right across the country is completely broken, and these new changes will not make it any better for anyone, least of all the children in care.

So this past weekend was our birthday, and hubby(Tim)has been the only one who has known how much I have been hurting lately(never mind the regular every day stress crap besides). So he spontaneously took me out to Live Bar and Grill for supper, and to see an old friend, Brennan MacDonald, sing for a few hours. It was just the kick in the pants that I needed. That, and I had some great time with great friends over the last few days who always lift my spirits.

I will miss Jennie so much, there are very few in your life that will love you no matter what you say or do or think, and I have lost one of those people in Jennie. I was lucky enough to have had her in the first place, and I will try to move forward remembering that instead of staying stuck.

This picture was from this past summer.
And this is Brennan with some of his siblings in their mother's kitchen. If you get a chance to see any of them, or their band, Company Road, you won't regret it, they are the most talented bunch this side of Port Hood.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Campaign Funeral?

So Election Day has come and gone, and I am not a new councillor at the table in Ward 1. And I am totally okay with that. I have always been a firm believer that everything turns out the way it does for a reason. I am just not suppose to be on council, so I will continue volunteering and working in the community that I love doing other things. But I know that I will still be watching every council meeting and talking about what is going on, that won't change.

The best way I can describe the last few weeks is like this, I feel like I got to attend my own funeral. For the last few weeks I have heard from friends I have not heard from in 20 years. I heard from old neighbours from when I was growing up in Mabou Harbour. I have heard from high school teachers, and my community of Fort McMurray cheered me on. My neighbours all asked for signs and told people to vote for me. People that I have worked with in Fort McMurray told me that they believed in me, and friends that I knew were friends all along told me they loved me and were proud of me. And my family, they door knocked, babysat, cheered, and stood with me through the whole experience.

On the first day of the campaign a wise man said, "Verna, at the end of the day when all is said and done, you will go home to your family, and that's all that really matters." And he was right. Tim has stood beside me for the last 20 years, and last night he stood in the kitchen and gave me a new beautiful book bag. He said that if I won, I could use it for council, and if I lost, then it's a sign I am suppose to be finishing up my book. And my three kids shed a tear or two and told me they were proud of me. How could I possibly ask for anything more than all this?

Tim and I have been through sickness, accidents, the loss of babies, the birth of babies, elections, moves, and we always manage to stay positive. This is just another part of the journey. In the last year I have won a Woman of Inspiration Award, a Gold Star Award for Media/Communications, had my first work published in a book, seen my kids grow older, and have been told by my husband almost every day that he loves me. I have grown a circle of friends that are the most loyal, wonderful bunch that you will ever meet in your life. I know that they have my back, and would never say a disparaging word against me. So in other words, I am truly blessed.

In the last few weeks, that circle of friends has grown. Some of the people that I admire the most in Fort McMurray have said they supported me, or believed in me. This has all made the loss just another great adventure in my life. I would not trade it or the people I have met for anything.

I do feel like I have let some people down, the ones that really wanted me to win and believed in me. But the only time I got a little upset last night was at the end of the evening, when I was standing alone with Tim, and I admitted that I felt like I had let the seniors in Fort McMurray down. In the last few years I have gotten to know many of our seniors, and they supported me through this campaign. And I hope that they know that I will continue to write and talk about their issues as well as all the other issues in Fort McMurray.

So thank you to everyone who supported me, in whatever form it was, I will never be able to say how much I appreciated it all. Every kind word will never be forgotten. And you know, there were even a few that I thought were friends that revealed that they did not believe in me, and even that is good. It's better to have true friends than someone who has an agenda. Those who know me, know that I just wanted to have a hand in making our community a better place to live, and I wanted to run a campaign that my kids could say they were proud to be a part of. I stayed true to my own voice, and I am happy with that today.

Best of luck to Colleen Tatum who won last night. With the downturn in the economy lately, council will have to make some hard decisions in the coming months and we need them to continue to be leaders and guide us through. Colleen was the voter's choice and I am sure she will take the position seriously, as she wouldn't have been running otherwise.

I will continue doing what I have always done, I will be part of my community and will continue working to help where and when I can. Thanks again!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Last push to Election Day.

It's the Friday before Election Day, I can't believe we are down to the last couple of days of the campaign already. Business first, you can vote at MacDonald Island tomorrow from 9a.m. until 8p.m. So if you are down there for hockey or the gym, please drop in and vote. Monday is the big day, you can vote at MacDonald Island, the Oilsands Discovery Centre, Holy Trinity(Timberlea) and Ecole St. Paul(Thickwood).  And Monday is the same time as tomorrow's poll.

It has been an intense few weeks, I never really felt like it was enough time, I wish I could have been able to knock on some more doors and meet some more residents of Fort McMurray. But it is what it is, and hopefully people will look at my work of the last eight years. I have written about almost any issue you can think of, and talked to more residents in those years than I ever thought possible. In doing all that work, and watching and studying council I have gained a huge amount of knowledge about how council works and what the residents that live here want from their council.

And now, it's up to the voters, and it will be all about who can inspire the most people to actually go vote. I would ask you to share this and encourage your friends and family to also get out and vote.

In the last few years I have become increasingly frustrated with the fact that council seemed to not be listening to the residents. It has gotten better in the last 18 months or so, but I think we should be even more open and accessible. I want people to really feel connected with their representatives, and therefore their local government. I would like to join the other councillors who have started the meet and greets every quarter, and I will of course continue to use this blog and all my social media to keep residents informed of what is going on with council. Just as I did before the election for years, I will continue the same after Monday.

During this campaign I have had some support that has meant a great deal to me. I have had strong support from family and friends, and I have had support from people that I never would have dreamed would support me in my run for this council seat. I am proud that I have remained true to my word and my values, and I did the best I could with the resources I had. I wanted to share some of the emails that friends have sent out on my behalf, and please feel free to post your comments on why you will be supporting me at the polls on Saturday and Monday. Please drag your family and friends out to vote, as every single vote will help me win and put me in the position to be a strong voice in Ward 1.

Jon Tupper wrote the following email and sent it out to support me, he has been so generous as a friend, but also as a resource of information for me about everything during this campaign.

As I'm sure you know, there is a by-election for Municipal Council Ward One this coming Monday, March 30.  And as you know me, you know I'm a fierce advocate of democracy; it is the most important freedom we have.  Our voter turnout in Fort McMurray is always very low, especially in by-elections.  I just wanted to send a personal note encouraging you to cast a ballot this Monday so that your voice can be heard.  You can find the correct polling station by following this link: http://www.woodbuffalo.ab.ca/Municipal-Government/Elections/Where-to-Vote.htm

Personally, I am supporting Verna Murphy for council.  I've known Verna for years as a friend and she is a strong advocate for our city.  She follows council closely and is passionate about municipal affairs; I don't think she's missed watching a council meeting in half a decade.  Verna also has the wisdom to pick up the phone and talk to people about issues, she is not a politician that wishes to be elected, she is a resident who wants to make sure our voices are heard.  Verna is also a very kind woman who has helped my wife and I out on numerous occasions.  She and her family are always willing to extend kindness to those around them and she is dedicated to our community.  Kindness and dedication are two traits which I admire most.

I sincerely hope to see you out at the polls on Monday if you have not already voted.

Yours very sincerely,

Jon Tupper

Vaughn Jessome and I have not always hit it off. At times over the years I thought he hated me, as he seemed to be so bossy and we fought often about my political comments. I am sure friends and family are laughing, imagine, Vaughn and I fighting.  But through our interactions, I gained so much knowledge about governance and the various responsibilities of the various levels of government. During this campaign, he has continued to push me, and I honestly doubt I would even be running if it wasn't for him. He has been an unbelievable support for me, and I can't thank him enough. He wrote the following post on Facebook: 

Good Day to All
You are receiving this message because you either live in Fort McMurray or know friends and/or family who live there and enjoy the community. Many second and third generation youth are now entrenched in Fort McMurray and doing their best to make it the best place to live, raise children and feel safe. Everyone who lives in this community plays a crucial role in its development and future planning.
I am asking you for your support in ensuring that the voices of those who care the most about our community be adequately represented on council which our community’s future is most often decided. How can you support me? By supporting VERNA MURPHY in the upcoming by-election which was required due to the resignation of a good friend of mine and yours, Guy Boutilier. Verna has called Fort McMurray home for more than 8 years and has been actively involved in community through organizations such as the Foster Parent Association, Sustainable Housing Transition Team, Community Advisory Committee (of which I was the Chairperson for 10 years) responsible for setting Yearly Policing Priorities as well as being the voice of the community relating to safety issues and working with the R.C.M.P. just to name just a few organizations she is involved with.
Verna is an award winning blogger who also wrote a column for the Fort McMurray Today, The Cape Breton Post as well as many other periodicals. Verna Murphy was also selected as a Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta’s Women of Inspiration in which they said (regarding Verna’s writings) “In (Murphy’s) articles, she is relentless in holding those accountable on the political stage,”.... “She has the ability to take a topic, investigate and put to words the thoughts that are far reaching.”
A vote for Verna is a vote for the community at large. A vote for Verna will yield you representation that has a knack for being persistent, knowledgeable and tenacious. Verna is someone who cares as much if not more than anyone else in our community.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
For those who live in Fort McMurray:
Send words of encouragement/support for Verna
Get out to vote and vote for Verna Murphy
“Like” and “share” Verna’s political page continuously (every time your share it translates in more votes as your friends will support your choices)
Speak to your friends and encourage them to do the same
For those who do not live in Fort McMurray:
Please “like” and “share” Verna’s page and content as much as possible. Encourage your friends, children and family living in Fort McMurray to do the same.
Every Vote Counts!! Every Shared post Counts!! Every conversation with your friends and family Counts!! Selecting Verna to represent us on council Counts!!
VOTE VERNA MURPHY FOR COUNCIL-RMWB
Verna Murphy Contact information:
Cell Phone: 780-838-1782
Email:vernamurphyforcouncil@gmail.com

I will continue to work through this weekend and come Monday, please remember to vote, your vote will help make a difference. I would also like to say a special thank you to Tim, Mitchell, Nathanial and Shayleen before this weekend goes into overdrive. Your support, and your belief in me has given me the confidence to attempt to win this seat. Tim, as usual, you are right in there with me, I really couldn't have tackled this without your support and help at home. Love you all so much, thank you. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What can I do as a councillor?

The last few weeks have been some of the most interesting ones that we have had as a family since we moved to Fort McMurray. I knew that when I decided to run for the vacant council seat that it would be intense and that it would be a lot of work. I feel like I am quickly running out of time, so instead of writing much of anything, I have been out every day knocking on as many doors as I physically can before Election Day on Monday. Even after doing it for almost six weeks now, I feel like I have barely made a dent, but I will keep pushing through right until the very last day.

Tomorrow you can go vote at another advance poll at Jubilee Centre(city hall) from 9a.m. until 8p.m. and then on Saturday you can vote at the last advance poll at MacDonald Island during the same times.

And then Monday is Election Day, and you can vote from 9a.m. until 8p.m. but the polls are different on Monday then they usually are, and I am finding a lot of people don't know about this change yet. On Monday you can only vote in four places:

MacDonald Island
Oilsands Discovery Centre
Holy Trinity Highschool(Timberlea)
St. Paul's School(Thickwood)

You can vote at any of the four locations on Monday, just make sure you bring ID. And if you are wondering about what ID is suitable, here is a link that covers the list of IDs you can use.
http://www.woodbuffalo.ab.ca/Municipal-Government/Elections/Voter-Eligibility.htm

You must be 18 and a Canadian Citizen.

As we go into this final push before the big day, I cannot stress enough how every single vote is so important. So if you have children or relatives in town who are eligible to vote, please check in with them to make sure they have marked their "X", and encourage all your friends to do the same.

I have not missed watching a rural development, administration, budget and audit committee, or a council meeting in the last two years. I have been writing about Fort McMurray and all the issues for almost nine years now. For the last month or so I have been on leave from the paper while I campaign, and it's the first time in 9 years that I have not written a column every single week. I know the issues, I will be able to jump right into council business and I want the people of Fort McMurray to have a strong voice at the council table. A woman who understands that we have to help our community develop in the next few years, but also a woman who understands all the work that our social profit groups do in town and how we need to appeal to our families to stay and live in Fort McMurray. I will be so honoured to win that place on council, but I will not for one second take one single vote for granted, nor will I take for granted the time I will be able to spend on council. I will work hard every single day of that term to accomplish some positive things for our city.

The KPMG audit was done last year and it cost taxpayers $212,000. Out of that audit, there were 46 recommendations. We lacked policy and procedure on almost everything. We had no policy in place on how we acquire land, how expropriation is handled, how we hire and fire people, and how severance packages were paid out. We have all seen the mess that has been left because of these huge gaps in policy and procedure. One of the first things I want to do is put those recommendations on the agenda so they can be reviewed in public so that we, the taxpayers, know that these mistakes are being fixed. Once the structure of the municipality is dealt with, I truly believe that we will be able to attract developers and business people will feel more comfortable with investing more locally. With more services and infrastructure in place, families will be more attracted in moving their families here and our residential tax base will grow. But if we don't deal with those recommendations, we will keep repeating our past mistakes.

There will be no magic wand to fix everything overnight, it's going to take a lot of hard work, time and commitment on the part of council, administration and the mayor to get Fort McMurray moving forward, and I want to be part of it all. I want to sit at that council table and help with some common sense decisions that have to be made for our residents. Give me two and a half years on council and I will give it my whole heart, soul and mind for that time.

If you want to chat about any of the issues, please call 780-838-1782 or email me at: vernamurphyforcouncil@gmail.com.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The more you know about me the better!

Last Friday I wrote a blog that had a variety of facts about myself and my life. It was such a hit that I have decided to keep doing them leading up to Election Day. I will approach my job on council in the same way I live, I will always be approachable and open. 

-My first job was babysitting for some great families in Mabou Harbour. Throughout high school, I also worked at Mabou Gardens every spring/summer and through the winters and days off I worked at the Convent in Mabou. Yep, I worked in the kitchen at the Convent, and I still go visit the nuns when I go home and they write me letters. 

-Ironically enough, when I graduated and went to college and came home for the summer, I worked at the Glenora Distillery. The only distillery in North America to produce a single malt whiskey. I did the tours during the day, and then worked in the kitchen and pub. I can still tell you all about how to make a good single malt. 

-I am the oldest of four siblings. My two sisters live here in Fort McMurray, and my brother lives in Mabou, Cape Breton. They will probably tell you that not only am I the oldest, but the loudest as well.

-I attended St. F.X. University, and it is the biggest regret in my life that I did not finish the last year to get my degree from there. I had taken time off to have a bone marrow transplant, and thought at the time that life was too short to go back to school. I had every intention to finish the courses after a year or so, but never got back to it.

-I have a degree in hotel and restaurant management. And I have continued my education over the last 20 years with a variety of courses. 

-I was taught how to step dance by some of the best stepdancers in the world. No lie, I can do a mean square set. 

-I believe that we should be prudent in our spending right now in Fort McMurray, but we need infrastructure and development to attract and keep families in town. The operating and capital budgets will be undergoing a review over the next few weeks by administration and council, and I will continue to be vocal in our need for things like the North Side Rec Centre. 

-I am not a shopper. And my friends and family are laughing as they read that understatement. I have an event to go to this weekend, and the thought of spending money on a dress that I will only wear once or twice was not sitting well with me. So one of my best friends gathered up some dresses for me to try on to wear instead. I will spend taxpayers dollars the same, is it needed? Or is it something that we can defer or cut or find a cheaper solution. 

-I had a bone marrow transplant when I was 19 for a rare disease called Aplastic Anemia. So I have always been passionate about the bone marrow registry. You can do a simple swab of your mouth now to register to possibly save a life. You can read more at the One Match website here: 

-I played hockey and ringette up until I had my transplant, and then I worried about breaking a bone after that. I was obsessed in high school with stats on players. I knew every number of every player and all their stats from 1985 or so until again,  when my kids were born. LOL. Montreal has always been my team, with players like Mike MacPhee, Claude Lemieux and Patrick Roy still being my all time favs. 

-From 1994 until 1997 I worked in the Cape Breton Island Building and Construction Trade Council office, along with the Carpenters and the Plumbers and Pipefitters 682 offices. I learned from the best union leader in Cape Breton about unions in Atlantic Canada. Cliff Murphy is known across Canada for the initiatives that he made over the years, and I am blessed enough to call him my father-in-law. And in having him as my father-in-law over the years, you never got too far without having a conversation about what was going on in the economy, how it was affecting families and workers, both at home, and when they travelled for work across the country. 

-Cliff passed the tradition on, and Tim was a union leader in our region when he was the financial secretary for the then CEP 972(now Unifor). 
 
-And some fun facts about Tim and I. We were born on the same day, in the same hospital, and he says that he was winking at me in the nursery. He was Protestant and I worked at the Convent. We were the total opposites on so many levels. We started dating when I was bald and still sick post-transplant, and this year we will be married 20 years. 

I have no idea what this might pull out of me next week, but you can send me any questions, and we will continue to have fun with this on Fridays. 

To talk about anything or to ask me questions about my view on various issues in Fort McMurray, you can call my cell at 780-838-1782 or email me at: vernamurphyforcouncil@gmail.com.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Best story of the week!

I started to post this story on my Facebook, and I realized it was too good to shorten or edit. I will start with the back story. About nine years ago Tim(hubby) came to Fort McMurray for an interview, and the company paid for me to come out to see the city as well. At that point in my life, to fly out here was one of the longest times I had been on a plane, and by the time we landed my ears were killing me. We got our rental car, and randomly drove into Fort McMurray. After checking out some of the city, I was needed some tylenol, and told Tim to pull into the next drugstore. When I went in, I went to the pharmacist and asked if there was anything else that I could take that would be effective on the pressure in my ears. She asked where I had flown from, and when I said Halifax, she asked where I was from in Nova Scotia. When she said she was from Port Hastings, I was taken aback. At the time we were living on the Long Stretch Road, which was about four kilometres from Port Hastings. Her name was Joy MacLean, and when I got back in the car, I told Tim that the first person I met in Fort McMurray was from home, and she had the same last name as my maiden name. I was pretty sure it was a sign that I would be fine if we decided to make the move if there was such great people in town. 

Tonight, I went door knocking in Wood Buffalo, and a woman answered the door, and came out on the step to chat. She said she was from Cape Breton, and that we had mutual friends. One of her best friends is Cathy Burns, and Cathy had brought me cookies at Christmas time all the way from Cape Breton. When she said she went to school in Mabou at the convent I couldn't believe it. I had worked at the convent all through high school. I asked her if she knew Neil MacDonald from Port Hood, and Bernie MacLean? Yes she said, and I informed her they were my uncles. She named many others she knew, and we both wondered at how we had not met before.

I asked her what her name was, and she said, "Joy MacLean".  I couldn't believe it. After all these years, and all those mutual friends, I had not seen her since that first day in the drugstore. 

I have been trying to knock on as many doors as I can in Fort McMurray to connect with the voters, but I know I will not get to do as many as I would like to do. Knocking on that door tonight, and getting to share with Joy how she welcomed me to this city was like a full circle moment. She welcomed me, and without even knowing, made me feel like I would be comfortable here in Fort McMurray. And out of the thousands of doors that I could have knocked on, I knocked on hers, and she again encouraged me, and made me feel like I am on the right track. I am moving in the direction that I should be, and it was a great way to end the day. Thank you Joy, you are as beautiful as I remember, and I am so happy we were able to reconnect. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Let's get personal.

I was debating what to write about this morning, I have been talking non-stop the last few days about my position on one issue or another, and getting questions that can catch me off guard at how personal they can be at times. So since it is Friday, and I promised a more personal blog earlier this week, I thought I would have some fun with some crazy facts that people seem surprised to know about me, mixed in with some of the reasons I am qualified to sit on council and help move our city forward in the next three years.

-I sit on the Community Advisory Board for the RCMP

-I have done recruitment for foster care in Fort McMurray for almost two years, and we still need more foster parents.

-We always had ski-doos and quads growing up, and I still miss not having one out here in Fort McMurray.

-Tim and I plan to buy Harleys when we retire and hit the highways.

-My dad always had bigger cars, and that's what I always drove, so I feel claustrophobic in tiny cars, especially in Fort McMurray.

-Through working with fostering, and volunteering for social profit groups in town, I have learned how to build, work and rework budgets confidently. But when Tim(hubby) was in a terrible accident two and a half years ago, and was off work for 10 months, one of the best lessons we learned was that we know the value of the dollar, and how to not just survive, but thrive in hard times. It might have been a very personal lesson for us, but it is something that I would take to council and remember when making hard decisions with the money of the taxpayers of Fort McMurray.

-Everyone loves asking about our little girl. Shayleen is Aboriginal, and she came to us the day after she was born. We love her biological mother, and she knows everything that goes on with us and Shayleen. I will be forever grateful that we were lucky enough to have this little girl in our lives, and she has touched so many people.

-I sit on the board for STHT, and it is one of the proudest things that I am part of in town. You can learn more about all the work they do on their website, but their workers are completely behind the scenes, and helping so many in our community. The board isn't out there doing all the work like the workers, but I am proud to say that I know all that they do, and they are angels here on earth. http://www.stht.ca/

-My father is a fisherman, who worked hard from sun up to sun down my whole life, and he instilled that work ethic into all of his children. If I had one day left on this earth, I would spend it on a boat, and I still miss the water.

-When I asked my two older boys to give me one line to describe me, they both said almost the same thing. They said their mother goes after what she wants and if it's something she believes in, she doesn't take no for an answer. She loves her children, and everybody else's kids. I had to laugh at that point, as I love having my house full of my kids and their friends, and I honestly cannot remember the last day that we did not have at least one extra child in our house for any length of time.

-One of the first things I will do on council is to start helping administration and council to implement some of the recommendations of the KPMG audit. It's not a glamorous topic, but it is absolutely imperative for those policies and procedures to be put into place so that we do not keep making the same mistakes over and over. There is still a shadow hanging over our city after all the resignations and pay outs were revealed, and we need to move forward, and start rebuilding relationships with businesses and the other levels of government. In my opinion, we need to work strongly and closely with our provincial representatives so that our voice is heard in Edmonton when decisions are being made for and about our community.

-I did palliative care work for 7 years in Nova Scotia as a volunteer. Sitting with those families and patients and helping with their care are memories that I still treasure more than any other. I really don't think I have done anything else in my life that was as powerful and humbling, and I am still honoured that those families shared those experiences with me.

-There is nothing I hate more than getting my picture taken or doing a camera interview.

-I am not always politically correct(especially when our foster kids are involved), I am not suave and polished, I'm just myself, and I think I am one of the most approachable people you will ever meet.

-I would rather volunteer in the kitchen in the back then be at a table at a gala, it's just where I'm my most comfortable.

-I am absolutely wrong sometimes, and will admit when I am, and when making decisions I don't think anyone on council should allow their ego to help guide their decisions. And I feel the same way about anyone who is in a position of affecting community members, or general public, your ego should not be at play in that process.

-I never make any list without including Matt Minglewood. I love him, I have since I was 7, he is an amazing musician, but over the years I have realized he is an even more wonderful human being. His wife, Babs, is probably one of the best managers in Canada, and I have been lucky enough to call them friends for years now. And a list is never complete without Matt.

-People keep saying I am nice, like it's a bad thing. I believe politicians can be nice, and be effective in their jobs. I have met many in the last few years. But don't confuse being nice with a lack of drive or bite. I will not back down on issues I believe in, I will work for solutions that will work for the community, and I am never afraid of asking anything. I will ask if it is uncomfortable, or just to clarify information. And we have seen that we need to continue to do that on council as well.

-I love monster trucks, like the real monster trucks, stock cars, demolition derbys, and all that kind of stuff, and would love to see more of those events come to our region.

-I love driving down the hill to concerts at MacIsland, and I can't wait for Shell Place to open and see some bigger acts come to town. My favourite so far was Great Big Sea years ago, and of course, KISS was a once in a lifetime kind of thing, as it was the first rock concert we took the boys to.

-Life is serious, and council is serious, be we can't always take ourselves too seriously. So that's why I wanted to have a little fun with this today. I may do it every Friday until the election.

-I grew up in Mabou Harbour, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. And yes, there is a huge difference between the Harbour and West Mabou, and Northeast Mabou, and the village. It's stunning there, and everyone should visit Cape Breton to have a complete life.

-Oh, yeah, and I love red wine and Elvis, but those are totally out there for anyone to see on my FB.

 -This is where I grew up.

And I love to talk, so call me! My cell is 780-838-1782. And please vote, it's so important. I will keep reminding everyone of the days, the first Advance Poll is at City Hall on March 18th. Just bring your ID.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Where do I stand?

Now that the race is underway, I have 28 days to get my message out to the residents of Fort McMurray. I have been vocal on the issues through my writing for a number of years now, and have always loved talking to the residents who live here about what they want for their hometown. So on many issues, I have already written columns or blogs about many of them. But over the next 28 days I will be very specific about my platform.

Over the last 18 months there has been a lot of change in our city, to put it mildly. We had several new council members added to the table during the last election, and they came in with questions about the spending of our taxpayers money. The questions and audit were not always easy, and when salaries and expenses started coming out many were shocked at the waste that seemed to be wide spread. But the council and budget and audit committee stuck to finding out many truths, and I was proud of the work that they did for us. From the KPMG Audit, 46 recommendations were made. Policy seemed to be lacking at every level, as was communication. But these recommendations were so needed, and council now needs to move forward on implementing them so that the huge gaping holes where we seemed to be bleeding money can be fixed. I want to be on council  to continue to push for the implementation of these 46 recommendations. So first and foremost, I would say that I want to continue the current culture on council of fixing what we now know is wrong. But while we can be fiscally responsible, I don't want to continue to drag our feet on capital projects like the North Side Rec, with one exception.

The Downtown Entertainment Centre was a project that was never greeted with overwhelming public support. The expropriation process that started the whole process is still being questioned and many feel that the city is not listening to the residents about this project. In the last month, I have realized that this issue is one of the first things that voters still want to talk about. Many are saying that they do not want the Centre built in a location that is not liked, with money that is not available. And some feel very strongly that it should not be built at all given the current calls for fiscal restraint. I know that there are legal issues with the expropriation process, but the developer, Clearwater, is already saying that they also will need $10 million a year for the next 30 years, instead of the initial 7.5 million that was earlier projected. So some hard decisions, and more conversations should take place before any more decisions are made on moving forward on this project.

There are other issues that I will talk about and let people know about during the campaign, but there is one more that I would like to touch on briefly, and that is our relationship with the province. I think even though we are different levels of government, it is imperative to work together more closely, as we all have common interests in our community. I am happy that they have been able to recruit Dr. Ngene, a much needed new OBGYN. And I think if council and the MLAs of our region show a strong united front we might be able to progress on some other issues as well.

Finally, I wanted to point out that to your right, I now have a link so that you can donate to my campaign. Every single dollar goes into a separate account and you will be issued a receipt. You have to have an Alberta address, and I would love your support. Of course, I know that everyone might not have an extra dollar, so there are other ways you can support me that are so easy! You can take a sign(but they're in high demand, so let me know soon), you can come door knocking with me, attend one of my coffee/wine events, you can take some brochures/cards to hand out, and even just sharing all my posts/blogs, etc, will help me, and I will forever appreciate every single thing that you all do for me.

Continue to watch for posts on my platform, questions that I have been asked, and all my other news as usual. Below is a picture of me filing my nomination papers this morning in Chambers. This is where I want to be sitting after Election Day on March 30th. My cel is (780)838-1782 and my email is: vernamurphyforcouncil.gmail.com


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Let the excitement begin.

That's what I want for the next 28 days, excitement. I want people to feel like they are a part of something big in Fort McMurray. I want them to commit to do an act that will change my life and their own And I want them to do just one thing, vote for me on March 30th.

My kids are all in bed, as his my husband, and I am sitting here like a kid at Christmas thinking about not just the next 28 days, but the weeks and months after March 30th. I will be part of council, I will be part of the decision making, I will be part of all the great potential that is Fort McMurray, and if you live in Fort McMurray, I hope to be part of your lives as we get to know each other.

I think of myself as a mom, a wife, a writer, a sister, a daughter, and so many other things, but I have never thought of myself as a politician. My desire during this campaign is to be your representative. I want to hear your stories, your concerns, I want to meet your kids and hear why you want more for our community. I want to visit your business and talk about the challenges you are facing.

Many keep asking why I want to do this, and I want to be in there doing something over not doing anything. I want to be a strong woman who knows the issues, but knows the people that those issues are affecting, that is even more important to me. Because when you start making decisions that are not based on the betterment of the people that you are representing, then you are not doing your job.

I hope to hear from you, I am sure you will get sick of me, lol. My cel is (780)838-1782, feel free to call me, my email is vernamurphyforcouncil@gmail.com. I think that when you meet someone running for office you get a better understanding of who they are and what their ideals are, so please feel free to connect with me. And of course, I love Facebook, so you can look me up and add me there too, either on my regular page, or on my Verna Murphy For Council page. But I have nothing to hide, I am always myself, which may inspire some wine posts and some posts about subjects that I am passionate about. But I think I'm an average woman in Fort McMurray, who loves to talk to people, and has tried to make the community better in my own ways for many years, and really, none of that will change when I win. I hope you join me on the campaign trail, and we are going to have some fun! And hopefully, since it's March, I will have a bit more of the Irish luck as well!



Thursday, February 19, 2015

I am an open book.

In the last week and a half or so, I have been asked a few times who I am. And we all have the common answers like I am a mom, a wife, and a daughter. But this morning a friend challenged me to write a blog telling people a bit more about who I am. And of course, anyone who knows me, knows I always take on a challenge.

I have done these types of introductions a few times over the years, like when I started this blog, and when I started my columns with various newspapers. But I wanted this one to be different, and not too heavy a read. In other words, I wanted to have some fun with it.

The basics are I am 41, and this year I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. My hubby(as he has been known in columns over the years), is Tim Murphy, and he is currently working at Syncrude Canada here in Fort McMurray. Our oldest son, Mitchell is 17, and will be graduating this year. Nathanial is 15, and both boys go to Holy Trinity. Shayleen is going to be 6 next week, and she reminds us every day. And first and foremost in my life, I would describe myself as a mother. It took me many years to say it proudly, I can remember when I was younger and I would explain why I had decided to stay home with the boys, like it was something that had to be justified to the world. Now I say that I have been blessed to have been a stay at home mom for many years to all our kids, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything. We are foster parents here in town, and so I guess you could say I made a profession out of being a mom. It has been through my role as a foster parent, and working with other social profit groups in town that I started thinking that I wanted to get more involved on a political level so that changes could be made to some things where I saw needed improvements. But I wasn't sure how to incorporate that into our lives.

I have written about pretty much anything that has happened to us over the course of our lives, and that is why I say I am an open book. I have written about losing two of our babies, my bone marrow transplant, weight loss, our experience with a terrible car accident when Tim was hit by a drunk driver in a head on car crash, and I have written about lighter subjects like me trying out yoga, and our vacations. But the one subject I probably have written about more than any other in the last number of years is politics, and politics in relation to our community and how the decisions made by our various levels of government impact the people that live and work in Fort McMurray. So if you want to find out about any of these subjects and my views, you can google me and whatever word for the subject, or go back through the blog to get a better sense of who I am.

Mabou Harbour, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia was home until I went away to college, and then I lived outside of Sydney, in Howie Centre, then Creignish, and then our beloved Long Stretch Road outside of Port Hawkesbury before we made the moved to Fort McMurray. If you had told me eight years ago that I would be a strong, out spoken voice in Fort McMurray and running for council, I probably would have told you to get out. I didn't like upsetting people and who the hell was I to be giving my opinion on things? But over my years in Fort McMurray, and in raising our children I have learned that I have a strong voice, but I always am able to have a balanced view of various subjects.

I like to think that my upbringing in Cape Breton and my experience of living in Fort McMurray have brought me to a point in my life where I am wanting to now participate more in the decisions that are being made about our community. Fort McMurray is an exciting place to live, and there is so much potential for what we can accomplish in the next number of years. I want to be in on it. I want to be working at bringing more long term residents to Fort McMurray. I want to be part of local businesses and investors getting excited and expanding their business and creating new ones. I want to throw open the door and see the creation of a more diverse economy in Fort McMurray that will promote growth and provide more and much needed services to our region. And I want the people of Fort McMurray to feel that their municipal council is here to serve the people that call this home. During the last election I had many people say that they didn't know about various things regarding council until I was writing about them, or sharing articles on my Facebook and Twitter. I want to be part of council so that more people will feel a connection to the work that is happening with council. There has been a lot of great work done by council in the last 18 months or so. They are working towards being more transparent, but more importantly to me they have uncovered some huge issues through things like the audit and just old fashioned asking the right questions. And I want to be part of the team that continues forward with the recommendations from the audit and with being more progressive in the decisions that are being made for the region.

What else can I tell you about who I am? I love the water, I hate housecleaning, I love to cook, I love when the kids have school breaks because it means more time with them, I did palliative care work for seven years before moving here, I could eat thai food every day for the rest of my life and be happy, and I hate it when people call me "Red" in reference to my hair.

Other than that, feel free to ask me anything, and I will answer it. I didn't go into various issues that I am passionate about in Fort McMurray, but you can bet that as the campaign ramps up I will be getting more specific. I have a Facebook campaign page, it's Verna Murphy for Council-Ward 1Fort McMurray. But like I said, I am an open book, so follow me on FB, on Twitter I am @MurphyVerna and on Instagram I am FortMacMom. My campaign slogan is Passion and Progress, and as you can tell, I have a lot to be passionate about in my life, and I will bring all that to council and I believe that now more than ever Fort McMurray needs a council that will be progressive, as we continue to grow and become more diverse, both among our residents and our businesses. So if you want to support me by volunteering, donating or if you just want to sit down for a coffee to talk about our city and my bid for council, you can email me as well at: vernaforcouncil@gmail.com or just call me at (780)838-1782.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Regrets

In all our years together, there are only a few decisions that Tim and I have made together that I almost immediately have regrets about. But today I am sitting here, having little crying jags every hour or so because we decided that the best thing for the kids was that I would stay here while he went home to Nova Scotia for his Grammie's wake and funeral.

Like many kids in Mabou, my first memories of Harriet(Grammie) was from the school. She was the secretary, but she ran the place. She knew all the kids and teachers like a mother would, and she knew when to provide advice, a listening ear, a band-aid or a scolding, and she did all that skillfully. Just like she did many things in life. She was smart, witty and she loved her family and community with a passion that was hard to deny.

The first time that I went to her house as Tim's girlfriend, she put us to work. It eventually became a little joke that I would pay my dues if I wanted to date her grandson. On our first official date we found ourselves in the quarry in Mulgrave, shovelling gravel into bags that she wanted for her flower beds. She always had a project on the go, whether it was her beautiful flower beds that were the envy of many, or making a quilt for the latest baby born into the family. All of us in the family have been left with blankets, mittens, aprons and socks that were made with her loving hands.

Harriet and I were both strong willed and strong minded women. She loved that I would argue with her when others wouldn't, and I loved her for how much she loved Tim. She loved her children, but there was something more passionate about the way she loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She shared all the news of what they were doing with such pride to anyone who would listen, and kept us up to date about who's cow was showing in the latest 4-H competition, or who had a new job with the same level of excitement.

But Harriet's first love, and strongest love was always for Kenny. As I sit here and think of them together again, the tears come fast. She was so heart broken when he had to go into the nursing home all those years ago, and when he passed away her grief seemed like a blanket. They fought, they laughed, they challenged each other, they were the opposites on some things, but they always remained steadfast in their love for each other.

So today I am sitting here thinking of those left behind. Her sons Clifford, Floyd, and Danford, and her daughters Ellen and Janet are all gathered at home to say their good-byes. Every single one of them are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. They all are such giving, kind and funny people. Each has the different great qualities that their parents carried. If you were graded on how your kids turned out, then Kenny and Harriet would have gotten an A+. And their children, and grandchildren are all people that Harriet and Kenny were proud to call their family. I have been blessed to be part of the Murphy family for over 20 years. I cried when Kenny once told me he loved me like a granddaughter, because I knew how much his grandchildren meant to him.

I am also thinking of all the extended family, especially Mary Mae, Debbie, Gloria, and Lyndsey. It was not always easy being the daughter-in-law when Harriet could expect perfection for her children, lol, but she loved you all so much and told so many loving stories about all of you over the years. And to all her grandchildren, I am sending all my hugs as I know you will all be shedding some tears today and tomorrow as you say good-bye. You were her pride and joy. Of course, I saw her more with Tim then the rest over the years, but she was like a mama bear, fiercely proud and protective of all of you. Many have been sending their stories about Harriet, and while they are all nice, there is definitely a number of them that have said that you didn't mess with Harriet as far as her grandchildren were concerned. Even though her Timothy was a bit of a wild thing around Mabou in his younger days, she always knew how good his heart was and pity help the one that would say anything about him, they would be put on her bad list for life. And yes, she probably kept such a list, lol.

I wish I was home to say good-bye to say good-bye to a woman who shared so much of our life. She was there crying on our wedding day, she was the boys were born, she was there when I needed help when I got my wisdom teeth out, she was there with cookies and strawberry shortcakes on every birthday and I feel like we made a mistake in not taking the whole family home to say good-bye. It also feels wrong to just not be with the family and Tim as they say their good-byes. I love you all so much, and my heart is home with you in Cape Breton today.




Thursday, February 12, 2015

My huge, life changing announcement.

Many of you may have heard already, but I have decided to run for the vacant seat on our municipal council here in Fort McMurray for Ward One.

The number one question that I have been asked by every reporter so far, and by many others as well is why? Why have I decided to run now, and why do I want to become involved in the political life? On a personal level, the answer is easy, Shayleen is in school full time, the boys are older and it is good timing for my family for me to finally give this a try. My love of politics and being involved goes way back to my school days when I was "that kid" that loved being on student council and was even the class president our graduating year. When the boys were younger, I was the president of parent council at their school. I have always wanted to be more involved in the decisions that were being made that would impact my life and the life of my family. And now it is continuing on a slightly different path on a bigger scale.

The municipality has been live streaming not just council meetings, but also the audit and budget committee meetings, the rural development meetings, and even the administration meetings over the course of the last 18 months or more. And if you miss the meetings, you can watch them from the files online on the municipal website. This has been a huge part of my life, as I have been able to stay up to date on all the issues that affect our community. I have written extensively about the decisions that have brought us to our current state in Fort McMurray, and in the last 18 months I have found council members to be very open to all my questions. They have helped me to understand why some decisions are made the way they are, but they have also been open to discussing what I hear from talking to so many people on a daily basis. I am thinking some of the councillors might be happy if I got elected, as it would mean I would not be asking them extra questions every week.

My hope during the campaign leading up to the March 30th Election Day is that I meet every single person that I can possibly meet in Fort McMurray to hear their concerns and also their wants for our community in the coming years. I will be posting some blogs about the issues that are being talked about, and please feel free to email any questions or ideas to vernamurphyforcouncil@gmail.com.

Campaigns are a lot of work, but they can also be fun and a great way to meet new friends and neighbours. So if you want to get involved by volunteering, or donating we would love to have you as part of Team Murphy! You again can use the email above, or call me at (780)748-7714 or (780)838-1782. Every minute you can spare, or every dollar you can donate will go a long way towards a successful campaign and hopefully winning the seat on the 30th. I am in the process of finalizing decisions about the little details  that have to be done before things can be ordered.

I have already been overwhelmed by all the best wishes, they have made me feel like I made the right decision to run! Thanks so much, I truly believe I have the most wonderful support system in my life.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Our first adventure in Mexico.

I thought I would be writing every morning sitting on our deck, and in the afternoon while we lounged in the shade down here in Mexico. But alas, the first night Tim was still sick, and I got hit with it the first full day we were here. So we have been trying to get our energy back, but I of course, as anyone who knows Tim, and he goes or does anything, I always have a story of his shenanigans.

Let me set the scene. We arrived on Wednesday night, and it was late, so dark already as we arrived at the lobby to check in. Tim had been suffering with a flu bug for a few days before we even left, but the plane ride and long day of travel had somewhat taken an even worse toll. Now I am not being mean, and Tim will tell you himself, he is not a smart man when he's sick. Frankly, he's as stunned as my arse, and always stubborn, so not a great combination when I was the one that worked my ass off for the week before we left to get everything arranged for the kids, and was feeling just as tired by the time we arrived.

I offered to go find some nasal spray to see if that would at least help him breath, and of course, he insisted on coming. So off we went, in the dark, at a new resort, exhausted, hungry and just not feeling the best. The walk over along the lit hallways was easy. But someone along the way said we could cut across the pool areas to go back even more quickly. And here is where I will take a little blame, but then it's all Tim, because I said, "Usually we are right at the water and we go for a walk to hear the waves when we arrive." So Tim was trying to be nice, and decided to try to wander down to the beach and walk along that way back to the room.

Well, we ended up on this barely lit path that was not even, and seemed never ending. I was terrified one of us would end up falling on the first night and we would not be able to do anything for the rest of the trip. You think I am exaggerating, but if you know us, you know we are capable of anything! It didn't help that there is plenty of wildlife around here, and when a raccoon ran towards us at one point, I thought I was going to have a stroke.

We finally came to a more well lit area, but it was like wooden walkways through the mangroves, and barely any signs. So then was when we started walking in circles. We met up with a few other couples who tried to point us in the right direction, but Tim had his little map, and was convinced he could lead us back to the room. I didn't want to damage his ego for the first HOUR or so, but by the end of the hour, I was just about ready to throw him into the mangroves. I started seeing headlines in my head. "Canadians go off well beaten path on first night in Mexico and die of dehydration, 20 feet from their room." was one, another was, "Wife kills husband in Mexico because he would not take directions."

By the time we got back to the room, 2 hours had gone by, and my Fitbit is not working down here, but I am sure we walked 8 miles. In the light of day, it seemed like we took bizarre turns, and just walked in circles over and over.

Anyway, we made it back, and of course, I have more Tim stories. Yesterday we kind of got our sense of the resort, did some walking, and tried to shake off the flu bugs. Towards the end of the day, a man knocked on the door, and gave Tim what looked like little vials to me, but I didn't look at them too closely. When I started feeling more sick, Tim said that it was aromatherapy, and it was suppose to help me sleep. But there was no little candles in the room with the warmer, so off he went to the lobby to get a candle to warm it up and tuck me in. He lands back saying, "Well, that was humiliating." I got a pain from laughing when he said that the little vials were actually honey that we were suppose to eat before bedtime, and all the girls in the lobby thought it was hilarious that this dumb guy was looking for a candle to heat it up.

More stories about our day today tomorrow. But it was beautiful today, and I forgot how much I like sitting out on the deck in the evenings.