Butterfly grew up with food intolerances and was diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger's
Syndrome, and learning difficulties. Now she struggles with OCDs.
This is the story of how we have faced these challenges.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Travel

We didn’t move back to our house right away after Mom passed. Our home was suffering from neglect and needed work, and I had a lot of things to go through at Mom’s anyway. So we stayed there while we fixed up the bathroom, did the living room floor and a few other fix-ups at home. When we did move back to our place, Butterfly and I still spent a lot of time at Mom’s house. There was a lot to go through and I had promised Mom I wouldn’t just do the dumpster thing. Mom had lived through the depression, so she just never threw anything out. Her house was always neat and tidy, but she had stuff stashed in every nook and cranny. And as summer approached, Butterfly was getting to see more and more of her friends nearby. In fact, I liked it when they were hanging around because they didn’t mind helping me move things.

We were going to put Mom’s house on the market. She had wanted us to live there, but there was no sun getting through the trees on the property, and it would have taken a lot of work to make it right for a garden, and when I checked with the family, they just wanted to come home anyway. And the cats ~ they were thrilled to be back home. They quite obviously remembered and fell immediately into old habits here. And the dog ~ he developed an emotional problem, suddenly forgetting his training at regular intervals and peeing inside, both there and here. And every time we pulled into Mom’s driveway, he’d bark and be quite agitated. I think he missed Mom. There is no way to explain death to a dog, and I think this little guy was just plain upset because she was never there.

Or was she? Now, you may think I’m nuts, but this really happened, to all of us: when we were done going through things at Mom’s for the day, we would turn out all the lights. But every time we went back, the light on the bedside table in Mom’s room was on. Now, it was a touch lamp, so it sometimes turned itself on during electrical storms and such. But there hadn’t been any storms, and every time we entered the house, that light was on. One time, Butterfly and a friend used Mom’s house to change into their bathing suits. They made sure all the lights were out when they left to go for a dip in the lake. When they came back to change again, the light in Mom’s room was on. It was very strange, but oddly comforting.

There was a family wedding coming up in early October in Calgary, and I had said to the realtor that the last thing we needed was for Mom’s house to sell and the buyer wanting to close at the end of September. Guess what happened. So then we were going nuts trying to get everything either packed up or dealt with. But with the help of friends, we managed to get the house emptied out on time, or at least, only left a day late for Calgary. I was taking Mom’s set of English bone china to my niece as a wedding present from her Nanna (at Mom’s request), so we were driving out. I mean, this was an old fashioned service for eight, with the candy dishes, teapot and the whole nine yards. I wanted it to get there safely. Funny thing though ~ one of the last things I did before moving the furniture out, was pack up the contents of Mom’s bedside table. The light had been on when I came into the room, like always. I left it on so I could see what I was doing as I packed up her things. When the bedside table was empty, the light turned itself off, even as I stood there, a couple of feet away.

Just before we were through at Mom’s, Butterfly got her first job. You know, I had told her when she was younger that gambling was a bad idea... a way to waste her money. To prove my point, I bought her a 50 cent Nevada ticket, with which she promptly won a dollar. Right. So that didn’t really work, did it? I had been telling her that she’d soon be needing to get a first job to get some experience for her resume other than just doing the market with me. I told her all about how a job wasn’t just going to walk up to her and introduce itself. So there we were at the community mail boxes picking up the stragglers of Mom’s mail, and this woman who lived nearby asked me if I knew anyone who could dog sit for her. I said, “yes, my daughter would probably like to do that,” and I pointed to our car where Butterfly was sitting. And behold, Butterfly’s first job walked right up to her and introduced itself. *sigh* So before we left on our trip, Butterfly looked after this dog each noon hour for a couple days a week, taking him for a walk, feeding and rewarding him, and putting him back in their cellar till they got home from work. One or the other of the dog’s owners were usually at home, but one or two days a week they couldn’t wangle that, so they needed Bud. She made $15. a visit, and soon started her own bank account. And I just stopped telling her what was what with the world, because that just wasn’t working out.

So we were off to Calgary for a wedding. It was also time for some more schooling for my girl, but as I’ve said before, nothing is more educational than travel. The rugged north shore of Lake Superior is, by itself, an education, especially if you leave Sault Ste. Marie with only half a tank of gas. We simply didn’t know that there was NOTHING until we got to Thunder Bay, not even one little rest stop or gas station. The idiot light on the dash came on well before our destination, and we all wondered, with the cheerfulness of the doomed, where we’d be when we had to try to call CAA on our cell phones. Fortunately our car apparently goes a long way after the idiot light comes on, because just when we were sure we’d run out of luck ~ and gas ~ we topped a hill, and at the bottom was ... YES! a gas station and restaurant. Breakfast and a fill up on the outskirts of Thunder Bay, and thank goodness for good mileage!

After that, our journey was pretty uneventful. At that time of year, Ontario is closed for business, the tourist information facilities all locked up for the season. Oh, we could get at washrooms, but a map was out of the question. But once we crossed into Manitoba, happily, everything was open. Not only that, but with each provincial border we crossed, the speed limit on the Trans Canada highway went up by 10 kms/hr. So we fairly flew across the prairies, which is just as well. Having left that day late, there would be no sight-seeing on the way there. We figured we’d be lucky to make it to the wedding. All sight-seeing would have to take place after the big event.

Still, there were firsts for Butterfly, what with having to make sure each motel took dogs at either no extra charge, or at least a reasonable fee. (Some chains are not reasonable in this regard.) She had her laptop along and suddenly she knew the speed and convenience of high-speed internet. (Yes, where we live, we are still in the dark ages of computing.) And then there was the fancy hotel at the end of the journey. We decided to stay where the wedding reception was being held. That way we could enjoy the celebration and only have to drive an elevator home. No... it wasn’t exactly the kind of place we could afford. We’re still paying for that. You know ~ literally.
After the wedding, Butterfly wanted to go to the West Edmonton Mall. Now, that probably doesn’t sound like much, but that place is one of those great, big malls with all kinds of extras, like pools with dolphins, a skating rink, swimming pools with five story water slides, etc. So we drove north to see that. Butterfly was a fiend for water slides at the time. It was difficult to drag her away, especially since the water slide at the hotel was only three stories. Then we drove west to see the mountains, which are only about a half hour away from Calgary. We had lunch in Banff and wandered around to take in the sights, including the museum/art gallery and gift shop. Then we went and saw Lake Louise. Typical tourists, we stopped at all the roadside lookouts to take pictures.

Then on the way back east we took in the dinosaur museum at Drumheller ~ Albertasaurus Rex in all its glory. Educational? My, yes. Fun too, although it was very, very windy. On the way east from there, we almost lost part of the underside of the car, but hubby tied it up off the road with the spare dog leash and we stopped in a small town where a nice man at a garage tied the aluminum heat shield properly with plastic ties. Then we were off again. Butterfly had never been to the United States, so we decided to take the southern shore of Lake Superior home. I am here to tell you for sure, that even though it’s not as rocky, hilly and winding as the north shore, it is no shorter. Moreover, the distance is measured in miles, which seem endless once you’re used to kilometres.

But we enjoyed it. Gorgeous public parks along the shore, bars in the middle of nowhere, a lovely hotel in Wisconsin where Hubby took some beautiful pictures of the sun rising over Lake Superior ~ it was great. Of course, what Butterfly remembers is the chicken wings. They were touted as being a bit hot. Her lips and tongue were days recovering. We crossed back into Canada at the Soo and headed for home, pretty much retracing our route to that point. All and all, it was good to get out into the world, and yes, it had been a good, fun, interesting and educational experience for Butterfly, and while it wasn’t completely without the drama that travelling with an Aspie can bring, it was much, much better than that trip out east.*
A neighbour and a friend had been looking after our cats for us. They were a little scandalized by our absence, but once again settled right back down to life as usual once we were home a few days. And so did we. It was a quiet (Butterfly would say “boring”) winter of lesson review, slow-speed internet, and just catching up again with life as usual, including the occasional teen Aspie drama that can only reasonably be expected. And Butterfly also resumed her job as dog sitter for the rest of the winter and spring.

* See Tips for Travelling......

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