“Begin at once to live and count each separate day as a separate life” written by Seneca.

It has been a while since I have posted on here, it is always my pleasure to bring stories of interest to you my readers. The following story is of interest to me and hopefully to you as well because it is about a program that feeds the hungry in Edmonton brought to you by Sylvester Borowka

I believe we all have wisdom to write similar inspirational words from our lives if we take the time to act on something greater in us than the often enough selfish daily, weekly, monthly and than yearly automatic routines. If we close our eyes, take few deep breaths, and put our hand on our heart, and just feel for the moment, I hope that you get the glimpse of being good human being. I challenge you that on a cold winter day when you want to watch a funny movie on Netflix with a glass of fine wine. Instead put on a coat and drive to the area of Mission Hope, you will often find not so well dressed up human beings, no different than us. But there is a difference, they are hungry, cold, many of there with broken spirits that can not find their way in life and are just doing their best. There are few organizations you could donate too, and we run into each other on the streets feeding the hungry. Our very simple program is called feed the hungry, you buy one hot soup, we provide the other, besides the soups our staff has provided over 1000 hot meals over the past 5 years.

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life”

How much better will that glass of wine taste, when you include someone less fortunate into your day…And the next day when you wake up, work on a better version of yourself, a better husband, better father, better boss who listens to understand, a kinder human who sees the person on the street, as someone who needs help, and not just ignore them.

Purchase a hot meal or soup to feed the hungry and they will donate the second to feed the hungry

Continental Treat Fine Bistro Gluten Free- Whyte Ave


Continental Treat Fine Bistro Taste of Europe Gluten Free- Jasper Ave



This is so exciting, another inspiring story that needs to be shared.

Hi! My name is Steven Ken Dalida, my wife Kelsey and I are the owners of Ken’s Catering. We are located in Fort Saskatchewan and have two locations. We started catering in 2017, with nothing to start with other than passion, determination and each other. 

A little back story for you, I first came to Canada in 2009 as a temporary foreign worker. I had a work permit for Tim Hortons, however did not receive my in time that when the foreign worker program cancelled I was unable to receive permanent residency. On October 13th, 2014, I was sent back home to the Philippines when our first daughter was only 4 months old. With no work in the Philippines, I landed a work permit overseas again in the Grand Cayman Islands while awaiting permanent residency back in Canada. There, I worked for a company called Mise En Place. They are a group of companies that included, catering, coffee shops and pizzerias.  I primarily managed Gino’s Pizza but on weekends had the privilege to help out with banquet catering.

Being away from my family and not knowing when I would see them again was difficult, I was very depressed. I may not have known it at the time, but this was all a blessing in disguise for my future.  I had the great privilege of working alongside some of the best chefs in the Caribbean including Anthony Bordaine.

I was inspired by the catering empire that my employer Sean Collins had created and I took in every moment of that. On October 17th, 2016 our prayers were finally answered and after two years apart, I was reunited back with my family in Canada as a permanent resident. I had lost two years, and did not want to waste any more time, so I set out a dream of creating a catering company. With the inspiration of all my mentors in Cayman Islands, I put it into action. We had no money; we started with $500 in our bank account and worked two full time jobs in between catering. We took all contracts we could get, from small groups to large. We had no work space, only rented commercial kitchens when we had events to cater.

 We had only two goals in mind, to always give back to the community wherever and whenever possible and create more employment for people in our community. By January of 2019 we opened our first location, Mess Hall inside the Fort Saskatchewan Legion. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays we launched our buffet nights that would run from 4:30-8:30. In no time at all, Tuesdays began to be our busiest night of the week with our special senior’s discount of only $15! We launched our first “pay it forward” program in Mess Hall where community members could make a $20 donation and that donation would go towards a free buffet meal for a community member in need. Our wall began to fill up with numerous donations! We displayed a board for all to see, and let the community know that this program would be ongoing and readily available to those who would need a good meal.

In January of 2020, we opened our second location, The Venue by Ken’s Catering. The menu was created and inspired by those chefs that I worked with in Cayman Islands. Our goal is to make Fort Saskatchewan a culinary destination. World plates, local passion, I had 3 chefs from Cayman Islands present me a dish that we could offer in our restaurant and I created a menu around those dishes. We want our guests to eat with their eyes first, not just stop in for a great meal but enjoy the entire experience that goes behind that. As always, giving back to our community is number one.

With the pandemic Covid-19 and the global crisis this has created, we are struggling as a local business. It is not easy as a small local business starting up, let alone during an economic crash such as what we are currently experiencing. We have invested everything back into building the business, we do not have the cash flow or the loans to be able to upkeep with labour and operating costs but regardless of everything we want to help. We are not the only ones suffering, there are many without jobs now, grocery stores are bare, how will families be able to put food on the table for their family? We decided we needed to do something.

Though we may not have the means to feed the whole community, we will try! We put the idea out for a “Feed the Fort” campaign. We asked the community for donations, of any amount to help provide free meals to those in need. This has been launched for only two days and already we have received $755 of donations.

We have 6 families already signed up to receive meals for their families this coming Thursday. The program will work as such, community members that can afford to do so can email a donation to kenscatering.fortsask@gmail.com

We don’t have criteria to receive meals from us because we believe everyone is really struggling right now, and could use help.  We aren’t asking for proof, just good humanity. We believe those that can will donate and those that need help will come forward.  Those families that are in need, struggling due to the pandemic, out of work etc. can reach us by phone, email or Facebook by Wednesday at noon each week. We will ask those families how many people are in their house hold and which meal option they would like. Each week families will pick up meals by 10 am on Thursday or we will deliver to those that are unable to go out.  This will be an ongoing process until life goes back to normal. We want to continue to help, where we can. This is a team effort and we are incredibly thankful for the support our community has shown us thus far.

Kelsey and Ken
Ken’s Catering
(780) 691-3262 – Kelsey
(780) 691-3280 – Ken




The Human Condition Comedy Tour

Another inspiring story from Scott Porteous, comedian.  I saw the Facebook page for his tour and knew he had a story to tell, a story he needs to tell in his own words   

Hello my name is Scott Porteous founder of The Human Condition Comedy Tour;

I’ve been doing comedy for almost 17 years.  I’ve been doing it well for maybe two of those years.  I just recently started to organize tours utilizing charitable organizations.  It all stemmed from being growing tired of waiting for opportunities.  I grew weary of being under the radar and constantly not given any breaks so I decided to create my own opportunities.  I’ve always been that way though.  If I want to do something I’ll do it even if it’s a more unorthodox or unconventional approach. 

I have been combining my passion for comedy with doing fundraisers.  Every charity I approach I try to be professional, personable and genuine with them.  I tell them it’s just me being selfish in the most selfless way, I’m not trying to get rich or anything just want to do what I love and not go broke doing. I enjoy traveling, I enjoy meeting people which is strange because I’m anti-social in my own city,  I enjoy telling jokes to complete strangers. I enjoy making people laugh.  I enjoy people having a great time.  That’s always been my nature.  I take it personal if someone hasn’t had a good experience with something I’m involved in.  So if I’m able to do what I enjoy, make a little money and help out some charities in the process AMAZING.

I’m also aware that I’m not at the point of headliner yet, I’m a strong middle at best…maybe an above medium even.  So I knew I needed to have a couple of other likeminded individuals to come along with me on this journey.  I usually try to pick out people I can bond with; great company. Decent human beings won’t get sick of me and vice versa quickly and of course funny.  So far I picked great people to tour with and hoping that records remains undefeated.  (If that makes any sense)

I launched this tour in October 2019 with Shawn Gramiak (from Edmonton) and Frank Russo (from Toronto) both good friends.  It was a month long tour and we supported over 20 different charities.  It was such an amazing experience.  So much beauty in new towns I’ve never been in.  Granted it was a little long and over whelming being my first dip into this approach and making it a 30 day stretch but such a reward experience as well.  

Currently I’m touring with Scott Belford (from Calgary) and Adam Mac (from Red Deer) and they are great guys in general so I knew they’d be awesome to tour with.  We are only doing 10 days.  The current tour is focused on Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  I also find it easier to promote when there is only 9/10 different shows rather than a 30 day stretch.  I have shows planned with my BFFS Nadine Hunt (from Edmonton) and Nelson Mayer (from Winnipeg).  I have a tour planned with them for Vancouver Island coming July 2020.

These have been completely independent we don’t really have any sponsors.  We would definitely welcome anyone wanting to support our cause though.  It’s not money we need more accommodations and a rental.  At the moment we are utilizing couch surfing, friends and family, Airbnb and a few venues have been kind enough to provide us with a place to stay for the night at a hotel.

In the long run I feel like this is something that stands out.  I don’t believe anyone has really focused on doing a charity tour that supports several different local charities like we are doing, I could be wrong but I never seen anything like what we’re doing at the moment.  So I feel like it’s something really special that if enough people caught wind would really help grow our tour and our cause.  The reason I chose the name The Human Condition is because a cheesy as it sounds I like the idea of people from different walks of life, different paths, different beliefs, different views, different stand points etc., being brought together for one common reason.  There is something beautiful and cool about that.  Also it’s human to error and we all error which makes us all able to relate to something in our lives which is where our comedy comes in as we have jokes about good things but also about some low points in our life, or our flaws, etc.  

I try to select charities with variety. Naturally we can’t help everyone so I try to incorporate several different causes as well as local and small if I can because they need the most awareness.  I am open to being approached by charities but need the full participation of the charity in promoting the fundraiser.

Overall I just want to be able to travel, have fun, not die of starvation, have great memories as well as give great memories.  I’m 36 don’t know when I’m going to kick the bucket so try to do as much as I can that makes me happy; just a simple approach for a simple man.

To learn more about The Human Condition Comedy Tour and Scott



instagram @ thccomedytour

Instagram @scottporteous

Twitter- @scottporteous 

Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxYPahuBmI1qup5QglTsFTg

Kind Regards,

Scott Porteous

Stirling U. John…..It’s Always Meant to Be

I am so very pleased to bring to you the inspirational story of the talented Stirling John, Stirling and I both agree that music brings people together, his journey is inspiring to so many.     

I was born in Wingham, ON Canada to Leland John an Ojibway from Saugeen First Nation and mother Lorraine PRESTON. Raised in a single parent home by my mother, the youngest of three brothers Curtis and David.  My mother moved the family to Barrie Ontario when I was 11 years old, working many jobs from the age of 9 to help the family finances. I lived in Barrie until I was 19 years of age, living on my own from the age of 14, while still attending school.

I believe that life has many paths; some stay on the same road living within a safety net of routine and hope for no surprises. Others take the beaten path in search of a new adventure knowing amazing things can happen while fully knowing unless you try you will never know what could have been.  I also believe that change in life is inevitable.  The difference between failure and success is either choosing to give up in the hard times, or embrace new beginnings. I continue to self-assess and own where changes can be made for a better future. 

From the young age of 5, inspired by my mother, I realized a passion for music.  Starting in a small church in Wingham, Ontario, Canada, I sang solos and over the years performed with my family in Christian Music Festivals in Ontario, Canada.  Dreaming of performing on Canadian Idol, I never tried out.  Why you might ask.  Well I was shy at the thought of performing in my teen years and set new life goals to become a police officer.  This was crucial in my musical journey I just didn’t know it yet.  At the age of 19, I realized my dream and was hired on as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer.  Deployed across Canada, I was posted to a western province providing policing services to southern, northern and now central Alberta, Canada.  I gained experience in the police dog program, frontline policing, and gained a specialty as a Tactical Flight Officer on a police helicopter.  The years of the job proved exciting, rewarding, and highly stressful.  Being a father changed me in so many ways, but also proved tiring on the job especially in the face of trying to save young children from trauma.  Reactive policing to many traumatic events especially the ones involving the children took a mental and emotional toll over the years.  In my eyes, those children became my children who were suffering.  I experienced the heartbreak of a divorce; I have two children 9 and 10 years old, shares 50/50 custody with my ex-wife.  The totality of the weight of the job combined with a failed marriage became the catalyst that I needed to revert back to a natural medicine I had all along to cope and that was music.  Writing my first ever song, “Never Meant to Be”, was the start of an amazing healing journey.  Committed to growth I connected and started working with a band, Hometown Stereo recording amazing projects meanwhile on the sidelines I have been focusing on a solo career.  Along this road, I crossed paths with some amazing musicians, Chad Melchert and David Pederson who have been in my corner to develop the country rock singer songwriter in front of you today. I choose to grow and develop as an artist in the face of adversity.  Playing guitar with Hometown Stereo I have been gaining exposure to some amazing experiences opening for Tom Cochrane, Beaumont Blues and Roots, venues in Edmonton, Alberta and actively looking to develop a secondary future solo music career. I am grateful to those who have supported and continue to support my journey.

You can reach me on social media

Stirling John Instagram https://www.instagram.com/stirling_john1

Stirling John Twitter https://twitter.com/stirlingjohn

I am Katherien Lundin…..

Sometimes when I invite people to be guest bloggers on Mirella Muses I am aware that it says a lot about who I am.  I believe everyone has a story to tell Mirella Muses is one of many outlets that can be used to tell those stories.  In bringing you stories it is important for me to be vulnerable and bring you stories about people that have affected my life in some way.  This is one of those stories, I have known Katherien for a number of years and she has helped to guide me through many challenged I have faced; most of us have someone like that in our lives, lol.  I have learned a lot about her that I didn’t know I hope you enjoy reading her journey as much as I have.   

I am Katherien Lundin a Professional Clairvoyant Medium, Meditation Teacher and Certified Aroma therapist. When I connect with and for my clientele I do not use any tools, I am a clairvoyant medium; meaning I have clear seeing, clear hearing, clear sensing and clear knowing as well as connect with the frequencies of spirit and your higher self and guides. 

The ability of clairvoyance or “clear seeing” is the ability to see visions with either the inner sight or with the physical eyes. It also covers seeing spirits and auras as well. Those who practice mediumship are often clairvoyant (also clairaudient) so that they can see and speak with those who have passed over. Many times a clairvoyant may see visions from the past, present as well as seeing actual future events. 

Clairvoyance is a talent that we are generally born with and as children we can see and interact with our spirit guides.

Clairaudience or “clear hearing”, can also involve hearing spirit as well as messages from one’s higher self.

Clairsentience is “clear sensing” is all about sensing things about our surroundings and other people. One can get a good vibe or feel uncomfortable in a place, or can gather information about the past of a place. You can also sense spirits and what the spirits are feeling.

Clair cognizance is “clear knowing” or simply knowing!  One simply knows something definite regarding the future.

One can Not learn to be a medium or a clairvoyant, these are gifts and or abilities that are with an individual since birth. Unfortunately within the holistic industry many do try to sell the concept of learning to be a medium, this is a false concept due connection with this frequency is either there or it is not, many people will and do become frustrated when their connection is limited to themselves or close loved ones or is non-existent after being exploited and coerced into paying for a course that makes you want to believe you too could be a clairvoyant or medium.

We all have intuition, it is a survival instinct and we all tap into this survival instinct from time to time and some of us more than not, whether it is for friends, loved ones or the self, there is instinctual connection and yes we all have this.

One can learn tips for trusting one’s instincts as well as tools to help us be more aware of what an instinct is and what is fear or desire.

It is important for all of us to trust our guts! To learn not to question what feels true to the self, meaning if you feel it within your core Not to go in the dark room of a scary house, do not go.

There is a history of Clairvoyance in my family my mom is clairvoyant as well and growing up talk of the supernatural as well as abilities was welcome, I was lucky for this, however, my first real acknowledgement was in grade school when I would sense events prior to them occurring I know I would marry my soul mate and have three sons, prior to grade school I believed everyone was like me.

I came out with it after the birth of my first son with the encouragement of my husband, mom and sister I chose to finally come out! Prior to my pregnancy I worked in management roles as well as executive administrative roles, I went form main stream into a world without any sanctions or rules.

That is why I am so passionate and straightforward about the fact the holistic industry has no real sanctions and because of certain individuals will continue to be questioned…..

I hope to connect with you all in the future

You can reach out to Katherien on social media





Introduction to It Starts at Home


My intention in writing It Starts at Home is to bring you as a parent of a disabled child to a better understanding from the perspective of an adult with a disability. I want you to know that having a child with a disability is not the end of the world, although you may feel that way sometimes. Although I have Spina Bifida this book can apply to children who have a wide range of disabilities. At times it may seem I am referring to one specific parent however that is not my intention as both parents should be involved in the raising of their children.

I am not a doctor;  nor a trained professional, and I am not able to give you statistical information from a clinical point of view. What I can do is provide you with a practical guide to raising a child with a disability based on what I have observed and gone through as a person with a disability myself. My hope is that this book will empower you to make the very best out of a situation that may be seen as negative according to societal standards. As an individual with a disability, I have observed the negativity that can occur when a child with a disability is born into a family, especially a family that is ill equipped to deal with the situation properly.

Raising a child with a disability can be a challenge but it can also be very rewarding. At times it will try your patience and be exhausting but it will ultimately give you a sense of how precious life is. It may take you out of your element and your comfort zone, change how you think, feel and even react. The first thing you need to do is throw all of those preconceived notions that you have out the window because they are not real; start with a new slate. I want you to understand that everything happens for a reason and that your child has a purpose in life; that you as a parent have an obligation to do everything in your power to assist and inspire your child to realize that purpose.

You may perceive “things happen for a reason” to mean that you have done something wrong or that you are being punished for something horrible you have done. Know that you did not do anything wrong. If you feel that you are being punished this feeling will inevitably lead you to feel resentment, jealousy and eventually hate towards your child. Your child needs you to be emotionally healthy and if you have feelings that remotely resemble what I have described then seek professional help; your entire family unit will benefit from you being emotionally healthy.

Like it or not, we are living in a world where what our children hear, see, feel, and learn will affect how they grow up and who they turn out to be. How children are raised can impact their futures. At the heart of this book is my own experience as a woman with a disability and my strong belief that parents are the most important influences on the lives of their children. But working alongside and on behalf of adults with disabilities has taught me that many parents need support to become the best parents they can be and unfortunately not every child has a parent as a champion. I have a strong conviction that every child deserves a chance to live up to his or her potential and we should never give up on any child let alone a child with a disability. Resilient children with disabilities can be successful adults despite great obstacles. That is where parents step in, to nurture children and to provide positive role models. How you parent shapes the lives of your children. Parents of children with disabilities should be encouraged to participate and get involved in their communities. Certainly, raising any child can be complicated, difficult and challenging and so much more when raising a child with a disability. As you read further it may seem as though I am passing judgement however that is not my intention. I just have very strong opinions and want to help you do the best you can.

Why Not….

I have enjoyed meeting the people who have written as guest bloggers on Mirella Muses, it has been both a privilege and an honor for me to open my blog to those who have amazing stories to tell, and I believe we must be able to tell our own individual stories rather than have our story told by someone else. I am thrilled that Colleen Rae chose to tell her story in her own words on my blog. She is not only an award winning entertainer, lovely and an inspiration to so many women with disabilities.

I’m a Mom, a Wife, a Singer, a School Supervisor, a Skincare Consultant…Why Not! I say “Why Not” do all and more that is in my mind and in my heart! I am confident, but I wasn’t always this way. I will be forty years young in a couple of months and that makes me smile, for I know who I am and where I am going. Having a Family, writing songs and being my own “boss” have helped me be so bold.

When I was a kid (around age 7) I’d stage my own shows in my parent’s driveway. I’d get my Dad to help make the Kool-Aid and popcorn, sell items for $0.05 – $0.10 and sing for the crowds sitting in lawn chairs in my drive way. Sometimes there would be only a few supporters sitting in those seats, but that never fazed me, I sing every show to this day like it might be my last.

The entrepreneur in me continues to grow on stage, promoting my own CD’s and sharing my own skincare business. I love to help people have healthy-looking skin. Our skin is one of our largest organs, and it’s not about being vain, this is connected with self-confidence.

I’m so thankful my own Mother showed me how to find a balance. She’d pick my brothers & I up from school and still head to work, and whenever she’d get a quiet moment to herself…I’d hear her playing songs on the guitar and singing country classics in her bedroom.

Growing up around a musical family made it feel right to make a career in music.
I teamed up with award-winning producer Louis Sedmak for the third time to record my third independent CD ‘Holding On To Life’. The collection of seven songs highlights my writing on a vulnerable level.

I was awarded “ARTIST TO WATCH” by the EMA (Edmonton Music Awards) for my Sophomore CD (Look At Her Go). One gem co-written with Nashville’s William (Jimmy) Wallace, ‘Quickest Heart In Town’, captures the story of one guarded heart. The song went #1 on CFCW Top Canadian Singles and was named the stations most requested local Canadian song for 2016.

My Debut CD ‘What You Need Is Me’ charted 7 out of 10 singles – that’s unheard of for a new artist. Three songs from my Debut CD went #1 on CFCW’s Top Canadian Singles. It was the first time I received nominations by the WCMA, TIMA, and CCMA.

It is rewarding to donate my time, skincare baskets, and talent to charities like the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. I’ve helped raised over $37,000.00 for the Nina!

One thing you’d be surprised to know is I was born with Spina Bifida Occulta and learn about it at age 7. I was told by others, it does not mean that I have a disability. However, none of them ever lived with the pain that comes with it. I’ve also kept it private because it isn’t visible. I also knew others who suffered more severe symptoms and issues with the condition. “Keep on truckin’” as my Dad would say, is the mindset I have of working through the physical pain. I have numbness in my legs, pain in my back & neck. I have found help with acupuncture and a chiropractor.

The one thing I always wanted to be in life was a Mom and I had the fear that I wouldn’t be able to give birth (because of my weak spine) or worse that I would pass on the genetics to one of my children. Both Jack & Tommy are healthy and I feel blessed.

I wear all these different hats and so my two Boys can look up to me and see that it’s ok to be more and to do more. I fulfill my passions and my eagerness to help others through my Skincare Company and music. Why Not…

Colleen Rae can be reached at:


To learn more about Spina Bifida Occulta: https://www.columbiaspine.org/condition/spina-bifida-occulta/

Buyer Beware

I met Janice and Shane on July 20, 2019 I had heard of them a few weeks before I met them. When it dawned on me who they were I knew I had to help them tell their story of buyer beware. The thing that strikes me about Janice and Shane is their kindness and generosity and their lack of anger, once you have read their story you will understand.    Here is their story as told by Janice

In 2015, both my parents passed away with two months of each other. We were lucky to have been left a little money in the estates and decided to finally settle down and buy a home. Due to my being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gastroparesis we wanted a dream home that was on land outside the city, but close enough to my doctors and family. We dreamt of a place that our dogs, six of them plus their friends could run and bark without the neighbours complaining and I could have a garden to keep me busy. I haven’t been able to work since 2009 and I’ve since started taking photos as a way to distract myself from this nightmare

We first met Paul Sirois at the Edmonton Cottage Show in 2016. He was running a booth that displayed Timber block homes which I had researched and thought would meet our needs. We left our names and emails to have him contact us after the show. On April 23, 2016 we received an email with the Timber Block logos from Paul Sirois directing us to the website for home design. We did not have land yet and he mentioned his wife is a realtor and began sending us listings based on our requirements. We were then passed onto Doug who was working under Paul’s wife with Royal Le Page. We picked the Newton floor plan off Timber Blocks site and made modifications for an open floor plan and three car garage. I loved the all on one level design, which as my RA and other health issues progressed; I needed to make sure I would be able to live in my house long term. He assured us the changes would be in our $400,000 budget. We found a property and with existing services that we were assured could fit our needs and closed the deal with possession at the end of May. We paid the 1st payment for the designs and signed a contract with Escape Homes. We modified the contract to include GST for the total cost of $400,000 with Completion date of November 2016. We approved designs which evolved around my kitchen, which as a former chef was a huge necessity and made the next payment for Engineering designs June 2016.

Nothing moved on the project until August when they tore down the existing properties and cleared the land. August 15 we discovered we had property vandalism and reported it to Paul Sirois and police and the Escape work crew installed a temporary gate with key box. August 22, we made the next two draw payments which were for lot clearing/servicing and contract order for SIP panels and log work.

September 1, 2016 We signed the permit paperwork for Lac St. Anne county. Nothing happened with permits until September 27. According to the schedule given the foundation payment was supposed to be on September 9 but nothing happened and the hole was full of water. We are now way past our initial completion date. Foundation completed November 22 and another payment was given at Escape Homes new offices on December 2 to pay for garage and wall delivery. At this time, we were told that the plans were changed to include a full basement instead of the partial crawlspace on the original designs. At the time Paul said there is no extra cost involved since it didn’t change the cost of the foundation or floor plan. We did not sign a work order for the change, nor were we consulted prior to. Revised completion date given January 2017. We advised them we were planning our wedding August 2017 which will be on the property. Told no problem and we had better invite them.

After Christmas we noticed no work progress and the house was left open to the elements. We were asked for a “lock up advance” via email on January 8, 2017 and against our better judgment we paid on January 9. At this time we were given another completion date of March/April 2017. This put us in the position of homelessness as my parents estate had been settled and the house was sold as of March 1, 2017. Again we expressed our concern and fear as we were planning our wedding and invitations had gone out. We set up a fixture selection meeting February 4 with assistant Dustin. We were assured we were their #1 priority and not to worry. After seeing little to no progress we contacted Paul again on February 16 at which time he offered to find us accommodations through to May. End of April still no progress on site and issues with the budget started to be brought up. Our selections for flooring and metal roof materials were under budget but Paul and Dustin were having issues with contractors. We had been making regular site visits and many times if crews were onsite we saw them sitting in vehicles or by the bonfire. No progress was being made. Around end of March we noticed the office for Escape Homes was vacant and up for lease and a number of employees had been let go. On May 4, Paul finally responded to our emails and stated he was working on getting investors for the company as challenges of being so busy and assured us that he hasn’t forgotten our urgent need or our wedding plans.

We received an email May 5th from Timber Block saying it had terminated its relationship with Escape Homes and Paul said it wouldn’t affect us.

On May 15 Paul emailed stating that the company is recapitalized and that his focus was to prevent further degradation of our property. At this point it has been sitting open to the elements since January, no windows or roof.

On June 9 After many emails and phone calls, Paul emailed to advise us that the house won’t be ready in time for our August 4th wedding. Less than two months to rearrange the entire event. On June 29 I received an invoice from Wayne’s building supplies. Shane called Paul and surprise he answered, and he told Shane that we should pay suppliers directly as we refused to pay any more cash to Paul. We felt that we were being held hostage as if we didn’t buy the roof it will be damaged further so we paid it. We had to move our personal property off site and Paul arranged a Seacan to store our stuff onsite. Roof was delivered July 14 and it sat uninstalled. Paul offered to set us up in a RV onsite which we agreed only if it had all facilities as I have serious medical conditions that would make things difficult to live without all services. After not hearing from anyone since July 25, and no progress onsite, Shane called Paul and yelled at him and threatened to pull our contract on August 6. Paul said he was in ft mac and that the people he left in charge of our site let him down and again assured us that he will handle things. I responded that we were beyond disappointed and that trust was blown. He begged us to stick things out. Seacan delivered August 23 and rv delivered on the 25. Rv not set up as per our needs, advised Paul it wasn’t ready to move into. Noticed basement was full of water again and sump pump not set up, forwarded pics to Paul.

On October 2 M&H crew completed the roof installation. October 10 the trailer still wasn’t ready to live in, and advised Paul that it would need to be skirted and winterized or he will have damage. October 13 we were told that basement prep and plumbing is scheduled and windows were ordered putting completion into end of November. October 16 was told Alex was working on well and septic details, thought this was done last year, but was just “discussed.”

October 19 Email from Paul advising us that his Fort McMurray project was delaying cash flow on our project and that Durabuilt windows needed to be paid and the plumbing company needed $5000. This freaked us out as we told Paul back in June when we paid for the roof that no more money was to be paid by us until we saw the financial situation and a cost summary. We paid an advance a year ago to take us to lock up and we are still not there. Received several conflicting emails regarding our project costs which did not make sense and he couldn’t clarify. Was told on October 20th that our appliances, which we had to choose in order to design our kitchen was not included in the total cost of the home as I was taking cheques to cover the delivery of our windows and plumbing. Told Paul that we were extremely unhappy and we needed time to think things over before we pay any more money. Was basically told that delays were going to cause more problems that he wanted to avoid and was told over the phone that he’s the only plumber that will work outside of the city and we had better get him paid if we want to move forward; paid under duress October 23rd. All questions were starting to be avoided again. October 30 was told gas line was set to be hooked up. November 1 sent paperwork for gas line hook up. Windows delivered and installed November 8, 2018

Received a notice of non-compliance from the county November 10, forwarded to Paul and he said he’d take care of it. Was informed that the gas company was hesitant to install the gas line, was told by the company when I paid to get it installed this year they denied him due to payment issues which Paul never said a word about, Paul suggested we install propane as a go around which was incompatible with our selected appliances. November 15 was explicitly stated we were on the list for gas line installation which was a complete lie as they require payment in full and account set up in advance none of which had been done. November 17 excuses about what is being done, nothing actually done on site. November 18 questioned the front door which wasn’t the door we selected, Paul stated he canceled it and wanted to get a door made; notified that our septic was $3000 over budget as it is not suitable to be refitted. Shane called and asked why this wasn’t included in the August 22 lot servicing payment and why wasn’t it handled then. We told him that it was unacceptable. November 21st Paul said gas installation was a no go and that he was looking for options and we responded with grave concern.

We had received phone calls from Mr. Kozik who had done the lot prep a year ago telling us he still had not been paid, forwarded info to Paul each time. Was told by Mr. Kozik on November 21st that our build has been black balled and that he was telling everyone not to work on our site as they won’t get paid. Told Paul he was ruining our relationships with our neighbours and that was unacceptable especially since we hoped to conduct our business from our home. He missed an arrangement to pay him on the 15.

November 23 Paul sent me info requesting more money for the septic system installation and threatened that we will lose his services and forwarded emails directly from contractor. Told Paul again that we were not paying anything until he can get an account of what we have paid for vs what he is asking us to pay for, saying it feels like we’re are paying twice. November 27 Mr Kozik still calling and not been paid. November 29 still no progress just more excuses about ft Mac.

December 4 Three weeks no one on site. December 7 received a revised cost review showing $22,000+ builder deficit. Responded that this was not the detailed information info we requested and we require what we had paid for including what lot servicing meant. He responded he would work on it and that insulation was starting this week.

December 14 Email stated the domino effect of missing payments is holding us up and the cost review was delayed due to switching accounting companies. This did not go over well and we decided to let things sit as we were too angry to listen to more excuses. Emailed us on December 22 to say he was looking for a new electrician and that no one was on site until the New Year.

On January 2, 2018 I emailed Paul asking him to check our site due to seismic activities in the area, he said no visible damage. On site January 5 we noticed that they were using r20 insulation instead of r40 we requested. January 8 we decided on siding selection still no progress on the house and r20 was still in the wall. Only one wall had any insulation.

January 12 Email with news that crews quit and that he approached M&H to help move us along, spoke to M & H and he knew nothing of this. January 14 email stating new electrician willing to work.

January 19 Email with deal with M&H and he mentions prepaid items but when questioned he didn’t answer what those items are. Arranged to meet Alex on site but he no showed and none of the stated work had been done.

January 24 I sent an email stating how frustrating this is and how unhappy we were. We asked for the details on the Seacan as we feared it would be repossessed with all our possessions in it.

January 30 Still no work done and no response from Paul on information we requested.

February 9 Still no progress and lots of excuses, accounting not provided. February 26 email stated concrete was supposed to be prepared, nothing done no tracks on site.

February 28 I sent an email requesting account information ASAP, Paul responded March 6, saying that it was year-end and again saying he wants to pass us off to M&H Homes.

March 8 I again received a deficiency report and it stated it was still in default for our permit, forwarded it to Paul. He said he forgot and will handle it.

March 9 Email update saying his accounts were a mess and he needed more time to clean them up and he was meeting a Calgary investor to recapitalize again.

March 13 Email saying meeting went well and that there was too much rock crush in the basement and that he was meeting a concrete company.

March 21 Email saying financial details will be in by Friday. Received financial details but they were not detailed and did not match the numbers previously given, when questioned we were told that a new management company was taking over and that I should be dealing with Surge Construction now. Requested contact information for Tim and Ben. No response, excuses March 23-27. Requested again April 2, assured me that he will be in touch ASAP. I requested all documents and copies of the home warranty; received a form that stated the policy in effect until 2018 and was issued to Escape Homes.

April 30 Finally got the purchase information so we could buy the Seacan Paul had leased.

Shane received phone call from Alex looking for to house keys, strongly advised him not to come onto our property again.

June 18, 2018 Our lawyer sent letter to Paul Sirois terminating our contract and requesting he not enter our property. Served June 28, 2018

We tried to get the project completed on our own but we are not builders and are unable to get the home warranty and other details required to finish. We are heartbroken and out a lot of money as a result we decided to sell.

At the end of the day I thought I had done my homework I checked with the better business bureau, I looked up the company online for complaints, I researched the timber block company affiliated with Escape Homes thinking they are a really good company therefore they would work with good people. We met the builder in person, had a good vibe but once money issues started to come up we should have reached out to a lawyer to protect ourselves sooner instead of believing the excuses. Once one deadline was missed we should have acted. I would say, research the company as best as you can, make sure everything including changes are in writing and don’t sign a contract without having a lawyer look it over.

To view the home listing and/or inquire go to this link:


The rest of the family: Little Lady, BUD, M.J., Spot, Penny Lane, and youngest Elvis


To see Janice’s Photography go to her Facebook page:


Shane is self-employed, you can support his business Boss Dogz Limited by going to his Facebook page:


The Funny Thing about Death By Donna Lynne Erickson

To see more and reach Donna Lynne:
Donna Lynne Erickson Comedy Video
Purchase The Funny Thing about Death available in Ebook, Paperback and Hardcover

I recently had the pleasure to meet Donna Lynne at a comedy show; is a delightful lady, funny and insightful.  After I read her book The Funny Thing about death which changed the way I view loss.  I quickly invited her to be a guest blogger because I want share with you what Donna Lynne taught me in her book.

“With The Funny Thing About Death, find an alternative course of action for a society that’s decided an absence of emotion around death’s unavoidability is the best way to deal with it. In its pages, readers—including adult children watching parents recede and die—will find comfort and counsel on how to lean into the discomfort of grief and allow natural mourning to occur.” Book review

Death itself is not funny. What is funny (strange) is the way we, in our busy western society handle losses. Since 2011, a colleague and I present full day seminars to teach people how to work through loss. To explain the content of these seminars and promote the importance of facing loss, together, I felt I needed to write a book for people asking if such a workshop would be a good fit for their workplace, church, or organization. This book was to be a brief look at what we teach and outline my philosophy of bereavement, grief and mourning. Then, it became more personal when my own story leaked in.

To be bereaved is to have something precious torn away. The event of loss.

When we experience loss — whether it is the loss of a loved one through death, the loss of a relationship through divorce or the loss of health and vitality — we are sad. That sorrow is the inside pain of loss also known as grief.

Expressing that sadness (grief) is what we call mourning. This is where it gets messy. Mourning a loss may make others uncomfortable therefore it is often stifled. There are often tears. Feeling of hopelessness. We become distraught trying to find the meaning and purpose of the loss. We may blame others, shake our fist at God or quietly sink into ourselves and cocoon so that our feelings stay private.

The Funny Thing about Death is a small and mighty book to explain not only my personal journey but observing experiences of other people as they wander through their loss event. We are all unique yet we all have something in common—it hurts to be bereaved. Losing pets, losing a job, losing a business or a home are huge life changing moments that mean life will be different and there is no magical way to rewind the event. “If only . . .”

The good news is there is hope. We cannot undo what has been done but we can move through the loss. We are able, if willing to do the work, reconcile the loss into our life. We need help to do that. There are times of utter exhaustion. There can be times of rest by giving permission to mourn in safety with trusted grief helpers. Can we change how we do things? Is there a way to make a cultural shift so that we can safely mourn without being judged, fixed or ignored?

I believe we can. To help others we must first understand our philosophy of bereavement, reconcile the losses we have personally experienced and then learn, listen and be aware of the need to mourn, together.

River City Roof Rescue-Chrispy Workun

I am thrilled to be a part of bringing you this gentlemen’s story of generosity and unconditional kindness.  A company called River City Roofing runs a program called River City Roof Rescue.  Owner Chris (Chrispy Workun) graciously agreed to be a guest blogger to tell you what River City Rescue is and how they help out in the community.

What got me into roofing? I started when I was 21. I was in a punk rock band called The Blame it’s at the time. We all started roofing because you made decent money and you got winters off. We used those winters to tour across Canada and record albums; it was a win win situation.

While the other guys found new careers and moved on I grew to enjoy the work; never looked back. Now 14 years later my business partner Jesse has his own company but we are working on merging the two and we have a couple of roofers that work on our team. It’s a small company with one crew we can guarantee to have at least one owner on site. When we decided to go out on our own we wanted to do so as ethical as we could. So when I pitched the idea of River City Roof Rescue, Jesse was immediately in and River City Roof Rescue was born.

RCRR is a program where we take $2 per bundle of roofing installed which is a bundle of shingles; usually 20 shingles per package/bundle and put it aside. When someone needs a repair but can’t afford it, we do it for free, using what we have set aside for materials. We will even redo a full roof if we have too if the money is there. So the more business we get, the more people we can help. All this is done in a non-exploitive way. We will not use their situation for our own gain. We understand that money is tight sometimes having been there ourselves. We want to help use our skills to help take stress off the table for as many people as we can.

I do more than run River City Roof Rescue.  When there is a need I try to help when I can.  When the Aviary was broken into I donated a keg to their fundraiser show so they could keep 100% of the money from the beer they sold

I am what we in the biz call a sloped roofer, as opposed to a flat roofer. There’s an age old argument between the two; one is the superior roofer. I never got caught up in that because we’re all roofers, we have one job and that’s to keep the weather out. Which I think is an extremely important job and I take that very seriously. So as a sloped roofer my job is very simple; take off the old shingles and put on the new ones. There are a few other steps involved but that’s basically all there is to it. It’s an easy job to learn but a hard job to master. It’s an exterior finishing job so it has to look as good as it functions. That means every cut has to be perfect, every nail placed correctly, every shingle lined up perfectly. Which seems easy enough but say you are doing a 50 bundle roof, that’s 1000 shingles, at least 4000 nails and 100 or so cuts. It gets pretty monotonous and tedious and it takes years of practice to be able to do all that as perfect as you can without zoning right out and completely messing it up.

So you need to get your roof done and you want to hire a contractor. There’s a ton that I can say on this but I don’t want this to act as a giant advertisement for me so I’ll keep it fairly generalized. First off, make sure to get a couple quotes. Different companies have different pricing so it’s a good idea to weigh your options. That being said remember that in many cases you get what you pay for so if you get a quote that is so much lower than the others, there’s probably a reason for that. Referrals are your best friend and ours as well. If you know someone that got a new roof and was happy with the work, the clean-up and the price that’s a great place to start. If you get a salesperson that makes you feel uncomfortable or tries to pressure you into a contract just walk away. There are a lot of greasy salesmen out there and you don’t have to put up with their crap. Talk to them, ask as many questions as you want and only proceed with hiring them once you feel comfortable. How much does your house cost to roof? This depends on several factors: Pitch of the roof. The steeper the roof, the more it costs. The average roof is a 4/12 pitch. That means that if you measure 12 inches horizontally from the peak it drops 4 inches. •style of the roof The more cut up and complicated the roof, the higher the cost. •access to your house If you a driveway that we can pull our trailer into as well as the loading truck for materials, that is our best case scenario. If there are power lines, trees, no driveway or a fenced yard. That means that we will have to carry the material up a ladder to the roof as well as drop all the garbage onto a tarp and walk it to the trailer and that will affect the cost as well. Then there’s the clean-up…the dreaded clean up that so many people hate to do. If you are asking friends for a referral make sure to ask how well the company did their clean up. It’s a simple concept; you make a mess, you clean it up. Something we’re all taught from childhood. We take a lot of time for our clean up, we get labourers to go on the ground and clean up as well as they can while we finish up the last touches on your roof. Once we are done we all go over the whole yard at least two more times to make sure we get every last scrap and nail. We even check your neighbour’s yards because plastics can blow away with wind and nails have a tendency to fall pretty far from the roof. The last thing that should happen is you getting a nail in the foot or knee while doing yard work or your kids playing outside. If you notice a company didn’t do this major part of the job well enough, make them come back and do it properly. The clean-up should match the roof…flawless and that’s all there is to it.

I am also a musician; my first band called the Blame It’s started in 1997 when I was 12, we are still together but don’t do much these days due to careers and family priorities. I started playing drums when I was 12 with Blame It’s then changed over to guitar about 12 years ago with them. I’m back playing drums in Screaming Targets and also play guitar in a band called Golden Years with my wife Lorette we are currently working on songs and not playing live.  We have recording equipment so we write and record at home. The record from my band Screaming Targets, Carbon Copies.  Carbon Screaming Targets was taken from a song called Screaming Target from the band Big Youth; it’s a cool tune

Everyone always asked about my name; the story behind my name goes back to when I was 15 years old.  My first name is Chris and there were three Chris’s in our group of friends so we all got nicknames. I got random Chrispy and it stuck; all my teachers, friends and family even my parents called me Chrispy.

Chrispy can be reached at the following social media links

River City Roofing https://www.facebook.com/rivercityroofingedmonton/

The Blame It’s


Screaming Targets latest musical Release


If you would like to see what people are saying about a specific company you can go here:


Homestars https://homestars.com


River City Roof Rescue in the news