Sunday 11 April 2021

Spring 2021: We're Back...And Wow!

 Hello there!

How have you all been?

I hope you are all warm and safe!

If you're in Northern Alberta, you just might be thinking of a Christmas carol or two right now.

Like maybe this one:

And I saw from peeking at the news this morning that most parts of North America are experiencing some form of unseasonal weather right now.

So again, stay safe!

But I have news!

When I signed in to the blog and looked at the view counts for the posts...

...I saw that hundreds of you have been reading the individual ones in our absence!

And as a group, for all the post views combined, there's over 6,000 of you reading This Is For You Annie!


Wherever you happen to be in the world, thank you so very much!

When Jacquie and I started This Is For You Annie, we envisioned it as a way to honor our dear mother Annette Hebert Autio, who passed unexpectedly in 2015, and her love of family and genealogy.

We honestly did not expect  anyone but family and friends to see it.

And for a while, that's exactly who did see it.

Then we decided to do something with the notes that Mom took during the trip that she and Jacquie took to the Maritimes in 2013.

And the view counts steadily increased.

And that made us smile.

Then life got crazy during this pandemic that we are in, and yesterday I looked at this special blog for the first time since last July.

And what I saw regarding the visits truly made my day.

So thank you again everyone, near and far!

I can't help wondering about what Mom would think about the times we live in now, if she were here.

And the more I think about it, three things keep coming to me:




And really, with much of the world slowed down, if anyone in the world has any of these attributes in any combination, then I'm sure that she would think that they will help sustain us, and eventually help us through whatever is ahead.

We love you Mom!

This one's for you.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Spring 1983: Family Swim Fun!

Seeing this picture of the ACT Center pool in Rundle Park brought back memories of taking swimming lessons every Saturday morning for about two years.

Great exercise, and actually a great way to start the day.

Being lucky enough to be able to ride DATS as a just-about teen, I usually got picked up in a bus between 7:45 and 8. The lesson started around 9, and generally ran until 10:15 or 10:30.

And if you don't know or haven't figured it out yet...

...a pool is one of the few places where the disabled can achieve true freedom.

Because of the weightlessness of water, walking is achievable.

And downright exhilarating.

Of course you have to make sure that you have your footing in the first place.

Even when holding on to a plastic barbell, as I was doing on one Family Swim Day.

I was there along with Mom, Dad, and Jacquie.

As well as my buddy Casey and his brother.

We were having a great time.

All of a sudden, I lost my grip on the barbell.

Down I went to the bottom (even with waterwings...shhh lol)

But thankfully Dad scooped me up after five seconds or so.

I didn't even pass out.

I survived!

And this being in 1983, a big deal was not made about it.

We moved on.

And even went to the Globetrotters game later that night with Casey and his family.

All in all, a busy and fun day!

This one's for you Annie.

Love Mike

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Summer 1983: Rainbow Adventures AKA Up, Up And...OMG!!!

Yes I rode the Rainbow on a rainy summer morning in 1983, along with Mom and Jacquie, at Edmonton's Klondike Days.

On the recommendation of a daycamp counselor I had met a couple years before.

"Oh yes, Michel, it's totally safe," she assured us.

I can assure you that I screamed  when we flipped over at the highest point.

Each of the three times we did so during the course of the ride.

Although we were adequately strapped in and each hanging on to a bar, there was nothing stopping our feet from slipping, should we lose our balance.

So in my case, Mom's foot (and I think Jacquie's too I think) were jammed over mine to prevent that from happening.

But hey folks...I survived!

And I certainly don't hold anything against that daycamp worker, or the Klondike Days organization.

Because looking back on it 37 years was pretty cool!

And I have to tell you that 1983 was a time when, if you as a disabled person wanted to try something not usually done, and had a family member or friend willing to help, it usually happened.

And when one of those people was Mom, you couldn't lose!

This one's for you Annie.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Fall 1981: Mom Kept Us Healthy AKA Footballs And Baseballs

One of the things I remember most about Mom was how health conscious she always was, and how she wanted Jacquie and I to have the best health possible.

To that end, she introduced us to garlic pills

and cod liver oil pills

Which we called footballs and baseballs respectively.

Now the garlic pills had a very definitive aftertaste.
And the cod liver oil was encased in a clear membrane.
Because to take it straight, we would have to put up with a taste similar to castor oil.
However, we soon got used to it.
And beginning in the fall of 1981...
...we had the healthiest year either of us has ever had.
Looking back on it, it was certainly not cheap.
And so we appreciate the sacrifices Mom made so we could have these.
We love you Mom!

This one's for you.

Wednesday 15 April 2020


Hello Mikaela!

How are you doing?

Are you six years old already?


The days sure go fast!

Can I just tell you one thing though?

A little bit of Uncle Mike advice?

Take your time and enjoy growing up.

You'll meet all kinds of people.

And do all kinds of exciting things.

And dear Mikaela, you might be in a hurry to grow up.

I know I was.

So was your mom.

And probably your dad.

(I didn't know him when he was six years old though. So I can't be sure ha ha)

But I know Auntie Shawna was in a hurry too.

And you know what?

Now all of us are all MUCH older than six.

And sometimes we all wish we could go back to being six.

So  we could enjoy life as much as you do Mikaela!

You are sweet.

You are helpful.

And you are kind.

Those are three things that will take you far as you go through life.

Grandpa Paul told me he likes talking to you because you keep him on his toes!

And I know that Grandma Annie would be proud of you, young lady!

We all are so proud of you! And we love you so much!

Take your time and enjoy being six.

Happy Birthday Mikaela!

I love you.

Uncle Mike

Monday 13 April 2020

Happy Easter Penelope And Mikaela!

Happy Easter Penelope and Mikaela!

You look very stylish in your dresses!

And you sure look like you had fun!

Especially with the bunny pancakes!

I know Grandma Annie would be so proud of you two!

I know you guys are living through a confusing time right now.

You can't go to school.

And you have to stay home.

Staying home from school might sound like fun for a while.

But you also can't get together with your friends right now.

Because there are many many people who are sick right now.

All over the world, and including Calgary and Edmonton.

And all over Canada too.

But there are two things we can do to help the sick people in Canada and Calgary and Edmonton get better.

We can stay home.

And we can wash our hands whenever we think of it.

I know that sounds pretty silly, you guys.

But it really does work!

For you guys.

For your mom and dad.

Even for your Uncle Mike and Auntie Shawna!

So we can all do that, can't we?

I know your mom and dad have lots of fun stuff planned for you guys!

So have fun, and we'll see you when we can all visit again!

I love you Penelope and Mikaela!

Happy Easter!

Uncle Mike

Sunday 29 March 2020

January 1990: Bye Bye Blues Gala Premiere

In January of 1990, Mom and I attended what was probably the world gala premiere of the wonderful made-in-Alberta film Bye Bye Blues,written and directed by Edmonton-born Anne Wheeler and starring Innisfail-born Rebecca Jenkins. The fact that the premiere was held at Edmonton's iconic Princess Theatre, on the city's historic (and still-thriving) Whyte Avenue made it all the more special.

Mom and I bundled up in coats, scarves, touqes and boots that bitterly cold January night. Even as late as 1990, winter was winter in Edmonton. We took a cab to the Princess from our apartment in the Bonnie Doon area. It took us a while to get there. Because when it gets bitterly cold and snowy in Edmonton, the roads do tend to be a trial.

When we got there, the atmosphere was unlike anything we had ever seen.


News crews.

Speeches from Wheeler and Jenkins.

All this hoopla for a movie made in Edmonton and Alberta?

It was my first notion that a very vibrant arts scene existed in our city and province.

And the movie, based on the experiences of Wheeler's mother, features Jenkins as Daisy Cooper, a '40s wife and mother raising her son and following her dream by becoming a singer in a dance band while her husband Teddy (Michael Ontkean) is away at war, thereby providing an income for her and her son. The band is run by travelling American musician Max Gramley (Luke Reilly). Naturally, complications ensue.

As well as the movie is written by Wheeler and scored by the late, great Alberta musician George Blondheim, for me it was a perfect opportunity to quiz Mom about stories she may have heard from that era as she was growing up. She told me about my great-uncle Adrien, who proudly served in WWII. And it was wonderful for us to be able to bring my grandmother and Mom's mom Lucille to the Princess a few months later when Bye Bye Blues played again. She confirmed to us that the spirit of togetherness and pulling together in tough times was accurate, though she was uncomfortable with what she considered one or two of the movie's "racier" elements.

But I certainly enjoyed the time we all spent together listening to and swapping stories, and being able to be brought back to a time, via the silver screen, to a time when people pulled together and sacrificed because it was the right thing to do.

Does that sound familiar in these times?

Some months later I was able to attend Bye Bye Blues: The Concert, which featured Ms. Jenkins, Mr. Blondheim and several renowned and outstanding Alberta musicians playing and singing songs from the film, as well as a few standards with our world-renowned Edmonton Symphony Orchestra  It was the first time I heard '40s-era torchy songs live, and will forever remember Mr. Blondheim's heartfelt quip from the stage that he was grateful to be up there, after he first saw the ESO with Procol Harum from the balcony back in 1971.

This one's for you Mom.

I love you.