Sunday, April 29, 2007

The art of the story

Yesterday Brandon and I hooked up with all the girls on our Albertan side of the family. We went to a country restaurant about an hour outside of Cowtown, about a 1/4 mile off of the Number 1, and in the middle of a big wheat field. The food was what you would expect from a place like that - home cooking served by the daughters of the household. One half of the converted house was the restaurant, and the other was a gift shop with really neat odds and ends that you just can't find every where. It was great to hang with the women, and lunch was capped off with a slice of Flapper Pie. A very simple but tasty concoction of custard, graham wafers, and some merange (sp?) on top. I took a moment when someone was holding my baby to run stuff out to the car and just take a look around. You can watch the clouds dance across the land, and look out forever. Although some areas of Alberta have had a really long and tough winter, this area is already pretty dry and ready for the farming to begin again. I stood and took a picture in each direction, north, south, east, and west because it is such a different environment to me. Yup. I am a coast girl through and through.

The evening finished with a family dinner and reuniting with the boys. Nothing like good eats and great company. I love kicking back with a game in the background (too bad the Canadian team didn't win) when everyone is relaxed and then the stories start to come out. See, not everyone understands the art of storytelling. Some people think that storytelling means that you drag out all the old stuff that is better left in a closet because no one is better off hearing that story again. Nope, the true art of the story is bringing out the slightly embarrassing or incriminating (or both) stories about friends and family and regaling the next generation and newbies to the family legends. Whether it be the sort of the "remember when they shot the bear from the porch" variety or the "do you remember Jake, the rubber chicken?" you know you should just grab your drink. kick back, and enjoy the ride.

*NB - not all good stories involve someone with a red face or doing something a little edgy... but many of them are. But good stories are gems in your arsenal of life experience, to be treasured and brought out at the right time. Now I am definitely getting the urge to do some camping!!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not so wild animals

Hard to believe that our holiday has already passed the hump day and has started to gather speed down the back half. We spent a good morning at the Zoo, hooked up with some family, and got to experience what life is like with a 3 year old. Welcome to the battle of the wills. No wait, there was no battle, he just tried to do what he wanted to do and the rest of us be damned! Actually he was pretty good - he loved being at the Zoo, but doesn't have the attention span for it all like we do. I would have thought that the animals would have held his attention a lot more, but he was stuck on climbing everything, or that play area over there, or filling his belly than he was at looking at the apes, tigers, and giraffes.

It was fun - Brandon was awesome and took it all in stride. It is really warm, and all of our cheeks are a little rosy. I feel a little bad because I thought that I had B's gilligan's hat on but not long enough because I think this would be his first teaser of a sun burn. Chaulk it up to a learning experience. The weather has been better this week than it was the week that I came out last year in May. It is in double digits, and the wind offers a bit of a reprieve.

After the zoo we have come back home to chill, and the boys are prepping dinner. Alberta beef (read steak), and some veggies thrown in for good measure. Perhaps some vino, some music, lots of talk. Tomorrow we are going to head out to Lake Louise and Banff.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The back 40

There is nothing like family history and being able to experience a piece of it when it has been in your family for generations. We got out to what once was Ken's grandparents farm when they first came over and homesteaded from Scotland. His Aunt and Uncle are still at the farm, and for now, it is still being farmed by family.

The original house still stands, and it puts things in to perspective when you consider how little space a whole family could live in (quite happily). I love being able to explore the land - the old red barn, the original buildings, those prairie things called Quonset huts, and grain elevators, and old machinery, and just cool stuff that gathers on a farm over time. Chasing the barn cats, the sun on our faces, and being able to bring the generation back to where part of it started. I did do a search on the old titles, and on the government websites you can find the old homesteading deeds. We have a bit of a shared heritage because my mom's grandparents also homesteaded in 1905/1906 when the west was opened up but they chose Saskabush instead before eventually heading west.

I think the prairies are beautiful in their own way - the big skies and rolling hills (even if they are brown and spotted with the last remnants of winter), but it is the smell of the ocean that lifts up my heart and where I feel the most at home. I have come to really appreciate Alberta through our visits, and I really think that being able to go to farm and visit it just really something else. Being able to touch and smell history, to hear the stories, and experience the timelessness of the farming, and then to have a warm house to retreat too, and the smell of fresh apple pie.

Driving home, full and satiated, it is strange to drive for so long in a straight line. This part of the trip meant a lot to both of us, and driving home we were both quiet, taking it all in.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The box

Last night we checked out the local junior hockey game. Gilly scored some awesome tickets through work (a real advantage to working in the private sector vs. the private sector) and we had a box all to our selves and got to hang out like rockstars. This is Brandon's first official big(ger) league hockey game, and I agreed to bring him because of the awesome seats and being able to shelter him from some of the noise. Well, he danced and smiled, and wooed the people around him. We enjoyed over priced beer and chips, and it was great. Unreal how much it can cost to go to a game, even when you had a helping hand with the tickets. Entertainment isn't cheap! I have found that I would rather support the junior leagues a little more on the line for the boys hitting the draft.

The highlight had to be after the game, when we rearranged all the furniture in the box and watched the end of the 'Nucks game. Our hoots and hollars when they won filled the Dome.

Today took off to a quiet start and then we went off to Fort Calgary. Getting in and out our area in Cowtown has been interesting - as navigator I have not always been a shining star but I am getting the hang of this city. Granted, with so many new neighborhoods, and not so many land markers, some hoods look just like the other, and you have to really pay attention to the rights and lefts and subtle variations in place names. Calgary does seem to have a much better infrastructure than we do, between the paths and some forethought in to planning their streets and highways. Then again, you are dealing with the prairies rather than a limited land space like the fraser valley. BUT much better planned than we have at home in many areas. The Fort was cool, not as detailed as Fort Langley but an interesting look in to our past and the NWMP roots of the men in red serge. It appears that our quest for a blooming onion has hit yet another snag, after fighting traffic to hit the restaurant, we were told it was closed down by the health department because they blew a hot water tank as an inspection happened. Right.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cow Town!

Clear skies and house tops is what I can see from where I sit!

Here were are in Cowtown, and after the tales of the white out conditions last week, the tides have turned and the weather is fantastic today. It also makes me look like I have over packed, or packed for completely the wrong season. For some reason I have not gotten out of the habit of packing my half of our bag until the morning of departure. It is how I roll. I think the worst occaison repacking happened when I was in Cairo, trying to get everything to fit back in to my bag and having a really rough go at it with a mere hour to go before we had to get back to the airport. Having only about an hour or two of sleep at that pointed had not helped things along either. Ah well, with years of practise I am quite good at it.

In Calgary, it is amazing that you are about 40 minutes away from the Rocky Mtns and yet when you live on the outskirts of the city, the city looms in the distance, with only a few rolling hills to separate you. No mountains, no green majestic sweeps of trees, just some smaller trees scattered around and some grass that is damn happy to see the sun right about now and some remaining patches of snow melting away.

Today has been a great mellow day. We are all moving pretty slow, Ken from a long week or two at work, me from just life in general. Well- the last few weeks have been crazy busy for us with the water babies, and other side trips that we have had going on. Brandon is having an amazing nap - between the cold he has had (nothing extreme just there) to all the excitement of the flight and visiting with loved ones, he is just done in today. Hell, we all are. I snatched up a book, and between foraging for food, making Brandon some baby food, a short walk, and my own nap, that sounds like heaven to me right now. It is nice being in someone else's house, where I am not worrying about doing this or that, I just am. It is also cool watching Ken and PKY hang, there is nothing in this world like your bestest friends - the few people who have known you since you were a kid, and you have stuck together closer than family because you chose each other. Of course I have my own copilot to chill with, and it was damn cool to have a gang of folk at the airport to greet us.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Albertan Brunch

Who needs rice, or carrots, or any of that green stuff? It is just filler when you have something like this one the grill! What a great way to kick off a holiday in Cow Town with some of your closest friends.. and then later on... family

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blast off.

Since we signed up for water babies, the last few weeks seem to have been on hyper drive. Could be a sign of things to come, but our days have been crammed full and I can't believe it was just a few days (so it seems) that Brandon was 8 months old. Another month has almost clicked by!!!

We've gotten out for a few great walks, some good visits with friends and family, done some more reorganizing of the house, went down to the Tulip festival, and frittered away the time. I have also been through a bought of spring cleaning - the curtains are washed, a little bit of touch up painting here and there, and slowly my current to do list is starting to dwindle.

Next week we are heading to Cowtown. It seems like forever ago that we booked our trip, and now it is almost a reality. The days are already filling up with lots of visiting, and my dear friend Gilly called last night, gloating, about the fact that it was snowing. Apparently misery loves company and she is quite gleeful we folks from lotus land get to experience some prairie spring. I guess the other rude awakening will be the brown grass everywhere. Who knew? It will be great to get away - aside from day trips, and visits to see Gram on the coast, we haven't been far since we tied the knot. Different scenery will be good for the soul, although I am starting to appreciate just how much I am going to need to pack since we are traveling with an infant!!! And here I was getting better at not bringing the kitchen sink along - now I will have to!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A bounty of colour

The rain looked like it would hold off long enough that the sun should be able to peek through and we be able to head stateside to enjoy the Tulip Festival (one of my favourite spring things to do). The colours are breath taking, and we got there early enough that it was fairly quiet - it is one of my pet peeves to be somewhere naturally beautiful and have a bunch of strangers in all your pictures. Some places you expect this, but I will patiently wait to try to get the shot without the other peeps in it. These pics were taken from display gardens containing more varieties of tulips than I care to count: all different colours, heights, sizes, some doubles, some early blooming, some almost done.
By the time we were done our sight seeing and sunday driving, it seemed that trying to get fish and chips in either La Connor (no parking spots to be found) or White Rock (50th anniversary celebration and everyone, and I mean everyone was out crowding the streets), or the local shop (closed Sundays, WTF?) was a mission impossible so we ended up grabbing some take out to go back home and chill.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A big sigh of relief

Today we had cause to celebrate.

Where as last month's doctors appointment for Brandonw as somewhat stressful with the possibility that his shunt was not working properly, this mont's appointment brought better news all the way around.

Although we were waiting umpteem moments to get in, it was time well spent because the office was packed and we got see other kids who had gone through a similar experience all the way from 3 months, to 4 and 5 years old, to 19. All were doing awesome, and you would never know the experiences that they had gone through if you weren't in the know (which in this case would be defined as being in the office to know whom they were there to see). Brandon is doing great and things are progressing as they should. The pressure has been relieved, the shunt is working, his head growth has leveled out, and Brandon is just an amazing little duffer. Like every other parent he is the apple of our eye, tickles the cockles of my heart, and I am pretty damn proud of him. We don't have to go back for another ultrasound and check up for 4 months, after that 6 months, and then just regular check ups. I said to the doc, I am sure with a bit of awe in my voice, that "Once you get through that initial scare, and making sure that everything is working as it should, I guess this is life with a shunt" meaning just like everyone else. And he smiled, and agreed, saying that was what he said to begin with, and I laughed, because in the beginning you are scared and nervous and don't know what to expect.

So tonight we celebrated with a nice dinner at home and counted our blessings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Time to Vote!

I think it is an interesting bit of trivia if you can actually list off the Seven Ancient Wonders... now, there is the opportunity to vote for what you feel should be included in the new, updated and some what more global list of the "New" Seven Wonders...

A few quick reviews....

Some months I seem to have more to say than others. Either that, or some months I have more time to actually sit down in front of the computer and articulate a few scattered thoughts.

I have done some great reading in the last month. I just finished reading Running with Sciss0rs which is quite the read, especially considering that it is a memoir. What a crazy, fucked up life this guy has had. Like a cat, he seems to have landed on his feet though! It was a compelling read, at some times sad, at some times I was shaking my head in awe (not always in a positive way), and at other times, normal is what normal does and only relates to the confines of your own life. Amazing what becomes routine, no matter how crazy it may seem looking in or out. It was a faster read than the last two novels that I dove in to, but definitely a compelling read.

I also finished The Historian just prior to Running..., which could have also added to it being a sprint compared to this book. The Historian is one helluva page turner. I loved the history, the interwoven tales, the mystery surrounding Dracula and barely revealed violence, the exotic locales and lesser known European states and cities, the love stories, the darkness, and the long passages it took to unravel this tale. There was only one section where I think I felt my eyes crossing unwittingly - a section written as if it was an academic journal and that was pretty much the only part of this 700 page novel in really small font that I didn't enjoy and felt like I trudged through. If I am moved, I ear marked a bunch of pages for future reference and perhaps I can dig out a few quotes. The book is still in the car, and well, there it will stay for a bit longer.

AND I also finished reading the Palace Walk, a tale about Cairo just as WW I is drawing to a close. It is an insight in to Arab culture and what life is like in Egypt at that time. It is also a story about a family, and how each member relates to each other and their own slice of life. It is hard not to be riled at times at how different mens lives were from that of womens, but as I reacted to this book in good and bad ways, I had to admire the style in which it was written in order to evoke such strong responses from me. This is one part of a trilogy, and eventually I will read the other 2 novels.

On a total aside, all three of these books were larger, and somewhat bulky (scissors to a lesser extent) and made b'feeding and reading a little more awkward as one hand tried to grapple with the shape of these books. I couldn't imagine not being able to read during those times because I run out of stories and things to blather on about during those times... as well, besides it being nice quiet time together, some times I hope that Brandon will drift off to sleep shortly there after so keeping it mellow is a good thing.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Those lumps, humps, and bumps.

Ah those Canadians.

Being married to my own Canadian goalie, this video cracked me up, and then some. Well worth the time to check it out. Perhaps if he ever changed his mind about baseball, this would be a viable off season sport, but that isn't happening any time soon.

I may not always flash my maple leafs in overt ways, but I am Canadian and really quite proud of it. Not that extreme nationalism is necessarily a good thing, personally you should be proud of where you are from, the nature of the geography and its peoples, and how it has [subtlety] shaped who you are and the face that you present to the rest of the known universe. I may be a blend of a few other cultures when you look back to where prior generations came from, but those generational threads have been fused together to form my Canadian identity first and foremost, especially that of being from the edges of the west coast.

So without further ado, I love this video by our own ironic princess of rock, Alanis.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Here I am!

I have a quiet moment, so I figured that I would sit down to throw out a few thoughts. Of course, now that I have that proverbial white sheet of paper in front of me, I am just sitting here with a stupid look on my face.

Brandon is in bed, at a decent time. Ahhhhh. Last night was one of those nights where he was wired for light and sound between 3 and 5am. Or was that 6am? I think, er I know, that the numbers started to run in together in between cat naps, breastfeeds that never seemed to end, and various other things that go bump in the night. It is what it is, and it is amazing how much energy goes in to his achieving the state of sleep.

The book I am currently reading is bigger than a pocket book, and so was the last one, both of which I would file under the big L for literary books, and are giving my thumb muscles a work out as I am trying to read one handed as Brandon nurses. I am giddy, I will be joining up with a fabulous group of ladies to read books with and just gossip about our lives from our own perspectives. I am really excited, and I hope that they find my enthusiasm endearing because if the last meeting was any indication, the opportunity to talk about books and hang out is pretty heady stuff about now.

I hate to sound redundant, but time is flying by too quickly. I am so aware of time, that as Brandon gets older (how can I have an 8 month old?) it means that I am that much closer to going back to work. I have been in for a few visits, and I can't believe it is closing in on a year since I worked. What did I use to do with all my time? Oh yeah, run around like a chicken with my head chopped off, only doing slightly different things.

The various hockey seasons are wrapping up. It has been strange not playing and now I wonder how I am going to make it fit again in the future and on what terms. I feel distant from my old team - not that I haven't been in touch with a few friends on the team, but I guess I am little disappointed that I haven't spared for them, or even been asked to come out. Not that everyone isn't really happy to see me when I come out to cheer them on, but it feels weird when people not on the team come up to me and ask me when I feel I am ready to start playing again, or ask me why aren't I out there playing when the team is so obviously short of girls some nights. I can only shrug my shoulders and give Brandon a cuddle. Ultimately, I would have been ready to play not long after birth, but it isn't all about me right now and I have to be respectful of Brandon and what works for all of us, especially now that routines are so much more important to all of our well being. I think I will know more how I feel about everything after I get out for a skate, maybe for a stick and puck sometime in the next while, feel the wind on my face and the slap of the stick on the ice.

I will grudgingly admit I was wrong in my predictions about the 'Nucks this year. I figured that their playoff hopes were a dismal far-fetched idea and here they have gone on a kick ass winning streak (granted, how many of those wins have happened in OT or in shoot outs???). I still can't say that I care as much about professional hockey as I did before the lock out. I just haven't been as excited, or watched as many games, although it is rare when I actually get to read or watch a show without interruptions any more :D I guess part of what gets me is that it is an arm, a leg, and maybe even your first born to go to a game now. Hell, you want a beer at the game and you may as well add your folks to the deal. Going to a game is an expensive endeavour now and I can think of a few other ways I would rather spend my money.

Perhaps I should try to blog more often so I don't go on these marathon posts that go on and on and on... speaking of which, after trying out construction grade garbage bags, and then redesigning the kiddie pool vinyl that I begged and whined Ken to get me days before birth last year (and both methods failed miserably) to create my desired water feature in the backyard in the 1/2 whiskey barrel I procured (errr liberated a rhubarb plant from), we took a trip to a local garden center to get a proper insert and a fountain "spitter". We didn't go for one that looks like a little boy puking up water or a dying fish, we went for a gargoyle with a walking stick, with water coming out one end. I like it. I get a kick out of being outside with my hands in the dirt and watching things grow. I also scored some great deals on potted tulips, which for me is a bonus - not only do I get to enjoy the flowers this year, but I have the bulbs for next year! SCORE!

Dare I mention the enabling that happened on a shopping excursion on Friday? Let it be known I have a fabulous new red shirt, and various odds and sods from that swedish place. Speaking of which, I discovered the most brutal, frustrating little piece of doo-dad to put together. I can nail, and this piece nearly did me in with crooked nails!!! I did end up getting a little mocked, but the job was done and my computer desk has become a much more organized chaos.