Edmonton Tourist: The Moth Cafe

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I had a date with one of my favourite humans. We get together sporadically and explore the city. Our plan was to visit the art walls of Edmonton that are popping up all over the place but first, we needed (?) wanted (?) desired coffee.

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The Moth is a plant-based cafe located at 9449 Jasper Ave. It has a smallish parking lot but there is street parking all over the place downtown. I had never been, but I had seen it all over Instagram from my vegetarian friends. There was even a post from a friend who was laying in a hammock that resided in the cafe’s corner. Sadly the hammock is gone to make way for more tables. Thankfully for us, the extra table gave us a place to sit on the stage because this place was packed. To be fair, it was Sunday morning and all kinds of people are at great cafes on a Sunday morning for brunch.

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There was lots to choose from but only one real choice for me.

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I had an almond milk latte and a piece of pumpkin pie because pumpkin pie is the BEST! My friend had a coconut milk latte and a peanut butter chocolate cupcake.

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The coffee was fine but the pie was the best thing I have ever eaten and I think of it often. Thoughts like….what was that secret ingredient that made it taste so good? cream cheese? lemon? silken tofu? I have no idea, but I wish I was Chris Morocco and could recreate it.  I love it so much, I think I will call them and order a whole pie for the weekend’s non-thanksgiving dinner. My friend’s cupcake was fine but she loved her coffee. Overall I hear great things about the food in this place and I would definitely go back.

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Edmonton is a foodie’s paradise. The Moth Cafe is another great place to sit, eat and visit on a Sunday morning. I am sure you will find me there on another day. Come by and say hi, bring a fork so we can share.

Pie

It is a big weekend here in Canada. Most people will celebrate Thanksgiving, and by celebrate, I mean eat turkey and pie. I invited my parents to join us for Thanksgiving dinner back in September. They are continuing their adventures overseas and are currently in France somewhere near Versailles.

Thanksgiving Days Past barely registers a blip on my radar. We always went to my grandmother’s home and family would come from across Canada. It all changed once my grandfather died. I didn’t really want to go anymore because the dynamic was different. I still went for a few more years, but then I stopped getting invited, so I stopped asking to come. There are three times a year when I think of grandpa most, Canada Day, his birthday and Thanksgiving. Those were his favourite holidays.

I am back to loving the holiday dinner again. It was wonderful having my parents join me and my family. We sat around the table and ate turkey, cabbage rolls, stuffing, carrots and homemade rolls. I destroyed the cranberry sauce by burning it to a crisp. There was a time when that would send me into a panic, and I would make the hubs run to the store for fresh supplies. This year I said, “oh well, no cranberry sauce this year”. This proves to me that my meditation practice and mindfulness techniques are working for me.  I did make homemade pies because pies are my superpower. I am much better at baking than I am at cooking. Some people say there isn’t a difference, but I disagree. I do think some people are good at one or the other.

I am a baker.

Usually, I am somewhere in British Columbia in the fall and manage to visit a pumpkin patch and purchase a few sugar pumpkins, my favourite for pies. I travelled to Smokey Lake Pumpkin fair looking for said pumpkins but honestly, the pumpkin selection was terrible. The alpaca wool selection was AMAZING! If you are looking for wool, that is the place to be, if you are looking for sugar pumpkins, not so much. I heard a rumour Safeway has some sugar pumpkins – or at least they are called pie pumpkins, I will investigate the difference but I have tins of ED Smith pumpkin in my pantry so I think I will just simplify my pie for the weekend. After all, Thanksgiving is over for me.

I have had requests for more recipes sprinkled into my blogs. So dear reader, I share my Pumpkin Pie with you. But first – pie alternatives.

Pie alternatives

  • You can bake the pie filling in a casserole dish or pie tin without the crust for a gluten-free experience or for those people who just don’t want the crust. This is one of the few pies that will still behave like a pie without the crust.
  • Sprinkle white sugar over top and use a torch to brulee it. The secret to a great crackle top after you torch one layer, add another layer of sugar and torch it again.
  • Crush pecans or your nut of choice and sprinkle on the bottom before adding your pie filling. I like to toss the nuts in maple syrup.
  • Adding ¼ cup of cream cheese adds richness and tang if that’s your thing. Sometimes I like to do this and will include orange zest.
  • Pie filling spread over phyllo pastry and rolled into a log. The spiral it into a greased pie dish. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sanding sugar. You’re welcome.
  • Add pie filling to your cinnamon buns before you roll them up for baking. This takes cinnamon rolls to the next level.

 

Pie things to keep in mind:

  • The type of pumpkin you use is important. If you are not roasting sugar pumpkins, then use ED Smith or Libby pumpkin purée. NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING. The difference is huge and worth it.
  • Use one tin of evaporated milk and supplement with whole milk or half and half. I have used full cream, as in whipping cream and that was decadent. Never use skim or 1% milk, the pumpkin custard needs fat.
  • Crust – I use butter to make my crust, cold butter. I blind bake by docking the crust and using pie weights – I use kidney beans I use over parchment paper – I reuse the kidney beans for every pie crust blind bake, I think my beans are several years old.
  • Crust part II – feel free to use a frozen deep-dish crust. I do sometimes because it’s quick. To make it taste like homemade, thaw completely and transfer into your pie plate. Same rules as above.
  • Always bake your pies on a baking sheet. It saves your oven from spills but more importantly it helps brown your bottom.
  • Nutmeg is the devil… I never add it

Pumpkin Puree

Cut and seed pumpkins. Cut into manageable chunks and place flesh side down in a roaster. Add one cup of water to the bottom. Preheat your oven to 400F and place the pumpkin on the center rack for one hour. When done it will be fork-tender.

Remove flesh from the outer shell and mash in a bowl. It is at this point I place into two cup mason jars and process. I make about six jars of pumpkin. My pal Captain loves pumpkin, so I always reserve some for him. Apparently, pumpkin is good for dogs and they love it. Don’t add salt or sugar until you are ready to use in recipes.

 

Pie Filling (for 2 pies)

 

4 eggs

1 can (398 mL) EDSMITH Pumpkin OR two cups of your own fresh pumpkin puree.

2 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar

1 tbs (5 mL) ground cinnamon

2 tsp (1 mL) ground ginger

1/2 tsp (1 mL) salt

1 ½  cup (175 mL) milk. Use one tin of evaporated milk and top up with milk or cream of your choice.

Beat eggs lightly in a medium bowl.  Add the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt – stir until well combined. Blend in milk. Pour filling in pie shell. Whisk together egg and water – brush the egg wash on crust.

Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue baking 30-35 minutes longer or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool. Best served the next day – this lets the spices mingle. I serve with brandy cream (whipping cream, brandy and icing sugar – all to taste and whip until soft peak stage).

Edmonton Tourist: Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fair

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The first Saturday in October, Smoky Lake Alberta hosted the 31st annual Pumpkin Fair. I had never been. Since I haven’t been on much of a vacation this year, I thought I would continue the ‘Alberta Staycations’ I have been experiencing.

Smoky Lake is about an hour and a half northeast of Edmonton. The hubs and I stopped at Tim Hortons for breakfast and steeped tea ( I might be the only Canadian who doesn’t enjoy their coffee but they make EXCELLENT steeped tea) and headed north-ish.

I love a good road trip.

There was a long convoy of vehicles travelling from Edmonton to this small town. Since we had no idea where we were going, we followed them. That took us to the school that hosted the Farmer’s Market.

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There was a part two to the market down at the gazebo which we would visit later. The first impression was, damn Smoky Lake residents, good on you for supporting this event in full force. I am sure the entire town was here plus visitors from surrounding areas and Edmonton. I knew many people who came to this but only saw their Instagram posts, I didn’t run into them.

The lines for the market tables were slow. One woman asked the vendor where the farmer’s market was, and he laughed and said – you are here. To be fair, it was really a craft fair, the farmer part was down the hill.

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So many people and lots of quilts, candles and indigenous creations from beadwork to moccasins. The knitted sweaters and alpaca woollens were stunning! This is where I ran into an old friend I’ve known for 50 years.

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We took the obligatory selfies and then she and her hubs were kind enough to show us around the fair! To be honest, I was grateful. This place felt overwhelming for me, plus it was fun to catch up.

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We left the busy school and climbed down the hill towards the midway and gazebo where Famer’s Market part II took place.

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There were fewer farmer stalls than I expected. I think the bulk of the growers were in the building that charged admission. This was where the pumpkins and gourds compete for largest.

But…

There were some amazing things to see.

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If I played cribbage, I would be all over these. It made me think of Sundays at my grandpa’s house. He would break out the cribbage board and play his boys before dinner. I wish I could have given him a set.

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We found wine – even hemp wine!

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We found alpaca wool galore. I bought three dry balls to try those out. I am on a quest to reduce single-use plastics and unnecessary chemicals. Goodbye fabric softener, hello wolley dryer balls.

I fell in love with alpaca shawls and took the producer’s card so I can call her when I free up some cash flow after Christmas.

After we looked at all the vendors, we went out towards the midway.

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It brought back memories of Sherwood Park’s Medieval Days where my friends and I would hang out on a Friday and Saturday night each summer.

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By this time it was getting late and we needed to be back in the city for dinner with a friend, plus we wanted to visit the Victoria Settlement provincial historic site. So we bid each other goodbye and did a drive-by of the show and shine downtown.

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Hearses were out! That is a proper car for a pumpkin fair show and shine!

I am sad to report that I didn’t stick around for the giant pumpkin weigh-off or the smashing pumpkin, but this photo from RaisingEdmonton.com will give you the idea of the size and scope of these beauties. 1500+ lbs. How great would that be for a jack-o-lantern?

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If you missed it this year, pop it into your calendar for 2020, the first Saturday of October. It’s worth a visit.

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Nostalgia

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Nostalgia has been hitting me hard lately, and not in ways you would think. Lots of people take trips down memory lane and experience happy fond memories to the point of thinking those times were better and its a shame everything has changed. But I am not so sure.

I follow Ryan Lawless on Youtube. He is a coach both for sports and life. I know him from Edmonton’s running community and have always found him wise. He now has a biweekly vlog that challenges me. His perspective is sometimes the same as mine but like me, he questions everything. His vlog about nostalgia felt like a punch in the gut. He said… well a lot of things, but what stands out for me is this “nostalgia has purpose”.

I have memories that give me a sick feeling. I want to forget but for some reason, I can’t. They play over and over unless I practice mindfulness or distract myself with something. Everyone has these memories. The kind that pops into your head until you squeeze your eyes shut and change focus. A lot of my memories circle around bullies, but a lot circle around fun vacations and holidays. The fun ones are classed as nostalgia.

nos·tal·gia
/näˈstaljə,nəˈstaljə/
noun
  1. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Lately, people from my past have been popping up into my life flooding it with nostalgia.

  • An old friend and I went for drinks. We were in the trenches as young mothers. We helped each other through everything. We will get together more frequently now but at the time it was almost daily and I loved every minute of it.
  • A co-worker from back in the day when we felt like we were the only people who weren’t crazy. When I saw her at the farmers market, we gazed into each other’s eyes and embraced for a long time. Her hug was giving, not taking. I love those kinds of hugs. I fondly remember her because, without her, I would have been lost.
  • A friend I have known since we were three and lived in Sherwood Park. We pop in and out of each other’s lives every few years. We joked about not seeing each other until we are in the same senior’s home in the future. She was always a lovely human, kind and thoughtful.

I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking over the nostalgic moments. There is something healing in all of the memories. From overcoming bullies to remembering how good things felt. I think I agree with Ryan’s assessment of nostalgia having a purpose. While it’s fun to trip down memory lane, it is better to see how far you’ve come.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: October Staycations

 

I have been caught up in a whirlwind of activity over the last few days. Since I started practicing mindfulness during fun activities, I have laughed 100% more than I did before. It isn’t always appropriate to laugh until your sides hurt, but that happened when I went to a team-building event and announced I was ready to have my butt kicked during ping pong and darts. It turned out we were all so bad, we could only laugh. I was doubled over the ping pong table laughing for a while, then wiped the tears from my eyes. I cannot tell you how good that felt. The week before I laughed with a friend who I hadn’t spent time with in ten years. TEN YEARS! It is amazing how quickly time flies while you are busy. Make time for your friends. That is what is missing from your life, or at least it was missing from mine. I have promised a few people to meet for coffee – I haven’t forgotten! You can expect a message from me soon, I promise!

I won tickets to a play from Newfoundland that is making its way across Canada, No Change in the Weather. It played at the Westbury in Old Strathcona. I went with my daughter, and all I can say is she is delightful to spend time with; I enjoy her company tremendously.

A good friend of ours just retired, and her children threw a surprise party for her. She didn’t know all the details, but she could no longer use her symphony tickets, so she offered them up to us. I have been attending the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) since I was five and my grandma to me to see Sing-A-Long with Mitch. I don’t get to go often, but I really enjoy it when I do. I particularly enjoy the Christmas performances. The ESO is performing the music of Star Wars in November, and their Christmas series is in December. I think I might go if for no other reason than to sing the Canadian National anthem with the ESO. THAT is always fun for me! It is an elevated level of sophistication you don’t get at the Oiler’s game.

Sunday, I went exploring with one of my most favourite humans. We poked around downtown Edmonton, and you can expect a full trip report on that adventure in the coming weeks. But let me give you a little teaser – it was all for the ‘gram.

Now that it is October, its time to plan out free things to do in Edmonton!

  1. Smokey Lake Pumpkin Festival – okay, this isn’t in Edmonton and you need a car to get there, but it’s mostly free. Smokey Lake is about an hour and change northeast of Edmonton. Some things cost money but you get the chance to see pumpkins the size of cars. I am going for the first time this year. My family is on a quest to find sugar pumpkins for pie. I didn’t go to BC this fall, so I need locals ones. Plus I cook some up for my pal Cap. Pumpkin is his favourite. I love a good road trip and this one shows promise. If you see me, come say hi! It happens on October 5th.
  2. Visit Government House. Free Tours are offered on Sundays. There are a couple of good ghost stories to go with the tour, ask them the one about men being locked in the upstairs room. The general rule is to never be alone in that room if you are male. You will not get out. Apparently, it has happened to several men who work there. Good ghost stories are ALWAYS appropriate in October. While you are there, visit the totem pole and learn about that history plus the other public art found on property. Bring your camera to experience the views of the river valley from up there. It is simply spectacular.
  3. Self-guided walking tours of Edmonton’s historic neighbourhoods. The City of Edmonton has downloadable brochures that take you around Downtown Edmonton, Oliver, Old Strathcona and Highlands. It explains a bit about the architecture and historical significance. Edmonton has some fascinating history, take a moment and read up on the early beginnings.
  4. Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve. Okay, this isn’t in Edmonton either, and you need a car BUT, have you ever watched the aurora borealis dance across Astotin lake or see the Milky Way? Elk Island Nation Park is part of the Beaver Hill Sky preserve, and it is free if you have a national park pass. If you don’t the next best thing is to visit Telus World of Science Observatory. It is open until 10 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. It shuts down if it is cloudy, so check the weather. If you are like me and enjoy watching the aurora borealis from your deck, sign up for aurora alerts here. They send you a note telling you when you can expect them or if. Red Alerts happen regularly, and when they do, you can see them in Edmonton’s skies.

Edmonton Festivals

Edmonton has festivals all years round, and three are happening in October. They aren’t free, but they may interest you. I will be attending Litfest because BOOKS ARE MY LIFE. And seriously, who doesn’t want to go to a book festival?

September 26 – October 5 Edmonton International Film Festival

October 16-19 Edmonton Comedy Festival

October 17 – 27 Litfest

Whatever you do this month, get out and enjoy Edmonton.

Joy

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I met a wise woman this summer and she looked at me for a long moment. Silence hung between us as I waited for her to speak. I could tell she was thinking. It took a moment longer then she said, “Have you forgotten how to play? I think you need more joy in your life.”

Normally I get defensive, or maybe I used to get defensive. Maybe a bit of both because no one likes to hear how badly they are performing as a human. But in this case, I knew she was correct. I have spent lots of time recovering from different things.

  • Heartbreak
  • Depression
  • Disappointment
  • Rejection

You get the point. Recovering takes time. It now called ‘Growth’, either way, you can forget what fun and joy look like while you are experiencing growth. I used to laugh way more than I do now. I wanted to do that more.

She asked me what did I like to do when I was young. What did I do for fun? I thought about this for a long time and then made a list.

  • Ride
  • Music
  • Read
  • Create
  • Dance

Ride:  I dissected my list. What was it about riding my bike I liked? Not the bike. But it was able to take me places farther than my feet could carry me in a day. I lived in Sherwood Park and would ride my bike into the city every weekend to explore the river valley and I would always buy a frozen lemonade.

Music: I was in high school and I directed a children’s choir for the church. It ws the only way you could get me to go to church, that and the chance to see that cute guy sitting with his family in the third row. I belonged to a jazz choir and was often singled out for my voice. I belonged to a basement band – the 80’s version of a garage band. We performed for ourselves and played a lot of Journey and Led Zeplin – weird mix but we found it challenging and fun. I expressed all my emotions through the piano. All of them. I loved growing up with a piano.

Read: Who wants to go to bed when you can visit New York or London or Australia? I wanted to read about girls like I was, smart, adventurous and always getting in and out of scrapes. Now I like to read about women like me, smart, adventurous and always getting into and out of scrapes.

Create: I drew a lot, I mean A LOT. My dad would often show my work to people and I was always asked to draw something for someone. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a cleanup artist for Disney. I could create amazing things out of lego and build a four-story mansion from two sticks, seven blankets and three cushions. If I needed a backdrop for my imagination, out came the paper and pencil.

Dance: I never took lessons. But turn on the record player and I was a prima ballerina or Broadway star. I had the BEST jazz hands since Gwen Verdon. I could Step in Time with Bert and Mary.

Interestingly enough, I continue to do all those things – although I haven’t built a fort since I was a teacher. I expect to have to teach my future grandbabies how to do that and I am up for the challenge. What I think I lost was the ability to be present while experiencing the things that I find fun. So I did a little experiment.

I made an effort to be in the moment, not check my phone for a text, not think about work or some argument I got into about politics, not worry about the next thing. Just simply be in the moment. I do this in meditation, so why couldn’t I do this in play? I read about art being a form of meditation and prayer, but people take prayer very seriously. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be serious? Maybe it was meant to be fun and engaging!

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The first thing I did was go exploring. I do this all the time as you the reader knows, but I did it without thinking about a blog post. Or a photo for my Instagram. I did it without thinking about any conversations I had. It was hard to change that mindset at first but I have now been meditating for 1,015 consecutive days. I have a pretty good handle on being in the moment during meditation and I knew I could apply it to playtime. I explored in the woods and in the city. I found cool and new things in all those places. I took photos because it brings me joy to compose a photo and look at it later. If a blog post or Instagram photo came out of it, fine, but that was not the intention.

Then next thing I did was sign up to join a choir. I had some issues with the choir director and looked at the time commitment and decided it sounded like work not fun. The piano is used exclusively by my daughter and I don’t really feel like learning all over again. But I do have the most amazing music collection. AND I know all the words to every song. Instead of playing podcasts in the car, I turned on music a few more times a week. I sang songs that made me feel. 

Read: I read about 50 books a year. Still doing it! But… I read about 25 books about marketing and leadership this year. Obviously, this was for work and not pleasure. I realized I hadn’t been reading for fun in a while. I went to the library and signed up for a card and learned how to use the apps to get ebooks and audiobooks. I downloaded Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – she is one of the most beautiful writers I have ever come across – and became OBSESSED with Albie and Franny. I still think of them even though I know they are fictional characters. I am now listening to The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, it’s no Red Tent, but Linda Lavin is a delight to listen to. I have a couple of books I am reading one by Martha Beck, Elizabeth Gilbert and one by Rob Schwartz. Each book is in a different room in the house so when I have a moment, I crack it open. This afternoon I plan to get cozy with Martha and maybe finish the last half of the book.

I haven’t drawn or painted in a very long time, but I doodle during staff meetings. I write 6 out of seven days a week and I will still play lego – I have a box of women in science and Doctor Who lego that I like to play with when I sit at my desk. I have a nifty kaleidoscope that I look through and I often pull out my spirograph set. I create at work and right now I am in planning and creation mode so I have lots of opportunities to flex the creative gene.

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Dancing isn’t as prolific as when I was a child but I will shoulder dance or bop my head around to music. It feels good.

After being intentional with all the things I found fun as a child and still do today, something fairly amazing has begun to happen. I am happy more. Simple. I went to see Downton Abbey and was absolutely giddy. I cooked all day for a mock Thanksgiving dinner before my parents went back to Europe and I loved it. I explored the public art in my community and was thrilled there was so much of it!

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I think the moral of the joy story is to be present in what you do and joy will find you.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Fish Creek Provincial Park

Fish Creek is a Provincial Park I did not expect to visit. I (me and two companions) had to travel to Calgary for work and arrived in the city around 4:00 pm and thought, why not? I didn’t want to spend my entire evening in a hotel room where there are things to explore. Waze took us via Stoney ring road to avoid the congestion of the Deerfoot. We ended up at Sikome Lake. I felt out of my element because I had not bothered to look up anything or do any research. I was essentially winging it.

One of my travelling companions is the associate editor of our magazine and she was telling me about a piece that highlighted the fellow that started the memorial forest at Fish creek. Plus he was instrumental in starting Friends of Fish Creek. All incredibly interesting. So when we arrived at Sikome Lake, we saw signs for the memorial forest and decided to walk over to it to take a look. But first, we checked out the lake.

The cool thing about this park is there is a lake with a beach in the CITY. The weird thing about it is it is fenced off and they charge you to swim. It was closed for the season, but I thought how cool it was to have a beach! Sure Edmonton had Summer Side – but that is for the residents only and then there is Accidental Beach on the shores of the North Saskatchewan, but you can’t (shouldn’t) swim there.

After poking around we set off for the trail to the forest. None of us was dressed for a long walk. We didn’t have water, nor did we have shoes that could go very far but we thought, how far could it be? So off we went. It turns out, it was so far we never made it.

We walked to Bow Valley Ranch, then turned right and walked to Bow River. It was at that point I was feeling hot spots on my feet and I knew I had to be on my feet all day Saturday, I so I said, “My shoes are not cooperating for the unknown distance we need to travel to get to that forest. I can wait here while you two keep trekking.” Apparently, my two companions felt the same way, they just didn’t say anything. So we turned around and walked towards Hull’s Wood and finally back to Sikome Lake. We did see Fish Creek near Bow Valley Ranch.

And I found the park to be peaceful. It didn’t feel at all like being in the middle of a city. My companions said if we had this in Edmonton they would be there all the time. I said we do have this, its called the Edmonton River Valley Park system. I am there all the time. The editor said, youre right, we do and I am there all the time! Funny how slightly different landscape changes perspective.

Way back in the 80’s I stayed with a friend who backed on to this park. I don’t remember trees then, but there are some now. It is an incredibly large park with lots of trails for walkers, runners and cyclists. I think it is one of Calgary’s best features. There is even group camping at this park! It is definitely worth a visit and a great place to view Calgary in its natural state. With lovely views of the river and fish creek, walking the trails shows off its sweeping landscape. I don’t think I would come here specifically for the park because why go here when Banff is an hour away? But when I am back in Calgary on business, I will definitely come here to explore the other areas of the park.

 

 

Judgement

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I fell flat on my face, literally.

Friday morning I was walking my dog Cap and we reached the end of my block, so I was six maybe seven houses away. The road was uneven and my toe to caught the lip between the sidewalk and the street. I fell flat on my face.

  • My first thought was my new glasses, I hope they don’t break – they broke.
  • My second thought was, Cap come back! I had let go of the leash to save myself and put my hands out to protect my new glasses.
  • My third thought was, oh no Cap, don’t get hit by a car! He didn’t because he was saving me.

This all happened in the intersection. As most of you know, my acoustic neuroma creates an unbalanced life for me. I am used to navigating on the uneven pavement while my brain is telling me I am not upright. I am in a perpetual state of dizzy.  This is why I fell, I try to right myself but there is always a point of no return. When it happened at Disneyland in the Haunted Mansion, I had friends catch me. Here in Edmonton, my dog couldn’t catch me but he stood sentinel blocking cars from running me over.

Four cars, not one person asked me if I was okay or needed help. They all watched me struggle. All of them. Every single one.

I stood up and was disoriented. I took my sweet time. I couldn’t remember what my plan was. Apparently, I was to take Cap for a short walk and then drive my daughter to the train so she could get to class at the U of A on time. (I forgot to go home. I walked for two hours.) I got up, looked at my hands and touched my face. Then I walked to the middle of the intersection where my dog was watching the traffic ready to pounce and protect. I picked up his leash and we walked to the corner where I did a deeper diver of my injuries.

My left eyebrow was bleeding and numb. My left wrist and thumb were sprained and badly bruised. My right wrist was bruised, the palm of my right hand had rocks embedded deeply under the flesh. I took a moment to dig out the rocks I could see.

My glasses were bent, not scratched! (Thanks Universe!) But they were no longer in alignment and it made me feel unstable. I looked at the leash and Cap looked at me. Right, we were going for a walk!

I asked Cap which direction he wanted to go. He loves getting to choose. So we went North. I was still amazed that everyone stayed in their car and no one offered a word. People are disappointing.

Along the way, Cap took me past an apple tree, so I picked one. It was sweet and juicy with a hint of tartness. They were small but tasty. I suppose I stole it. So now I am a disappointing human taking what isn’t mine.

Further north, through the trees there was a pile of leave to trek through. I love the crunchy smell, I realized I messed up someone’s pile. I tried in vain to sweep them all back into place with my feet. Again, I was the disappointing human ruining some else’s work.

I expected Cap to turn right to go grab a snack at PetSmart. He walks in and sits at the til waiting for a treat. The staff are very accommodating and are happy to see him. But instead he turned left and we made our way to the local elementary school.  There is heavy construction building a junior high next door and there were cigarette butts in front of the site. this time people were disappointing. This made me think about what others are thinking and why can’t they just put trash in its place? Why is that so hard?

Disappointing strangers 2 Disappointing me 2 – score is tied.

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Along the sidewalk I noticed poetry etched into the concrete. Each meant something different to me. I was surprised at the amount of joy it gave me. When I came to the end of the poetry pieces I saw it was placed here by the Meadows Community League. The project is called Poetry Pathways, Love Letters to the World. I went to the website to learn more, “Poetry Pathways in the Meadows connects in practice and vision with the City’s Walk Edmonton project which understands that walkable communities are healthier, safer and friendlier.” Two pathways are located in front of schools and two pathways are located in community parks. I am going to take my pal Cap south next time to explore the other two poetry pathways.

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Humans do nice things.

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I suppose we are all guilty of being disappointing. But on the other hand, we all do some lovely things. I guess we shouldn’t be too quick to judge but instead look for the good things.

Edmonton Tourist: South East Public Art

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One of my favourite things about Vancouver after the Ocean and the Mountains is the abundance of public art. You can find it on most street corners downtown and always in pubic parks. My favourite piece is the A-maze-ing Laughter found at English Bay. Visiting Vancouver turned me on to public art in a way I never noticed in Edmonton.

Some people I know usually talk about art in terms of its stupidity or waste of money. Someone always has an opinion on how to spend tax dollars better. I think public art is culturally important. It helps identifies us as a people who recognize the value arts brings into a community. No doubt art is subjective. You either love it or hate it but its intent is to make you feel and start a conversation.

In 1991, Edmonton passed a policy called Percent for Art. Currently, Edmonton allocates 1% of the qualifying construction budget of any publicly accessible municipal project (% project) for the procurement of art to be publicly displayed. The Edmonton Arts Council is the steward of this program. I never thought of Edmonton as a city invested in the arts, I looked at the public art in Edmonton as an element of design – not a city being deliberate in supporting the arts. Then I stumbled upon THIS WEBSITE. It is an online gallery of all the public art in Edmonton.

It was as if I woke up.

That meant the giant shoes at the Southgate LRT were deliberately put there as public art. The Talus Dome, arguably Edmonton’s most controversial art installation is also a part of this program.  “Before the Quesnell bridge was constructed, talus forms of earth occurred naturally along the river valley. The artwork reminds us of the landscape that has been altered by the bridge, a rigid, controlled construction that meets our need to traverse the obstacle of the river. It refers to the coexistence of the man-made and the natural.”  Okay – so there is significance to the sculpture. It was all coming together for me.

As I scrolled through the City of Edmonton Public Art Gallery, I decided to tour my ‘hood and check out the different pieces of public art. I am guilty of travelling to the river valley far too often to explore Edmonton and I never looked at my neighbourhood as a place to tour. I made a list of the public art pieces in my neighbourhood and spent an afternoon exploring. My East-West grid was 17 street – 91 street. My North-South grid was Whitemud Freeway to Ellerslie Road.

Landscape Series 1 by Erin Ross was my first stop. This installation is located at Mill Woods Park on the northside of the building by the football field. All prairie paintings that showcase Alberta skies.

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Next stop was Mill Woods Public Library for three separate installations.

Jordie Bonet’s Untitled. 10 panels each weighing over 2000lbs. Can you imagine the undertaking it took to install this piece? It was originally located at the Cenntenial Library before it became the Stanley Milner. This is located in the fiction section on the east side of the library.

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This next piece, Phantasien by Tim Edler and Jan Edler is inspired by The Neverending Story. It is a study room clad in mirror with coloured lights. Its kind of trippy and students were studying in it. But I can see the appeal of being in there. Art can be functional too.

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Upstairs in the Mill Woods Senior Centre is Milled Wood by Destiny Swiderski.

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After leaving the Library, I travelled a block away to the South Division Police Station to see the nine canvasses of Encompass by Allen Ball.

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Then off to Ivor Dent Sports Field to see Inspiral Arches from one of my favourite artists, Dylan Toymaker. If you have been to Victoria Oval or the Flying Canoe Festival and have seen the light installations, then you are already familiar with Toymaker’s work.

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It was time to go closer to home and visit the Meadows. The Meadows Recreation Centre and Public Library also has a couple installations. My favourite is Wheatfield with Crows by Konstantin Dimopoulos. I love how it sways in the breeze just like wheatfields.

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Inside the library was Sculpture in Landscapes by Cliff Eyland. Catalogue card-sized landscapes. This was a cool choice for the library.

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And finally, Parade 1 by Gabe Wong (Parade two is aquatic animals located at Lewis Transit Centre) located on the west side of the Meadows Transit Centre. The ladybug is my favourite.

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Wandering around my neighbourhood gave me a better appreciation for where I live and the fact that we have art accessible to everyone thrills me. I wonder who notices it? Let me know your favourite Edmonton Piece – maybe I will visit it next!