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!

Release

Capture

I was poking around a bookshop on 124 street one day in July. Plans for my week were about to change, and I knew it even though no one had said a word yet. There was an electric charge in the air. I took myself to the bookstore and out for coffee as I do when I want some alone time but still want to be around people. I know it’s a weird trait I have. I like being alone but in a crowded room. As I was browsing, a woman came up to me and said – “This is going to seem strange, but I am supposed to give you this.” Then she walked away.

I have come to embrace strange and exotic messages coming from unusual sources. It has become a thing, and I no longer find it odd. The Universe is always speaking to you.

The woman handed me a book by Caroline Myss. I looked her in the eye and said thank you. As I often do, I asked a question in my head: What would you have me know? I randomly opened the book to a page and read: Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness. I said, “Thank you” and took a photo of the quote, closed the book and put it away. I promptly forgot about the quote until this morning when I ran across it again in an Instagram story from a person I follow who lives in Atlanta. Then I saw it again from my yoga Nidra Teacher in Venice Beach. I was looking for a particular image for a work thing, and I saw the photo from the book I took the quote. Okay universe, I hear you loud and clear.

To add more to the idea that the Universe is always speaking to you – Caroline Myss randomly showed up in various social media feeds, and until this summer, she was never on my radar before. I listened to her lecture from when she was in New Brunswick and loved how it added a new perspective to my thoughts and ideas. I shared it out – not that I think anyone actually listened, I share more for me so I can go back to it and look again.

I watched another video yesterday, and the speaker Jerry Hicks said he was living in stress and trying to please everyone, trying to help everyone, things were falling apart. And finally, he said out loud, “I am done. I can’t do this anymore.” He said it more as a prayer than as an act of defiance. He said once he released it, he felt immediate joy.

The underlying message I finally understood after the Universe had been pounding me over the head with it is, Let Go. I always thought it was acceptance, but I was wrong. Letting go is part of forgiveness. Oprah says, “Forgiveness is letting go of the idea that things could have been different.” One day last fall, I said I am done. I expected to feel guilty, but I didn’t. in its place I felt peace. PEACE! Do you know how amazing that felt? I loved the peaceful feeling so much I wrote “I am meant to live in peace” on my arm so often people thought I had a new tattoo. I posted it to my wall at work — a regular reminder of a beautiful way to live.

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One day this summer I said to no one in particular, “I AM SO DONE.” I also said this to a few people, but it was intended for me. I thought I needed to accept, get along, bend, change all in an effort to please and help everyone. But I don’t. How they live their lives and treat people is on them. How I react to it is on me. I have been mired down, and I just can’t live that way anymore. I do know it isn’t an all or nothing type of response. I have just released me from expectations. I let it go. The side benefit is joy is creeping into unexpected areas of my life. Its as if there is only a finite amount of room and now that I have released it… I am free.

Thank you, Universe.

 

Edmonton Tourist: September Staycations

I get a lot of questions from people who live beyond the borders of Edmonton. I’m asked about things to do in Edmonton beyond the MALL. Questions about transit and accommodations or best places to eat. Honestly – I don’t take transit, nor do I stay in a hotel because my bed is super comfy and free. Other than offering my place to stay, I thought a monthly guide of things I might do in Edmonton might be of interest to actual tourists and locals alike.

If I was visiting my beautiful city I would stay central. Airbnb or an actual bed and breakfast in Old Strathcona, Windsor Park, Oliver or Glenora would be my first choices. Hotels downtown or Strathcona would also be on my radar if I didn’t have a car. That way walking or transit would be easier. I would want to be closest to the river valley or arts districts.

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I would consider coming in the summer during festival season. To be fair, Edmonton has festivals all year long with the Flying Canoe in February being my favourite (but the weather is TERRIBLE! It is often -40C), but the Fringe and The Works are a close second. September has Kaleido and that is charming too! I am seeing an Arts and Cultural theme here…maybe I have a severe bias.

I rank a restaurant on their breakfast menu, coffee or wine list. I am not hip and trendy, but I enjoy a great meal (mostly breakfast) and a really great cup of coffee. My favourites include but are not limited to, Café Bicyclette, Workshop Eatery, Little Brick, Sugar Bowl, Juniper Bistro and Mandolin.

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My favourite things to do are usually free or a nominal fee. You can often find me poking around any public art installation, browsing used book shops, exploring the river valley, visiting the art gallery, Royal Alberta Museum, strolling down 124 street or 82 Ave, or attending small community theatre at the Varscona, Westbury, Walterdale or Trinty.

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September has a few things I will be checking out in my city.

  1. I woke up on Sunday morning to learn about the #yegwalk or more formally known as the Commonwealth Walkway. Download the app. As you walk along the walkway you come across medallions and the app gives you voice recordings and photos of the history both colonial and indigenous as well as flora and fauna knowledge. I listened to everything already and have been on the trail thousands of times. It is a great walking tour of my beautiful city. Check it out!
  2. Something newish to the Downtown City Market is Market Sundays! IMG_6638Saturday Market is on 104 street and is my usual favourite outdoor market, plus the little shops along the way (wine and chocolate) can’t be beat for additions to my groceries. I am going to visit the Sunday market for the first time ever. It is located on 103 Ave between 96 street and 97 street. 96 street also is called the Armature – that is new-ish (new to me) and is the City of Edmonton’s first city-led green street.
  3. No Change in the Weather is a Newfoundland musical and will be at the Westbury Theatre running September 25-28. It promises to have traditional Newfoundlander songs and music. I am all for that. I love a good toe-tapper.
  4. This weekend is the Kaleido Festival It is September 13-15 over at Alberta Avenue (118 Ave between 90-95 Street). Billed as a family-friendly arts festival. There is a Front Porch music series. People playing on their front porch! How Edmonton is that? I love it!! I try to go every year. The Friday night lantern parade was super cool and begins at 9:30 pm Friday. It’s worth the price of admission (free). You make lanterns and carry them through the parade. It begins at The Carrot. I will miss it but will be back in town to catch the last bits of the festival on Sunday. While I am there, I am checking out a few of the Public Art pieces at that end of town. You should too because Edmonton is an amazing city.