Suffragette’s, book club and wine

Last night as I prepared for my book club (putting on my boots and walking to my neighbour’s house) my daughter ChatterBox asked me the following question, “What do you do at Book Club?” I gave her my best sinister laugh and replied, “What happens at book club, stays at book club.”

English: British suffragette with a poster, gi...
English: British suffragette with a poster, giving out newspapers Русский: Британская суфражетка с плакатом, раздает газеты или листовки на улице. Позади остановился двухъярусный автобус. Снято до 1919 г. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I then received a history lesson from my 14 year old ChatterBox, “Did you know the Suffragette’s movement started with women gathering for a book club?” That’s my girl! Knowing important history that made her a Person under the Law here in Canada! I always drill into her the importance of Canada’s famous five, the women who stood their ground to change the face of history by getting women the vote. Of course this paved the path for many changes, I don’t want ChatterBox to get too comfortable in thinking this is the end. Human rights shouldn’t have to be fought for, they are a right for a reason.

I asked ChatterBox where she had learned this information. She replied, “I learned it in school.” Then she looked at me as if I was nuts. “Didn’t YOU learn about it in school?” I can honestly say, if I did, I have no recollection of it. I DO remember learning about it the knee of my great grandmother. She raised her 5 kids, her sister-in-law and looked after her mother single handedly while working full time as a teacher on the prairies of Saskatchewan. This was long before the days of equal pay – who are we kidding, there still isn’t equal pay in most positions. My Gram talk to me about the importance of education and how it can change the way people see the world.

I never got the message that educating women would change the world, Gram didn’t specify that. It was implied that boy AND girls should be equally educated. It was important for her to see her granddaughters go to university, her grandsons too…but a larger emphasis on the girls. What if… was likely poking around her mind What if the girls have to make it on their own as I had to.

It is implied that educated men will have great careers and do great things, while educated women become great role models for their children.

Why can women just be great? Men get to be great. I think we are nearing that precipice, but we still have to vigilant. I want both my children to experience the joy of higher education. It has literally transformed me into person who knows less and questions more. Before University I knew more but questioned less. I want this gift for my children.

So ChatterBox, that is what we talk about in Book club. We ask questions we give opinions and we come away knowing more or less than we did before. Either way it becomes food for thought and starts conversations. We do this to honor the traditions of the smart women who came before us and the smart women who come after….and there is wine. I forgot that part.

64 Days of Awesome continues…

As a teacher, one of the many perks I benefit from is Summer Break. Now I am not going to argue with you about whether or not teachers deserve it because you will lose that argument. You can read because a teacher taught you how. ANYWAYS…

I am currently on my 64 days of Awesome. I typically need serious sleep the first few days of my vacation from burnout, fatigue, stress and a multitude of other reasons. I have denied myself that luxury.

Shocking? You bet it is. There is no one on the planet other than Bears, who like to sleep more than me. But this summer, I am on a mission. I am determined not to waste a single moment and plan to do something fun everyday. Today is July 17th, I am 19 days in. Time to evaluate the situation.

Books: I thought I would read more than I have been. My 50/50 me. project is seriously failing. I haven’t read the volumes I had hoped to because I am too busy! I am just finishing The secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes. It has taken me WEEKS!

Festivals: Went to The Edmonton Street performers festival and watched the Silent Disco. That was a TOTAL FAIL. “You pay $2 to go into a roped off pavement/dance floor wearing head phones. Then dance by yourself. I can do that for FREE outside of the dance floor with my earbuds and iPhone. Besides, my music rotations is likely better.

I didn’t make it to Art Walk this year, I am suffering BIG time from the forest fires. It was bad that day. my Asthma is killing me this summer. So Running and some outside activities are off.

City Markets: I love a good farmers market! Nothing says enviro-friendly like local grown organic yummy fresh fruit and vegetables. I have been going to the market downtown every Saturday. I often will come home with my salad fixings, breakfast fruit and a bottle of wine from the groovy little wine shop along the market street. The only way my Saturdays could be better would be if I LIVED in a loft downtown. Once the offspring fly the coupe, I am looking for a condo or something down there.

New Things: Part of my 52 new things project I started in January was to try a new thing every week. i am already at 50 things for the year. That was WAY easier than I thought it would be. This summer’s highlights include, My Really Big things Adventure in Saskatchewan, Zombie Flash Mob ensemble, Capital Ex Parade float participant and running bright and early in the morning. I have met some amazing new people to add to my collection of knowing a million people and counting.

Movies: Again a total FAIL just like the books. I have a list of movies I want to see, Spiderman, Batman, Brave, Mike – obviously all intellectual movies, yet I haven’t made it out once since seeing Chris Pine in that movie I can’t remember but he was delicious anyways.

Writing: FAIL – wow I thought I would get to write lots now that I am not writing papers for university. That would be NO. I have no drive to sit and work on my book. I am half way through and had thought about hitting about 1000 words a day. I blog that much, but fiction is different. Maybe next week. I am however, writing lots of stuff including press copy for the Scarecrow Festival. That has been a lot of fun! I have been interviewing new people and learning crazy things in the process! So I guess writing isn’t a total fail!

Quilting: I am happy to report, 1 out of no less than 5 baby quilts are done. It is adorable and I took step by steps for a blog I want to post on pinterest.

Traveling: I went to Regina with ChatterBox, and in August I am off on a top secret vacation with two of my girlfriends. It will be fun and fab -AND the tickets arrived today! YAY!

That is quite the list so far. I do manage to sleep but not for long. Today my 64 days of awesome includes more quilting, swimming and writing. 2 of my favorite things and quilting for another – sweet babies. I’m just THRILLED about not being the mommies 🙂

What are you up to this summer?

Canada is not filled with Bullwinkles and Do-Rights

For the record, Canada is falsely depicted in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Don’t get me wrong, that is a GREAT bit of animation and humor. The Dudley Do-Right is a great hero in spite of his bumbling efforts. Nor should you believe the depiction of Mounties from the Canada Pavillion in EPCOT. The RCMP are not rescuing helpless maidens from train tracks. Don’t get me wrong, the WOULD rescue one but the maidens here in Canada are brilliant, strong and independent women – at least the few million ones I personally know. I know for a fact the RCMP are smart, strong, professional and I am thankful every day they protect us.

For those of you not in the know, RCMP stands for Royal Canadian Mounted police. They only wear their Red Serge on special occasions. You will not see them riding around on horse back in their dress uniform any old day. It is only on special occasions, like if the Queen comes to tea or if a member gets married (which I am proud to say I will witness this September!)

During my Big Adventure to Saskatchewan, I had the privilege to visit the RCMP Heritage Centre. Regina is home to the RCMP training facility. I toured it and I haven’t had the same surge in pride since I went to Vimy Ridge in France.

I went with ChatterBox and Godmother – not Fairy Godmother, she is different. It happened to be Graduation Day for the latest Cadets. They were walking around in their dress uniform showing their families where they trained for the last 6 months with their Regiment. You could see the pride on the parents faces. This is a tremendous deal. The RCMP have a long and honoured tradition here in Canada, and now those graduates will be privilege to join those who had valiant careers before them.

While we were in the Center itself, Chatterbox went to solve some forensic mysteries – and did. While I was watching her examine bullet markings I had a real sense that this may be the start of something huge for her. I had a flash-forward moment of her part of the civilian forces in a forensic lab somewhere in the future. She could do worse, the RCMP are world renowned for their blood spatter identification and solve mysteries for other police departments world-wide. Not too shabby for a country of 34 million.

We took the tour of the barracks and training facilities because, who are we kidding, it all started there 139 years ago. Canada is 145, so what the heck did we do without them for 6 years? Canada was in chaos I tell you, CHAOS!

The highlight for me – other than  fire hydrant #11 ( said to my Godmother, the tour was worth the price of admission to Saskatchewan and there it was #11 agreeing with me) standing in front of the parade square at the RCMP memorial when a new Graduate in her long skirt and surge walked by the memorial and saluted. THAT was a powerful moment. Pride swelled within me knowing that Respect is still a value upheld by Canadians.

Although you can find Squirrel and Moose Street in Banff, Alberta – it is not anywhere in the RCMP HC. We saw Street signs that were named for fallen members. On the sign was their regiment number. In 139 years, 222 RCMP members have fallen in the line of duty. There were parts of the training facility civilians did not have access to. Rumors are to be had, and out of privacy and respect I will not share what is beyond the walls in the name of training. Let’s just say the amount of intense training that occurs during the 6 month time where 32 cadets live, eat, sleep and study in the same room every minute of the day leaves me safe and secure in their ability. The RCMP would be considered elite police force. Pride does not even begin to express the feelings that were conjured up while seeing these graduates.

Next time you drive west to visit the Rockies, or East to visit the Hockey hall of Fame, stop in Regina to visit this amazing place of history and honour.

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There’s not a lot going on

ChatterBox fulfilled a life long dream last Friday. She is only 14 and now needs to decide on another bucketlist item.

Part of our Big Adventure Tour was taking the trip to Rouleau Saskatchewan and seeing the spot where Corner Gas was filmed on location. I must admit, it was fun and somewhat hilarious. Some things were just made funnier given the background knowledge of southern Saskatchewan. For example:

  1. The famed surveillance bush Karen and Davis would hide their police vehicle behind was only a small bush because there is not a tree to be seen for miles. If you need a tree, you plant one yourself.
  2. Emma the Crossing Guard for the local school. We were the ONLY car on the road in Dog River, I highly doubt the need for a crossing guard. This made it that much more fun.

As we drove into Rouleau, ChatterBox was all excited because she recognized character’s homes from the show. We got out to look around and found the Foo Mart (the D fell off a very long time ago and it was renamed Foo). We found the Stoop – the Dog River Police and Mayor office, we saw Oscar and Emma’s hom as well as the softball fields and the curling rink. The biggest deal remains the Corner Gas Station itself. ChatterBox ran out of the car to quickly take photos. It was just like the tv series only now, it was real.

We wandered into the Corner Gas set and it was surreal. I expected Wanda to be sitting behind the counter. The shop owner invited ChatterBox to stand behind the counter then she encouraged us to visit the Ruby. It was cool. We sat IN THE BOOTH.

I know most of you have no idea what Corner Gas is. It was a big deal in Canada. It was never on the CBC – the channel that pities Canadian content. It had 1 million viewers per episode and it went into syndication in the States. All things unheard of for Canadian television with the exception of Hockey Night in Canada where original 6 home cities watched from across the border.I’m sure you all have your quirky home grown tv from your country – or not. For those of us who had Oscar for a grandpa and Hank as your nephew, it was pretty nifty.

 

Other than that…there’s not a lot going on.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Really Big Adventure

Somewhere around spring time, ChatterBox asked me how come we never go East. In Canada that typically means Ontario. “Down East” means Toronto. The Maritimes – the East Coastal Region of Canada, which is truly “East” are never called anything but The Maritimes. I live “Out west’ which is funny because British Columbia is west of Alberta. They are called BC interior or west coast. Odd I know by that is how things work around here. So when I said to ChatterBox “East is too far to drive and I don’t want to go there again. I would LOVE to go to the Maritimes but that is some serious cash for flights. Maybe after our Eastern European trip.”

“No Mom, East to Saskatchewan. We never go to Saskatchewan.”

True, we never go for several reasons:

  1. It’s flat – and I mean flat – Flat Stanley flat.
  2. It’s filled with Rider fans – not cool when you are an Eskimo fan.
  3. They don’t have a Hockey Team. They have jr. teams – and it is some great hockey – but…no NHL
  4. It is cold in the winter and HOT in the summer. There is no shade in Saskatchewan that a farmer didn’t plant himself.
  5. Did I mention flat?

My family came from Saskatchewan. My Dad born was born in Regina and he always said, “What the hell do you want to go to Saskatchewan for?” I figured he would know, he was born here. But ChatterBox wanted to go. I did a mother/son trip last year and maybe it was time to do a mother/daughter trip this year. So I called my Godmother – not “fairy godmother” she is a different person – and asked if we could come to Regina for an extended weekend.

She said OF COURSE! I believe it is in the standard issue Godmother handbook that she can’t refuse me. So we made plans to go to Regina, Saskatchewan, capital city of said province. I always like to think “Go big or go home”.

To make this trip more exciting, (because really – do you remember what my dad said?) We decided to plan a Big adventure. We were inspired by this: Warning * this is hysterical and don’t be drinking coffee while watching. Hang in there until 1:47

With this in mind, we planned a trip of BIG THINGS. If nothing else, it would be fun. So off we went on our really Big Adventure!

First stop, Mundare Alberta. Home of Stawnichy’s garlic sausage. Quite frankly, the best you will ever eat. It is now just called “Mundare Ukrainian Sausage” by people in the “know”.

We laughed like 12 year old boys. Really, who thought THIS would be a good idea? We were off to a great start. 9:00 and we had the giggles. Next stop Vegerville, Alberta home of the giant pysanka.

A Pysanka is an Easter Egg decorated with layered dye. They have it down to an art form. Various symbols on the egg represent the symbols of Easter and the Ukrainian Culture. They are quite beautiful and labor intensive.

I was expecting bigger, but it was nifty. We passed by some bales of hay and one was wrapped in a Big Rock Beer lable. That was big but we couldn’t stop on the highway. Then we saw a farm sign that said Beef Jerky for sale and it was surrounded by cows. Obviously the jerky is fresh – I wasn’t going to wait for it though. I was disappointed, but then I thought back to Mundare and once again was happy.

Now it was time (11:11 am to be exact – 11 was very prominent on this trip. So prominent that Chatterbox was beginning to think it was creepy) to head to Lloydminster, Home of the Alberta/Saskatchewan Border. It is in a town? City? All we wanted was a Tim Hortons, did we find one? Eventually but seriously – what kind of town makes you SEARCH for a Tim Hortons? How very unCanadian. While driving thru the centre of town we saw these giant red markers pop out of the pavement. We parked at Arby’s and went to have a closer look.

There was an entire street of these things incase you did know you were about to cross into another province.

While we were standing astride of the border one foot in each province. We noticed this:

The dude couldn’t move the boot before spraying for road work? Seriously? Is that another union workers job to move debris?

Moving east we planned to eat lunch in The Battlefords somewhere overlooking the North Saskatchewan river that runs through Downtown Edmonton – thought it would be cool to see the river somewhere other than the head waters in the rocky mountains. There was not a rest stop insight. We got lost in the middle of Nowheresville, Saskatchewan – yet had cell service for the first time since leaving Edmonton. The road sign said “MountainView Road”. We looked around and thought “Are you freakin’ kidding me? Where is the Mountain?” We are born and raised a couple of hours from the Rocky Mountains, some of the most rugged and beautiful mountains in the world. I am pretty confident I could recognize a mountain if I saw one. This is not a mountain:

But it IS the North Saskatchewan River that COMES from a glacier in the mountains, but not a mountain. It’s barely a valley. However, it was still beautiful.

ChatterBox noticed that this place could have been where mole babies are buried. HUH? It was a reference to Fringe, and after the long and very frightening explanation, I am talking to Chatterbox’s papa about never letter her watch that show again…yikes.

We drove all the way to Saskatoon thinking we would stop and shop or poke around to see this “city” on the prairies. We googled a shopping center and figured we would go there. It was on 1 Avenue. We went to what we thought was 1 Ave and it was I Ave. The west has alphabet avenues and the east has number avenue. WHO DOES THIS? 1 & I look too similar – how do people find their way around? We gave up. We decided to go find the worlds largest Postage Stamp, in Humbolt. My grandfather came from there and it was about 1 1/2 hours from Saskatoon. It was 3, so we figured sounds good to us. We found the right road, asked dead great grandpa to ead the way. For some reason, all the roads I got on would not let me got straight. This is SASKATCHEWAN where STRAIGHT was invented. We kept having to turn and each time ended up on Hwy 11. (again with the 11) Hwy 11 leads to Regina. Obviously Grandpa didn’t want us to go to Humbolt. Follow the 11 Tourist, was what he kept saying (which is ODD because my gramps always bragged about the awesomeness of Humbolt and thought we should go and see the picture of his mom in the museum.) We gave up. Clearly we needed to get to Regina on the 11.

We past a handful of stores that all had 11 somewhere in the name and ChatterBox was starting to be freaked out. Obviously we were meant to be going this way, and that is when I saw it. The most beautiful Big Thing in my life,

The cup was bigger than my car. It was a joy to behold. Apparently in Davidson, Saskatchewan coffee is an important part of daily living. I found my roots.

Number 11 hwy is also known as the Louis Riel Trail. All along the was are giant Metis men with a Red river cart.

Okay, now it was 4:11 – obviously someone was telling me I needed get rolling (quit with the nagging already dead grandpa).

The further south we drove the flatter Saskatchewan got. ChatterBox suggested that Canada need to put a pleet into Saskatchewan so we could time warp over it. Obviously J.J. Abrams has a big influence in her life.

We see a sign that said “Welcome to Regina” except Regina was missing. This is the CAPITAL CITY OF SASKATCHEWAN and there was not a skyline of buildings to see. What kind of crazy voodoo was this place? It was so flat that I could see Edmonton to my right, Toronto to my left and and if you squint you could see dolphins frolicking in the gulf of mexico for crying out loud. Where was Regina? Didn’t matter, we had arrived! 6:11 by the time we found the A&W where ChatterBox needed a veggy burger and a rootbeer. Next stop, my GodMum’s house. I hadn’t spent any significant with her since I was young. We stayed awake while Chatterbox slept, drinking a REALLY BIG bottle of wine. It was lovely. We made plans to head to go to Coner Gas in Rouleau the next day – but that is it’s own story – and Moosejaw the following day.

Moosejaw, home of the Snowbirds (The Canadian Airforce Precision Flying team) Mac the Moose and The famous Tunnels of Moosejaw. Did you know Al Scarface Capone Had his hooch made there? Then he would bootleg it to Chicago. Me neither, it was cool. Moosejaw was a charming city.

The city market was happening on main street – not a farmers market like I expected in Farm Country but quaint none the less.

I stepped into a shoe store and tried on my first pair of Vibrams

These puppies were very comfy – I may buy some once I get home to the land of no Provincial Sales Tax.

Then I saw some brand new goloshes, overshoes and rubbers. I haven’t seen these since I was a kid and my dad and grandfather wore them to work in the winter to save their dress shoes.

On the Prairie, rubbers mean a whole different thing. I couldn’t believe this blast from the past. It felt like I had set my Delorian for 1974.

My really Big Adventure isn’t quite over, off to the home of the RCMP. I am sure I’ll see more Big Things…I’ll keep you posted.

Winter on the Farm for Scarecrow

Most people my age grew up on the prairies knowing someone who had a farm. I remember sitting in school talking to friends about summer vacations and always someone said “I’m going to the Farm for vacation!” Everyone had a farm, even I did. My great-aunt worked on a dairy farm and my family went to visit her over Christmas break one year. I had never been on a dairy farm before this. Sure I had been to Saskatchewan and hung out on my uncle’s grain farm. Animals add a different dimension.

My sister was 4 and I was 12. I took her into the dairy barn to have a peek at the cows. The first thing that hits you is the smell. Shocking for a couple of city girls. The farmer was inside and invited us to watch him milk the cows. COOL! We walked up close enough to see what was going on. We watched as the farmer hook the milking machine (I know I am great with technical lingo) up to the cow and the noise started. My sister was fascinated with the process until the cow decided to … well… lets say relieve herself while she was being milked. My sister was horrified! After watching the entire process and seeing the milk go into the vats and watched the clean up process, it was time for…

Time for what? To read the rest of my weekly post for Scarecrow Frestival please visit  http://edmontonscarecrowfestival.wordpress.com/

Happy Monday!

 

Welcome to Crazytown

I live in Crazytown.

As I flip through my favorite blogs, lots of my favorite writers are reflecting on this past year. As you may or may not know, New Years for me is the first day of school. Today is just the 3rd last day of my vacation. As I look at my life I realize my muppet family truly live up to their well defined reputation.

Yesterday The Evil Genius left us for warmer climates Down Under. He spent the better part of 5 or 6 weeks with us in Edmonton Crazytown. The cold wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. No one froze to death. The snow was deep, slippery and actually looked like snow from the movies. His excitement over the big giant flakes that were actually true to the myth –  different from one to the next – was adorable. Imagine someone excited over snow! This had to be from someone who doesn’t live with it from October to April. It isn’t the snow that makes us crazy – it is what we do in it.

When I was younger, my Great Grandmother shared with me tales of her younger days raising a family on the prairies of Saskatchewan. She was a widowed Teacher of 5 children trying to do laundry during the Great Depression without a tumble dryer! How did she survive? Well my dear readers, what you may or may not know is : There is NO MOISTURE here in the Great White North. You wake up in the morning and think you may have a cold. Your nose is stuffy, your throat is sore and dry, but wait! You have a beverage, maybe hop in the shower and voila! You are back to normalish. Just moisturize lots and often so your skin won’t crack and bleed and it’s ALL good!

Anyway….back to my Gram… She would wash all the clothes then stack the clothes flat in her laundry basket still wet. Out the back porch she would go. The colder the better. Gram would let the clothes freeze solid. It wouldn’t take long for the clothes to freeze in -30F. In 2 days or less, the clothes wouldn’t be stiff any longer. All the moisture would be evaporated out of them. Likely it was how the concept “Freeze Dried” was developed. She would bring them in, give the clothes a shake, then fold and put them away. DONE!

Here in Crazytown, December 31, 2010, Honey decides he wants to do this after telling Evil Genius a similar story about how his mom did laundry in the winter when he was young. (Clearly Honey is 100 years old and if his sister are reading this – please feel free to confirm or deny this history or your mom’s life on the prairies) So here am I sitting at the Kitchen Table, enjoying my morning coffee, watching Honey out on the deck taking pictures of the frozen clothes. Just so you know, we have a perfectly lovely dryer, Candy Apple Red LG with all the bells and whistles. Does he think it works well for drying things? ABSOLUTELY! Does he thinks it is fun to freeze clothes solid just like his mom did? ABSOLUTELY! Only I am willing to wager his mom didn’t find it so fun. The next step will probably be graph and chart the humidity verses drying time of the clothes. I have a feeling it will be a long wait for clean clothes this winter.

Welcome to Crazytown 2011.