Monday, November 29, 2010

My World Tuesday - Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Come for a little stroll along one of my usual dog walking haunts.


and hoof prints - the only clue that the deer take control of this landscape of an evening, once all the pesky dog-walkers and their four-legged friends have vacated their home territory.

Narrow paths are carved through the drifting snow by determined pedestrians.

Long winter shadows, even though it is just after midday and the sun is at it's highest point for today.  

How is it that my husband transforms into tall, skinny stick man, but I remain short and dumpy - where are my tall, skinny winter-shadow legs?

Interesting scents that must be investigated....

... and with noses buried and fluffy bums in the air, we must investigate some more.

The golf course lake is mostly frozen over and covered in a smooth blanket of snow.  Inviting but dangerous.

And this is the view over the river valley, and the town of Cochrane, looking towards those mountains.
And despite the clear skies, there is little warmth to the day and the blues look weak and watery.  

But at least we can actually see the sky today - so I am happy!

My World Tuesday - Have a super week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bureaucracy at play

Same-sex marriage is legal in five states apparently, in the USA.

But it is not recognised at a federal level with regards to immigration and therefore a US citizen who may be married to someone from another country cannot currently sponsor his or her same-sex spouse under the spousal visa route.

Seems a bit mad to me.  And unfair.  I was reading this article today on the BBC website.

Having been through an immigration process to move to Canada from England, I fully understand a country's need to only allow who it wants to live there.  I have no issue with this in principle.

But to have two different layers of what is or is not a marriage/spouse, etc, sounds like the wheels of bureaucracy grinding slower than a slow grinding thing.  The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage for federal purposes as a union between a man and a woman, and was brought in to law in 1996 - that is not very long ago.    So really, it was out of date at it's inception.

The US immigration authorities are perhaps (in)famous for interviewing and scrutinizing male/female couples to verify they are "really" a couple and that it is not a marriage of convenience.

I suppose if this same-sex campaign to have their marriages recognised is eventually successful, then the next thing they can look forward to will be similar scrutiny to prove they are "really" gay! 

(steps off soap-box and proposes to look up the state of play in the UK and Canada just out of interest!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A tad chilly hereabouts

This sums up the week really.

Hello winter, my old friend ....  
I've come to talk with you again!

It did get to -35 degrees on Tuesday evening, 
but to be quite frank, it was too bloody cold 
to be hanging around with a camera!

See where the "Frostbite" part of my blog title 
comes from now?

No SkyWatch from me this week - too cloudy and cold and I'm afraid my fireplace looked much more attractive.

Rural Living

A couple of weeks ago, we went to visit some new friends who, last year, bought a wee plot of 80 acres in a rural location.  The word rural in Alberta is a whole different ball-game to the word rural in the UK.

In England the directions to a rural home might read something like "head out of town on the High Road, and after going straight on for three miles, over four roundabouts and through six sets of traffic lights you'll see The Frog & Pumpkin pub. Turn left down Middle Wollop Bottom Lane and after another two miles, you'll pass St Mary up the Priory Church on your right, and we live off the second driveway after the red post box on the village green."  That's rural.  Your village has 2,000 residents.

In Alberta, the directions read something like "head north on Highway 5 for about 25 minutes, then take RR 250 (Range Road) west for about 15 minutes.  At TWP 57 (township road)  head west for another 12 km, then take RR 87 north for 4km and go over the river.  Our house has the blue number sign nailed to the tree - you can't miss it"

You pass two or three other vehicles on your journey.  Really, the average UK mindset cannot grasp the vast space and lack of inhabitants out here.  And this is only Alberta, not the Yukon!

I start to get a bit antsy.  I mean, there is just no-one else around.  Which of course is the whole idea, but I feel insecure and my inner I-need-people-and-shops-and-there-might-be bears-out-there side comes to the fore.  You see, I was brought up in quite a (cough) rural area in south-east England - but the reality is we lived six miles from a town and the local wildlife consisted of a mangy-looking fox and the occasional badger.

So what do you do when you live rurally?  You collect animals of course.

As you can well imagine, my girls were in seventh heaven - the three dogs and five cats that greeted us on the driveway were just the appetizer.

They have two llamas .....

How could you resist those little faces?  And those eyelashes?

Daughter Number Two was already in love ... with a donkey.

Donkeys may be the perfect size for a small cuddly 10 year old.  Not so much for the 5'8" mature rider - you can hear that donkey groaning "c'mon already - someone get her off".

Say hello to a small Belgian horse.

There is also some room for some pigs, some cattle, and the one-eyed goat arrives next week apparently.

Unfortunately, the chickens didn't survive very long.

Because of course, apart from the animals you buy and choose to bring to your land, there are the "locals" upon whose stomping ground your have encroached.  Regular visitors include moose, deer, bears, cougars and wolves.

I think I'd have a large gun cabinet at this point!

My husband's favourite creature of the day did not have four legs - but four wheels.

But boys will be boys, and so my three children took off to tour the acreage and gather as many mud splatters as possible.

In the meantime, I was quite content to take a seat indoors with my new friend.

I love moggies but my husband is allergic to them so we can't have any at home. So I take my pleasures where I can!

This 10-week old purr-bag was just so gorgeous, snuggly and warm,  I could have smuggled him into my jacket without a backward glance.

And cute as a button, especially when he actually fell into this water bowl!

I can truly see that this life is kinda cool in an independant back-to-nature sort of way, and look, the school bus journey only takes an hour and a bit each way, and you can get your groceries all done in a 4-hour round-trip.   Our host commutes an hour and a half into Calgary on a daily basis.   I couldn't do it but I can see why they can.  And this probably isn't even vaguely rural living by Canadian standards!

So with thanks to our hosts, bid farewell to the good life and I hope we can visit again soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

SkyWatch Friday - Striped skies and chimney pots

While sitting at my computer, I glance a brilliant flash of colour 
out of the corner of my eye.

Cue a mad scramble to hunt down the camera, offer a little prayer that the batteries are fully charged while thumping up the stairs two at a time
and then throw open a first floor bedroom window and hang out at a precarious angle.

Just four or five minutes of billowy, vivid stripes of 
red and orange.

And then the sun lowers itself by another degree or two 
and it all turns grey and the magic disappears.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What I really need is .....

... a nice, decent bout of 72-hour stomach flu.   Something that will make me lose about 10lbs in a week.
I will reluctantly admit that I am a bit chubby.  Not obese-fat, but nothing that losing 30lbs wouldn't hurt.  I am over the ideal weight, whatever that really means.

Well, what it means is that while my jeans do feel a bit tight, there is no way in hell that I am buying the next size up - that's what it really means.

Now some people, when they get a toothache, cannot eat properly.  Not me. I bravely - nay valiantly - work through all tooth pain and manage to squish or pulp my food so I can still stuff my little face.

Some people, when they feel rough, nauseous, or ill - well, they lose weight.  They can't stand the sight and smell of food.  Who are these people for godsake?  It's food!  Apparently though, they are "normal".

When pregnant, I was still throwing my guts up at 20-weeks.  But I fought on, ensuring that me and my growing tummy were not deprived of a few calories.  Unselfish to the core, that's me.

I've been off work for a few days this week with a bad back.  Nothing major, thankfully - but painful and awkward enough to prevent me from doing much at all.  Sharp pains under my shoulder blade take the breath out of me.  I've twisted or pulled something and it's just really annoying.  But it's not slimming.

I'm the kind of person who returns to work after a few days off sick and I look "healthier" - read rounder-faced.  Just for one day, I'd love someone to tell me I'm looking gaunt.

Despite switching from a standing position to laying prostate on the sofa flicking listlessly through the channels of some incredibly awful daytime TV (except for Extreme Makeover: Bawling-Your-Eyes-Out Home Edition), me and my bad back can still manage to haul my ass over to the pantry to rifle through the bowl of Halloween goodies.

It occurs to me this morning (feeling quite a bit better now thank you) that I have scoffed 21 mini bars of chocolate in the last three days.  Yes, 21.  I hang my head in shame - and my three chins and tummy follow.

Even the heavenly aroma of Rub-A535 (for my UK readers, it's like Deep Heat) or the tingling from funky patches can't thwart my appetite.
I would normally protesteth too much at this point and explain to you that I do know how to eat healthily.  I have a well-balanced diet - yes, yes, a glass of wine in one hand and a slice of cake in the other.  I eat well, I cover all my food groups, and you'd be impressed with my fibre-intake (and therefore my output, hee hee - OK, too much information).  I just seem to have an issue with portion control.  I love food.  Simple as that.  'Tis one of life's pleasures.

Now then  - you know when I mentioned that lovely warm weather the other week, and it snowed?

If I mention a 72-hour stomach flu now, will the karma fairies return and help me get back into those jeans?  OK, be careful what you wish for, and all that .... 

Have a happy, healthy and slimming week folks, and, sigh, if that doesn't work, we still have choccie in my cupboards.  See you in half an hour.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

SkyWatch Friday - Cranes at Sunrise.

Another clear Alberta morn on 16th Avenue, Calgary - heading eastbound 
towards the construction of the new Trades and Technology centre at 
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).

Nature can even make the lanky, metal silhouettes of the construction site look inviting and pretty sometimes.  

A seat at the top of one of those cranes must be a peaceful place to sip your coffee on some mornings, as you view the chaos of commuter-land below!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mumford & Sons

Have been meaning to add this link for months - I heard this song earlier in the year and just fell in love with the voice and feel.  They're from the UK and quite big there at the moment, coming under a newish revival of folky music.

Don't you think it would sound even better in some Newfoundland pub, after a few beers?!

Housy updates

It's been a busy and expensive 12 months in the Frostbite & Sunburn household - but the luxury of owning your own few square feet of suburban heaven on this wee planet comes with on-going costs, renovations and changing tastes.

New roof tiles - check.

Gorgeous new wooden floor laid by very clever husband - check.

And we finally decided on a colour to paint the outside of the house - and we are boring, personified.  Warm beige.  Maybe that's me all over - warm beige!

When it came to the crunch, the soft pale yellow that I loved was absolutely blinding in the sunlight - it might as well have been white.  And the funky elephant grey paint was indeed dark and drab and depressing in the rain or on a dull day.

So brown it is.  And actually, I quite like it now, after lambasting the idea two months ago!

Next job - carpet for stairs and three bedrooms.  Then we might stop for a while.  And pay for it all.

Of course, once a house has been updated, tarted up and is looking fab, it's obviously time to sell it.  It seems whenever I get a house up to scratch, I then go and flog it and let someone else admire all my hard work.  Stoopid.  (Alternatively, they might think "who the hell chose this boring beige" and go in and paint it lilac.)

Hallow-been and gone

Another October has passed us by - culminating in that great gorge-fest, Halloween.  

The longer we live here in Canada, the more "into" it we get - even carving our own pumpkins this year!

And what has the world come to where we spend 364 days of the year warning our children of the danger of strangers - and then for a couple of hours on 31st October we encourage them to dress up weird, harass the neighbours and beg for candy!  All great fun.


And look at the booty - well worth it.

Of course, there is enough chocolate, candy and crisps/chips in the house to wreck mummy's diet for another few weeks.

  Only because I have to help them out, you understand - I don't want them to struggle!