Monday, January 23, 2012

O Canada!

The Frostbite & Sunburn household 
became Canadian Citizens today.

This is a special and long awaited date for us - one more piece of the puzzle that ties us to our new home, and slots into place with a feeling of calmness and settledness (if such a word exists).  We applied one year ago - and have lived as Permanent Residents in Canada for just over four and a half years now.
We all arrived bright and early, and after having all our paperwork checked out (passports with the dates that we said we were in, and out, of the country, birth certificates, Permanent Resident cards, etc), my hubby and I took a written test.  It is a 20-question multiple choice test - and you need to get at least 15 to pass.
Applicants between the ages of 18 and 55 sit the test - so our girls sat outside the room with a book, waiting for mum and dad to do their thing!  In all honesty, we should have sent the kids on our behalf, as they knew all the history and geography better than us.
I think I now have a pretty good grounding in Canadian history and politics, who is on which dollar bill, and what a beaver represents!

Because we passed the test in the morning, we were invited back at 1pm to take part in the Citizenship swearing-in ceremony.  One hundred new citizens took their oath in Calgary today (in French and English) and came from an amazing 37 different countries of origin.

I felt it was a very special day and even caught myself welling up a bit.  Old softie.
The Ceremony finished off with a final sing-song of the national anthem "O Canada" - in English (thank goodness, for us!).  I really like the Canadian national anthem and my throat nearly always closes up when I hear it, or try to sing it - I think this is down to the pure gusto with which it is sung.  It's a very proud song.

So then we all filed out to start the next part of our life in Canada.

And they can't kick us out now, eh?

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 kicks off ...

2012 has so far been, er, aggravating.
Two separate wind storms attacked the tiling on our roof. The first storm just did a little loosening preparation, and then a second storm let rip - literally! We littered the neighbourhood with unsighly shredded strips from our roof, adding unwelcome black decorations to the snowy landscaping. Trudging around your neighbour's gardens collecting chunks of your house is a little bit annoying.

Our roof is only 2 years old - so I was about to write a strongly worded letter to the roofing company, until I noticed several other houses with similar problems. On this occasion I suppose we just have to accept that the storm was "exceptional". Bugger. But they fixed it quickly and fingers crossed for nothing more than a passing breeze for a while.

And then the hot water tank packed up.
On other matters, and while still declaring my love-love relationship with my Mac, I can report that a couple of weeks ago our iPhoto and iTunes went AWOL.  Don't panic, I said, as I inhaled through a little paper bag!

We couldn't find them anywhere, in spite of much searching, much wailing and gnashing of teeth and were even resorting to blackmail if they didn't show themselves in 24 hours.  We nearly put out a "Missing" Ad in the local paper.  But iPhoto and iTunes laughed in our faces and remained camouflaged.

Apple couldn't help.  Western Digital couldn't help (WD is the hardrive where most of our stuff is backed up).  Things were looking bleak, and I was trying to work out ways to re-download and send back to myself all the photos I had put on my blog, on Facebook or had emailed to friends.  I have thousands of photos of landscapes, flowers, sunsets - you know, all the stuff I bore you lot with.  All my holiday photos were gone, all the kids stuff.  I had a very sad face for a few days.
But a clever little recovery program called Disc Warrior saved the day and most of our stuff has been restored.  Yay!  But we are still missing all our Florida photos, several random photo and music albums, and probably some other stuff that we don't even know is lost.
Now I think we need to investigate other means of backups and/or copies - either here at home or perhaps remotely.  How many times should you back up your back ups?!  It's frightening how much money we have spent on music and film, and how many photos we are able to keep now in this digital age.  I admit, however, that I also need to purge!
In other news, after spoiling us with Spring-like temperatures for the last four weeks (very un-Alberta), Mother Nature - or is that Old Man Winter? (yeah, let's blame the guy!) paid us back with interest.  

A wee dumpette of snow last week?  Ha, no problem.  
Temperatures of -32ºC (-26ºF) this week? Hmm, me no likey.  It's the dogs I feel bad for though. But with certain limits.  
One sniff of the arctic air wafting past the fur on their nose is enough to thwart the enthusiasm of even the hardiest and best snow-loving woofer.  Smudge (Mr Dainty Paws) offers a look of sheer disgust and contempt as I approach him to strap on dog booties.  I've learned that anything colder than about -18ºC, and he can't hack it.  Fair enough.  So wear your bloody boots then.  I don't care that they are red, with black stripes and look utterly ridiculous!

Honey in the meantime, does her impression of a splay-legged penguin.  Waddling but with her legs apart as the weird sensation of wearing boots knocks all sense of rhythm and walking abilities straight out of her head.
But my God - by the time you've dressed the dogs in their boots, and then layered up yourself - found gloves, scarf and head lamp, done up the laces on your own boots, hunted down the poo bags and clipped on the dog leads - it takes more time to prepare than it does to offer them a toilet expedition of about 300yrds, before they both give up and pull me back to the house with that "Who's daft idea was this then - did you not see how cold it is out here Dumbo?" look on their faces.  Without pausing to pee or poop I might add. Too cold to squat.
(Sunnier days, and no, I have no idea why I took this photo!)
So then they spend the next couple of hours alternating between sitting with their wet, snuffly noses on the glass of the back door and snuggling back down on the sofa in the front room.

First they practice their I'm-busting-for-a-pee look and they scratch to go out.   Whereby Dumbo here gets up off the sofa and opens the door with a glare, the dogs take one more sniff of the outside, remember why they don't like it, and turn their back on the recently opened toilet door and wander back to sit in the other room.

Five minutes later, repeat.  Like I said ..... aggravating.

Gonna be +3ºC (37ºF) by Saturday. T-shirt weather. And that's just the dogs.