Saturday, November 23, 2013

Big changes at home

There has no been no proper blogging for quite some time. For the past 8 weeks or so, my 15 year old daughter has been struggling with life, school, anxiety, pressure and a growing fatigue and withdrawal that has been worrying (to say the least), frustrating for us as parents to watch, and when she refused to go to her dance classes two weeks ago, we knew something was up.

Last Friday she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

It was not exactly good news, but it was at least a partial answer to what has been going on with her.  And just a bit of a shock really.

I cannot praise the staff at Alberta Children's Hospital enough.  We have been back and forth to that facility quite a few times in the past couple of years (broken foot, concussion, inability to walk last year following the concussion, counselling - all for the same child!) - and as soon as the diagnosis for the diabetes was in, they wasted not one minute.  The slick operation in place as they welcomed her into the Endocrinology/Diabetes clinics was clear, professional, informative, and importantly, non-frightening.
Our routines must adjust to a life of finger prick blood tests, sugar levels and 4 to 5 insulin injections a day.  Our meal planning now comprises counting carbs (and seems a remarkably similar concept to counting Weight Watchers points, just with a different emphasis!) but the biggest adjustment will be for my daughter.  I can't be more impressed right now - she has so far taken it all in her stride, but I'm waiting for the big crash of reality to hit....this is it, what, like forever?

Next important bit of business will be to choose a medic alert bracelet.  
And even in the face of adversity, she has to be up to date and stylish.  Look at the one she likes!  A Hunger Games Mockingjay pin - she will be my brave heroine now.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Memorial Drive, Calgary

Memorial Drive is my favourite road in Calgary, for a variety of reasons.  And most of my reasons  would showcase much better in the summer time.  So I'll save my thoughts for another day.
Bearing in mind the road is called "Memorial Drive",  I can tell you that this a tree-lined urban street, that runs mostly parallel with the Bow River from east to west, and was dedicated to the soldiers who died in World War I.  Every tree planted is a living legacy to those soldiers.  And there are many.
From our cold and snowy visit last weekend, I just wanted to show you a sombre but very cool acknowledgement of some 3000+ Albertans who died serving their country.
Plus a few others.

Every cross has the name of the soldier and the date that he died.  The heart-breaking majority were in 1917 and 1918, and then a sizeable minority were from around 1943 and 1944.  I saw two others representing soldiers from 1950 and 1956.  There were too many for me to see every one of them, but I like the acknowledgement, effort and taste of this (far too large) mark of respect.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Devonian Gardens, Calgary

Come with me into a tropical oasis.  I know it's November - let's dream and just ignore the snow that is falling outside.

My husband and I had to be in Calgary city centre at an unearthly hour this morning to drop our two girls off at a dance convention.  We decided we would hang out in the downtown core, which is pretty deserted on a weekend.  Excuse quality of photos - just the cell phone this week.
 It started to snow as we headed inside one of the malls.

We had a leisurely breakfast, and did a little shopping 
and as we walked through an overpass, we could see that the continuing snowfall was starting to settle on the branches of the trees, which always looks pretty - but it was not settling on the roads or paths (yet!).
At lunchtime we wandered up to the top level of The Core shopping mall off 7th Avenue in the heart of the city.  Here we munched away on our lunch, sitting among a lovely chunk of indoor tropical greenery.

The Devonian Gardens were originally opened in 1977, but  were closed for several years and re-furbished.  They opened again in June 2012.  There are over 500 palm trees up here.  I don't even want to think how much that weighs, or the stress it puts on the floor and ceiling joists!
The Devonian Gardens is the only indoor urban oasis in Calgary.

On a quiet Saturday lunchtime, there were plenty of seats and not many people, but during the week the office workers descend and the place is hopping.
There are living walls of plants and flowers
and water features provide an interesting distraction 
from the commercial hubbub of stores.  
Little children are particulary enamoured with the koi.
Wooden carved masks adorn the walls
and parents bring their small people to burn off some energy.
And then you are back out into the mall again,
 and look how much snow has gathered 
on the curved glass roof.

It's time for us to go and pick up the girls and check out how pooped they are after dancing for 5 hours.
That snow sure wants to settle on these gentlemen.
And the trees provide glistening, feathery silhouettes 
to the urban scenery.

And winter begins in Alberta.

Linking to Our World Tuesday this week.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autumn skies

For the week that is Canadian Thanksgiving, 
I am grateful to see this array of skies in my world.

I hope you have had a thankful week too.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Autumn is here

Autumn, or Fall as I should have learned to call it by now, 
has arrived in Alberta.
September was mostly lovely.  Sunrises to die for every morning on my commute, but no camera at hand of course, so please just take my word for it!
October is kicking off OK - cool in the mornings, but as long as those white flakes stay away for a few more weeks, I'll be happy.  Sunny and 13 degrees tomorrow.  That'll do nicely.

Have a wonderful week.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Half baked

I love a good cake as well as the next person - but I've never been much good at actually baking them.  Maybe the occasional Victoria Sponge or some ginger cookies, and then those cheat-add-an-egg muffin packets which can be really successful!
My whole family have recently become addicted to a television series running in the UK called "The Great British Bake-Off"  - a disarmingly simple program, show casing ordinary people as contestants who bake, invent and create baked fancies from around the globe and occasionally have un-cooked, collapsed and soggy distastrous results - each week one baker gets sent home.  I can tell - you're on the edge of your seats right now.  (There has been one series of "The Great American Bake Off" which followed a similar format but I'm not sure it took, so I don't think there will be another series).

Every episode, as we sit on the sofa salivating, one member of my family declares "well, it can't be that difficult" or "Gawd, I looooove those, we should make some".  Unfortunately, no-one can rely on me for hand-me-down family recipes or secret ingredients, so we make do with several books from the cupboard and attempt something grand.  And if you're familiar with Delia Smith - well, she is the Goddess of the Kitchen - the simplest and most successful to date has been a banana loaf (the recipe calls for walnuts, but let's be serious here - chocolate chips work so much better).
And last week, we went back to basics and purchased a new book.  What a success.

Yesterday we chose to make Carrot Cake.  I love Carrot Cake and yet am ashamed to say I have never attempted to make one in my life. It's easy!
Would it be too boastful to declare that the end product of yesterday was just about THE BEST Carrot Cake in the land?

And would it be wrong to only eat Carrot Cake all day long?

Yum.  I think we're attempting profiteroles next weekend!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Marmite rules

Brits reading my blog will identify well with "Marmite" - and know that is either one of those foodstuffs that you love or hate.  I love it.  On toast.  Australians will know a similar product called Vegemite.  I can only describe it a sticky brown, extremely salty yeast by-product, which in fact, does make it sound absolutely disgusting.

Jabblog's blog had me laughing out loud this week with a spoof "animal welfare" style video about neglected jars of Marmite across the UK. 

Me?  I take my Marmite everywhere - even on vacation with me.
Beautiful mountain views and beautiful Marmite.  Ahhhhh.

More "proper" holiday photos to follow soon.... 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lovely mail

Look what finally arrived in the post this week...
I was so very excited to receive it.

And I'll be even more excited to use it at the border crossing next week when we head down to Coeur D'Alene in Idaho. Woo hoo to this new Canadian citizen with her flashy new document and photo ID.

It's such a shame that, rather like my driving licence, I look like I've just been released after serving ten years!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Yellows and blues

 The Alberta farmland is looking stunning right now.
The yellows of the rapeseed/canola is in full glow.

And as the little puffs of clouds pass by, they create shadows galore over the fields.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Canmore - before the flood

A week before that awful deluge of rain in Canmore, Alberta, my family were up driving around some of the back roads in the area.
 Again and again I will say - what a damn 
pretty part of the world.
Beautiful hues and reflections.
Big skies.
Big landscape.
Big mountains,

and big smiles!

We will be keen to visit again later in the summer, and hopefully the devastation to the town, homes and roads can be repaired soon.

and I hope you find those Big Skies in your part of the world.

Happy garden!

I moved to this home (and to Canada) six years ago.  After the first year of looking at a square of boring grass, 
I have spent many pleasurable, achy and expensive hours coaxing, poking and persuading the wee patch behind my house to play ball, and have pleaded with it to grow some nice "stuff" for me.
Finally, this year, the flowery borders have a bit of height, a decent splash of colour, and the lawn looks kinda OK.  
Free plants are the best kind!  I was given a few of those at the end of the 2011 season.  Everything came back up again last summer, but didn't really flower much or do itself justice - it was still getting used to it's new home,
but woohoo, this year - bang!