Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Friday, April 29, 2011

the queen's hay

In honour of this special day, is anyone giving attention to the royal animals? Specifically, the 5 horses who will be pulling the royal landau, after the ceremony. The wedding is taking place in a couple of British hours, and I have to admit, I will be watching.

Westminster Abbey tweeted about an hour ago, that their doors are now open and ready for the wedding guests to arrive. The Abbey tweeted. That, along with items such as the jelly belly jellybean with dots shaped like Kate’s face for sale on ebay, is one of the strange, modern twists of this event. There will also be really normal people at this wedding, university buddies and small town common folk… an unusual, never-before-seen happening for such an occasion. And, there is probably an app tracking the bridal pairs every, wedding day, move.

Another fascinating aspect is the hats, the fascinators (kopfputz auf Deutsch), which the women are wearing today. Some are a foot high (Vicky Beckham), some have a giant flower right on top (Lady Di’s niece), some are shaped similarly to the Sydney opera house, and some look like small birds. I find them all fascinating. I think this trend should be adopted everywhere. For my little brother’s wedding in the summer maybe I will wear one. Although, that wedding will be a bit more rustic than today’s wedding, and so my fascinator might need to have straw instead of feathers, rhinestones instead of crystals. We’ll see. I’ll talk to my haberdasher and keep you posted on the design.

But, back to the horses. No media outlets, not CNN or SAT 1, or Fox News or the SUN, are talking about the horses. Without the horses, Willy and Kate would have to run back to Buckingham Palace, scuffing their shoes and being, no doubt, trampled by well wishers. So, what primping have the horses been subject to? And, what is on their wedding day menu? Well, fellow Canadians, I heard a rumour, which, unfortunately I could not substantiate, that Canadian hay feeds the royal equines. More specifically, only the best timothy hay, from Horsecreek Road, north of Cochrane, Alberta, is good enough for the Queen’s horses. The Queen’s hay is Alberta hay. Today, I am a proud Albertan.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

welcoming

A happy guy picked me up at the Frankfurt airport...it was Easter Sunday. A new beginning.

After a long, turbulent flight and dealing with a lot of heavy luggage, it was nice to see great guy. The immediate changes I noticed were his longer, shaggier hair (his hairdresser moved away and now he has no idea what to do) and a switch from long sleeves to a short sleeved shirt. It’s summer here in Deutschland.

We headed straight to the father and maid marion’s for Chinese food lunch out on the terrace. Birds were chirping like crazy…and lilacs were smelling like crazy. Bees, bugs and even mosquitos were all out in force. I could not believe that 18 hours before I was in the land of snow.

In the evening, after some napping and unpacking, we jumped on the motorbike and went for a spin to Ingelheim. There, we sat by the Rhein and caught up on the past few weeks apart and made happy plans for the coming month…Hamburg? Spain? Renovations? A novel? Okay, I’m dreaming a bit.

The folks from the house, rock ‘n roller and j├╝lchen, and best friend, all came by to welcome me back. I handed out small, Canadian gifts, like Rocky Mountain chocolate hedgehogs and maple syrup, although the latter I ended up dropping in my exhaustion, on our hard, terrazzo floor. Maple syrup is not fun to clean up…even if it is organic. Rock ‘n roller is threatening to spend more time with me, best friend still laughs a lot through her red-lipsticked mouth, and the geese and ducks still squawk and honk with gusto. Not much has changed here, aside from the weather, but even though, it feels like I’m on a holiday.

But, I’m not. This is where I’m living now…and I’m glad.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

a prairie good time

long road towards the paris of the prairies
jag (jaegermeister) at 8 with great friends
greenboy, great house, wheat kings and pretty things

blocka road, tv in the bathroom, lego
horseshow, sekretariat...thinking I need an equine career change
croquet in freezing wind, that's when you know you're playing with sask kids
saigon rose, winners, school gossip

7 hours singing along to glee, fresh baked bob-bread, jujubes
snow, rain, fog, sun, blue ellen dyck-sky...all in a 5 minute span
land of the living skies, beautiful.

is home where your heart is, or where your stuff is?
is home where your photos are? where the art you've loved is?
where your books are?
is home where you feel the most comfortable being you?
or is home where your heart is?
maybe one day all these things will be in the same place
then I'll be home.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

mountains, hens...and lots of squirrels

Recently I was invited to spend the weekend with 5 fabulous women, who call themselves, ‘The Hens’. Now, with 6 females, you could expect that coming to a consensus about anything might be difficult…and you might be right.

Arriving on Friday evening, greeted by our hotel room with a bottle of wine and comfy beds, we set out on to main street, relishing the fresh, crisp mountain air. All of our decisions came easy. Everyone was happy and relieved to finally be in Banff, leaving children and husbands to fend for themselves. So, we started with drinks at the Rose & Crown (my favorite Banff haunt) and then moved to Giorgio’s for excellent Italian food, where we shut the place down.

By late that evening, we realized there were an abundance of guys in our hotel. Every time we walked out of our rooms, or left the elevator, or went to the hot tub, or walked into the lobby, we were greeted by men, men, and more men. Some were pretty friendly, offering us drinks and inviting us to party. We declined, but discovered there was a hockey tournament in town, and that sleeping through the night would probably prove to be difficult. Our hunch was right.

Saturday, the husband of one of my closest friends (lets call her ‘the fire hen’) texted her, saying, “you women fighting yet?” She responded by saying that we’re all adults and friends, and are way more mature than that. About 17 minutes later all hell broke loose between fire hen and, let’s call her, sugar hen.

We had spent a fun Saturday afternoon, after brunching at the famous Melissa’s, shopping and coffee-ing through town. The only hiccup had come between tv hen and tall hen, heatedly discussing how short of a skirt is too short. Ridiculous now to think about. But, the air began to get tenser as we tried to figure out where we were going to have supper. I mean, really, there are bigger problems in the world, I know, but we had to eat…and agreeing on a place was not going to be easy.

In every group there are forms of leaders, controllers, followers, opinion-aters, peacemakers, martyrs. Let’s just say that in our group these qualities were all present, some stronger than others.

After heated conversations, tears, and some of us enacting our right to veto a suggestion, we decided on dining at the Maple Leaf Grille (the bison stroganoff is to die for!), and dancing afterwards at the Dancing Sasquatch. The tension between some of the hens had subsided for the moment, like the soft spewings of a volcano soon before it blows.

Sunday morning, no one was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The partiers had partied through the night, in the hallway, below our window, and in the rooms on either side of ours. Fire hen was unhappy, everyone was. She said to tall hen and tv hen, to make sure to distract her, by pointing out a squirrel or something before she loses it on someone. She was tired, and she knew it might not be a great day.

Well, we all love fire. It brings us warmth and comfort. And, we all love sugar, for the same reasons. But, fire can sometimes get too hot, and sugar can sometimes be too sweet. On this particular morning, after warnings had been sent out that squirrels were running around everywhere, fire melted sugar, and sugar dissolved into a sticky mess.

Neither was right and neither was wrong, but, in my opinion, their personalities just clashed in a moment of exhausted frustration. All is well now, and the hens continue to gather and support each other. I’m honoured to be a part of this particular chicken coop, hens who are all strong and beautiful, kind and lovely, in their own wonderfully different ways. Thank god.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

6 am and milk-drunk

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
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milk-drunk

Ever since the movie, “Twilight-Eclipse”, if someone would say, “newborn” to me I would immediately think of vampires and armies…pathetic, I know. And, yes, I am admitting publicly to having seen “Eclipse” more than once!

But, ‘newborn’, has now taken on a whole new, wonderful meaning for me, and I will never forget the experience I am having right now. I have been helping sister-in-law with feeding her babe every 3 hours, day and night. While she pumps, after breast-feeding, I feed babe with formula until he is milk-drunk.

I like milk-drunk, and I think more people should be milk-drunk, over, say, drunk-drunk. Milk-drunk is funny and cute and…milky. Babe’s little eyes take on a stoned sort of look, and his little arms and legs become floppy and wobbly…more floppy and wobbly than normal. And, he literally passes out in any position, anywhere…not that we’ve tried any other position than in our arms, of course. I’m just guessing that if we let the dog take over babe’s care, he would not notice the difference. Don’t worry we won’t be trying that…I have mentioned that my brother is protective, and huge.
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Friday, April 8, 2011

rugby

"Melissa, smash her into the wall!", "Heads up, or instant death!", "Bite her jersey!"...ahhh, the familiar, heart-warming sounds of rugby.

The other night I introduced great guy's niece to the world of rugby. It has been a number of years since I've been in a ruck, scored a try, or grabbed a ball out of the scrum. Good times. But, even after all this time, turning the corner and walking into practice, seeing the face light up of a dear, old friend, after all we shared during rugby, was priceless.

Vinny is hard care. Once upon a time, I was very close friends with him and his wife. An ex-army dude, he's as ferocious as he is warm and fuzzy, and as I was leaving practice he said to me, "Nina, we've got to get together before you leave, to makeout or whatever, anything!" Whereupon, I asked how his wife and 2 children are doing! He is one of those flirty but not creepy, loveable but insanely loyal, intense but very playful, guys, who make an incredible friend.

Great niece will now be initiated into the Rams fold, taken under their protective wing and shown all the ropes she will need to bring out her inner, killer instinct (we all have one and if you doubt me, then learn to play rugby). She will gain friends, confidence, skill, more friends, endurance, self-assurance, a sense of accomplishment, even more friends...traits that every rugby player I know ends up with.

This is a sport which, I think, is especially great for girls. There is a position on a rugby team for every type of girl; whether you're tall and thin, short and thin, tall or short and not so thin, or just average build - if you really want to play then all you need is heart and practice.

In rugby, you try and kill each other on the field and then walk off and have a drink together...that's why it's called 'the gentleman's sport'. And, it's where I learned the valuable life lesson, which I still refer to often, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

with babe and book

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archer

I have a nephew, as of Thursday. He was almost an April Fools joke, but instead he is as real and perfect as can be. And, he has made, in my opinion, a man out of a boy. My brother.

Anyone meeting my brother is instantly taken aback by his size, a public response which I am also well accustomed to. But underneath his strong, large exterior lies the soft heart and fragile soul of someone who has a lot going on 'upstairs'; sometimes a great thing and sometimes quite the impediment to happiness.

My brother's sweet babe, and the process which brought him to his birthday, seems to have finally given my bro a purpose, something to fight for and to protect, and, as miss oprah would say, a true reason to live his best life. He looks comfortable, where I thought he would look terrified. He looks serene and peaceful, where I thought he would just look exhausted (ok, he does look a little bit tired). I underestimated his longing to create permanent, unbreakable roots; another relatable trait possibly stemming from our shared experiences in childhood.

I see my brother now, as one of those giant, deeply-rooted, immovable trees, which great guy and rock 'n roller chopped down 2 months ago (pre-chop down, of course). Strong, steadfast, knowing his purpose, and solidly rooted. He is stepping up to life's plate, as father to a son and as a soon-to-be husband to a wife. No one is going to mess with him now. Or, his little son for that matter. And, if they do, they should expect a date with a bow and arrow.

Their next child will surely have the name of 'fisher' or possibly even, 'harpooner'. So cute...so deadly.
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