Saturday, December 31, 2005

Auld Lang Syne!

This was the year I turned 33 years old, and it was a fun year (which was especially nice after last year!) This year we traveled lots of places, including: Banff in May (we stayed at the Banff Centre for the Arts); Devon in July (we visited the Kurimoto Japanese Gardens); Niagara Falls in July (it was 43 degrees Celsius!); Toronto in July (we celebrated our first wedding anniversary in the revolving restaurant in the CN Tower); Lake Louise and Bankhead in September (The Rocky Mountains - we also visited Banff, Cochrane and Calgary); Lethbridge in December (we enjoyed the coulees and the long train bridge); Elk Island National Park in December (Buffalo!); and now we end the New Year celebrating with friends at the "Estate" in Cochrane Alberta.

NEW HANGOUT: Second Cup or Jungle Jims (WEM)

BEST GIFTS: This year we were really happy to have Duncan’s Dad and my Mom with us to on Christmas morning for gift opening and breakfast. I think everyone was really happy with what Santa brought them but I must have been really good cause I think I got spoiled! Among my booty this year I got jewelry, a Kodak printer for my camera (and camera accessories), a Harry Potter replica/collectors wand, a HUGE suitcase for our upcoming trip to Las Vegas, The March of the Penguins (movie), books (including Michael Moore’s Will They Ever Trust us Again), a gorgeous Oak and Marble cheese serving display, and chocolates. Also, I am excited about reading the books I got for Duncan (The Dark Lord: Rise of Darth Vader, Rescuing Canada’s Right, Team of Rivals and the Secret Mulroney Tapes).

FAVORITE SONG: The Revenge of the Sith and Harry Potter Soundtracks (and anything my son plays on his flute).

BEST BOOK READ: I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and both the Labyrinth and Revenge of the Sith. It might be worth noting that I also started an online Book Club this year!

NEW HOBBY: Scrap booking and Photography

BEST MOVIE: Kingdom of Heaven, Revenge of the Sith (first 12:01am showing and several times thereafter), Dukes of Hazzard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (twice), Walk the Line, Munich

BEST DVD: Revenge of the Sith (and it’s documentary)!

BEST VIDEO GAME: Sid Meier’s Civilization 4!

BIGGEST CHANGE: Wesley went to Junior High this year and I am going on a doctor mandated Cholesterol Free diet starting Jan 1st. Yikes, that’s tomorrow!

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: This year was pretty good and seemed to fly by so any challenges were minor and easily faced.

BIGGEST BLESSING OF THE YEAR: Duncan and I were asked to stand as members of Brett and Beatrice’s wedding party when they take their vows in 2006. We are excited and honoured to support them in their love and commitment to each other!

MOST STIRRING POLITICAL ISSUE: As I have been contracted to work on a Provincial Leadership Campaign I have been focusing on leadership politics (which are very interesting). I have been avoiding federal politics all together!

LOOKING FORWARD TO: Our trip to Las Vegas, and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for all!

PREDICTIONS FOR 2006: Liberals will win again.

LOOKING BACK: 2004 and 2003

I wish you all the best for a happy, safe and prosperous 2006!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Where the Deer and the Buffalo play...

Duncan and I spent yesterday exploring in Elk Island National Park. The Park is considered to be the best example of the boreal mixed wood (aspen, birch and conifer) forests of the Canadian plains, but is also dominated by lichen and sedge grass meadows. It is populated by Plains Bison, Woods Bison, Elk, Moose, Deer, Beavers, Coyotes, Fox, many birds and numerous smaller animals. We were lucky enough to see a Wood Bison (see pic above), Elk and White Tail Deer, and we enjoyed quite the treat while we were hiking the Beaver Pond Trail (as the sun was setting) as several coyotes began to sing through the park all around us - it was beautiful, haunting, moving. An excellent day trip less than an hour from Edmonton, we will have to go again in the warmer months!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Tree 2005

Christmas Tree 2005
Originally uploaded by Allie Wojtaszek.
Each year our Christmas Tree is built with ornaments and decorations that have a special significance to each person in our family, beginning with my first Snow White ornament from 1972 and encorporating ornaments from both mine and Duncan's extended families. Visitors often marvel at our tree as they search it's branches to see what they can find and as such this year I thought I would catalogue some of the more popular or meaningful items.

You can visit my Flickr page to see the rest of the ornaments. Don't forget to click on each image so that you will be able to read all of the notes attached to the pictures (my first attempt with notes in Flickr)!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Morning has come and gone

Our family Christmas Breakfast

Duncan woke me up at 04 double early this morning and wasn't able to go back to sleep, so we snuggled in bed until 6:00am when I finally went to wake kids up (we were out late last night seeing Narnia). Santa was very good to all of us this morning but I think the best part was having Duncan's Dad and My Mom here to share it with us.

You can see our pictures of Christmas morning here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

All Things Christmas

Christmas is a very special time of year for me, a time that has always been about friends and family. It's a time that love runs through, like a river that binds us all together, and families find a certain peace in celebrating each and every member.

From our family to yours on this Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas. Our best wishes to you and yours for the happiest of the season and a healthy and prosperous new year!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Comes In...

1 Day, 0 hours, 16 minutes and 9 seconds... For those counting...

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Sad Thing is He Can't Even Blame it on the Champagne!

By far my favourite Christmas card this year...

Ready or not, Christmas is in full swing at the Wojtaszek residence this year. Wesley's Band Concert was on Thursday and we had our annual Hot Chocolate Party on Saturday which was fun and went well (except I have decided if we mean to continue this tradition I will need a larger living room!) and on Sunday we had dinner at a friends and helped decorate his tree while we all enjoyed egg nog and a lovely fire. Despite the warming weather it is managing to feel a bit like Christmas time.

Not that I am counting, but as of now, Christmas is 5 days, 10 hours, 35 minutes and 18 seconds away!

Friday, December 16, 2005

John Spencer has left the building

It makes me sad to be blogging tonight about the death of John Spencer from a heart attack at age 58. Spencer played one of my favourite characters on the NBC Show The West Wing, Leo McGarry. It is a role that won him both an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination, and one I thought he shone in. He will be sorely missed.

Die Patriot Act, Die!

While Bush (among others) has lobbied relentlessly to make the expiring USA Patriot Act a permanent statute, today the Senate stalled the attempt by not allowing it to pass.

No doubt there will be some political wrangling in the next couple of weeks and likely another vote, but if a deal isn't reached, the 16 Patriot Act provisions will expire on the 31st of December.

The death of the Patriot Act will allow for the development of a more rational and practical law, one not built, passed and enacted in fear. The american people would do well to consider that rights and liberties given up so easily are the hardest to reclaim - especially when they are lost to the increasing powers of government.

The Patriot Act should never be allowed to become permanent. Bring on Dec 31.

In the Right Place at the Right Time

"I prayed that someone would catch him
and save his life."

- Tracinda Foxe

I'll admit it, I really don't believe in coincidence; I believe that our paths go towards opportunities that we either choose to seize or pass by and that those opportunities shape our collective futures and provide reasons for us being here.

So begins the amazing story of Tracinda Foxe and her baby Eric, who were trapped in their burning third floor apartment by bars across their windows. Trying to stay away from the flames and smoke, Tracinda was holding Eric out of the window so that he could breathe - but as the fire raged their situation became more dire.

As Tracinda couldn't see if their was anyone on the ground waiting to catch her son she had held on to him until she could no longer chance it - and then with a prayer (and what I imagine was a whole lot of faith), she threw Eric from the burning apartment to the ground below.

Luckily, Felix Vazquez (a baseball catcher and former lifeguard) was there and was able to run and catch Eric as well as give him mouth to mouth to start him breathing again. Firefighters were soon able to break down the door to rescue Tracinda, and everyone is recovering nicely (and Tracinda has asked Felix to be Eric's godfather).

The right person in the right place at exactly the right time. If that's not destiny, I don't know what is, but I'm happy with believing it is. Eric's family says "the rescue is the only holiday gift they'll need, and they couldn't ask for more." Amen to that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Hits Keep on Rolling

Thanks to my blog readers today I surpassed 90,000 visitors! (cue fanfare)

I am going to have some sort of real time online blog party for turning over to 100,000... so stay tuned cause I'd love to see you all there!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Halo Two

So Mr. Harper wants to revive the Airborne. A "new" 650 member strong battalion which, in his words, would have "parachute training capability."

My first thought: There's a valid reason why the Airborne was disbanded. It's not like we just ran out of people or someone forgot to fund it. The Airborne was a national and international disgrace; being disbanded was a punishment and an apology to the rest of the world. There should be careful consideration into it's "revival" and the implications thereof.

Second thought: I hope Mr Harper knows that "Airborne" units are actually jump ready, and that his "new" unit would have more than just the capacity to train with a parachute!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Just a thought.

"Democracy is not the law of the majority but the protection of the minority."
- Albert Camus

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Northern Lights are Gorgeous

Duncan and I have just got in from watching the Northern Lights here in Edmonton. They have been really active recently, but tonight there was brilliant greens and vibrant pinks lighting up the sky, and they were moving so fast that they truly were dancing.

I have always loved the Northern Lights - as I grew up on Vancouver Island I only saw them as a faded shadow and infrequently at that. Now, being so much more north I have delighted in their magnificance over the past 10 years.

Sadly, the Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America (towards Siberia) at such a rate that scientists say North America might lose its spectacular Northern Lights sometime in the next 50 years (Good news for Europe though). If I manage to live another 50 years I will be sad to see them go.

My secret desire right now: The Northern Lights Festival 2006 in Tromsø, Norway in January.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Love is a burning thing

I understand moments of perfect happiness need to be taken in small doses in order for the balance of the universe to remain intact, but I had a lot of them today - possibly even more than my fair share! Days like this are the kind that warm you from the inside and cause you to walk around with a big smile on your face. The kind of day you never want to end but your content to fall asleep in it's bliss. I really had an awesome day today; my life is more wonderful than I could ever have imagined it would be and the world is a perfect place.

Among other things we did today, Duncan and I Walked The Line. The story touches us more than most would guess, and the film was amazing, the pefect film for a perfect night!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Today is a special kind of Anniversary

Five years!

They say time flies when you're having fun - and these past five years have certainly flown by. In many regards I feel like we are still just starting out, still discovering the world together side by side - and we are of course, with the whole world and a lifetime ahead of us. I love him more now then ever before, for every reason in the world, and for no reason in particular and with all of my heart and soul I love him. He is my bestest friend and I cherish him.

Happy Anniversary Duncan!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Love Never Dies

25 years ago I was just a little girl, 8 years old or so, and my life only moderatly touched by the Beatles phenomenon that would come to grip my formative years and subsequent adult life.

Like so many others I grew up sharing (and singing along to) the music of the Beatles together with my best friends - usually while we sat around in the sunshine wondering philosophically-outloud about both the complexities and simpleness of life. The lyrics never failed to touch us, to move us to tears or laughter - and no one was embarrassed to coon along with the Beatles.

I was too young to understand that day when I watched on the news about a man named John Lennon who had been gunned down and killed in cold blood how much this person would influence and impact my life, my relationships and my love of music. I will never know what he could have done if he had been allowed to live that day - but I do know that my world will never be devoid of John Lennon and he will continue to be shared and not forgotten.

To lead a better life
I need my love to be here...

Here, making each day of the year
Changing my life with a wave of her hand
Nobody can deny that there's something there

There, running my hands through her hair
Both of us thinking how good it can be
Someone is speaking but she doesn't know he's there

I want her everywhere and if she's beside me
I know I need never care
But to love her is to need her everywhere
Knowing that love is to share

Each one believing that love never dies
Watching her eyes and hoping I'm always there
To be there and everywhere
Here, there and everywhere

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Catching up...

We went to Lethbridge and it was very pretty - Duncan had some business to do but we also had a chance to see some of the sites and visit with our friends that moved down there last July. It was an enjoyable weekend, despite the very long drive from Edmonton to Lethbridge.

Things in Lethbridge are looooong. Here are some examples:

Coulees are long ravine like valleys like run along river beds.

The longest train bridge is in Lethbridge.

The university of Lethbridge has the longest hallway.

More Pictures HERE

We also decorated and put up the Christmas Tree!

With the christmas season already upon us we are trying to give the world our best impression of being ready! Ready or not, our first Christmas party is tonight.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It was just like any other day...

Flowers usually make a girl happy but the 14 white roses on my desk this morning had a sobering presence.

Just like our day this morning, as we all climbed out of bed and braced ourselves for the cold December day, that day 16 years ago began just like any other day.

But it didn’t end that way. It ended in hatred and gunfire and broken dreams.

Remembering the December 6, 1989 incident in which 14 young women were gunned down at Montreal's l'École Polytechnique isn’t enough. We have to change the attitudes that put people in danger and keep them at risk, we have to appreciate the fragility of life and strive to protect it, and we have to learn how to ask for, and give, help when it’s needed. For ourselves and everyone we love, every day.

Because every day starts the exact same way.

Monday, December 05, 2005

I was here...

I rushed home from work today (trying to make it home in time for a meeting via conference call) crammed into a bus full of people which in turn was crammed into a gridlocked highway full of yet more people, and somehow I felt oddly alone in amongst them all... lost even. I fought the urge to reach out and scrawl in big letters "I WAS HERE" in the condensation on the window pane.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Welcome to Lethbridge!

According to the city's webpage, Lethbridge Alberta is one of the warmest & sunniest cities in all of Canada. That's interesting to ponder as I sit here enjoying the -16 degree celsius weather!

But I must admit I have been taken with the landscape; with the coulees and the rolling hills, the fields of long golden grass with their slight dusting of snow, Lethbridge has a unique allure. I am excited about taking some pictures tomorrow... I really do live in an amazing and beautiful province!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Click on the Button

Support World AIDS Day

Monday, November 28, 2005

All's Well that Ends Well...

"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie"
- William Shakespeare

Our minority Liberal government has collapsed in a historic non confidence motion (171 yeas to 133 nays) presented today in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Paul Martin will visit the Governor General early tomorrow morning, which will prompt Madame Jean to dissolve the current Parliament and set an election date, likely January 16th or 23rd (2006). Today's non confidence vote was the first of its kind in Canadian history; it was the first time a motion actually stated that the house had "lost confidence" in the government.

Dances with Wolves

Technology Training... Answering Emails... Christmas Cards... Political Databases... Writing Policy... Watching the Government Fall... Making Dinner...

Sometimes there is not enough time in just one day. How multi-talented am I? I am a Super Woman! Hear me Roar!

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Truth Hurts Sometimes

Election thoughts from Quynn - "Tories shrug 'that's Ralph' as Klein predicts another Liberal minority". I couldn't have said it better myself (that's why I am linking to his post!).

No one wants to hear the truth when the truth hurts, but really now, Quynn's right. Instead of looking the other way and trying to pretend he didn't say it why don't they heed the warning, grab the bull by the horns and do something about it?

Go Tom!

Tom Wharton has recieved yet another nomination for his amazing work (I'm obviously a big fan). This time it is The Logogryph that has been nominated, and for the Impac Dublin Award (the winner also gets 140,000.00).

132 books from around the world have been nominated for this award, and it's an impressive crowd to be included in. Other Canadian titles nominated include:

Miriam Toews' A Complicated Kindness
Michael Winter's The Big Why
Robert Hough's The Stowaway
Trevor Cole's Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life
Joel Hynes' Down to the Dirt
Beth Powning's The Hatbox Letters
Russell Smith's Muriella Pent
Wayson Choy's All that Matters
Richard Wright's Adultery
Greg Hollingshead's Bedlam

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Early Morning Laugh

After I had grabbed my coffee and bagel this morning I went to sit down at a table with Duncan. Unbeknownst to me a blind man was following me as I walked to the table, which was also in the direction of the door (I think he was just going to follow me out).

I stopped to put down my coffee and apparently he just about bumped into me. Then in a loud voice he yelled out to his friend "Oh, I was going the wrong way!" and began to turn around, when his buddy looked at him and said (also in a loud voice) "No, you were trying to get that girl!"

Well, I never claimed that I could lead the blind. But I sure wouldn't have knowingly attempted leading anyone before I'd had my morning coffee!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

When I grow up I wanna be a witty blog post...

Earlier today I thought of something really interesting to blog about when I got around to it. However it seems that somewhere in the depths of the politics I found myself emmersed in for the better part of my day, I forgot it...

... tell me I am not the only one that happens too!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Potterific Weekend!

Yep, I'm a Potterphile. Yep, I enjoyed the movie - and yep, I'm going to see it again, soon even. Kudo's to Duncan for coming with me to the movie, especially since it started out with a very large snake! I really appreciated it!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

As I left downtown tonight I rested my head back against the bus window and watched the tops of the tallest buildings go by, all the different lights a pleasant distraction for my mind (which might try to suggest it's been a tad overworked as of late, with many more serious concerns to deal with than it's used too).

Working downtown has so far been a surreal experience for me; it's like going someplace else, like being on a working vacation - or perhaps it's more accurate to say it's like visiting grown up land. Gosh... when did I become a grown up? Wasn't there supposed to be some kind of warning sign, an exit ramp perhaps?

Architectual Beauty, Politics and History

This building has it all - which might be why I love the Alberta Legislature Building so much. Here are some shots I took while I was there earlier this week. Double Production Speed with Marble (Civ 4 joke for all you non geeks).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Welcome to the Blogosphere Quynn!

My friend Quynn has started a blog! I especially got a giggle out of his post today, I love Québec.

Check it out - Quintus Caecilius Felix.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Saddest Sign Ever...

I'm glad there was more interest in our "Meet the Leadership Candidate Spaghetti Dinner" than Elmwoods Annual Xmas Craft Sale apparently had. Our dinner was well attended and the Minister handled all questions well, especially the Anthony Henday ones. Can anyone guess who our guest speaker was?

"... and a Pink Carnation"

One of the amazing women I work with at the University just had surgery to remove breast cancer a couple of days ago. Today, she showed up at work with a huge smile and an armload of pink carnations - one for everyone in the Centre. She has been an inspiration to me - How wonderful would the world be if we each followed the spontaneous desires of our hearts every day for the rest of our lives?

Life's not always fair, but if you look for the joy in each moment, celebrate each day - you will find love, peace and happiness in it. If you are one of those people that can share that even when you are at your worst, then you are a blessing as well, and I'd wager well loved.

Friday, November 11, 2005



Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Daughter, The Author

I just got the best phone call from my daughters school!

Raven submitted an essay to an International Essay Competition and it was selected to be published! It's going to be in an Anthology of essays. I'm so proud of her! Congrats Raven!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Plato, Where Are You Now?

If "leisure" (freedom from time-consuming duties, responsibilities, or activities; freedom to choose a pastime or enjoyable activity; notion of free time; time available for ease) is about relaxation... and "politics" (activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party; methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government; maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power; profession devoted to governing and to political affairs; internally conflicting interrelationships among people) is about vigilance...

What happens when your leisure is politics?

Maybe I should quit my "day job" (One's primary job, usually at daytime and enabling one to pursue a secondary activity from which one would eventually like to draw an income)?

Today's post brought to you by

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bound by Remembrance

In Canada, 2005 has been declared the Year of the Veteran. Personally I wanted to do something to commemorate this, so earlier this year I decided to join the Royal Canadian Legion. It is something I was asked to do a long time ago.

When I was a young soldier the only real exposure I had to the older veterans was Remembrance Day. Then, with an air of distant ceremonial duty, we would parade with them, guard their cenotaph, toast them and listen to their stories. Often, expressing fervent hope, they would implore us to consider joining the Legion; concerned that, with their membership dwindling, the Legion would one day no longer exist.

We were too young to understand why this was important to them and too proud to think about why it should be important to us. We didn’t feel like there was a lot that we shared in common with the "old guard" - after all we were young, brave, strong, and concerned with a much more modern warfare then that of the World Wars or even Korea. We were training to protect freedom in a different world that, for the most part, didn’t actually need protecting anymore. And we were pretty sure we were too tough to hang around with old people.

We were naive and arrogant; perhaps both the biggest and most common sins of youth, but often the most hurtful and neglectful.

We neglected to see that the reason the world didn’t need protecting anymore was their sacrifices. We neglected to attribute the pride we held in our own units to the battle honours bestowed a lifetime ago on a battlefield far away. We neglected to recognize their desire to count us amongst their numbers as their pride in us. We neglected to acknowledge that we all lived in a world that no "outsider" could understand, and that that’s supposed to count for something. We neglected to honour the bonds that tie us all together.

Its years ago now since I carried an automatic rifle and wore my flag on my shoulder; years since I shared that unique kind of camaraderie with a different kind of family; years since I lived and breathed an all consuming sense of duty; and a lifetime since I imagined that my world was not safe.

Actually, thanks to the personal sacrifices and decisions made by our Veterans, I have never lived in a world where I feared for my personal or national security, freedom or identity. That freedom is what defines us today as a people, and our Veteran's deserve to have us to carry on their legacy, forever. "To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high."

We are bound by Remembrance.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

First Snow

It's not a lot of snow and it's currently too warm for it to stay, but it is officially our first snow fall. I guess winter is here. I'm glad it took it's time this year!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wireless in Red Deer

So here I am, the morning after a long evening of hospitality suites, sitting in the hotel resturant eating my eggs and drinking, about as much coffee and water as I can manage. I spoke to so many people last night my whole personal space around me feels like it is still buzzing with them all.

This is the best Policy Conference ever. But perhaps that's because it's not just all about Policy... This really is an exciting time to be an Albertan and a party member; there is so much potential ahead of us!

Friday, November 04, 2005

I'm walking in Snowshine...

Walking to work this morning was delightful as a few tiny snowflakes swirled sporadically about, our first snow. Although not heavy enough to stay around, there is something inherently magical about the first time it snows (I will admit that it does quickly lose it's appeal as winter drags on) and I couldn't help but smile as I watched the snowflakes fall.

For me, snowflakes in themselves are like tiny miracles of beauty; growing up on Vancouver Island, sheltered from the realities of a true Canadian winter, I honestly thought that "snowflakes" were an artists' construct that appeared annually on Christmas cards, a decoration or perhaps an "interpretation" of what the artists felt a snowflake must look like (snow on the coast is wet, and doesn't resemble flakes as much as "clumps" of snow).

I think I will always remember the moment that, in -40 weather, I noticed the snowflakes on the ground twinkling beneath a street lamp... it was with pure childlike amazement that I reached out to touch them, and discovered that really, no two were alike!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Gomery Report...

... and it's Chrétien by a nose!

Monday, October 31, 2005

This is where the fun begins...

Trick or Treat Star Wars Style!

Life means understanding the mysteries of death and rebirth

I am usually tempted at this time of year to right the misconceptions that a Christainized Halloween inflicts upon the celebrations of the Celtic/Druidic New Year, but this year is a little different.

This is the first year, in perhaps ever, that I will be alone on Halloween. Both my children have self declared their intentions on trick or treating without supervision (how fast they grow!) and my husband is at a working dinner. So, with the animals safely tucked away, there is just me to await the hordes of darling little ghosts and goblins that have no idea what Halloween is really all about.

The Druids believed that this was a time when "the veil between this world and the world of the Ancestors was drawn aside," meaning the "living" spirits of loved ones could choose to make contact. And me, home alone, wondering if my ghosts will come calling and if so, what wisdom they will bring me...

Oh dear, my Wiccan Neopagan roots are showing again (and I just had my hair done).

Happy Samhain everyone.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

On Being a Mom...

It is often difficult to put into words the emotional/spiritual transition that changes a woman into a Mother. My cousin sent me this email this morning, and despite it's length it really nails it, so I am going to share it with you all.

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter
casually mentions that she and her husband are
thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a
survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should
have a baby?" "It will change your life," I say,
carefully keeping my tone neutral. "I know," she
says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more
spontaneous vacations." But that is not what I meant
at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what
to tell her. I want her to know what she will never
learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child
bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave
her with an emotional wound so raw that she will
forever be vulnerable. I consider warning her that she
will never again read a newspaper without asking,
"What if that had been MY child?" That every plane
crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she
sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if
anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish
suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she
is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive
level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent
call of "Mum!" will cause her to drop a souffle or her
best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many
years she has invested in her career, she will be
professionally derailed by motherhood. She might
arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going
into an important business meeting and she will think
of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every
ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to
make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions
will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's
desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's
at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right
there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming
children, issues of independence and gender identity
will be weighed against the prospect that a child
molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will
second-guess herself constantly as a mother. Looking
at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that
eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but
she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value
to her once she has a child. That she would give
herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will
also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish
her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny
stretch marks will become badges of honor. My
daughter's relationship with her husband will change,
and not in the way she thinks. I wish she could
understand how much more you can love a man who is
careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to
play with his child. I think she should know that she
will fall in love with him again for reasons she would
now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel
with women throughout history who have tried to stop
war, prejudice and drunk driving. I want to describe
to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child
learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the
belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of
a dog or cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it
actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that
tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret
it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table,
squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent
prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere
mortal women who stumble their way into this most
wonderful of callings.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Alpha and Omega - the beginning and the end

Hurricane Beta. And it's still a long way to November 30th - the expected end of the hurricane season.

1933 was the last time there were 21 storms recorded and we didn't use the current naming system then, so if you're trying to remember the last time we named storms after the greek alphabet, don't. It's never happened.

Possible understatement of the season:

"Trends in human-influenced environmental changes are now evident in hurricane regions"
- Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Never before offered this low...

I got this fax at work today advertising a "great" vacation package; for today only, it reads, $179.00 gets you 6 days in Florida, a cruise to the Bahamas and as a bonus, 7 whole days in Cancun!

In large letters across the top of this advertisement is written:


It should read "Hurricanes Only, all others must evacuate"

Monday, October 24, 2005


My life has been crazy this past little while, both busy and exciting with just a touch of stressy, so it was nice to spend this weekend snuggled up with Duncan. Wes and Raven were down in Calgary meaning we had the weekend to ourselves! Weeee!

So... we hung out in our PJ's, finished our week long CIV III game, played Star Wars Mini's and watched West Wing the whole time, with the exception of my new job stealing me away for a Saturday afternoon of strategy planning.

As a result of said new job I am dropping down to part time at the University for an indefinite amount of time, which means I am back to having two jobs, something I haven't done for quite a while. Time will tell how it all works out, but I am looking forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead of me. Well all of them except the medical tests and Doctor's visits...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Enjoying it while we can

The weather here in Edmonton has been absolutly fabulous as of late. Somewhat unusual, it's been warm, even into the night, and sunny all day long with no need for winter jackets. Duncan and I, who have had a couple days off work, have spent the better part of our time outside walking, and enjoying the fall. Winter might be just around the corner, but it's not here... yet.

Environment Canada says the beautiful fall weather will stave off the chill of winter for at least another 10 days. Next week is sopposed to be even nicer than this week, and I am very excited!

As if to prove the very tenacity of life itself, one of the plants in my garden has decided to celebrate the unseasonally warm weather by blooming again. I think we shall have to reward it by having a cooler outside in the sunshine.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, my bookclub is gearing up to begin it's first book this Thursday. I am very pleased!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Surprisingly just like real life

Duncan (playing the SIMS): Does anyone know why my cat would be peeing everywhere?

Raven: Have you cleaned it's litterbox?

Duncan: ...

Allie: (laughing) "It's just like real life..."

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Helping Kids be Kids Again

"When you wish upon a star
makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
will come to you...

If your heart is in your dreams
no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
as dreamers do...

Fate is kind
she brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
their secret longing...

Like a bolt out of the blue
fate steps in and sees you thru
When you wish upon a star
your dreams come true..."

Lifetimes are made up of many wishes; we tend to dream our way through life, imagining with excitement the potential that lies in front of us.

But imagine that all of a sudden you only had enough time for one last wish. Now imagine you are only a child and have very little means of making your wish come true.

Children hold a special place in my heart and are at the centre of most of my philanthropic endeavours. One of the organizations I lend my support and time to is The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. The foundation works to fulfill the most desired wish for each child who has been diagnosed with a high risk or life threatening illness. The granting of these wishes, 11,093 in 20 years, helps each child focus on being a child during a time when everything seems dark and scary.

Today, in 106 communities across Canada, people came together to walk and raise money that will enable the granting of even more wishes. I wish that children never got sick and didn't die before they had a chance to grow up, but sadly that's not reality. But we can help them know that dreams really do come true.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sunrise, Sunrise...

"Sunrise, sunrise...
Looks like morning in your eyes
But the clock's held 9:15 for hours.
Sunrise, sunrise...
Couldn't tempt us if it tried
Cause the afternoon's already come and gone..."

- Norah Jones

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Can Allie Come Out and Play?

Busy, busy, busy... too busy to blog even. Loads of stuff I can't put out there in the written public kind of form, but exciting, interesting and busy stuff. Tonight's a political night, but I might have time for you afterwards, poor blog.

Oh, and as a point of interest, that wonderful pic of Duncan with the Hooters girls has become my highest viewed picture in Flickr!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Happy Birthday Duncan!

More pictures here!

27 Years Old!

Wow, Duncan! Twenty seven years old already! Where does the time go? Cue Rock Music:

"They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you!"

Hapy Birthday Sweetheart. I hope it's Hooterific!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Saw you the weird sisters?"

"The issue is who used [the name] first."
- Statement by the bands lawyer

Oh. Really?

In 1988 (a full TWO YEARS before this "band" formed) Terry Pratchett wrote a book called "The Wyrd Sisters." In 1996 it was released for home video, and it has been performed as a play.

In 1605 ( a full THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY YEARS before this "band" formed) William Shakespeare wrote a play called MacBeth. It’s been playing ever since.

So who stole who’s name?

The "band" is complaining that they’ve "had to cancel tours and delay the release of our new album. All of this is because we're not sure if we can continue under our name any more." WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Who do they think they are? I never heard of them before this obviously desperate attempt to grab some fame and fortune.

Evanesco Wyrd Sisters!

Hmmmm. Did it work?

Official Goblet of Fire Poster

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Shove Off, Wyrd Sisters...

Some pathetic little nobody band is trying to garner themselves some free publicity by attempting to block the new Harry Potter movie from debuting in Canada in November.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire there is a "cool" band called the Weird Sisters that Dumbledore hires for the kids at the Yule Ball. In the film version the band doesn't have a name and Warner Bros. says they do not intend to use the Wyrd Sisters name. This is backed up by the IMDB's HP:GoF site that identifies the actors playing the band simply as "band members" in the film's credits.

These folk singers from Manitoba think that this fact has hurt their career chances and have have filed an injunction to block the movie from showing in Canada in addition to a statement of claim seeking $40 million plus punitive damages. Are they even worth 40 million dollars? Sounds like they want to take the easy road to retirement if you ask me, and they don't care if they drive over Canadian Harry Potter fans in the meantime.

Well, I care. As far as I am concerned these folk singers can take a hike. Grrr.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

5 km and 18,029.00 Closer...

To finding the Cure!

We raised 18,029.00 (and still some to count) for the CIBC Run for the Cure! Westminster Junior High took home the Junior High Team Award for the most funds raised! Way to go Westminster!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Life is so unfair

They found her body.

Still Looking for Ajay

Via: CFCN.

A frantic search is underway for a woman from the Siksika First Nation.

Ellen Kelly Wolf Leg is a student at SAIT. She went missing from her home Friday night while the rest of her family was out for a walk. Volunteers from the community started looking for her right away and called the RCMP.

Investigators are concerned because the 18-year-old left behind her cell phone and her purse which had over 100 dollars in it. They have found no sign of a struggle and no clues as to her whereabouts. Calgary police are also assisting with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Gleichen RCMP at 1-403-734-3056.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My Friend's Sister is Missing


Ellen Kelly Wolfleg, a.k.a. "AJAY"
Native, 5'1" 110 lbs, brown eyes, long dark hair
18 years old

Last seen: Siksika Nation (Calgary, Alberta)
on Friday 23 September 2005
If you have any information, please contact
the Gleichen RCMP 403-734-3923

Monday, September 26, 2005

Our Fall Trip!

Saturday may have been the most perfect day ever created in this province. Duncan, his Dad, his brother Will and I headed out to the mountains for the day, and everything was beautiful! The weather was perfect, the air was fresh and crisp, the fall colours were amazing and the mountains had just the right amount of snow dusting their peaks.

We hiked around Bankhead, an old deserted mining town, and then stopped briefly at the Cascade Ponds. From there we headed up to Lake Louise, which was fabulous! The glacier and the lake are amazing - I've seen it before in pictures but was happy to go there in person. We are definatly going back there again (I'm thinking canoeing across the lake to see the glacier up close). We had Mountain Stew for lunch and while we sat there I had a hard time averting my eyes from the Glacier and the mountains around us. After that we drove back into Banff and down to the Bow River falls (which is at the bottom of the hill that the Banff Springs Hotel is on) before starting our journey back to Calgary.

We stopped in Canmore and got some good pictures of the Three Sisters and then booted back to Calgary to get Will home on time. We ended up having some time before the kids would be done at their Dad's wedding so Duncan took me for a walk down along the Elbow River (which was gorgeous - all yellows and oranges) and then to his favourite ice cream store for milkshakes. After getting the kids we drove back out to Cochrane, which is where we were staying at our friends house and socialized for the better part of the night. On Sunday Duncan's Dad took us for dinner (Vietnamese - there's a special reason for this but I don't know if I am allowed to blog about it yet...) and then we headed home.

More pictures here and here!

Chamber of Secrets...

My ex-husband got married on Saturday. I have a small secret to confess – I couldn’t be happier for him and his new wife.

Everyone keeps asking me if I am "okay" or "how do I feel about it." I see them glance quickly at me when I talk about it, trying to discern whatever they think "my true hidden feelings" should be. I must admit I don’t understand this behaviour – do other people really breakdown when their Ex’s remarry? To be frank, I can’t imagine a better possible sum to the equation. The happier he is the happier, and stronger, my blended family becomes.

I could never hate my first husband – nor could I hate his wife for that matter, as she was my friend long before they got together. Hate is such a wasteful, unproductive and childish emotion, and one can never be truly happy if they allow hate to consume even a small part of their life. As I am amazingly happy with my life it only makes good sense to wish that also for them. They are both good people, afterall, and if there is anything in this world to celebrate it is good people coming together.

I wish him and his new wife the same happiness that I cherish in my own life – the happiness that reaches into every corner of the heart; that rings with laughter and lingers in smiles; that lives in memories and yet blooms anew every single day; the kind of happiness that fills the home and life with love, laughter and playfullness.

Congratulations, Mark and Val Smyth, and best wishes!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricanes and Gas Pains

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Calm before the Storm

Ever spend a life time waiting for something, trying to prepare for what is half expected but so distant that it seems like it might not be real, or even probable?

Yesterday morning I woke up, a vivid dream slipping fast from my conciousness, leaving me with only the overwhelming feeling that "it has already began." So, if the waiting's done I can only hope that I am in the right place, whatever that might mean, and that my role becomes apparent to me.

Rita is now a category five hurricane. If it seems like a banner year for hurricanes this year, it is. Normally hurricane season in the gulf sees about 11 hurricanes in total; this season doesn't end until November and already there's been 21. According to CNN, Rita is the third largest hurricane in recorded history, but I have a feeling that these types of headlines will soon be commonplace in our world.

It is the winds of change.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Keep Honking, I'm Reloading...

Ever feel like you need a little extra fire power? How about an F-16 or a Mig21?


Fall is here... Break out the Hot Chocolate

I captured this tree on the U of A campus this morning while hanging out with Duncan's cousin Allie. I think this tree in particular caught my attention as it reminded me of the burning tree in The Ring, which we watched last night. Tonight we will watch The Ring Two!

I think I will finally have to admit that it is Fall and bid summer a fond farewell. I do like Fall, it's a pretty time of year and the colours are amazing. I think I am going to spend this week enjoying Fall, kicking through piles of leaves, and a short Fall trip somewhere is in order!

Friday, September 16, 2005

"Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies"

Propaganda, cultural distortion, brainwashing, casual deception, lies... What happens when a lie is told long enough and loud enough?

Hi Bingo.

I appreciate biting social commentary and Bingo, albeit old now (1998) is Brilliant. An animated adaptation of a short skit called "Please Disregard This Play" (the Neo-Futurists) Bingo challenges us to think (for ourselves), or atleast suspect that we should.

A fatherly clown so real it's surreal, a cute little girl who morphs into a hideous creature, and a man made of money. It all sounds vaguely familiar...

I'm not Bingo.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Legacy of a Dream

On April 12, 1980 I had just turned 8 years old. Terry Fox, a boy from a town very close to mine, had just started his run across Canada. Everyone was very excited about this and we watched on TV every night. It was called The Marathon of Hope. At that young age I had no idea what cancer was, or the kind of impact it would have on my later life, nor had I reason or need for hope - but I knew a hero when I saw one.

"... by next April I will be ready to achieve something that for me was once only a distant dream reserved for the world of miracles – to run across Canada to raise money for the fight against cancer. The running I can do, even if I have to crawl every last mile. We need your help. The people in cancer clinics all over the world need people who believe in miracles.

I am not a dreamer, and I am not saying that this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer. But I believe in miracles. I have to..."

143 days later Terry told Canada that he had to stop his run. I remember he cried, or maybe it was me, I don't fully remember. It just all seemed so terribly unfair that even though he had tried so hard, even though he was so close, he would be unable to finish. That's when I learned that cancer was terribly unfair, and to prove it Terry died on June 28, 1981. He was only 22 years old.

Twenty five years later I have lost my Father, my Mother in law, two Aunts, an Uncle and countless friends-of-family (and family-of-friends) to this thing called cancer. Too many if you ask me. It's time to really do something about it. We need to find a cure, and to do that we need to fund as much research as neccessary.

We're sponsoring Toby in the Terry Fox Run. He is running in honour of his Mother, who died this year after a short fight with cancer. Please consider sponsoring him as well. Every little bit helps and it's for a good cause.

If you need any more convincing go and read Terry's Journal. It really is inspiring.

"If you’ve given a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope."
- Terry Fox

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Where were you when the planes hit the Towers?

Everyone remembers where they were and what they were during when the planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. It is like a moment preserved in a fracture of time, a moment when everything changed.

I have a unique story of that day. I was in Canmore Alberta, helping a friend of a friend clean up thier house to sell it. We turned on the TV and was shocked (as I am sure everyone was) as we watched the news unfold. It was hard to get any real work done that day (although we did), it was difficult to see how any kind of mundane house work could be even remotely important anymore.

That morning I spoke to someone working in a building in downtown New York. She was aware something was going on but due to working in a call centre she had not been allowed to leave since her shift started and didn't know what had happened. So I had the odd experience of relaying the heartbreaking news of what had happened to someone actually in New York. We talked for almost an hour.

Where were you?

Friday, September 09, 2005


Just stop and look at this girl. Her first day as a Crossing Patrol Guard is also her first DOUBLE DIGIT BIRTHDAY. Yes, Raven is 10 years old. The years are flying by, I guess that's life... but days like this make me see it even more.

Happy Birthday Princess!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Equality and Justice under the Law for EVERYONE.

I must admit I am concerned about the prospect of allowing Islamic Law greater influence over family disputes here in Canada. Canadian laws protect families and ensure the rights of children and those of both parents are intact through the process of mediation, custody and divorce.

The Shari'ah does not. Its gender based custody and divorce laws leave the woman with frighteningly little or no rights at all, depending on its interpretation.

Divorcing, as it is understood in the Shari’ah, occurs when the husband says to his wife "I divorce you" three times, although some Muslim scholars argue once is enough. The wife only has this right if it was specifically written into the marriage contract. This act is thought to effectively and irrevocably sever the marriage, however, if a divorce is considered revocable for whatever reason the husband may resume marital relations with his wife without her consent. If the divorce is legally final the woman is not allowed to be with another man for a period of time long enough to ascertain if she is pregnant. The husband is permitted to detain his former wife until this period of time ends (or until the baby is born, if she is pregnant).

Under Shari'ah, a father is the natural guardian of his children and their property, and if a father cannot accept this responsibility custody is awarded to the closest male relative of the father. The Shari'ah allows a mother to maintain custody of her children until they reach the age of custodial transfer (usually between 7-9 years) ONLY IF she meets all the requirements of a female guardian. In some cases a mother's visitation after this time is allowed only with written permission from the father.

In addition to the above matters, what about other family related issues found within the Shari'ah, like Female Circumcision, pre-arranged child marriages, temporary marriages, polygamy, property rights, death penalties (or stoning of women) for marital offences? How will these varied traditions fit with the expectations of our modern society and our laws? I am skeptical at this time that the inclusion of even some elements of the Shari’ah can successfully be good for women living in Canada.

The Noble Qur'an and Hadith provide the basis of tradition and direction found within the Shari'ah and it is defined by many schools of thought throughout Islam in differing ways. But it is not a modern law (I am sure some would argue this is the point) and it can not be made inclusive, equitable or gender neutral by it’s interpretation. Therefore it is not appropriate to inflict upon Canadian citizens, Muslim or not. We need to protect the rights of Canadians, not allow our system to bring them harm through discrimination, gender based persecution or obsolete religious laws.

Premier Dalton McGuinty says the "the rights of women will not be compromised" if Ontario becomes the first western jurisdiction to allow the Shari’ah in settling civil and marital disputes.

My question, if he honestly believes this, is simply "How?"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What Lies Beneath

"This city has been destroyed, completely destroyed."
- W. J. Riley, New Orleans Police Official

I have avoided the topic of New Orleans because I have been uncomfortable with the situation. It’s not the actual storm damage that has shocked me, but rather how quickly New Orleans, a major american city, descended into the depths of hell. People, instead of coming together to help each other face the crisis, turned against each other. In a time of severe tribulation society broke down and we became our own worst enemies. I’m not sure how to react to that.

People shooting rescuers, raping children, looting, setting fires, killing... killing babies! The disabled and elderly dying in their wheelchairs, Doctors watching patients dying within meters of equipment that could normally save their lives...

It’s a nightmare of biblically epic proportions.

All the things we take for granted – clean water, food supplies, shelter, sanitation, civil order, police and fire departments, protection of property and self, communication, transportation, electricity, hospitals, burying your dead... it’s all gone. Like Pompeii, nature has laid waste to New Orleans.

I have problems wrapping my head around the obscene monstrosity of it all – I mean, do you know what it means to lose New Orleans?

My fear is that the worst has yet to come. They say there are thousands of bloated, decomposing bodies in the water. Thousands! They say it will take months to drain the water. Months! No one knows how long all the repairs will actually take, although I have heard estimates of a year or more and Bill Clinton suggested creating job incentives for all the people who have been forced to relocate. Bush said "recovery is going to take years." Years!

Questions swim in my head. Mostly all begin with "Why."

Like, why has it taken so very long for aid to come to people who live in one of richest countries in the world? Why didn’t some people leave (socio-economic arguments aside here, some people chose to stay). And why did the government abandon those who couldn’t leave themselves – like the poor and the people in the hospitals? Why are these people still there even now?

Why, in a city famed for its tolerance, inclusion and community, did the people so easily turn against each other?

What does that say about all of us that share the same western culture? Do we know who we are? Did we know who New Orleans was? Do we know what we would do, faced with the same forces of destruction? Are we sure?

Sure they will rebuild and fix New Orleans, eventually, and it may even be the promised new and improved version of itself. But it will forever be a changed city, there’s no way to avoid that. We will all be changed.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Who do you love?

Tell someone you love them.

A simple challenge? Telling someone you love them can be a daunting prospect; both the hardest and the easiest thing to say.

Many of us find it difficult to tell those we care for exactly how we feel about them. We have all sorts of excuses and reasons why not to do it, we think we have a lifetime of chances to say it or we think that our love is implied by our actions (which often it is). It's not reflective of the measure of our love, it's just not easy for everyone. Telling your father, your brother, or your best friend that you love them might seem a little awkward, but the satisfaction of having done so is very rewarding.

So that's my challenge: Think about someone who has come to mean a lot to you. Pick up the phone, write a heartfelt note or visit, but tell them what they mean to you. For no reason other than you do love them and you would want them to know that if anything ever happened.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Birthday Alberta!