Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier

When I first visited Ottawa (about nine years ago) I had an entire day to myself. I was staying with a friend who lived along the Rideau Canal but he had to work so I set off to explore Ottawa, walking along the Canal (beautiful, btw) until I eventually got to the end by the Locks and then headed up towards the Parliament Buildings. Between that point and where I was going I came across the National War Memorial and of course, the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier, who had been buried there just the year before (repatriated home from the Vimy Ridge burial grounds in France).

When I came upon the Tomb I was ill prepared for the feelings that overcame me; feelings that ran the gamut from sorrow to thankfulness and finally to brotherhood and kinship. I sat beside his Tomb for a couple of hours, just sitting and thinking about who this person must have been and what his life meant - both at the time he gave it for our country and now, to me (to all of us really).

I could not visit Ottawa without visiting this old soldier again. He may not have a name and we may not ever really know who he is but we do know that he gave us everything in the hopes that we would continue to live free in this world as Canadians. I owe him everything.

Monday, August 30, 2010

His Inner Cowboy

"There is no try, only do."

Wes spent this past weekend with a friend north of Edmonton. They were supposed to do a three day trail ride so Wes went a day early to learn how to ride a horse. We'd been on a couple of rides before - hour long rides - but really he'd never ridden independently.

The weather ended up preventing the three day ride so instead they took the horses to the Gymkhana in Josephburg. Wes and his friend competed in the Intermediate 15-17 yr old division, in events that included barrel racing, pole bending, flag race and something called a keyhole race.

Did I mention he learnt to ride three days before that?

He came home with 3 ribbons - placing second in two events and third in another. He's quite pleased with himself and I think he might be hooked on the whole equine sport thing. Just goes to show you never know what you can do until you actually try!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Was Here

I remember once when I used to take the bus I was coming home from work on a particularly full bus - people were crammed so close together but everyone was ignoring everyone else. I remember looking at my patch of window, staring out at the traffic (also crammed together) and feeling strangely ... alone. I wanted to reach out and write in the condensation on the window I WAS HERE.

When I was a kid, to be a smartass, I liked to write "Kilroy was here" on various surfaces. But years later I realize the commonalities. I do want to leave my mark on the world... and some might suggest that I have, or that I will, but really in 1000 years (or more) what will I mean to anyone?

Kilroy (and Allie) was here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brave Battalion

Spent the afternoon at the Canadian War Museum today. I found it profoundly moving. I didn't have time to find all of the medal sets there from my unit (16th Battalion, Canadian Scottish) and since Piper Richardson's, Pte Milne's and LCol Peck's VC are there I might go back tomorrow.

EDIT: I did go back to the museum but was disappointed to discover that the medal sets, while part of the collection, were not on display. They were actually locked in the vault which apparently needs two people with two different keys to open (similar to a nuclear launch). This intrigued me to learn but the day I went back the other person had called in sick so there was no way for me to view these medals. I will have to make an appointment to come back next time I am in Ottawa.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

There are snails in my belly

I pursuit of my goal of eating five new foods this summer I have thus far tried camel, boar and today, escargot. I need some suggestions on what to try next as I am running out of summer. It should be foods that I could actually eat in Canada and I'd prefer no one suggest bugs. The snails were hard enough for me to wrap my head around, even covered in cheese!

Assuming that I have eaten all the regular western diet foods (Canadian and British), I've compiled a list of meats I've had already: Elk, Bison, Venison, Caribou, Moose, Emu, Ostrich, Llama, Alligator, Shark, Lamb, Mutton, Rabbit, Squid, Octopus, Goat, Duck and Pheasant. There was also a cat "incident," but I don't usually talk about that.

I usually am quite interested in trying anything new at least once, so don't be afraid to suggest more than two things.

Friday, August 13, 2010


We have arrived in Ottawa and had a great day yesterday visiting the Parliament Buildings and then a wonderful evening out with friends at a place called Sweetgrass in the Market area. I had the best buffalo there that I have ever had in my life! Very good.

I am taking pictures with both the camera and my iPhone (with the Hipstamatic App which is responsible for the affect you see above). I have started loading the iPhone pics to my flickr page. You can check them out here.

Might be Time for a Diet...

Duncan said today "My cat might need to go on a diet. She just asked me to bring her Solo and the Wookie..."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tonight's the Night!

Earth has entered the debris from comet Swift-Tuttle, meaning the annual Perseid meteor shower - the best shower of the year - is upon us. August 12th (tonight) is the peak night of the shower where observers (best to be outside of the city if possible) could witness between 60 - 100 Perseids per hour. Friday and Saturday should offer good opportunities for viewing as well.

Also in the sky tonight (at sundown) will be Venus, Saturn, Mars and the crescent Moon in a tight conjunction in the western sky - AND if you stay up late into Friday morning there are two International Space Station passes over Edmonton to watch. The first flyby happens at 3:54am (look SSE) and the second at 5:26am (look WSW). The ISS is quite bright and will take about 2 minutes to cross the sky.

Tonight has a lot of promise if the skies stay clear. I suggest getting out of the city - Elk Island would be perfect but there is no need to go so far.

Other things to do - Listen to the meteors on radar, check out pictures from people more talented than I and watch NASA's Fireball Cam.


Biking in Edmonton?

Recently I've witnessed several close calls with bikes in traffic, mostly related to bikes not going fast enough and people trying to get around them in their vehicles. It frustrates me and scares me.

I have a beautiful bike that I love, but it has sat in my basement for almost the entire time I've been in Edmonton because the drivers here scare me (as a driver myself sometimes the cyclist's scare me too). The roads are not bike friendly, yet it is against the law to ride on the sidewalks. To me it almost seems like a battle between rider and driver.

Today on twitter I saw Michael Janz pass along a link for the Canadian Cycling Association CanBike 2 Course being held in Edmonton in September. CanBike 2 is an 18 hour, on-road cycling course that covers both theory of on-road cycling and practical riding techniques. Worth the time for anyone who commutes to work by bike. Click on the link for more info or to register. And stay safe out there.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Send Just Five More Hugs!

As the Edmonton Food Bank nears it's goal of 7500 virtual hugs (that Kraft will turn into 7500 jars of Peanut Butter) I just wanted to ask everyone to please take a minute to send 5, 10, or 15 hugs to aid this process along. Anyone can send hugs, residency doesn't matter.

Send a Bear Hug Now!

To track the progress as the hugs add up, click this link HERE. The Edmonton Food Bank has until this Friday to meet it's goal.

And thank you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Today's Livestrong newsletter broaches the topic of Vitamin D, something that I have been interested in ever since the Cancer Society of Canada suggested that large doses of Vitamin D can help prevent or fight cancer. Other health experts have suggested that Vitamin D deficiencies (hypovitaminosis D) of Canadians could be attributing to our higher instances of auto-immune disorders, like MS.

Vitamin D (commonly referred to as the "sunshine vitamin") plays an important role in both our physical and mental health. The vitamin is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to direct ultraviolet rays from the sun for at least 20 mins at a time. The problem with living in Canada is that we don't get a lot of sunshine and we often don't go out in the sun unprotected (sunscreen hampers this process).

I can't recommend to you how much Vitamin D you should supplement your diet with as I am not an expert, but I can suggest to you to go off and research it yourself to determine what would benefit your lifestyle. Personally, in the winter I will take up to 1000 IU a day and in the summer I often drop it down to 400 IU a day and will sometimes even skip it (because I am a sun worshiper and often forget my sunscreen).

Vitamin D is one of only four vitamins that are stored by the body and as such we have been long taught not to take too much of it. This way of thinking is changing with new research and from what I've come to understand it would actually be difficult to ingest enough Vitamin D to produce toxicity (In healthy adults a sustained intake of 50,000 IU per day can produce toxicity after several months). Currently most information I've found suggests the "Tolerable Upper Limit" of Vitamin D is around 2000 IU per day.

Vitamin D is easy to obtain and take in pill form - I would suggest asking your pharmacist to recommend a trusted brand to you if decide to add a supplement to your diet.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Help Spread the Feeling

This week in Edmonton KRAFT Peanut Butter is gearing up to stock the shelves of the Edmonton Food Bank and you can help!

For every virtual Bear Hug you send (via email), KRAFT will donate a 500g jar of Peanut Butter to Edmonton's Food Bank. You don't have to do anything else. You don't even have to live in Edmonton!

Edmontonians have already started sending their virtual hugs and have until Friday August 13th to send more! At the time of writing this the total was at 2649 jars!

Edmonton’s goal is 7,500 hugs (that's a lot of peanut butter). You can keep an eye on the progress HERE.

For those that prefer a more hands on approach, the Kraft bears Smoothie and Crunchie will be giving out bear hugs at West Edmonton Mall this Saturday (August 14) near the Ice Palace from 11am to 4pm. Just like the emails, for each hug Kraft will donate a jar of peanut butter to Edmonton’s Food Bank.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Let's go to the Market!

This past summer Duncan and I have developed a weekend ritual of hanging out at a Farmer's Market. We walk around the market checking out all the wares and making selections that allow us to support the local economy. Eventually we return home with an armload of locally grown fruits and veggies and sometimes some buffalo or specialty sausage to BBQ. Every trip brings something different.

Normally we go to the City Centre Market but today Duncan suggested we go to the St. Albert Farmer's Market, which happens to be the largest outdoor market in western Canada. With 250 vendor's to choose from you really could find everything here that you might need (except a cool basket to carry it all in). Today we bought some Rosemary Garlic Chicken sausages from Sunworks Farm, an SPCA certified family farm that raises their animals ethically, organically and free range. They were very good!

If you haven't yet been to this market (Saturdays 10am-3pm) I highly recommend it. We will definitely be back.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Today this song is running through my head like my theme song.

I'm heading back to the Food Bank today with my kids to volunteer. I'm both excited and looking forward to it. A lot of really good people work really hard under that roof to help a lot of people. Everyone's motivations for working there are different but they are all genuine and pure. For me it's nice to be in a caring environment for a change. And I really like how happy they are to see me.

And while the circumstances of my having free time at this point aren't optimal, I'm starting to feel like the universe really does have my best interests at heart with it's small and seeming strange twists of fate recently. I'm going with the flow and we'll see where the current takes me!

My wish for a happy Friday for everyone is that they see a place of value for them in their lives - have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Stop, Hammertime!

What does it mean?

Originally found in the 1990 lyrics from MC Hammer's song "Can't Touch This" Hammer sings "Break it down, Stop - Hammertime!" right before he breaks into a dance solo.

According to Yahoo answers, the saying has evolved to mean that "it's time to get busy" or "do something like get to work."

An entry on Urban Dictionary says that Hammer Time is one minute every day that is dedicated to awesomeness. "The official time of Hammer Time has been set by the internet community to 11:42 AM."

My favourite, out of all the explanations I collected, is that this phrase is commonly used right before hitting someone with the Gravity Hammer in Halo 3. Now I want to play Halo so I can get some Hammer Time!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Get out and Make a Difference

Volunteering for Edmonton's Food Bank

This past weekend we volunteered at the Heritage Festival, taking donations for the Edmonton Food Bank. It was nice to have an opportunity to volunteer as a family activity and the people at the food bank are wonderful to be around.

Volunteering has always been a way for me to ensure I can have a positive impact on my community. Even a couple of hours once in a while can make a difference to a local organization and leave you feeling accomplished and needed.

If you don't have an organization that you normally support then I urge you to call 311 in Edmonton to find some opportunities to get out and make a difference.