Sunday, 30 September 2012

Abbey the cone-head ...

Abbey is feeling sorry for herself at the moment.  She was spayed on Thursday and gets to wear this lovely cone around her head for five days.  Needless to say, she's not impressed with it.  She's been super needy since Thursday, wanting to cuddle all the time.  In fact, she won't even go to sleep unless her head is resting on my leg which means I've been sleeping on the couch with her for the past few nights.  But, the upside is that I won't have to go through that period of worry when she goes into heat.  In the meantime, Abbey is enjoying the extra cuddles, the hand-feeding and the snoozing on mohair blankets and doonas!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

AFL grand final ...

The AFL (Australian Football League for those non-Australians ... you can get a crash course here) grand final is one of those times of the year when I really do miss home.  Being in Melbourne on the last weekend in September is always a thrill, even if your team is not playing.  The atmosphere in the city is amazing and the talk of 'What are you doing for the grand final?' is almost as persistent as when discussing plans for (the always disappointing) New Years Eve celebrations.  One difference though is that you're always guaranteed a great time for the grand final, regardless of the outcome.  I love watching the pre-match entertainment (Paul Kelly this year), watching the players come onto the ground to warm up and when they finally appear for the game, the roar of the nearly 100,000 strong crowd is phenomenal.

Abbey (the cone head ... more on that later!) enjoys the AFL grand final

This year's game was no exception.  I purchased a finals package on the internet for $15 which allowed us to watch all the finals games live.  We only ended up watching the grand final though and the money was well worth it.   C and I were cheering for Hawthorn, a Melbourne based team, but we had a soft spot for the Sydney ruckman Mike Pike (who names their child with rhyming names?!) who is a Canadian newcomer to the game.  The game was incredibly close which made it all the easier to stay up until 1.30am to watch the game and the presentations afterwards.  I always knew that I'd feel a pang of homesickness watching the grand final but it quickly passed and I felt happy and proud to share my country's game with C and Abbey.  Next year, I plan to subscribe to the online service for the whole season so I can get a hit of Australian football every week.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The (running) commute ...

Downtown Calgary in the distance

 Since I've been back at work, C and I have been experimenting with one car.  It's worked pretty well since our workplaces are relatively close to one another and C has been biking to work regularly.  But now that the weather is getting cooler (especially in the mornings), C is winding down the biking and we've been driving to work together.  Which makes things tricky in the afternoons since I like to either leave work super early (3.30pm) or late (6.30pm) to beat the traffic.  So, on days that C has needed the car, I've been running home!  I don't know why I didn't look into it earlier because I am absolutely loving it.  I can leave work whenever I want, knowing that I'm not going to get stuck in traffic and I'm also arriving home with my daily workout complete!  The run is about 9 kilometres and the first half is all through parkland, high up on a cliff above the Elbow River, which has been particularly pretty with the changing colours of the trees.  The second half is along a busy road but I like to people watch as I run (as well as feeling a little smug that I'm passing all those people sitting in traffic!)  It feels so light and free to run home without being laden down by a laptop, iPad, wallet etc.  Just me, my house keys, some music and a small bottle of water.  The technology-free evenings have also been a bonus.  I think I'll be able to continue doing this a couple of times a week all year long (providing of course that the bitter winter temperatures and snow don't put me off) which will do wonders for both my physical and mental health.

Beautiful autumn colours

Elbow River

Looking down towards the Sandy Beach area

(Just this week though we've decided to purchase a 'new' car as an opportunity came up for us to purchase C's dad's car.  It arrives next week!)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Pretty autumn (fall) colours ...

I love autumn.  I love the cool mornings, warm afternoons and cool evenings.  I love the smell in the air, all crisp and fresh.  I love the sound of the falling leaves when you walk over them and even when they fall from the trees (although that same sound and sight initially terrified Abbey!)  I especially love the colours and the beauty of the trees at this time of the year.  On the weekend, I went on a few walks and runs around the Bow river as well as a cycle trip downtown to the gym, all with my camera.  Here are a few of the pretty photos I've taken of the autumn colours ...

(Whilst I do love autumn, this year I'm becoming slightly apprehensive as the season progresses because I know I'm getting closer to my first Canadian winter and I know it's going to be  C O L D!!)

Monday, 24 September 2012

iPad mania ...

Songza, my new favourite app

This year, the school I'm working at is running an iPad pilot program ... with the Grade 4 classes.  That means that every single girl in Grade 4 gets a brand spanking new iPad of her own for the year.  Can you imagine the excitement level in my class when I told them that they would be getting their own iPad?  Yes, the roof just about flew off.  Ever since then, I've been fielding hundreds of questions a day about the iPads.  On Friday afternoon, we had the education guy from Apple come to run a staff professional development session about how we can use them (all teachers have iPads and MacBooks ... cool, right?)  It was exciting, kind of like the room was filled with kids, not mature adults.  The app I was most excited about was one for me, not the kids ... Songza.  If you like music and you don't have this app, you need it.  Now.  It's free.  As you can see from the above screen shot, the concierge offers you a choice of music for different activities you might be doing on a Saturday evening.  Once you've chosen an activity, it gives you another selection of the type of music you might like then pumps out a random playlist of that kind of music.  Awesome.  I'm addicted.  Oh, and I did learn a ton of cool stuff to do with the kids as well!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Calgary Westie Walk ...

Abbey is not sure about this other Westie sniffing her butt

Last Sunday morning was the annual Calgary Westie Walk held at Confederation Park, just a few minutes north from our place.  I headed along with a freshly brushed Abbey, not sure what to expect.  At first, I was slightly concerned about finding the group since Confederation Park is huge.  I shouldn't have worried because I simply joined the hordes of people with Westies entering the park.  I arrived and was surprised to see how many Westies there were ... 88 in total, I later heard!  Abbey's first reaction was to race off and play with as many of the other Westies as she could but she quickly realised how many people and dogs were there and got a little overwhelmed by it all, so she stuck by my side for most of the time, venturing out occasionally to say hello to a fellow highlander.  After 45 minutes of play time, the walk began and we all followed a bagpiper as she wandered through the park for about 15 minutes (I was expecting the actual walk part to be a little longer!) and gathered back at the baseball diamond.  The next scheduled activity was the Westie Games ... two different events that you could 'race' in.  Abbey and I tried the 'hotdog bob' but Abbey decided that no matter how tasty the 'teaser hotdog' was, she wasn't going to stick her mouth in the water to retrieve the pieces!  I declined to enter her in the next event which involved putting her inside a box and then chasing after a toy once the box opened.  Some people were shoving their reluctant dogs into the box and I didn't want to traumatise Abbey, so we simply watched.  Not long afterwards, I decided I'd had enough gallivanting around with other Westie owners so Abbey and I headed home where she, exhausted by all the stimulation that comes with hanging out with 87 other Westies, fell promptly asleep.

88 Westies ...

... including some who dressed up for the event

Abbey just loved rolling in the grass

Following the piper around the park

Lovely day for a stroll in the park

The piper at the end  of the walk

Getting ready for the hotdog bob

One of the activities in the Westie Games ...

... and they're off, chasing the 'rabbit'

 These two did not give up chasing the toy ... they ran around the whole field 

Abbey - tired and satisfied by the end of the morning

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Abbey loves her walking group ...

Now that I'm back at work, Abbey has re-joined the dog walking group that she loves so much.  Each day, she gets picked up by Ryan from All Paws In and goes to play in one of Calgary's off-leash parks. Most days she is too tired to go for another walk in the evening when I get home, she is just happy to snuggle on the couch while C and I read.  Here is a photo that Ryan took this week ... I just love how happy and satisfied Abbey looks!

Abbey with her pals (photo courtesy of Ryan at All Paws In)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Okanagon photos ...

Since I've been working and studying so much lately, I haven't had much of a chance to do anything interesting, let alone find fun things to blog about.  So, instead of just not blogging (I get withdrawals!), here are some random photos (that I haven't shared before) of the Okanagon trip that C and I took in October.  Enjoy ...

World famous?!

Old truck at See Ya Later ranch

Head of Security at Ruby Tuesday winery

Up close picture of the Head of Security

Check out the size of this blackberry!!  (quite possibly the best tasting blackberry EVER)

More icecream at Dutchman Dairy ... and Abbey finally gets the courage to meet a calf

On the road again ... and Abbey decides that sitting in the passenger seat isn't good enough for her!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Working, studying, working, studying ...

I don't know how people manage to study for their Masters while working full time and having children at home.  I'm struggling at the moment to fit in just the study and the full time work.  I suppose it doesn't help that it's the beginning of the school year and I'm working 10-11 hour days trying to get to know a new bunch of kids as well as a new curriculum as well as learning how to use iPads in the classroom.  So, for the next month, I'll be working hard on school related work during the week and on the weekend, I'll be hitting the books for my second last Masters unit.  Already, I'm planning what I might do once I reclaim weekends on 12 October ... sleeping in, reading the newspaper, long walks, drinking too much wine and heading out to the mountains, but until then, this is my view on the weekends ...

(Can you tell that I'm loving experimenting with Instagram at the moment?  It's a great procrastination tool!)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Montreal bagels ...

Montreal bagel shop

C has been in Montreal this week (for the World Lottery Conference of all things!) and he made sure that he had time to duck into the above bagel shop to bring home some sesame bagels for me to enjoy.  And enjoy I have been!  My favourite topping is cream cheese and some of the lovely Okanagon strawberry jam that we picked up last month.  C also bought me back a jar of maple butter (whipped maple syrup) which I plan to sample on a bagel some time this weekend as a mid-study pick me up.  By the end of this weekend, I'll be all bagel-ed out I'm sure!

Montreal bagels with cream cheese and Okanagon strawberry jam (and my first ever Instagram photo!)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Canmore Rocky Mountain 10km race ...

What a spectacular location for a race! (photo courtesy of Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon)

This race had been a long time coming for me.  I first entered it in 2010 but was unable to participate since I was on Salt Spring Island at the time.  I entered again this year, hoping to run the half marathon, but lack of training over the summer led me to drop back to the 10km.  It was worth the wait.  The course involved some running through the town of Canmore and on some lovely trails through the woods and along the river.  All with the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the background.  I felt pretty confident going into this race because, despite lack of training, I feel like I'm getting my race plan fine-tuned each time I run.  At the start of the race, I checked my watch to set my pace and set out to enjoy the run and the scenery.  At the 5km mark, I started to speed up and was thrilled to finish with a PB of 53.17 minutes.  It was probably the biggest race I've done, with over 907 people competing in the three events (half marathon, 10km and 5km).  There were 160 people in my gender-age category and I was stoked to finish 27th out of that group.  The run was just so much fun and the scenery and atmosphere were wonderful ... I'll definitely be signing up for next year!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Car2go ...

Signing in

Share cars have arrived in Calgary!  A new company, car2go, began business just a few months ago in Calgary.  The basic concept is that, once you have registered, you can find a car, jump in it, drive where you need to go, park it and leave it.  There is no designated parking spot for the share cars but you're not allowed to park it outside the 'home area.'  C and I were very keen to give the new system a try, especially since the cars are the little Smart cars.  After getting a free membership, which came with 30 free minutes, we gave it a whirl on Friday night.  We wanted to go out for dinner and drinks but didn't necessarily want to drive home.  So, we jumped in a car2go (weird feeling being in a car that small!) just a few blocks from our place, went to busy 17th Ave for dinner (where, as an aside, we had an amazing dinner at Farm).  We then walked to a bar for drinks before calling it a night.  C hadn't drunk that much, so we decided to find a car2go as opposed to jump in a cab.  There was one less than a block away and we were home within 10 minutes.  Since you can park the car pretty much anywhere, we parked outside our house and nearly 24 hours later, it was still there before someone else took advantage of this great new share car system!

Still there nearly 24 hours later!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Picklejar Lakes ...

On the way up ...

Autumn (fall) is definitely on its way in Calgary.  The mornings are starting to get a little chillier, the sun goes down earlier and some of the leaves on the trees have started to fall.  Knowing that we don't have so many warm days left spurred us on last weekend to get out to the mountains for a hike.  It seemed that everyone else had the same idea because the Trans Canada highway was like a car park on the way to the mountains.  It took forever to get there but once we were there, everyone was keen to hit the trail.  The hike we'd chosen was Picklejar Lakes, one that I'd hiked last year, albeit earlier in the season when the wildflowers were still out.  My favourite thing about this hike is that there is always something to look at (I get a little bored when the whole hike is in the forest) ... everywhere you turn, there is a stunning view to stop and enjoy.  Parts of the hike were exposed and we nearly got blown off the trail with the strong chilly winds, but luckily the uphill climb kept us warm.  The endpoint of the hike is three lakes, all a short walk from one another.  We ate lunch at the second lake, which is slightly less impressive than the third lake, however we'd heard reports from other hikers that it was quite windy at the last lake ... we sacrificed the view by opting to keep warm while we ate.  Still, it was a quick lunch and we headed back down the trail, warming up in the afternoon sun as we went.

First glimpse of the first lake

Lunch view 1

Lunch view 2

This rock was meant for taking photographs on!

Heading back down in the late afternoon sunshine

Friday, 7 September 2012

Doin' the Dino Dash ...

The 'Dino', the mascot of the U of C's sports teams

This weekend, I'll be doing the 10 kilometre race at the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon event in Canmore, just inside the Rocky Mountains.  I thought it might be fun to do a 5 kilometre race before then, so I signed up for the Dino Dash which was held on Saturday at the University of Calgary.  I haven't run consistently over the summer and in the past two weeks, I'd only done one run, so I wasn't really prepared for the race.  I didn't even have a race plan, not having done a 5km before and unsure about how fast I could realistically run.  So, I set myself a target of finishing in under 30 minutes and off I went.  Wow.  The pace was cracking from the start and for the first kilometre I had a mental debate with myself, 'Could I maintain this pace?' or 'Should I slow down?'  I ended up dropping my pace a little which meant I could maintain it and still get a little faster at the end.  But, it was fast considering I hadn't done much training and when I came into the athletic track (which kind of felt like the Olympics, finishing with a lap of the track!), I faded and struggled to maintain my pace, crossing the finish line in 25 minutes and searching around for a rubbish bin in case I needed to spew.  But, despite that, the Dino Dash was a lot of fun and I'll definitely be entering it again next year!  (After I'd finished writing this, the results were published and I was thrilled to see that I won my age/gender group!)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Early morning in Osoyoos ...

Early morning at Osoyoos Lake

Each morning in Osoyoos, I took Abbey for a walk along the edge of the lake.  Early morning is always such a peaceful time of day and each morning I had interesting conversations with other dog owners and locals.  Along one particular stretch of the lake, Abbey was especially keen to get down to the water edge.  At first, I was unsure of why that might be and then I saw the reason ... lots and lots of dead salmon (all fairly big) washed up on the shoreline.  It's salmon spawning season and these salmon had come all the way from the Pacific Ocean, spawned and then died.  And Abbey thought that it might be fun to roll in them.  But, despite the cruel temptations of the masses of dead fish, each morning Abbey and I enjoyed the early morning stillness of Osoyoos!

Dead salmon