Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vancouver 2010 ~ My Favourite Things

WOW! Canada has had a fantastic Olympics!! Not only have we won a record amount of medals…..especially those gold ones…..we have brought the world to Vancouver to check things out the “Canadian way.” There are so many things I have loved about the Olympics. Here is my partial list:

  • The daily debriefing in the hallway each morning at work as we all discussed the previous evening’s Olympic performances. Especially Carm’s colour commentary of the curling. I think the St. Patrick staff is now ready to take on new jobs as commentators for TSN (That’s the Canadian equivalent of ESPN)

  • Living the Olympics vicariously through my cousin Jane’s face book page. Jane headed out to Whistler a life time ago and we lost touch. Through the wonders of Face book we have been reunited just in time for me to see the Olympics close up and personal through her photos of the locals celebrating the Olympic Spirit at Whistler.Way to go Jane (and Ged and Jack!!)

  • Keeping with John Montgomery (Did I mention I LOVE that guy) I love his Olympic story. Eight years ago he decided he wanted to go to the Olympics and tried to find a sport he was good at. He tried speed skating. After one practice he knew speed skating wasn’t for him so next he tried the skeleton. (that small little sled thing where you go speeding down the course 100+ kilometres an hour head first) Who would have guessed two Olympics later he would be winning a gold medal?

  • Another guy that caught my fancy was Dr. Greg Wells. He was the doctor that explained in CSI fashion the pounding the athlete’s bodies take with each particular event. Since I needed ACL repair surgery from my own skiing accident some years back, my knee was sore all over again when he showed how Alex Bilodeau raced those moguls. Check out the Super Bodies collection of videos.

  • Watching the Olympics with Jen made for interesting conversation. She informed me 400,000 condoms – 14 per athlete - were available at the Vancouver Olympics. In Torino there were only 40,000 and there weren’t enough. Those athletes certainly have cardiovascular endurance.

  • Fashion… had to get to Zeller’s early to get your own pair of red Olympic mittens. And those America outfits? What were they about? A big advertisement for Ralph Lauren on an snow suit that looked like someone threw up stars all over it?

  • Watching on TV became an athletic endeavour. All of the shouting and jumping up and down as we reacted to our wins as well as the crashes and falls….OW!!!

  • Through the Olympics I came across a new internet person (character) I am fascinated with. Josh Rimer posted on You Tube a fabulous video trying to reconnect a lost camcorder with its American owner. You have to check it out. Another Canadian stereotype confirmed, we really are nice people, eh?

  • A great way to end the Olympics with a tribute to Vancouver and all of its international guests for the last 17 days.

This internet thing tells me there are lots of people reading this blog…..leave a comment…let me know what you're thinking…what was YOUR favourite Vancouver 2010 Olympic moment?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Summit Series

I am sitting with Terry watching the Canada-Russia game.

The pre-game talking heads described vividly the rivalry between the two countries. As Canadians we all believe it is "our game." The first recorded history of our game was described as occuring in Kingston, Ontario where Jennifer now lives. It was first written about in the early 1800's by Lord Haliburton so the Europeans back home could learn how people actually pass their time in the great cold barrens of the new world called Canada. Haliburton named after this man is where our cottage is located. Again I am able to relate our cottage to another blog entry, even in the middle of winter, in the middle of the Olympics...which is where I was actually heading when I first started writing this.

Many people are comparing tonight's game to that game in 1972.

Any Canadian who is old enough can tell you exactly where they were on September 28th 1972. I was in the library at Strathcona Senior Public School (grade 7) where they crammed all of us in to watch the final game between Canada and Russia in the Summit Series. I can still hear Foster Hewett yell "Henderson has scored for Canada!" This was a hockey series which included so many emotions for so many hockey fans and Canadians who weren't hockey fans (if such a person actually exists)

Everyone assumed the Russian national team coming to play an all-star team of CanadianNHL players would be interesting, but Canada would not have any trouble winning. The trouble was, this was before the time of the internet or other communication "behind the iron curtain." Communism was some dark unknown thing but we were confident they certainly could not play hockey as well as we did. We were wrong.

Game Results Canada Wins Series 4-3-1
Game 1 USSR 7 - Canada 3
Game 2 Canada 4 - USSR 1
Game 3 Canada 4 - USSR 4
Game 4 USSR 5 - Canada 3
Game 5 USSR 5 - Canada 4
Game 6 Canada 3 - USSR 2
Game 7 Canada 4 - USSR 3
Game 8 Canada 6 - USSR 5

While we obviously eventually won the series we came to realize hockey was no longer just our game.

It took more lessons to really understand.

Nagano, 1998 -professionals were allowed to participate in the Olympics. We believed a medal (certainly a gold medal) would be an easy thing to attain for Canada. We were wrong....again. A lacklustre performance and once again underestimating our opponents meant we lost in the Bronze medal game to Finland. The next Olympics in Utah 2002 we got our revenge by beating the host country's team -USA!

This history lesson is really just reminiscing about how hockey has changed so much during my life time. Once viewed as the ultimate Canadian past time, it has emerged as a game played around the world (even in Dubai). There are just as many players registered for hockey in the US (465,975) as there as in Canada (499,695).

OK.....enough of the statistics. ...although statistics are an important part of our game of hockey. The stereotypical Canadian is polite at all times, we never brag or make our guests uncomfortable..... except tonight in Vancouver!! YES! We are going to win this game against the Russians and we ARE going to win gold Sunday night against those braggart Americans!!

Sorry if I offended any American or Russian readers out there. You know I am Canadian, eh?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

King Tut

Several weeks ago Jennifer called me to make arrangements to pick her up in Toronto for a visit home during Reading Week. She also mentioned she had an assignment to finish for one of her Art History courses which meant a visit to an art gallery of some repute. Apparently in previous years the professor took the class to the art gallery in Ottawa but budget cutbacks meant the students were on their own to visit a suitable art gallery. Jen and I decided the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) qualified for her assignment and we made a date to attend today. I even put the event in my calendar in pen which meant there was no way we could change our plans…… even if Jennifer did get invited to Melissa’s birthday party in Kingston.

Jen took the bus from Kingston to Toronto; I drove from St. Catharines to Toronto. We met at exactly the same time. The wonders of texting each other along the way made it so easy to meet up without any stress. We then walked a few blocks to a great Thai restaurant and then headed to the AGO.

Jen’s assignment had to do with comparing three pieces of modern art. As we headed to the contemporary art section and looked around with lost faces, a docent approached Jen and asked if she needed help. She looked at her assignment sheet and said she had already helped three people today with the same assignment. Who knew so many students from Queens were actually going to go to Toronto to finish this assignment instead of a gallery in Mexico or some other country with warm weather? The docent told us exactly where to go (4th floor) and to come back if we needed any help. I wanted to ask her to just write the assignment for Jen but Jen said I was embarrassing her (once again)

Jen found the appropriate art work and took notes while I found the washroom and took pictures of the CN tower and other scenery through the window of the stairwell. (Photos in the art gallery were not allowed, but check my facebook page for the pics)

Jen said she had all of the info required so we got in the line for the King Tut exhibit. We waited and waited and after about 40 minutes finally got admitted to the exhibit…. which allowed no photography. It was a great exhibit in spite of the fact it was so crowded including crying babies.

I was very impressed with the exhibit but the most philosophic part was the reason why King Tut had become so famous. Because he died so young and so unexpectantly, tomb robbers did not know where his tomb was and therefore his tomb was left in tact until discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. Jen and I were also impressed it was Lord Carnarvon supporting Carter in his dig. (Carnarvon is a little town just south of where I cottage is located, named after Lord Carnarvon.) No matter where I go, there is always some connection to our cottage…………..

A pharaoh that was really insignificant during his time became the best known pharaoh 3000 years later. Hmmmmmmm…maybe there is hope for me to be important, if I am willing to wait 3000 years.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reading Week.......or, Jennifer and the Jessicas

It is that time again. Reading Week. University students are given a week off from classes to get caught up on assignments and readings, hence the name Reading Week. In all of my university days as well as the time my kids have been in school, I have yet to meet one student who actually read during reading week.

I distinctly remember my reading week trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That was the cool place to be at the time. I went to Florida with one girlfriend and when I got there I met almost my entire University there. Everyone had flocked to the shores of the Atlantic for one wild week. I thought it was wild at the time but it definitely was not a “Girls Gone Wild” week. Honest.

Kaitlin has just left today for the Dominican. It is hard to believe she will be staying in a five star, all-inclusive resort while a mere hundred miles or so away in Haiti there are millions of people living destitute. This is definitely an example of our haves and have not world.

I will be picking up Jennifer at the bus station on Saturday morning. We have agreed to meet downtown Toronto and then take a trip to the AGO, (the Art Gallery of Ontario). There is currently a King Tut exhibition going on. I remember the excitement of King Tut his last visit to Toronto in the late ‘70’s. There was King Tut mania. Steve Martin even had a hit song on the radio.

On Monday the real excitement of reading week will begin with the arrival of the Jessicas. As you may recall I mentioned in an earlier blog about how Jennifer met the Jessicas while going to school in England and they made her year. Once she met the Jessicas she suddenly transformed from homesick Jen to party animal Jen. They spent the year travelling across Europe and apparently doing some studying. I am definitely looking forward to officially meeting the Jessicas. The trio have become known to me as “Jennifer and the Jessicas”, they just belong together.

After Jennifer returned from England and moved officially to Kingston to finish her degree at Queen’s, she rented a house right across the street from campus. Jennifer and the Jessicas became room mates. After a year of living with the Jessicas, Jennifer decided she wanted to stay friends with them so she moved out on her own. Again, I don’t know details but I have learned not to ask. I just know the Jessicas are moving in here with me for two days and I am waiting with great anticipation. What will they do here in the Niagara Region that could possibly compare to trips south, or for that matter, travels across Europe? What about food? (Always the mother worried about what they will eat) I wonder what they have in mind for activities? I am sure there will be much to tell about their stay with us. Stay tuned………

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Olympics

Here it is, February 12th. We have been waiting for this date for so long. The beginning of the Olympics……back again in CANADA!!! As I type this there is less than an hour before the opening ceremonies begin.

Terry and I went to see the Olympic torch as it came through St. Catharines just before Christmas. It was a great community event. It was a cold, sunny Sunday down in Market Square. There was lots of music and fun and excitement about the arrival of the torch.

We held our own torch relay today at school. One of our grade eight graduates from last year was lucky enough to have been selected as a torch runner and he brought his torch for us all to see. He did a great job letting all of our kids realize how thrilling the moment was. His torch carried a flame that originally came from Greece and now, tonight in less than two hours it is going to light the cauldron at BC Place in Vancouver.

There is so much speculation about tonight’s cauldron lighting. Who is it going to be? Many people are saying Wayne Gretzky. Some people are suggesting Nancy Green, former gold medal winner for skiing and a BC native. There is also lots of talk that Terry Fox in the form of a hologram will some how light the cauldron.

My former rowing coach, “Swede,” is a former Olympian (men’s heavy 8 rowing, Montreal ’76.) Swede was able to take part in the rehearsal of the opening ceremonies yesterday. He had to sign a confidentiality agreement to keep the opening ceremony secret but he did post on his facebook page there will be lots of surprises and we will be proud to be Canadians!!

Right now I am driving Terry crazy once more with the TV remote. I keep flipping between the Canadian and the American channels broadcasting the “pre-show”. It is interesting to see the differences between how the two countries cover the event.

I have found a video blog of a guy who is working for NBC as part of the Olympics. In his blog he records his thoughts about Canada. It is hilarious. Check it out. Make sure you start with Day 1 and work your way through. Does he really think you need to become a mountain man to live in Canada?

Gotta go……have to get my beer and chips ready to take part in the Olympics!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hillcrest Terrace

Greg is our oldest child, our only son.

He just moved into his own apartment as of January 1st. As with all real estate Greg learned the importance of location, location, location…..his place is located directly across from the Beer Store and a ten minute walk from the bars downtown. His place even has a beautiful terrace.

The first week of living there on his own, Greg invited us over for supper. I arrived not really knowing what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. He gave us a quick tour of the place. It was quick because the place is only about 850 square feet, but just perfect for Greg. I was so proud of Greg when I went into the bathroom. Not only did he actually have a shower curtain, he had gone out and purchased matching towels, bath mat and bathroomy things. It actually looked great!

Greg had gone on Kajiji and managed to purchase a number of used items relatively cheap such as an oak dining room table and six matching chairs (perfect for poker Greg said). He also got a love seat from our upstairs neighbours (free to a good home). A new microwave from Grandma at Christmas time, a new bed and “bed in a bag” set from us and he was basically all set.

For supper he served us a stir-fry….with vegetables and everything. He is actually a good cook since the Food Network is his favourite station when there aren’t sports on the TV.

Speaking of TV that was the one thing Greg had to buy new. He already had a 27 inch TV, but that wasn’t enough. Not just any TV would do…… it had to be plasma, LCD mega hertz, high definition whatever….I don’t know all of these new fangled criteria. All I know is it takes up an entire wall of his apartment (55 inches) and the picture is unbelievable! As his mother I lectured him about the waste of money because I thought that was what I was supposed to do.

Did I mention how fabulous the picture looked? I think I am going to move into Greg’s place for the two weeks while the Olympics are on TV.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Jennifer called last night. For those new to this blog she is daughter #2, child #3 (youngest) who is attending Queen’s University in Kingston. She is finishing up her Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Art History. OH….you say, she must be an artistic individual, a student with an artistic flair? Absolutely not! Jennifer is more the pragmatic type. What courses will get me through this B.A. stuff the fastest.

Jen had the opportunity to take her first year of university at a castle in England. Sounds very cool, right? She begged and pleaded to go so far away her first year. I was swept up in the excitement of such an adventure truly wanted for myself , I encouraged her to go. My mother, the one who has the pragmatic genes, thought it was ridiculous. Those that know my mother can hear her say that right now. She warned Jennifer it was too far away to go to school for the first time out of the house.

My mother was right……… always.

The week-end before Thanksgiving (that is October here in Canada) the emails starting flying about how much she hated the castle and couldn’t stand another minute of it. I was away at a conference in Toronto for the week and couldn’t get in touch with her except to read her emails saying she was living in “hell on earth.” What was I to do? There was no way she was coming home. I had told so many people my daughter was attending school in England there was no way I was going to be embarrassed and have her return 4 weeks into this. What would people think? (OK…some things from my mother did rub off on me)

So I did what any insane mother would do. I flew over to England for the week-end. Twenty-six hours actually. Jen met me at the airport. We had a lovely lunch, went to the art gallery in London (they’re all free there) and even witnessed a protest against the Iraq War. We rode the “Eye” so I could see everything in one fell swoop since time was tight and then we took the train to South Sussex to the castle.

I took one look around at Jen’s residence and school. I sat her down and told her she was NOT coming home with me. I told her three things:

1. The castle was not hell on earth but home would be if she came home before finishing her first year.

2. If she came home none of her friends would be there anyway because they were all attending university all around the province and she would be stuck night after night with me.

3. She had to join three clubs or activities in order to meet people

In the end she did stay.

Jen travelled to Rome. Jen traveled to Paris (twice) Jen went to Vimy Ridge for Remembrance Day. Jen went to Scotland. Jen went to Liverpool. Jen spent untold week-ends in London. Jen went to Milan. Jen went to Poland….just because it was only 25 pounds to fly there………..I am sure she did lots of other things mothers just don't need to know about.

What a terrible mother I was to make her stay.

The most important thing Jen did was meet the Jessicas……now there is an interesting story!! Till next time………….there is soooooooo much more to tell!!

The castle pictured really is where Jen went to school Herstmonceux Castle, South Sussex, England

Monday, February 1, 2010

Am I Crazy???

On the week-end I was checking my regular sites on the internet when I discovered I could not access one of my favourite blogs. The site suddenly, inexplicably had password protection! Why did she ban me? Did I leave one too many comments and now she thinks I am a stalker? Did I say something to offend? A woman I have never met and never plan to meet blocked me from her site. What did I do? What could I have done to prevent this? I took this very personally

I blame Terry for me over reacting to this situation. (I have to blame someone….isn’t that why people get married?)

This week-end Terry went away ice fishing with a bunch of guys for the first time. This left me with way too much time on my hands. They drove five hours north, to spend a lot of money to live in a plywood shack on top of the ice. I suggested the guys just rent a room at the Holiday Inn up the street. It would be cheaper, warmer and they wouldn’t have to drive so far to drink lots of beer and tell lies to each other. Also, if they really had to they could stop at the Superstore and buy some fish on the way home.

With Terry away it gave me lots of time to dwell on the fact I could no longer access one of the usual sites I visit each day. My internet routine was totally ruined. I kept checking back onto the site over and over again and each time the computer told me I was “unauthorized.” How could this be?

As it happens, I have connected with the blog writer’s father through the internet as well. I know, it sounds creepy when I say “I met this guy on the internet,” but through one blog, I discovered another and I think Ed and I have developed a friendship, albeit a very distant one as he lives in Germany. We are both educators and parents and we have that in common to comment back and forth a few times a month. No, relax; I am not heading off to Germany any time soon.

I lamented to Ed about not having access to his daughter’s site. Today I came home from work and found an email from Ed. He was gracious enough to supply me with the information I needed and I logged onto my beloved site right away. Can you believe it? There is someone out there saying nasty things about the blog writer and she decided to keep her personal site a little more personal. It had nothing to do with me!!

Suddenly I realized I was being ridiculously paranoid. In fact, as I re-read my own writing today I am tempted to put my own password protection on so people don’t realize how crazy I really am. But then I realize the people that really know me, already recognize I am crazy!