Sunday, November 25

Switch (Will Smith Style)

Blogger is forcing me to switch sites.  Perhaps Blogger and a combination of my frugality.  Today I reached my 1GB quota of photos I can post on to my blog.  If I want to continue using that account I would have to start paying $2.49/mo for an extra 25 GB of storage.  Trust me, I realize that is a tiny amount for WAY.MORE.STORAGE but it isn't necessary.  It took me 7 years of blogging to hit the 1GB mark so why should I shell out a monthly fee for 25 times the space I need?  I'd pay 10 cents a month for an extra GB of space.  That is my final offer, google.

All that to say:  I'm moving.  To Wordpress.  I hope to see you there.

Christmas Crack

From all the various genes collected across my family tree and the various cultures attached to those genes I've acquired dark Italian hair, pale skin, a flat Scandinavian face and a list of tasty, tasty desserts.  Over the last few years I've taken up making Finnish Coffee Bread (pulla) but this holiday season I decided to force everyone I know to eat genettis.  They are a soft, fluffy and white white white italian "S" shaped cookie with a hint of anise.  The good part about being in Edmonton is that no one has heard of them.  This means, unlike in my hometown, I can bring genettis to a potluck and have people comment about how interesting and different they are or ask for the recipe.  If you bring genettis to a family gathering the Soo they are usually welcomed but definitely not fawned over and almost everyone can name a grandmother than creates a superior version.  Here, my version is the superior version because it is the ONLY version.  Check.

I've so far made 3 batches; a test batch and two (unrelated) potluck batches.  Good thing I went for the test batch.  Tip:  cook them for the whole recommended time.  Apparently (because of all of the baking powder) these are not like regular cookies where you take them out a bit early for extra soft and chewiness.  Well, you can, but apparently uncooked-chewiness is not a pleasant characteristic when applied to this recipe.

Saturday, November 24

One of Those Days

Actually, today had the making to be "one of those days" but isn't turning out so bad.  I had been lazy all week and only climbed once so I was determined to make it to the wall last night.  My turn to drive I bundled myself up and walked to the 5th floor of the parkade where my car hangs out with all the other cars but didn't get very far.  Some flashing lights and a click-click-click when I turned the key and not much else.  Dead battery.  Thankfully physics_dude was amenable to drive and we still got in a good climb and our ritual lemon honey tea at Tim's afterwards but the boost he gave me after was unsuccessful and I started to worry I'd be spending my Saturday fighting with the dealership.

Fortunately I have one of those roadside assistance packages included with the new car so within an hour of calling there was a truck to boost/tow me as needed.  In the end all it needed was a boost (whew) and I learned some helpful car lessons.  I got kudos from the AMA guy for having a full tank of gas (a must with sub zero temps, thanks for teaching me well, pops!).  What I didn't know was the toll it takes on the battery in cold weather when a car only gets taken out sporadically and only for short jaunts at that.  Apparently it doesn't give the battery a chance to re-charge itself.  The AMA dude recommended that to recharge the battery I take Otto for a decent drive to stretch his wheels and make sure that he would start the next time.

Not having anywhere especially far to go I decided to just follow a road I hadn't taken before and have a look around.  On my way back from exercising my car we were about to go through a green when an SUV pulled out across the car in front of me.  Lots of screeching, frantic breaking and a pretty big smash.  It could have been me in the intersection 3 seconds later but Otto made it out unscathed. Stashing my car illegally around the corner I found everyone at the scene mostly shaken but no one had yet called in the accident and there were children in one vehicle so, for the second time in my life, I called 911.  They let me go before the police showed as long as I gave my information for a statement.  So now I make cookies and wait for the po-po to come take a statement about the accident.

The cookies are for a crafts and cookies party for the Edmonton couchsurfing community.  Time to meet some like-minded people :)

Monday, November 19

Serial Host and Other Updates

It has been a while since I updated.  The reason being there are quite a few things I'd like to put out there in the blogosphere but alone each is pretty minor for a while post.  Therefore I will combine into a superpost.

1.  My very small record collection will not be getting any bigger any time soon.  I'll never shake the "hipster" label walking into the local myoozik store asking things like:
Me: Do you know where one could get a record player fixed?
Clerk:  What make and model?
Me:  It's a 1960s telefunken stereo.
Clerk:  Try [local business], just bring it in and they could give you a quote.
Me: is one of those massive stereo cabinets.
*Face palm*  Apparently it is the kind without a rubber-band-thing to be cheaply replaced so the motor is bust.  It is going to cost me more (in money and frustration) to fix this than to buy it.  But I'm attached!

2.  I'm still climbing and still a bit (unintentionally) obnoxious about it.  My three month trial membership has run out and I still find myself there 3-4 times a week.  It is the challenge that drives me.  Without taking photos it isn't easy to explain exactly the differences I'm seeing but there is much more control, my footwork looks like terrified-spastic and a little bit more like the slinky spider I aim to be.  I've still been focused on mainly 5.9 and 5.10 boulder routes but they are smoother and some moves requiring actual upper body strength aren't as impossible as they once were.  Even the slanty walls that I could barely hang still on I can now traverse with moderate effort.  Plus it is fun.  FUN.  That said, I'm in a hand-sloughing phase where my hard-earned calluses are peeling right off (aka:  flappers) and one has been bleeding so I took this evening off  hoping to let it heal enough to climb comfortably.

3.  The lovely ShanWow had her birthday and we celebrated like bosses.  Included in the celebration was our very favourite of desserts:  The Duchess Bakeshop.  We devoured a duchess cake (green marzipan over soft vanilla cake and some fantastic but unidentified jam and icing filling) and a lemon meringue cake.  Made to wait with the cakes before dinner for at least half an hour we may or may not have caved.

4.  Serial host:  I'm now a more experienced member of the couchsurfing community.  Over the last few weeks I've hosted twice (that is 200% the amount I hosted in the previous 27 years).  TWICE!  The first time was a pair of gentlemen, one calgarian one south african, who showed me that even men in their 30s could spend 3 straight days in the West Edmonton Mall - primarily the water park - and thoroughly enjoy themselves.  At least that's where they say they were.  In their defense it snowed straight for the whole time they were in the city.  Never again will I tell people to skip the mall.  The next hosting experience was a 20-something gal from Belgium who happens to be traveling across Canada and hoping to settle in Edmonton to make a bit of cash.  She shared stories of her trip to the Faroe Islands.  Look them up.  I want to go to there.  And now I'm hooked.  To hosting, that is.  Too bad Edmonton is not nearly as hopping in the dead of l'hiver.

I usually gently force Corner Gas on my unsuspecting surfers.  Any other CanCon suggestions?

Saturday, November 10

November: In Like a Lion

Unfortunately the second half of that saying is unlikely to apply to Nov'12.  It will be big, ferocious cats all month.  At least is has been lovely, even if the roads have been so bad I haven't been climbing since Monday.  Did I mention that today was the 4th day of snow in a row?

Sunday, November 4

My First CFL Game

My plan last night was to hit the climbing gym right after work because it was closing at 1830 for a competition.  I had waited all week for this.  And then I got a surprise invite to an Edmonton Eskimos game because someone at work had an extra ticket.  I gave up climbing to watch a testosterone-laced sporting event and....I...don't regret it.  Generally, sporting events have been like the opera for me:  glad to have tried it once, made it through (barely) with no real desire to do it again.  That said, if someone offers this gal a free ticket to something this gal will probably go.  Although nothing is truly free and I am paying for it in jean sizes after a bag of tiny timmy little donuts*.

It was quickly clear why he was having such a difficult time giving this ticket away.  When the Commonwealth stadium was built in the 1970s Edmonton had the option to spring for a roof and they decided to tough it out instead.  It may only be the very beginning of November but the whole game was a consistent -5 Celsius.  Only about 1/3 of the seats were taken but the people who came were hardcore fans.  Just look at this hat:

People cheered, people booed, people commiserated with the strangers next to them about terrible plays and bad ref calls.  A community existed.  The basic rules weren't too hard to follow and I soon found myself angered by an "incomplete pass" call that was clearly complete from the replay.  True to form whenever I attend a professional sports game the team I was rooting for managed to lose the game.  But it came down to a field goal by Calgary as the clock ran out.

The verdict:  Let's go again!  Except that now won't be until next season and I'll have forgotten how much I actually enjoyed watching the game.

*What the heck are those called?

Tuesday, October 30

An Edmonton Thing

There are a few things that seem to be very popular in Edmonton.  Some make more sense than others.  I'll give you a few examples.

It seems to be an Edmonton Thing to:

1.  Run up and down a ridiculous flight of stairs outside in the park for a painful amount of time just for fun.  This, I suppose, is a good thing.

2.  Make a donair/shawarma in the messiest way possible.  Instead of using a pita for exactly what it was created for (ie. to fill that painstakingly crafted pocket) they like to just make it taco style.  While still using a pita.  Wasting the pocket!  And getting my hands messy.  Unacceptable.

3.  Have two restaurants owned by the same people/group and called the same thing but be entirely different in terms of decor, crowd and price point.  For example - Beruit Cafe.  On Whyte Ave it looks like a regular donair place with McD's-style chairs and fast food.  North of the river on Jasper it has the same name (and sign!) but a full menu with $25 entrees and occasional belly dancing.  That was a surprise to walk in, sit down and have to walk right back out again because all you wanted was an $7 shawarma at their other location.  Smarten up, Edmonton!

4.  Pronounce coyote funny.  Yes, they have them in many different provinces but here we don't have "kai-oh-tees" we have "kai-oats".  Used completely unironically.  What I was to ask these people is 1) Do you think the name Wile. E. Coyote works with this?  2)  What do you call the movie "Coyote Ugly"?  

Saturday, October 27

An Artsy Day in Edmonton

Every once in a while something else about being an adult (especially an employed one who finds herself enslaved to the man) gets me down for a bit.  This week it has been the realization that I am not free and THREE WEEKS of vacation is just not enough.  I want to GO somewhere (Russia, perhaps), I want to visit my family and I want to take long weekends to explore other parts of Canada.  It will be another year before I acquire a coveted 4 weeks of vacay.  That sounds pretty good, actually.  BUT - it will be 8 years after that before I get 5.  

So I can whine and sulk about it (which I plan to do) or (and) I can make being in Edmonton feel like being a  vacation.  No, that's cheesy.  But it is up to me to keep my life from feeling monotonous, to make sure that my evenings and weekends include me getting involved in the community.  That is something I'm already trying to do - climbing 3-4 nights a week, French classes on Thursdays, the occasional community event like classic movies at the Royal Alberta Museum.  But I can try harder.  

Today was a good day to start trying.  The downtown farmers market moved inside city hall for the winter and I went in search of some pricey gourmet chocolate bars made right here in Edmonton.  Apparently Kerstin used to have a store here but then she moved to Germany and her sister kindly feeds the cravings of Edmontonians on Saturdays.  I'm new to this but I'm already a fan.  This time I went for "pumpkin pie".  Yep, chocolate and pieces of flaky pieness and pumpkinness.  

Conveniently, right kitty-corner to city hall is the Alberta Art Gallery (aga).  A lovely building that is even lovelier inside.

This was not taken by me.  I stole it from the internet.  But it has snow so that is accurate.
Until today I had always wanted to go inside but just hadn't.  Sight unseen I bought a membership to encourage myself to go whenever I pass by (every few weeks) and get discounts on things like drop-in art classes and their acclaimed quarterly art parties running until 2am on Saturdays which always sell out.  It was a well-spent $65.  Their exhibits are well thought out and beautifully executed.  Plus I can hunker down for a tour every hour or so throughout the afternoon.  Without the tours I miss things in the art.  I am not always sure where to start thinking about and reflecting on it.  

One of their current exhibits, "Beautiful Monsters", looks at renaissance and baroque prints/engravings of monstrous creatures.  After the interactive tour (my fave!) I could tell the difference between these two styles and identify symbols in the paintings.  It made me want to dig deeper into Greek and Roman mythology and even Biblical mythology to better be able to interpret symbolism in art from this time.  A new hobby?
The second tour was upstairs and it looked at just one piece of contemporary art.  Good thing because it is the type of weird junk I would have walked up to, cocked my head to the side to look more contemplative, possibly paced around once and then walked out thinking "I don't get it".  However with an artsy mind to guide me we started talking big questions.  The piece was by Susan Sze - she made what appears to be a representation of earth and the cosmos from man made elements all balanced very precariously.  Perhaps a comment on our current state.  She represented some as already lost (blackened) but she left us a small way out.  Hopefully we can find it.  

Add all this to climbing tonight I'd call it a great day overall.  I need creativity and expression back in my life. I've put back exercise and started to put back friendships/social life.  Now I need volunteering and art.  What else might be missing?
What elements do you need in your life?  Are they represented?