Month: October 2012

All we hear is, Radio Pumpkin

Last weekend saw our first ever Thanksgiving celebration! Canada’s official Thanksgiving day is always the 2nd Monday in October, unlike the much later American one. Yet another public holiday though, which was always going to be enjoyable.

I didn’t really understand what you are supposed to do at Thanksgiving. Most people I asked seemed to shrug and give responses along the lines of “Eat too much” or “It’s kinda like Christmas but without the presents.” There were a lot of Good Causes to support, particularly Thanksgiving meals available from the Food Bank and food donation drives to support them. I dropped off a few tins at the collection point in Safeways, as did many others,  I sincerely hope someone else donated a can-opener.

I asked on Twitter what Thanksgiving meant.. I got two responses almost immediately. Within those two, 140 character messages, there were EIGHT uses of the word “pumpkin”.

Based on this sage advice, I made plenty of Pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin spice lattes at work, and then Weird Things started to occur. We had a visit from a reporter for the local Talk Radio at the restaurant, who wanted to to chat to our customers about Vegetarian Thanksgiving. You can listen to their comments here:  RMN%20VEG.mp3
Warning: It was here that I first learned about the existence of Tofurkey. I wish to have my brain rinsed of that idea. Shudder.

As if that wasn’t enough, I made some throw-away comment about this being our first thanksgiving because we just don’t celebrate it in the UK; I got a call back from the same reporter that evening, as she thought our immigration story was interesting. And then she turned up on our doorstep and recorded me waffling about our Big Move and the five-month waiting-for-visa torture.

AND THEN, the next day I got another call from a radio show producer, this time from CBC, inviting me on Craig Lederhouse’s show again. This was in no way connected to the Talk Radio piece, just chance that they’d both contacted me in the same week?! CBC’s piece was live and I had to frantically pedal over to the studios in subzero temperatures after work. Fortunately this left me very little time to get nervous, but also very little time to prepare! They’d asked me to come up with some ideas for what coffees people should be drinking with their Thanksgiving meal! I did try and explain I wasn’t too sure what a Thanksgiving meal actually was, and even I couldn’t dream up a coffee pairing for roast turkey, but I did manage to come up with some suggestions that sounded vaguely plausible, I hope.

Here’s the podcast of my piece. I’m not sure how long it will be up on the site for though.

Thanksgiving From Doctor Coffee

Strange claims to fame aside, we did enjoy our first Thanksgiving. We feasted and did the whole meal properly, pumpkin  pie and all, stuffed ourselves absolutely stupid, jumped in leaves, went out for a walk when it was hailing (a Canadian tradition?) and gave quiet thanks to whoever happened to be listening for the day off… and less flippantly, for radio show invites, pie-appreciating customers at work, mutant turkeys, crunchy leaves and mainly just being here in Canada!!

The feast – for two adults and one toddler.

What is that strange grey thing in the sky?

My oh my, I do believe it’s a cloud. I haven’t seen one of them in a looooooong time!

It is 3 degrees outside. THREE. Today is Wednesday. On Sunday, as in, three days ago, it was 28 degrees celcius.
Again, I will reshare one of the gems I saw on Twitter:
“Highs of 40C, lows of -3, strong winds direct from the artic and swarms of savage mosquitos. WTF do I wear?? #CanadaProbz”

I thought it was a peculiarly British thing to talk about the weather, but here it seems to be almost a competition to see which province suffers the worst. “aah, but Saskatchewan gets sunshine and dry heat, not like the humidity in Toronto, it’s suffocating in ‘Tranno'” and so on.

Despite the sudden dip in temperature, the city is really beautiful at the moment, with falling golden leaves and crispy sunshine. I think it’s the sun that does me so much good. In the UK, you can expect at least 9 months of GREY. Not necessarily rain, (though there is still more than enough of that!) but just not-hot, not-cold, not-sunny, overcast, unexciting GREY, for most of the year. I found it incredibly depressing. It made an unpleasant town look even more ugly, and I do believe it made people (myself included) far more grumpy than if we’d all been living in the Mediterranean or somewhere. Here in Saskatchewan, the temperature swings wildly between both extremes and the seasons change very fast indeed, but the sunshine is more or less constant. I am reliably informed that Saskatchewan gets more sun than any other province, (bad news if they want to boast to Ontarians about how tough the weather is here) Estevan (about 2 hours south east of here) is the sunniest place in Canada! It is not always hot sun, when we were here in november, it was steadily in minus-double-figures but STILL sunny and bright. This does my general wellbeing a lot of good. Sunshine makes me happy.

Bright skies, autumn colours.

One thing I am sad about though, is that There Is No More Corn. Miranda and I became a little addicted to eat sweetcorn on the cob for the past couple of months, and since it was grown relatively locally, the stuff was ABUNDANT. I watched the prices with interest – it was conspicuously seasonal. When the first large batches arrived in the supermarkets, it was 77 cents a cob. The lowest we saw it was at the beginning of September when it was down to 32cents. Two weeks ago, Carl bought 4 cobs for $3 at the Farmer’s Market, and now, there is NONE in our regular supermarket at all, and the eye-wateringly expensive local Safeway branch is selling it for nearly $5 for four small, pre-cut, vacuum-packed cobs imported from who-knows-where. Waaa!! Miranda is going to be devastated. If we let her, she would eat sweetcorn and sausages for every meal.

I think we need to get her hooked on Pumpkin now!

“Worm Pie for dessert, whoopee!!”
(Seriously, I will buy a coffee for anyone – other than my parents – who can tell me where that reference comes from!!)

Culture Days

I was very pleased to learn that Canada has “Culture Days” – specifically, the last weekend in September. As usual, lots of Things Happen all over the place. This weekend we’ve been to the local school’s 100th anniversary celebrations (but sadly missed their “Pancake breakfast”!), saw local band, The Lazy MKs play (Miri danced like a loon!) and then did lots of Art and Crafty things at the Neil Balkwell art gallery. And I have two new souvenir t-shirts for my collection:

Time Traveller souvenir shirt from Connaught School
Silk screen t-shirt printing at the art gallery

Best of all though, I managed to Get Involved in some of this! For the past few weekends, I attended creative writing and storytelling workshops at the Creative City Centre (housed in an old building downtown, on the second floor above a shoe shop – you REALLY have to know it’s there!). The workshops were run by a very talented local writer, Shayna Stock, and it was all centred around the theme of “home” (well, actually it was rather nauseatingly called “where the heart is”). I met some fabulous and fascinating people who all had completely different ideas of what Home meant and where it was. I really enjoyed the whole thing. However, the workshops were all a setup to coerce us into actually performing what we’d written on stage at the Artesian!

So, up I got, and told my stories of home. (written, edited, rewritten, and rehearsed – not done off the top of my head!). One was a Rant About Darlington that I’d adapted from a post I wrote on here nearly a year ago. It was bitter and angry and depressing, yet got a lot of laughs. Schadenfreude perhaps?

The other one was a “captured moment” piece, about what I really count as home – where my friends congregate. Since some of them have asked for it, here is my piece,

“(Re)connecting with Home”

When Carl left in April, when he forced himself back on a plane to the UK, leaving us behind, I told Miranda that Daddy had gone to live in the computer. Luckily, she accepted this unquestioningly. She is two, and this is normal. Weekly conversations via Skype became the thing to do. Four months passed.

It is 5pm Regina time. It is still hot, and we are sipping iced tea as I try and boot up the computer. Miranda is only partially interested, unsure whether the computer’s presence will mean watching her favourite cartoons. Suddenly though, Skype connects, and there is the kitchen of our old house. The images reach us first; – the room itself is looking surprisingly clean and tidy. Carl has been packing up everything we own to emigrate with. The curtains are drawn, it has gone midnight there.

We can see all my friends. Most of them are drunk.

Dave leans over the camera, upside down to us, tongue out, pulling faces through his thick ginger beard. Miri is momentarily frightened, but then giggles at him.

Then, the sound kicks in. It is awful quality, and I think to myself, “really must get a decent webcam”. It is nearly impossible to distinguish any one conversation, but there is Chelle’s dirty laugh, there’s Dave’s dulcet, northern tones recounting one of the long-winded anecdotes that he always tells when he’s had a few. There’s the chink of beer bottles. It’s Carl’s leaving party!

Rachel appears on the screen briefly, her hair dyed black this week. “Me and Chris had a row” she announces, stoicly, and grimaces as if she’d just lost her keys or something. A minor inconvenience.

And then – there he is! My Carl, my beloved husband of thirteen years. Sweaty, and naked apart from a neon green Mankini from the Borat film.

I miss all my daft friends, and I love Carl so much. I think I love him mainly because he is a complete idiot!

Me, on stage at Artesian. (Thanks to Emma for the pic!)