Tag: Thanksgiving

Some very strange things to be thankful for.

It’s Thanksgiving, it’s beautiful and autumnal, and we finally all have a day off together! For this, I am thankful, because it has been a long time coming.

Carl being away in Prince Albert during the week is really taking its toll on me and the girls at the moment, and I am getting increasingly frustrated with the situation at times. I am effectively playing single-parent all week, and have to negotiate school and daycare drop offs and collection (at two different locations), coping with Judo and crochet club(?) and play dates and field trip permission slips, ferret-care, feeding them both, fighting them into bed (an ordeal in its own right, especially with Theia), making lunchboxes and then getting them up again and out the house by 8am. And working full time. And doing all this on my bike.

It is exhausting, and I keenly look forward to Carl’s return every weekend. But then, there is the added pressure of fitting in all the things that have to be done with him (or more importantly, the car-) here like food shopping, and laundry, and still making a point of Doing Something Fun while we’re all together. Most of the time I am exhausted and just want to spend my days off doing nothing, but that is not fair on the kids. And then we get cross with each other because I feel like I’m wasting the precious little time we do have. Gah!

However, there are many things that I love about this situation too, namely my job. Luckily, both kids thoroughly enjoy their respective daycares and after school clubs and activities, so I don’t feel too bad about relying on them so heavily. There’s also only been one horribly rainy day this season, so my bike commute around the lake is usually glorious and doing me a lot of good. Carl is doing well in Prince Albert, enjoying his work and our finances are now looking much more healthy as a result.

Without wishing to sound gushy, I really love my job. I’m working at the Science Centre, and the job is so varied that it is very difficult to define to a lot of people. Most recently, I’ve been heading up a big science festival there called Ignite! I inherited quite a lot of the set up for it from my predecessor, and the existing team of staff there are exceptional and very supportive, so I didn’t feel too overwhelmed with having to organise the whole four day event on my own. Even so, it was still more than a little daunting. I enjoy the job so much that I really want to do well at it.

I am also learning a whole load of things I never thought I’d come across – like how to dissect squid, for instance, how to build popsicle stick towers that withstand flooding, and all about different sections of the brain, all of which are covered in the workshops I am now trying to present to other people! For the festival, we had to organise a careers fair with the aiming of getting school kids interested in engineering and the sciences. Then, we ran adult workshops in the evening, which is where the squid came in. The next day was Family Maker Day, and we hosted an event for the Global Cardboard Challenge and encouraged kids to make Arcade games out of cardboard, and ran other workshops like Toy Take Apart (involving skinning an Elmo) and colour-changing putty, where I had to make playdough and explain the science of thermochromatic pigment to 40-odd kids for a couple of hours. The schools were closed for Thanksgiving that day, so Miranda had to come to work with me…

On Saturday, it was the culmination of the festival in an Expo, showcasing local innovation and plenty of weird and wonderful things that local people have created. It is did not happen without hiccups – for a start, I would have liked to get more participants than I was able to, so I was a bit disappointed. Then, one group dropped out at the last minute, and I roped Carl in to replace them! He dutifully brought his telescope and equipment and showed people all his eclipse photography – thank you husband!! (He also got a day out with the kids, a chance to geek out with fellow nerds, and the science centre’s snack supplies, to be fair.)  Actually on the day, one group arrived, introduced themselves, I showed there where to set up, and then they just vanished without saying a word! Weird. And irritating.

I still managed to get in “live blacksmithing” (which took a lot of wading through fire permit by-laws), a virtual reality game company, a solar-powered electric bike, robots built by high school students, a Vortex Cannon of Doom and a portrait of Princess Diana done in Lego, amongst other things.

I would like to think it all went off OK! The feedback I heard on the day was all very positive, anyway. I don’t yet know how the numbers of visitors compared to last year, but it certainly felt very busy, particularly on the Family Maker Day. It was also utterly exhausting!

Sunday and Monday were our weekend this week, and we did the annual OverEating Ritual with turkey and all the trimmings. The girls even admitted they liked the food for once as well! Life is not exactly easy right now, but I am enjoying its complicatedness.

 

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Location, location, location.

I am having to wear my new glasses to type this post. I am officially OLD.

Glasses selfie
Glasses selfie

This last week, we have had Hilary and D stay with us, coming from Edmonton and “on route” to Toronto for their beloved rollercoasters. They are both a year older than me, and both spent a lot of time squinting at their phone screens. D admitted he needs reading glasses, Hils isn’t sure… yet. We are ALL getting old. (apart from Carl, it seems, who actually IS old!)

Anyway, Hils and D are the first of our UK friends to make it over for a visit, (unsurprising, given the horrifically extortionate costs of the flights!) and I had a wonderful – if too bloody short – week of showing them my Regina. Ahem. It was also Thanksgiving, which to the British mind, is a festival of Over-Eating. This year, we got an 8kg turkey from the Farmers’ Market, and I spent 5 hours in the kitchen making stuffing for it, sweet potato soup and pumpkin pie. And then Turkey curry and then turkey pie and a multitude of turkey sandwiches. FOREVER. On top of that, I also introduced them to Poutine at the Mercury, explained why Perogies are now a Canadian thing, forced D to eat a maple-bacon doughnut, and took them to Timmies. All this was washed down with copious amounts of homebrew, and I duly gave Thanks to Hils for bringing me a bottle of pinotage wine from afar. Om nom.

DSCF8979When not eating, we did try and see the sights of Regina. We tried to walk off some of the turkey with a wander down to Wascana park to see the lake, but we had spent so long “digesting” – by which I mean lying on the couch groaning – that it was getting dark before we headed out, and by the time we got there, it was pitch black and we found the legislative building had been inexplicably covered in cardboard anyway. We did find quite a few houses nicely decorated for Halloween though.

Explaining a town to someone “from overseas” is quite difficult. Hils and D are not ones to appreciate architecture anyway but Regina is not an architecturally stunning city in the first place. They asked very similar questions to those we asked when we first arrived:
Why are there so many bungalows? (so much space – why build up when you can build out?)
Why is everything wonky? (Particularly true in Cathedral – old wooden houses that have warped and partially sunk in the Regina Gumbo. Ours is a shining example of The Wonkiness)
Why build wooden houses when there are tornadoes here and no native trees? (I don’t have an answer for that one!)
Why do pubs close on long weekends? (again – no clue!)
Why is it so quiet downtown? (See above)
How do you get to the airport if you don’t have a car? (they didn’t like my answer to that, which prompted the next question-)
What sort of city has no public transit to its own airport?!?! Answer: one that is addicted to driving.

I am not going to write another rant about the needlessly enormous cars here or my near-death experiences cycling in Regina, but – and this is for another blog post entirely- I have good reason to keep an eye on specific locations around Regina right now, particularly if they have adequate parking. If I build it, they will come (in their SUVs…) Let’s leave it, cryptically, at that for now. If you do spend all your time driving around town though, the chances are you will miss views like these. Autumn in Regina is simply gorgeous, and I think even Hils and D, Londoners as they are, could appreciate that:

DSCF9078 DSCF9080 DSCF9075

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.