23 November 2010

Moose Jaw Minute #16: Happy Thanksgiving...again!

Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a good night!  We have made the trek from a VERY cold and snowy Moose Jaw to a fall-like New Jersey to visit my parents for the all-American version of the Thanksgiving holiday, complete with stuffing, apple pie, football, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

To kick off the week of festivities, my dad and I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday.  This isn't the first time we've run this distance together, having completed the Long Branch Half Marathon about three years ago.  The running was awesome with leaves on the trees, a bite in the air, the sun shining down -- it truly is a beautiful route that takes us through some gorgeous areas of the city.  People were outside their brownstones, cheering the runners on and holding up signs.  One of them even declared that "Chuck Norris can't run like you!"  I agree.  My dad and I had a great time and I realized he has a knack for getting to know folks on the road.  We would be running along and another runner would pull up beside us and start chatting up my dad.  He'd carry on a conversation for 15 or 20 minutes and then, both runners feeling re-energized, would resume the focus on the rhythm of the road.  I loved the time on the road with my dad and it is something I will always remember.  In addition, my mom and Dave made a great cheering squad and, as any runner knows, you don't do this alone.  You have friends and family that sometimes take second seat to your training runs, but my mom and Dave prove time and again to be great support systems.  They met us at the end with big smiles, flowers, and hugs...it was good to see them!

This week is full of Evans family traditions that will include a family dinner and a trek into New York City to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.  I need to confess here that -- well -- I LOVE the holidays.  I love them.  It is my favorite time of year. I love the music, the lights, the weather, the crowds.  I love the food and the company.  The time from American Thanksgiving to Christmas is full of good smells and cozy sweaters, dark nights and cold days.  I am a sucker for all things wintry and holiday.  Anyhow, I am getting to go back to my much-loved New York City, to walk among the tall buildings and people.   To walk up the steps from Penn Station, grabbing a coffee from the corner shop and smelling the chestnuts roasting on the street carts is pure bliss for me.

Thanksgiving (cheesy enough) does give me pause to make me think about what I am thankful for. 
  • I am thankful for my husband, who has made this year one full of love, support, laughter, and surprises. 
  • For my family who support me whether I am near or far. 
  • For my friends who keep me grounded and connected both in Canada and the States. 
  • I am grateful for my job and the people I work with and know I am very fortunate to be surrounded by such talent and passion. 
  • I am thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones...we are still kicking it. 
  • I am thankful for the experiences I've had this year -- everything from surfing in the cold Pacific to driving a U-Haul truck across the Canadian border, this has a been an amazing year.
So Happy Thanksgiving to you...I hope you have a wonderful week full of adventure, love, laughter, and, of course, some apple pie.

16 November 2010

Moose Jaw Minute #15: Over the river and across the border...

It IS a town along the road to the border!
This past weekend, Dave and I had the pleasure of finishing up the last bit of permanent residency immigration paperwork.  It has been amazing to us how quickly the PR process has been, compared with those of obtaining a driver's license for me or even getting a cell phone (I still don't have one).  More on that later...

We received the news a while ago that my paperwork had been processed and that a "decision had been made" regarding my permanent residency status.  "Hooray!" we thought.  Then, we looked a little closer at the letter accompanying my passport with the shiny new visa stamped in it.  We would either have to go into Regina to the immigration office there, or have me re-enter the country after having spent time in the States.  In addition to that, it added that I really should not travel until I have my PR card and that getting that could take up to 4-8 weeks following the final process of paperwork.  Erm, well...ahem.  American Thanksgiving with a trip home is right around the corner, as is a trip to Chicago, not to mention Christmas.  This would not do!  What was I supposed to do?  Spend my American Thanksgiving watching grainy football streamed on the internet while eating Moose jerky?!  I think not!  Dave and I vowed that we would find a way to shuttle me back and forth over the next month.

We decided that, due to travel, work schedules, and the fact that the Regina immigration office isn't open on the weekend (pshaw...who needs a weekend?!?!), that we would drive down to North Portal, cross into the U.S. and promptly pull a U-turn to head back into Saskatchewan.  Our six hours on the road would equal a couple of things...more pictures of us on the road, 5 minutes in the U.S., and a signature on my paperwork at the border.  So we drove through a frosty, wintry wonderland.  We had ice fog the evening before and it covered everything in a thick layer of frost making it look like a Winter Wonderland come to life.  It was gorgeous and our road trip was filled with the two of us pulling over every now and then when we drove past something we wanted a picture of.

Eventually, the U.S. border loomed in front of us.  We pulled up to the guard station and the U.S. border patrol in the booth took our passports asking, "Where ya heading to?'


You can imagine there was a split second of confusion.  We then explained that it was for immigration.  He immediately understood and told us where to make the turn back to the border.  We hit the Canadian border and were directed to come inside to the office where, in a mere 20 minutes, my paperwork was processed and we walked out with a stamped passport and assurances that I could travel between the two countries even without my official PR card.  Done, done, and done.

So, as of November 13, I am a permanent resident of Canada...a proud one at that.  Just don't call me to talk about it...I still don't have a cell phone...

Oh, and...as of November 14, Dave and I have been married six months!  Unreal!  We celebrated by taking a drive in Regina and having a phenomenal dinner at La Bodega.  Happy Anniversary, Dave and thank you for being such a wonderful husband and best friend.  I love you!

Yellow Grass...Canada's hot spot...erm, not while we were there!

Happy Anniversary to us!

11 November 2010

Moose Jaw Minute #14: Remembrance Day

Every November 11, we take time out of our lives to reflect on those who serve and have served our country in the armed forces.  In the United States, this day is known and Veteran's Day.  Here in Canada, it is known as Remembrance Day.  The poppies for lapels come out in both places and the stories are much the same; however, I find the focus here in Canada to be much more on the two World Wars while in the States, it feels more encompassing of all the wars including Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and our two wars in the Gulf. 

My family has a history of military service.  Both of my grandfather's served in World War II with the Navy, my mom served in Vietnam with the Army, my dad made a career out of the military -- first with the Navy and then transitioning to the Army, my brother-in-law served with the Navy, and I now find myself married to a Canadian Air Force pilot.  We are no strangers to the sadness and triumph of military service and I grew up understanding that there were people who day in, and day out give their time and energy to securing the kind of freedoms many take for granted. 

I am acutely aware that we cannot lose the stories from the past as they help inform the direction of the future.  I remember asking my Grandpa Muscatello to tell me stories and he opened up, sharing little tidbits -- not many -- of what it was like on the ship in the Pacific.  My Grandpa Evans would wear the baseball cap with his ship's insignia on it around town, a reminder to all of what he gave.  My mom regularly shares her memories and photos from Vietnam where she worked as an ER nurse at the young age of twenty-two(!).  She even arranges a celebration for Veterans at the school where she works, allowing them to tell their stories to groups of kids waving American flags and singing the Star Spangled Banner.  My dad is a hero in my mind and I have many images of him standing in his uniform, proud and strong.   I am fiercely proud of my family's military history and am grateful for all they did and continue to do.

Much like Veteran's Day in the States, the news stations and papers here in Canada cover Remembrance Day extensively and the poppies are everywhere.  Here in Canada, Stuart McLean, from the Vinyl Cafe, delivers his annual Remembrance Day show (you can find his podcast on iTunes), songs are sung, parades are had, Veteran's remembered, and the poem "In Flanders Fields" is well-known.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
- John McCrae
So, on this Remembrance or Veteran's Day, wherever you are...take a moment to reflect, remember, and give thanks.

07 November 2010

Moose Jaw Minute #13: New and Old Traditions in the Jaw

The week before this one, winter roared in, covering the ground with drifting white snow and cold temperatures.  Ah, fickle fall!  The past seven days have brought nothing but melting snow, confused Canadian geese that can't tell which way to migrate, and record highs in the Prairies.  Not that anyone is complaining (well, maybe the geese are).  We are more than happy to have a slight delay in Father Winter's appearance on the main stage for an encore of fall.

This was also the week to dust off some old traditions and see how they fare here in Moose Jaw.  My family has a tradition of a "winter picnic" each year (that usually took place in November before it got too cold).  We would pack up some good food to eat and drive somewhere that offered us a last glimpse of changing leaves before the days became shorter.  When we lived in New Jersey, those drives would often take us to Peddler's Village in Bucks County, PA.  We loved it!  We would eat our lunch by a lazy river that was close to the village and then we would venture into the maze of fall goodness...scarecrows, holiday decorations...all while the smell of cider and fall leaves enveloped us as we walked from store to store, sampling their wares and spending quality time together.  It truly was one of the highlights of our fall and, for me, signaled the impending (and exciting!) change of seasons.

Dave and I had our own winter picnic of sorts when we ventured out to Wakamow Valley when the first snow started to thaw.  We ate a delicious lunch of pasta, snapped a few photos (below), and took a little jaunt around...soaking up the smell of fresh air after being cooped up for the better part of a week.  I love being able to carry on a good tradition.  Maybe some of you have a similar tradition you take part in this year?

Another tradition this time of year is Bonfire Night.  In England, Bonfire Night is held every November 5 in remembrance of Guy Fawkes and his merry band of treasonists who all attempted to blow up Parliament in 1605.  Every November 5 in England, great bonfires are built in villages and towns large and small.  Folks get together and they will sit around the fire and burn effigies of the Guy himself (and sometimes modern politicians) and then later launch fireworks.  Our friends, Becci and Si, are from England and they wanted to bring their tradition to Moose Jaw.  They arranged their own Bonfire Night and a whole bunch of us went down to Connor Park, got a fire roaring, ate some great food, and then burned a very well done Guy, complete with a balloon head that caught wind of an ember and popped long before we actually tossed him on the flames.  Becci and Si are fantastic and it was so much fun to share this tradition with them!

One tradition we don't partake in here in Saskatchewan is Daylight Savings Time.  While everyone else "falls back," we maintain the same clock year-round.  While I will miss the tradition of wondering and hoping I got the time right so I won't show up to work late, I am also content not to have to remember to change all the clocks in the house.

One last tradition I must speak to are birthdays.  One of my favorite people in the whole wide world had her birthday last week and I just want to (continue to) wish her an awesome year full of happiness, love, success, and nothing but the best life has to offer.  Happy Birthday, Peanut!

So, cheers...to traditions old, new, and some we just don't need anymore (don't forget to set your alarm clocks!).

Winter Picnic Site

 Chilly birds on ice...beats "Stars on Ice" any day!

 Dave and pasta...Yum!

 Thank goodness, my shipment of HUGE googly eyes finally made it to Moose Jaw!

 Shoes on a wire.

 Guy...before he lost his head.

 Bonfire Night Feast

Burn, Guy, Burn!

Crescent Park in downtown Moose Jaw.

 The Public Library is in the park and also houses an Art Gallery and Gift Shop.

Hellllloooooooooo, ladies...swim here often?