Sunday, December 14, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Here's our 2008 Christmas Tree.

I went out in a snow storm yesterday, December 13 to get it. Apparently it was 51 in San Francisco. Here in Kelowna it was -5 degrees Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) when I went to get the tree. It takes some getting used to.

You can see our tree live by clicking here.

Please use the comments here as a guest book. Happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year to you and yours.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Oh, if you become V.P., oh, it's Canada for me..."

Welcome, my fellow Americans. Canada is close, but it takes some getting used to.

NSFW (Thank you Rachael Maddow for the link.)

Meanwhile, Canadians are also holding a federal election. Not that Americans would notice. Not that Canadians would notice, if it wasn't for all the complaining that inevitably accompanies the announcement of a Federal election in Canada.

Americans might want to think things through a little. This is not so far from the truth. I have to rely on my Canadian friends and family to do the right thing in the election here. And since I'd like to have a country to return home to one day, I've already cast my absentee ballot for the US election.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Six Random Things

I got tagged by Daryl Cognito, owner of The Best Podcast In Calgary.  Check out Atomic Suburbia, then hurry back here.

Here are Six Random Things about me:

  1.  I am still shocked to find myself living in a country whose goals for the Olympics are to finish in the top sixteen.  It takes some getting used to.
  2. I graduated High School with Bob Costas.
  3. I don't follow either of Canada's official sports, in either of Canada's official languages.
  4. My curling team once scored an 8-ender.
  5. I think that although it's just possible that Rick Mercer is not a jerk, he certainly does play one on TV.
  6. I think "Little Mosque on the Prairie" is stupid, but I love "Corner Gas."
Tagging Barbra, Victor, John, Ron (and the other Ron), and Dean.

And now for the Rules.  Because of course there have to be Rules.  Eh?
  1.  Link to the person who tagged you.
  2.  Post the rules on the blog.
  3.  Write six random things about yourself.
  4.  Tag six people at the end of your post.
  5.  Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  6.  Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


You can go along here for days on end and not feel like you're living in a foreign country.  Then, something happens to remind you that you are.  Maybe someone says, "Civic elections aren't until November.  It's too early to announce whether the Mayor will run for reelection," and here it is July already.  Or, maybe you go to a minor league baseball game and they play both songs but you realize you're the only one singing The National Anthem and everyone sings "O Canada."  It takes some getting used to.

I listen to a CBC Radio program called "The Vinyl Cafe."  The host, Stuart McLean, reads stories and plays music.  It all feels very Canadian.  Stuart McLean is a proud Canadian in the way that so many Canadians are.  They don't capitalize "proud" in the phrase, for one thing, and you have the feeling that they only capitalize "Canadian" because it's a rule.  Otherwise, it would be bragging.

I almost never hear the entire program, because even though it's on twice each weekend, I am almost always in the car when that happens.  I hear part of it, I get where I'm going, and that's it.  So for me, it's kind of a glimpse of Canadian life, because everything in the stories assumes a past that I simply don't have, not having grown up here.  It's wonderful.

Today, the music was all covers.  McLean played a really strange cover of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" by someone called Cat Power.  She never sings the chorus.

He played a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell.  Yeah, it's better because she has looked at life from both sides now, and she sings with a voice influenced by 30 years of good whiskey and American cigarettes.

The very best cover was Johnny Cash's cover of U2's "One."  It was chilling.  I started crying.  I had to pull over to the side of the road and listen.

Cash just stripped out everything not absolutely necessary, and accompanied himself on the guitar.  In the key of C.  There's not a lot else going on, just that voice and those lyrics.  Stunning.  Interpret those lyrics any way you like.  Bono gave an interview once in which he said:

"It is a song about coming together, but it's not the old hippie idea of 'Let's all live together.' It is, in fact, the opposite. It's saying, We are one, but we're not the same. It's not saying we even want to get along, but that we have to get along together in this world if it is to survive. It's a reminder that we have no choice."
If Bono were Canadian, I'd swear he was talking about "America."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Curling, Lobsters, and Joan McCusker's Email

This is an old joke:lobsters in a bucket

A man watches a lobster fisher throw three lobsters into a bucket. Concerned, the man approaches the fisher and asks if he isn't worried that the lobsters will climb out because the bucket has no cover.

"No worries," replied the fisher. "These are Canadian lobsters. If one starts to climb out, the others will pull him back in."

And that's how it is in Canada. In the US, we learn to recognize and celebrate success. In Canada, that would be bragging. It takes some getting used to.

Last week the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was held in Regina, Saskatchewan. That's the Canadian Women's Curling championships. The winner goes on to represent Canada at the Worlds next month. The opening of the week-long championships marked the ten year anniversary of the Team Canada gold medal win at the 1998 Olympics in Japan. The winning team hailed from Regina. They became national icons ("heroes" would, of course, be bragging) over night.

Sandra Schmirler
The team was skipped by Sandra Schmirler, who died just two years later at the age of 36, of cancer. The Sandra Schmirler Foundation keeps her memory alive. The remaining members of that team, Marcia Gudereit, Joan McCusker, and Jan Betker, continued to curl at a high level, but were not able to win another national or international title.

Joan McCusker is now a commentator for CBC's curling coverage. I wish I had Joan McCusker's email, because I think she could help me understand something about Canadians.

Colleen JonesColleen Jones, certainly one of the best Canadian women curlers, won six Canadian championships, two World championships, and a couple of mixed Canadian championships. She is bright, articulate, and gracious. (At least she was gracious to me when I met her, and I'm pretty much nobody.) She was a tremendous representative for the sport and for Canada, and yet Canadians belittle her accomplishments because she chews gum while she curls. I kid you not.

Kelly ScottKelly Scott curls at the same curling club I do. She began this year's Scotties as two-time Canadian champion, and was looking for a third consecutive title. She is a lovely person; polite, generous with her time, gracious, and kind of funny. She doesn't show much emotion on the ice. Still, there were posts on curling forums, articles in newspapers, and general talk among curlers that Kelly and her team "didn't deserve" another championship. Why? Because she has a squeaky, annoying voice when she calls a game.

Help me out, Joan! We all know that Sandra Schmirler is now practically revered for her curling success (Oops! There's that word again!) and for her good nature.

What was it really like out there after 1998? Did the general public say things like, "They don't deserve another win because Sandra did..." whatever Sandra did? Did people complain about her glasses? Did they criticize her style of play?

Jennifer JonesWell, there's a new Team Canada now, this one led by Jennifer Jones. She doesn't chew gum. Her style of play is more aggressive than Kelly Scott's and Colleen Jones'. She's tall and thin and blond. Let the snarkiness begin.