beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)

 So... it looks like I've had my last class of my undergraduate career! \o/ DONE. 

Well, not entirely. I still have to hand in one more paper (Women's Studies, due Friday), finish a take home exam handed out today, and write one last, final sit down exam a week from today... but I'm getting there! I'm nearly finished! :D It's all very exciting!

Brief rundown on Acadian history and the Chiaq dialect for those not in the know )
 
They also employ a LOT of English vocabulary and expressions. BUT this is NOT what's called "Franglais" or "Frenglish": it is a distinct dialect that has its own rules..javascript:void(0);. which admittedly change depending on where you come from in the Maritimes, but they're there nonetheless. You can't just make this stuff up. 
 
But oh my goodness it's entertaining to hear them speak. See this AMAZING parody(?) dub of a clip from Toy Story in Acadian French. Don't worry, even if you don't speak French, you'll find it funny. Listen closely. 
 
HISTOIRE DE TOY
 

 
Some awesome lines:
"Walt Disney Pictures est bain bain proud de vous presentez le longmetrage(?) Acadien... Histoire de Toy!"
 
"Whoa whoa whoa, le Dog, touches pas mon ray-gun, tu peux hurtez ton self!"
 
"Duh, ce n'est pas un ray-gun, god, c'est just un flashing light!"

"Okay, stop it now, on est tout vraiment impressed par le nouveau toy d'Andy-"
"Toy?!"
"J-O-U-E-T: TOY." 
(I love that it plays with this - P.S.: "jouet" is French for "Toy".)
 
 
"Vers l'infinie... AND BEYOND!" 
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 Today was a lovely day! ... Not the least of which was because I did next to no homework! (I may pay for it in stress later on, but man if it doesn't feel good right now. <3 )

The sun is shining! I feel that spring is on the way. After a long dark winter, the snow seems to be consistently melting. You get these lovely patches of crackly ice on the sidewalks that make a satisfying crunching noise as you walk over them in the morning just after the sun has risen. I've loved doing that ever since I was a child. 

Last class with my research supervisor. Feeling melancholy, but at least there were cookies. ) 

Happy news about pretty dresses at Fort Edmonton! )
 
Job interview for the Quebec program - definitely nailed it! )

 Today was a really good day. I needed a day like this, after weeks (months, really) of stress about my future and about papers and research and such. The end of the semester is in sight! I'm feeling really positive at the moment. :) I hope that some of my good cheer spreads across to you, o reader! I'm thinking positive thoughts your way. :)
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 I like to think that I'm prepared for Canadian winters. I've lived here since I was three, born of a manly Canadian outdoorsman father who puts wild game on the dinner table. I never leave home without gloves in the winter, and I never foolishly wear stilettos or ridiculous shoes if it's cold and/or icy out, no matter how stylish I want to seem. Stylish goes out the window as soon as it hits below zero, right? (I know a friend who got frostbite and lost a toe because she wore stilettos to go to the bar in January and the busses abruptly stopped running. Just bring a big enough purse to hide your bulky boots in at your destination.) There's always an emergency blanket and shovel in the trunk of my car just in case I get stuck in a snowdrift somewhere. 

I am Canadian, hear me roar. 

Anyway, the weather's been so nice lately, right? It's actually been oscillating between about -10C and +5C every day for the past week. It's been surprisingly sunny as well, and there's been little wind to surprise you with the windchill. That sounds great!

...Until you remember that because of that big dump of snow we got in January, we have giant windrows (giant rows/drifts of snow created by snowplows, not a typo of "window") everywhere. That means that when the temperatures reach above zero, basic science tells us that some of that snow will melt. And refreeze at night. Then melt again. Repeat ad nauseam. The sidewalks go from being puddles or streams one day, and ice rinks the next.

And because of the windrows, the ice/water/whatever it decides to be on that particular day has nowhere to go. So it accumulates.

Now, after all that setup, I begin my story.

I spent much of my day doing homework, from about 9:30am until my sister came by to visit at 5:00pm or so. I was pretty productive! However, aside from opening the window every so often, I hadn't gotten any fresh air for the day. So after supper I decided to go for a walk. I would normally go for a jog, but that's just asking for trouble. I don't want to slip and break my writing arm or something, this close to the end of the scholarly season. 

Anyway, so I was navigating the ice and puddles just fine. I was on the home stretch. (I walk a sort of circle around my neighbourhood so I approach the house from the opposite direction that I started out on, which is how I got no warning.) I was walking down a hill, and I saw a lady and her small yippy dog, coming from the opposite direction. That's why, when I saw the giant LAKE of melted snow at the bottom, I presumed it to be passable. I mean, that lady and her tiny dog got across, so why can't I?

It was HUBRIS, plain and simple. I'm betting now that the lady just saw the giant pool of water and turned right back around... but didn't bother to warn me. :P Thanks, random lady. 

Anyway, I saw that the temporary lake was fairly deep, probably reaching halfway to my knees. But I saw a few footprints on the snowdrift on the side, so I figured it was pretty solid. I didn't want to go all the way back up the hill to pick a different path, so I continued on. 
 
BIG MISTAKE. The first ten steps or so were fine, fairly solid. I only sank about a handspan or two down into the snow. And then suddenly, I plunged downwards, up to my knees. My feet were soaked instantly: there was more water hidden beneath the snowdrifts. 
 
It was too late to turn around, though. Taking a desperate glance behind me, I decided to man up and keep going. Dry sidewalk was only about ten meters away. I plunged down through the snowdrift almost midway up my thighs a few times. I then veered slightly right, clinging to the chain link fence, but I couldn't get far just pulling myself along with my arms. I had long since reached the point of no return, though, so I had to keep going. 
 
In the end, I remembered something I'd learned in girl guides, about what you do if you should find yourself on thin ice: you spread your weight around. So what did I do? I got down and crawled. 
 
I literally crawled across this patch of snow and ice so I wouldn't get completely soaked. I was in no real danger (although I've since noticed some bleeding scratches on my shins from the snow when I was sinking deeply through half melted ice and got a bit of an abrasion when I came back up), and especially not from drowning or freezing or getting hypothermia so close to home, but... yeah. 
 
There was a guy walking his dog coming down the hill at me just as I got up. I warned him off. The sidewalk was impassable. He thanked me for telling him, and he went in the other direction. I can only hope that the prints in the snow from my flailing the last six or seven meters will warn other people off. 

I'm wearing pajama pants now, because damn it if the ice didn't melt off of my trousers and soak them as soon as I stepped inside the house. :P
 
Canadian winters still need to be taken seriously. Even if (and maybe especially if) it's above zero. 
 

Book meme!

Feb. 23rd, 2011 10:22 am
beboots: (Default)
Just returned from the beautiful Rocky Mountains, to which I was dragged after being kidnapped by my family and left to escape down mountainsides in subzero temperatures. By which I mean that my father and sister dragged me away from my homework on an impromptu skiing trip, and I had fun despite the weatherman lying and saying it would only be -12C, when in fact up the mountain it was below -20C, plus a ridiculous windchill. My neckwarmer, pulled up past my nose, frequently froze over with ice (I once had a LITERAL icicle dangling from my nose, guys! I thought that only happened in movies!), so much so that when we retreated in to the chalets to warm up after every third or fourth run, my sister and I took to running our face coverings under the hand blow dryers in the washrooms to defrost, dislodge and evaporate the ice. Crazy. 

Anyway, in a continual effort to dance around my homework even though I'm now back at home and have no excuse not to work on it... Here is a meme!


Snagged from [livejournal.com profile] anyjen . Bold the one's you've read! (The BBC estimates most people will have read six.)

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien - aww yeah. I had to read the entire trilogy before my dad would let me watch the first movie when it came out in theaters. I was twelve, and it was awesome. 
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible 
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman - another book series my dad introduced me to. I got the first one for my birthday when I was in junior high school, and I cried at the end... then quickly devoured the last two. 
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens  - grade twelve English class... the only way I got through it was by alternating reading it with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is written in a similar kind of diction but involves magic and arrogant people and Napoleon. 
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott - No, but I have read her "Hospital Sketches" which she wrote while working as a nurse during the Civil War!
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger - SO AMAZING. I cried at several points, and was very touched at others. 
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell (twice)
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky - No, but I keep getting it confused with the English translation of Foucault's Discipline and Punish, which I have read, cover to cover, for a class?
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll 
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis 
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis 
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell 
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown - read it while on vacation with father and sister in England and France in grade eleven during spring break. The only reason I enjoyed it was because it kept mentioning places I was travelling to RIGHT THEN as I read it. It had a weird synergy with my vacation. 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery - as a Canadian, you kind of have to. When I visited the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, their English & French library in the basement had an entire section dedicated SOLELY to different editions of the Anne of Green Gables series, in many different languages. 
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding (we actually had this book at home, but I never picked it up)
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville 
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker - yep, and I kept having to remind myself that as cliché as some of the bits seemed, that this was the book upon which ALL of those other clichés had been based.  
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens - no, but seen a theatrical production of it in person?
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker 
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - reading RIGHT NOW. I'm on the fourth or fifth story in the collection.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery - somehow missed reading this despite the fact that almost ALL other French immersion students in my high school had had to study it several times in the original French. It's on my summer reading list, just because. 
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams - no, but was traumatized by the animated movie version as a child. (NOTE: cartoon + bunnies = NOT AUTOMATICALLY A CHILD'S FILM OMG BUNNIES TEAR EACH OTHER TO PIECES IN THAT MOVIE). I will read it soon, just so I can exorcise my childhood demons. 
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas 
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo


My score = 19/100? I am at least peripherally aware of the cultural impact of many others on this list, due not the least of which to movie and theatre versions of the books, but also due to things like Wishbone. >_> Anybody else remember Wishbone? Now I'm feeling nostalgic.. 
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 History has been on my mind lately. (Can't help it. It's my major.) I thought that I'd recommend one of the most amazing documentary series ever made. That's not just my opinion - it got a lot of critical acclaim when it was released about a decade or so ago. It's called Canada: A People's History, and essentially goes through the entirety of Canadian history, as best can be known. One of the neat things about their approach was the way they used primary documents of the era: they chose "ordinary" people who had left writing behind. When they "interview" people, what those folks are saying is what was actually written. The narrator has original text, but those making speeches are quoting from historical documents. The actors were incredibly well-chosen, I believe. They went out and got actual francophones or Britons or Iroquois to get authentic accents. <3

Another epic thing about this documentary is that it was filmed twice. All of the actors are bilingual, and the scenes were filmed once in English and another time in French. It also has a beautiful soundtrack... a CD of which I actually stumbled upon on a shelf in the Rutherford Library while doing research on Confederation this summer. If I knew how to use sendspace or whatever, I would upload it for you all. 

In any case, I cannot recommend this documentary series enough. Watching it in my formative years is one of the reasons that I love Canadian History even today. Be wary if you order online, though, because some people have jacked up the prices unreasonably. There are four seasons: I love the first two, mostly, because I'm biased towards pre-first world war history. ;) One of the cool things about season one is that large chunks of it are told from the point of view of native tribes. It doesn't start with John Cabot and Jacques Cartier "discovering" the land, but with sensitively-done native origin stories as well as some pre-European contact native history like intertribal warfare amongst the Iroquois. It's intense. 

Unfortunately, there are only a few clips online, but here is one of the best ones I could find, and it unfortunately cuts off towards the end. It's one of those buildups near the beginning of the long episode to foreshadow what will happen throughout. I think that the CBC has actually made a point of deleting video content online to encourage teachers and fans to actually buy the DVDs instead of just using a handful of clips online to make a point. ;) And seriously, invest in them. They are amazing. <3 
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 (Oh hey, look, new icons! :D )

As I mentioned on Twitter, today was a good day on the "free stuff" front. One of my professors gets sent a LOT of American history textbooks by publishing companies, all in the hope, of course, that she will pick THEIR textbook to assign for all of her classes... She brought in a huge stack of them (it took several trips from her office) to class today and told us all to take one each. For free. Some of these are so new they're still in the wrapping! The one I ended up picking didn't even have a barcode. I think that it's print run is still on the way and that this one is just a preview copy or something. But hey, I'm not going to say no to a free textbook! :D 

I also got free food - pizza! pop! - at the public lecture by Christopher Moore. A bit of background: remember how last summer while working as a research assistant I used to talk about some of the interesting things I ran across while doing research for that course I was helping Professor Muir design, on the legal history of Canadian Confederation? Moore wrote the book I ended up recommending as a basic textbook: 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal. Maybe I should have put it on yesterday's book recommendation list. It's very clear, informative, and downright entertaining in how it approaches what I always thought of as rather boring legal histories. Instead of having a revolution or something, we just waited until we were ready and then asked nicely. More or less. (Hey, did you know that Nova Scotia of all places was fiercely independent and was kind of conned into joining all of the rest of the British North American colonies into joining? Also, argued against Confederation with puns and other arguments.) Anyway, read that book if you're interested in Canadian history. I really want to read his children's books, too. >_> 

ANYWAY Professor Muir invited Moore to do a series of talks at the U of A on selected topics. I'm going to one on the 1864 Quebec Conference on Monday. Today's was on "Doing History in Public": AKA what someone passionate about history can do without going becoming a professor and getting mired in academia. (SO RELEVANT TO MY LIFE RIGHT NOW WHAT AM I GOING TO GROW UP TO BE??)

It was a really interesting talk! First he rambled a little bit about his own life story - which was immediately relevant because it was interesting how he fell into becoming an author. He actually had no clue what he was going to do after graduating with a BA in Honour's history in the mid-1970s, so he ended up working... at a costumed historical interpretation park! Well, as one of the historians working at the Fortress of Louisbourg back when it was just getting started. (Some of the stuff he was telling us about his work there was fascinating. For instance, they were really working on trying to furnish the buildings and glean clues about the architecture and interiors of the place, so he'd be searching through fascinating court records about someone being dragged before a judge for bashing someone over the head with a candlestick, killing them, and he'd be making notes like "had metal candlesticks at hand in house." XD )So I'm currently right where he was like forty years ago. 

But yeah, so he spoke about his different book projects for a while, spoke about "public history" projects... For instance, he's been commissioned by various (legal) societies to write their histories. He said that the advantage with working with societies of lawyers is that they can afford to pay for a history to be made. ;) He then gave us a few life tips, then opened the floor to questions. I remember one of the funny things he was explaining was that when he first started writing books of Canadian history in the 1970s, he was one of like five different historian-authors working in Canada at the time, it seemed. "I used to say that the others all starved to death", he joked to us. One of the messages he had was that, well, history wasn't necessarily very profitable, but it was interesting. ;) Also, that historical training can be immensely valuable in a huge variety of jobs... especially research-based careers.

I also asked him about his writing style, because he's written both legal histories as well as children's histories: what differentiates the two? He said that he's learned not to patronize children in his writing - so he doesn't gloss stuff over, I gather - but he does think twice about using certain "big words" and he never takes a reference for granted. For instance, if he makes an allusion to Pierre Trudeau, he will have a short aside explaining who the man was. Things like that. Super interesting!

Professor Muir introduced me to him afterwards. It was all very informal... but still, it's nice to make contacts! :) I'm looking forward to his talk next week as well! :D
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 So [livejournal.com profile] beckyh2112 has been doing some awesome research on women who have taken on men’s roles in various cultures, and when she put out the call on Twitter I responded with the question – “Have you ever heard of Two-Spirited people?” After a quick discussion, I agreed to transcribe a fascinating passage from a fascinating book, detailing a subject that very few people actually know about.

The book itself was published by the University of Alberta Press (I go to this university! <3 ). I picked it up this summer because they had a sale on the history books at the Fort Edmonton giftshop, and since I’d walked past this shelf every day for months on my way in and out of work, and this particular book had been recommended to me many times by my co-workers… The temptation was too much to resist. I can claim it’s research for work, too, because I portrayed a Metis country wife. ;)

Sarah Carter’s The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation Building in Western Canada to 1915 (2008) deals not only with aboriginal peoples, but also later polygamous religious societies like Mormon groups. The chunks of the book on aboriginal culture were particularly relevant to me and my work, though, and fascinating to boot. Analyses of societies like these really do demonstrate that the supposedly “natural”, heterosexual, monogamous model proposed by Western Europeans… isn’t exactly as “natural” as it is made out to be.

This particular passage (pages 122-125) is on Two-Spirited people, who are super-cool. Originally, Becky was looking for specifically female-to-male gender reversals, I believe, but the reverse is also fascinating, and some cultural expectations applied to both groups.



Read on to hear about Trim Woman, Running Eagle, Pidgeon Woman, Elk-Yells-in-the-Water, and other Two-Spirited people. )
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 I'm not sure if I mentioned it anywhere yet - I'm sure if I did I didn't talk about it in detail - but on Wednesday I got to be a part of the short film they're making at Fort Edmonton. <3 

For some information on the Capitol Theatre project, see here. Long story short: they're building a new theatre on 1920s street at the living history museum, right next to the Hotel Selkirk (which is a functioning hotel, by the way, with gorgeous rooms and delicious food). It's a super-exciting project! They'll be able to use it as a theatre space for dramatic productions, if they want, but during regular hours they'll be able to show 1920s silent films... plus some 1930s Talkies. :) (I put my vote in for "Freaks" and Bela Lugosi's "Dracula".)

They're also making an original film, entitled "Northern Light" or something like that, the plot of which essentially boils down to "10,000 years of Edmonton's history in 10 minutes". Cut for long-winded explanation of awesomeness, plus photographs. )


(Note: those things in the foreground aren't tombstones covered in snow. They are in fact ice walls built for the snowball fight competition being held there pretty soon. Can you think of a cooler setting for a snowball fight? :D )


Some of the beaded belts laid out on the table in Clerk's Quarters, ready to be chosen. Adele, the costumer, brought out our bag of "bling", as we call it: belts and chokers and so on so we could deck ourselves out. We laid them out quite nicely and several of us spent time photographing them. For more photographs of these belts (as well as more shots of the Fort in wintertime), see this album here

Aaand... that's all she wrote!
beboots: (Default)
 So, I, uh, was trying to avoid doing homework checking my e-mail account, and I noticed that I had an update from [livejournal.com profile] floranna 's journal: she'd made a voice post! So, acting unlike the good student I know myself to be, I thought that I'd make one as well. :) This meme is thus ganked from [livejournal.com profile] floranna . :)



In a voice post/vlog/whatever: Say These Words: Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

Now answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

My voice sounds very different out loud than it does in my head. Very strange! It sounds higher than my twin sister's does, for some reason... Also, apologies for the poor sound quality: I was just using the built-in microphone from my laptop. I should sit closer to it next time or something. :P 

So as you may be able to hear from my voice post, I do have a Canadian accent, which according to everyone except Canadians sounds a lot like an American midwest accent. And I can sort of see that. Apparently we use different terminology, though, and there's apparently something called "Canadian raising" that linguists like to talk about a lot... it's very subtle, but I think it's what we do at the end of the sentences: we end on a slightly high note, I think, and Americans don't. 

Also, where Americans would go "huh" when speaking, we tend not to, using it much less often or using "eh" instead. Oh, what the heck, here's a brief comparison: 



You also don't generally use "eh" by itself, like in the sense of "Huh." as a confused sound. Or not often, anyway. ;)
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Last night, I did something completely crazy. I drove into Edmonton during a snowstorm. Slow & steady wins the race, guys. D: I went to my lovely friend Marcella's place for a traditional Ukrainian Christmas dinner (SO MUCH FOOD). Twelve courses, which included lots of things with poppy seeds, and, of course, perogies. <3 Marcella was good enough to offer me emergency shelter at her place overnight as the blizzard raged on outside, which also left me at liberty to consume a few glasses of wine, since I wasn't driving anywhere. This morning, I drove home in the daylight. 

But HOLY  CRAP there was a lot of snow. I should mention that it's still snowing outside, not exactly lightly, but neither is it completely white-out conditions. Marcella had to help me dig my car out of the snowdrift. None of the roads except St. Albert Trail had been plowed yet. The residential areas were murder to get out of; I drive a relatively small car (for Canada, at least: I suppose it's average-size for a European car), and so the ruts in the snow that had been created by other drivers this morning didn't help much because my car is like half a foot or more less wide than most of the pickup trucks on the road. That meant that my car kept getting jerked to the side because only one pair of wheels was ever in a rut at a time. :P Also, the middle mound of snow kept scraping the belly of my car. I could HEAR it. D: 

(Mum and I estimate that in our area it snowed 22cm overnight. That's what, nearly a foot of snow? And it keeps coming down. Remember, hardly any roads had been plowed.)

I drove really, really slowly, and had to roll down my window when I wanted to do turns or shoulder checks (I, uh, tended to pick a lane and keep to it) because there was so much ice on my windows and it was impossible to grate all the way off... I did lose control only once, and ended up in the snowdrift on the side of the road. I tried to reverse and wiggle my way out, but since it's only  barely below zero, despite the huge dump of snow, it was slippery underneath. I put my hazard lights on, of course, and got out to see if I should get the shovel out of my trunk to dig myself out... When two pickup trucks stopped to help me, parking in front and in behind. The first truck had two burly men in it who were going to help me physically push the car out of the snowdrift (they move pretty easily because snow is quite slippery, despite the immense weight of these vehicles), but the guy in behind actually randomly had a tow rope. So he latched onto my bumper and his and just pulled my car right out! I told all three men that they were acquiring lots of good karma. Apparently the guy with the towrope had been doing this quite a bit: I was the fifth person he had towed out on his way to work! ;) I thanked them all profusely and was on my way.

Canadian winters bring us together, I swear. I mean, I think that's why Canadians have the reputation of being so friendly. It's all of us against the weather. We have to stand united. ;) Perfect strangers who may never have given you the time of day during the summertime or elsewhere will stop and help you out with no expectation of reward. Thank you all! 

...and now I'm trapped at home. I'm not leaving the house again until this storm is over. I've made some tea, and now I'm going to do some reading, write fanfic, and possibly work on my thesis.

Also, after this snow stops (according to the weather forecast, not for another couple days?), if anybody's in the Edmonton area, I would love to go snowshoeing with someone! I've got an extra pair if anybody wants to come with! At the very least, we have a lovely amount of snow to trudge around in and observe nature. :) Don't hesitate! 
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 HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Well, it's not quite new year yet where I am. It's not even 7pm yet... but I'm heading off soon to see the fireworks that my small city sets off each new year pretty soon, so I thought that I'd post a well-wishing entry for you all. :) We're one of the last people to celebrate the new year, being the second-furthest west timezone in North America. (Is Hawai'i across the date line? I can't recall...)

Anyway, I've had a pretty good few days. I spent time in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies with my family, skiing and hiking in canyons to see ice waterfalls (I swear photos WILL be forthcoming). Today, dad tested out his new small snowshoes with me. I wore an older pair of his made from wood and rawhide; it's all very traditional, except for the black plastic buckles and black nylon straps to actually attach my boots to the things. Still, it was quite fun! We went walking down River Lot 54, identified animal tracks (dog, deer, and rabbit runs respectively) as well as deer and rabbit scat. I felt very rugged and Canadian, doing this while slogging through/on top of snowdrifts deeper than my knees. Super fun!

Here's hoping that the new year is awesome for you all (and me)! :D 
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 I certainly hope that everything's going wonderfully for you guys out in internet land. :) I was best pleased this morning - lots of chocolates, books, DVDs, etc., as well as a lovely faux (polyester fleece, not wool) HBC point blanket, which made the fur trade history dork in me squee. You may see photographs of me wearing it at some point in the future. :3 It is soft and lovely. 

In any case, I've spent the morning with my family, and dad and I have been cooking up a storm preparing our Christmas feast - turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, broccoli with curry cheese sauce... My tummy just rumbled thinking about it. :D We're eating it in the early afternoon - 1:00 or so - and then we're hopping in the car and driving down to the lovely Canadian Rockies to go skiing for a few days. :) I'm super excited!

Which brings me to the pressing point of writing this entry now. I have managed to lose track of my postcard mailing list, with its many addendums. 

Thus, IF YOU WERE ON THAT MAILING LIST (AKA HAVE RECEIVED POSTCARDS FROM ME BEFORE) PLEASE RESEND ME YOUR FULL MAILING ADDRESS. (probably in a PM to be perfectly safe) 

I've dug up my grandmother's and [livejournal.com profile] floranna 's, but I'm still missing many others. I'm looking at you, Cassidy, [info]anyjen and others! ([info]shamanessa_wolf : do you want the postcard sent to your address in Hungary or in Spain?)

Also, if you WANT to be on the mailing list and receive postcards from exotic places like the Canadian Rockies when I go on vacation, please also send me your address in a PM! :) All I ask is that I receive the occasional postcard in return. 
beboots: (confusion)
The final evening at Christmas Reflections at Fort Edmonton! It ended up being like -27C in the river valley... The poor draft horses had frost all over their coats, and were brought into the stables (switched out for tractors AKA "mechanical horses" ;) ) halfway through the evening. I took a shower right before I left for work, and I put my hair in braids while wet. So after I lit the bonfires, and I realized about an hour into my shift that my braids had frozen. SOLID. Like, icicle cores. D: 

CHECK IT OUT



PIPI LONGSTOCKING COSPLAYS = NOW RIDICULOUSLY EASY. 

And for comparison purposes, here is what it looks like defrosted. SO FLOPPY



Here is a shot of the glorious bonfire I made yesterday, to warm you up wherever you are. :)
beboots: (Spread teh light!)
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but in between studying, I've been working at Fort Edmonton in the evenings, mostly on the weekends, for their Christmas Reflections programming. I do things like light the bonfires, answer people's questions, make sure everyone knows about the free hot chocolate and cider (and the sugar cookies, fresh-baked in the old wood stove at Henderson house!), sometimes helping out with children's crafts, etc. There are also sleigh rides with a Christmas-centered history tour throughout the park, and carolers wandering about singing historical versions of popular Christmas carols. :) It's lovely, and has a beautiful atmosphere. The older buildings are lit up with lights, and Mother Nature has obligingly given us several good sprinklings of snow to decorate everything.

I wanted to also state first off that I'm not all about putting the "Christ back in Christmas" or whatever. I think that it's a lovely winter holiday (especially needed to break up the dreary long winters with a bit of joy and cheer), and a good chance to eat good food and spend time with your families. Also, while I'm not big on Christianity, I do absolutely ADORE Christmas carols. Say anything else of them, but the churches knew how to write good songs. ;) I will sing all about the glory of Christ if it's done beautifully. Maybe I'm hypocritical and shallow in this respect, but I equally love songs like "The Holly and the Ivy", "Good King Wenceslas", "I Saw Three Ships", "O Come All Ye Faithful", and "We Three Kings of Orient Are." I don't distinguish between the Christian, pagan, or commercial songs very much. I'm not as fussed about some more modern songs: whether or not I like "Jingle Bell Rock" depends on the version, and I absolutely hate with an unabiding passion the song "Santa Baby". Maybe it's because it played on the radio every fifteen minutes back when I worked at Superstore, from November 1st until December 31st, but it grates in my ears. Also, I don't see Santa as sexy, but maybe that's just me. Huggable, yes, sexy, no. Seducing Santa Claus sounds far too much like prostitution for me to actually like that song, even if it weren't sung in the most annoying voice possible. :P

Cut for discussions of lesser known verses of Jingle Bells... )

Cut for discussions of the history behind "The Huron Carol", my favourite (and Canadian!) Christmas song... )
Anyway, I found this lovely version sung in Wendat, French, and an older English translation. 



If you want an idea of what the popular English lyrics sound like, see here. This English translation follows more closely the idea of Brébeuf's lyrics as opposed to the direct translation of the Huron. 
beboots: (O RLY?)

visited 10 states (4.44%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Denmark only counts because my mother took me and my sister there as babes in arms. Ditto with Germany - I was born in Lahr in the Black Forest on a Canadian military base, but I don't remember much as I left when I was three. The US only counts because I've visited Hawaii, plus flown through Seattle and once quickly jumped across the border when visiting Niagara falls to take in the view from the American side.


visited 9 states (69.2%)
Create your own visited map of Canada

I can also have my parents to thank for childhood vacations which involved driving cross-Canada, and to each ocean during various summers. PEI (AKA Prince Edward Island) was notable to my child mind not because of Anne of Green Gables or potatoes or anything (for which it is most famous) but because of the good seafood available there and that one day when we were walking along the beach in our campground and we found a headless baby seal, probably the victim of an orca whale. That sort of thing sticks with you. ;)

One day, I shall visit the territories, just to say I could. Apparently the capital of Nunavut, Iqaluit, has a smaller population than the small-ish city I live in outside of Edmonton. I don't think that I'll ever be truly considered Canadian unless I've snowshoed across the tundra and seen at least one wild polar bear in my lifetime.
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We celebrate Thanksgiving, but in October, as Canadians will. I think that the timing really speaks to what it means to the majority of us up here in the frozen white North. It's a harvest festival, a time to celebrate what we have (and be thankful for it) before the long cold winter (and therefore shortages of food) comes. 

(In case I didn't make the connection clear: the further North you go, the shorter the growing season, therefore the earlier harvest is. As I think you may have gathered from whining I've done on this blog before about Canadian weather, winter can sometimes come before fall even really seems to start.)

For us, it's a time in which our family (all five of us - my extended family is scattered across North America and Europe) work together to clean the house, cook the meal, eat together and talk for hours. We're not the kind of family to say grace before a meal, but we always go around the table before we eat (even as we stare, hungrily, at our turkey and vegetables and such, having starved ourselves for most of the day since breakfast) and talk about things that we're thankful for: the fact that my little brother is still in remission, the fact that we haven't been as hard-hit by the economy as some (the government will always seem to need nurses and military engineers), the fact that we haven't lost anybody close to us in a while... It's generally a good time.

This year, dad was, unfortunately, away, and as he's the one who normally cooks the turkey, and mum was still mighty busy at work, I took it upon myself to bake the turkey and create a lot of the veggie dishes. I'm proud to report that it was a success! The largest thing I've ever cooked. :) We had delicious leftover sandwiches for days. 

Our meal included a turkey with stuffing (I rubbed the skin with butter, pepper and paprika), gravy, scalloped potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, and others... plus a pumpkin pie for dessert. We generally only make enough to last us for two or three days in leftovers: most gets eaten. 

I know that there are nasty stereotypes associated with Thanksgiving, especially in the states (see: historically inaccurate pilgrims in stove-top hats and buckled shoes being helped by the natives whom they eventually wiped out due to disease), but that meaning is sort of divorced from our current experience. And hey, I celebrate Christmas, thinking of it more as an opportunity to do good by my family and enjoy the winter season than specifically as a celebration of the birth of Christ. 

So happy (belated) Thanksgiving out to my American friends!

(... and now I'll throw myself back into homework. :P )
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 It was about -17C when I woke up this morning. We'll see that as pretty warm in a few weeks. :P We've survived the storm; it snowed steadily for nearly two days. Not fast and thick, but small little snowflakes more like a mist that just wouldn't dissipate. 

I've already had to drive into Edmonton, to an appointment about half an hour away. It only took me an extra ten minutes to get there, but I also borrowed my mum's car, which has the snow tires on already. Still, some of the roads had been plowed but not all. The backroads were I had to drive through to park were really slippery. It was lucky it was past rush hour because I slid into several small intersections while trying to stop for stop signs. D:

Tip: leave plenty early, and drive as slowly as you have to. I've been re-acquiring all of my good habits from when I was a learner: leaving huge stopping distances, going five under the speed limit at all times... And hey, I didn't crash or even fishtail like I saw some trucks doing! ;) 

The other task I had to do this morning was drop off my car to get snow tires installed. $1000 gone: luckily, my mum paid for them. It's only so expensive because we were buying entirely new tires, plus the installation fee for the shop. Now that we have them dad can switch them out in a few hours in the springtime for free. My mum is of the opinion that this is a safety thing and anyways we need to use it for six months of the year... Those "all season" tires that they plug were designed in the States and are pretty useless on winter roads. :P 

I am also of the opinion that if it's going to be cold, you may as well have some lovely snow and frost to offset the ugliness of brown trees and dead grass. Here is the view from a top-floor window in Albertan suburbia, so you can get a look at the frosted trees that some Christmas ornaments try to replicate. 



Now that the cold weather has arrived, I've also brought out my famous warm knitted scarf, as seen in previous years here
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 My pirate days are over once the river starts to freeze...!

Here is a truly Canadian blog post. >_> 

Yesterday was the first day that it really began to feel like winter, and today it's confirmed. Blizzard. There's supposed to be like 15cm of snow happening this evening, and it's been snowing all day already. We've had snow already, in October, but it melted. This is unusually late in the season for a first snow to be sticking - sometimes we get "winter" beginning in September, before all of the leaves have properly fallen off of the trees. We've gotten snow in every month except August here in Alberta (not that it normally stays in the typical "summer" months).

They say that Canada has two seasons: winter and construction. They are totally on the ball on this one. 

At the moment, despite the snow, it's about -8C. That's not bad. Generally we average around -23C, I'd say, in the winter months around here (it's a dry cold), but with windchill it can get nasty. A year or two ago a weather station at the airport actually registered something like -50C, for an instant, at 4 in the morning one blustery day. 

It's normally not as bad as all that, and you get used to it (hint: dress in layers and don't go outside if you can't help it), and it certainly gives us bragging rights. I've heard somewhere that because bitching about winter weather is a national pastime in Canada (it's the safest topic of conversation at the bus stop, for instance), we apparently have a very small number of people freezing to death each year, considering our population and Canadian winters. It's because we're not taken by surprise very often. I think they even set up winter shelters for the homeless, too. 

I am so glad that I had my practical driving lessons in the middle of the wintertime, though, because it made driving in the summer a breeze. Here are a few things I've noticed that are unique to Canada because of our winters... 

We have pretty tall traffic lights and signs. I noticed this in France, which sometimes has traffic lights only a head or so taller than a person would be. Those would be obscured by snowdrifts in Canada. We also frequently have a sign with an arrow that says "stop line" at intersections, because you can't always see the lines painted on the road. There's a lot of "driving in the ruts" going on in the wintertime...

We also really, really like pedways here (AKA "pedestrian walkways"). Essentially, to get from building to building, you don't have to go outside, but can walk through a tunnel, sometimes above ground, sometimes under it. In Montreal, their Metro system is actually attached to a massive underground mall. They're like reverse skyscrapers. It's intense. 

In Quebec, where it's much more humid, there's a lot more snow. In many places in Quebec City, they actually set up little temporary tents overtop of driveways and some sidewalks so the snow just lands on top and slides off, so they don't have to shovel their driveways all of the time. They have a ridiculous amount of snow. Example: 


This bike was just abandoned in Quebec because a particularly heavy snowfall trapped it. 

Anyway, quick tips! Remember, nobody knows how to drive in snow for at least a few days after the first snowfall. They forget that they can't stop on a dime, so don't leap out in front of cars. Seriously, pedestrians may have right of way, but you can't wine about it in court if you're dead. Also, drivers, don't rush up to stop signs or try to rush through yellow lights. Leave yourself long stopping distances. Trust me on this. 

Also, wear practical shoes, and fashion styles. This thing for tights that's oh so popular in the states? You won't last five minutes if the bus is late. Same goes for high heels. If you need to wear them, change at your destination and leave the clunky boots with your scarf and jacket at the coat check. Practicality trumps fashion this time of year, guys!

Hot drinks are in: tea, hot chocolate, coffee, hot toddies... 
beboots: (confusion)
Warning: this post is rated PG-13 for gore. 

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it to you guys before, but my dad goes hunting every autumn. To forestall any knee-jerk "but killing animals is bad!" reactions, let me say this: my family has immense respect for animals. That's one of the reasons we eat far more venison (AKA deer meat) than, say, store bought beef or pork. I mean, at least the deer got to live free and run around and enjoy life for several years before being killed, as opposed to being stuck in a pen and fattened up for two years before being killed and butchered by uncaring workers, right? Also, we use far more of the animal than they ever would. Sometimes we even give the skin to a leatherworker my dad knows for tanning and such. 

Also, this time, I asked dad to save the sinew from the back of the animals for use at the fort next year. It's drying on a plastic clothes hanger in the kitchen right now. 

Also, venison is delicious. 

I admit that it's a little bit gorey to be doing the butchering yourself, but if you get squeamish about being confronted with the origins of your food, then you probably shouldn't be eating the finished product. My dad got three deer last week (and yes, he does have deer tags): a mule deer buck and doe, as well as a white-tailed doe. The buck was absolutely GIGANTIC, I swear. I didn't go out and take any photographs this time, because, uh, my dad had already skinned them, except for their heads, and it's a bit too much to be posting on this blog, I think. ;) Also, for some reason, according to my dad, almost all deer, when they die, stick their tongues out. Like, the stereotypical, sideways tongue position: :P It's kind of creepy. Also, my dad has hung them in the garage, so when I go in there from the house to toss something in the recycling bin they stare at you, dangling in the dim light. 

Anyway, I just spent some time helping dad with the butcher paper, taping up the bundles of meat and labelling them (you know, MDB (Mule Deer Buck), Nov (20)10, tenderloin/stew meat/roast/whatever". But holy crap it just hit home again how HUGE that buck was. When you picture a deer, you almost think delicate, right? Especially the does? I've always really pictured does as being almost the same size as me, in the torso and neck, right? Well, that buck... Holy crap. I just helped dad make like three or four SEPARATE roasts out of his neck. The neck itself was like bigger than my own torso. 

I should also mention that this beast was so powerful he almost took my dad out after the deer actually died. No joke. He and his friend (an old man who goes by the name of "Stoney") had parked the truck just downhill from the deer, and even after cleaning it out it was ridiculously heavy and hard to lift into the truck. So dad got on the truck bed to lift from there as Stoney went to lift from below, and when they actually got it in the truck bed after several heaves, because of the slope of the hill the body actually slid back, pushing dad back too, and the antlers (which are pretty sharp!) actually pinned around one of dad's legs. If it had been a few inches to the side... there are big arteries in the thigh area, and they were a few hours away from a decent hospital. It could have been bad. The deer's vengeful spirit, anyone? 

I apologize if some people were a bit squicked out by this post, but I thought that I'd talk about something a bit stranger that marks Canadians as a bit different. Not all Canadians are even hunters, of course, and I make no pretensions at this being a purely Canadian endeavour! ;) I should also mention that most of the firearms owned in this country (I believe) belong to hunters and not necessarily to urban dwellers for domestic defense, as is the case in the states. But anyway I think that hunting something different that needs to be talked about frankly. It's not a weird fringe thing to be looked down upon by celebrities in their faux-fur coats. 

Also, if you're living in the Edmonton area, we have loads of venison! Stop by if you want to partake; my dad is very generous at handing out roast and stew meats! :) He'll also break out the jerky-maker later on when we have a good sunny day. :)

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