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Move over Dyson Animal! I have the strongest vacuum in the world!! And yes, readers, I realize this post has nothing to do w/the wonders of an Antarctic-like climate or the “fun” of hiking among the bears, but I feel my vacuum is a household tool that bears explanation…it’s like its own being anyway and since I got it from my landlord, who, incidentally, just happens to be Canadian, we’ll consider this yet another legitimate “adventure” being evaluated by the transplanted Phoenician. :)

First and foremost: a bit of history. When Danielle and I moved to our newly rented place (not the first one, the second–yes, we’ve had quite a time up here!), our landlord showed us where the vacuum attachments were located. I say vacuum attachments because we are lucky enough to have central vac–the greatest invention if your occupation just happens to be: The Official Stay-At-Home Mom, Chef, Secretary, Courier, Treasurer, Chauffeur and lastly, House Cleaner. A rewarding, yet busy career, but if you have central vac, well then, life is just THAT much better.

Where was I? Oh yes. The attachments. Well, the attachment that mattered the most, the one that looks like an actual vacuum (great for hardwood floors, carpets, even tile) ended up being a dud. Didn’t work at all. So we had it replaced.

The day our landlord dropped off the seemingly innocent, shiny black vacuum, with its stylish red “Hoover” across the top–I didn’t think anything of it. Just thanked him, placed it with the other attachments and moved on.

A few days later (to be truthful, it was probably a few weeks later), I grasped the new vacuum with cat-like reflexes and tremendous dexterity (two traits you must have to be a Stay-At-Home Mom, House Cleaner, Chef…you get the picture.) and attached it, expertly, might I add, to the Mustang of all Vacuums (referring to its sleekness of course).

Do you recall my story about the Great Pooper Scooper? Well, the moment I plugged in the central vac, this same feeling crept over me. It was unbelievable. The vacuum fired up, sounding like a well-oiled engine (see Mustang comment) and off it went! It wasted no time! It vacuumed and vacuumed–leaving no prisoners, not one speck of dust or dog hair or pebble or crumb!! I was amazed! It was incredible!

You might’ve noticed I said when I plugged it in that the vacuum just “went”. When I say it “went”, I mean to say the vacuum cleaner literally went off on its own, dragging me behind it, telling me who was running the show. It didn’t matter to Hoover who I was or what my title in the Household Hierarchy, it started up and wasted no time! Desperately, I attempted to control it, but I ended up looking like a Muppet being dragged from one end of the living room to another–Hoover in the lead, Hoover obviously in charge.

Nowadays, when I fire up Hoover, the color drains from our dog’s face, his eyes open wide and he makes a quick getaway, his nails sliding on the hardwood floor as he runs in place, trying to claw his way out of the room. Fear overtakes him as I’m certain he imagines Hoover coming for him like Freddy Kreuger. Sometimes I get the same look, but I haven’t got a choice…I just hold on tight, make sure Jack is out of the way and let Hoover do his magic. I often think about what it’s like for the other attachments, I bet when Hoover goes back to his place…he arrogantly casts a look at all the other attachments and says: And that, my fellow attachments, is how its done.

Until next time: Don’t forget to replace or empty vacuum filters.

Dude, Nice Coat!

I’m sitting here watching the mercury drop and wondering…are we all just going to freeze solid? Is this normal? It can’t be. The roads are white and icy, the sky is clear and blue, the houses are snowcapped and the trees are coated in a powdery frost. It’s cold outside!

Even the dog tossed me a look like: “Can’t I just pee in the house for today?” when I held the frigid screen door (with the ice cold metal handle that if I’m not quick about it, will claim the skin on my fingers) open for him to go outside this morning.

Which brings me to my topic of discussion for today: ever wonder what the dog is thinking about all this? I pondered this question a few weeks ago when I was traipsing through the dog park, chin tucked deep inside my scarf, my gloved hands covering my mouth so I could feel my warm breath…as I followed my dog Rocky through what he probably calls the Disneyland of Dog Parks. There’s nothing that even remotely resembles Walt Disney’s fantastical amusement park–but to Rocky, the fact that there are at least a thousand trees, one fire hydrant, ten wooden posts and a few dozen dogs–it’s Disneyland to him.

As I walk the path down the center of the park, Rocky runs at top speed, like he’s meeting his mother for the first time or like there’s a pound of ground beef in a dog bowl just waiting for him–his ears flap in the chilly air and the extra Sharpei skin on his face pastes itself against his skull like he’s hit Mock 10 in a fighter jet–he runs and runs and runs and suddenly he stops! For what? To poop. To deposit his own poo on the park grounds, to make his own contribution of $250 poo (please refer to previous posts where the Calgary bylaws were reviewed: dog poo is worth $250! okay, so it’s a fine, but still…). Dogs!

That’s what I saw: here’s Rocky’s perspective: pant, pant, pant, I see it! There! There it is! A perfect place to poo! It’s not even marked yet! It’s clean and MUST be marked! pant, pant, pant, I must get there and fast! pant, pant, run, pant, run, pant, run….Aaaahhhh! Mom! Come and pick this stuff up! It’ll cost you if you don’t….(even the animals are aware of bylaws)

Back to my perspective: After poo-ing, Rocky runs, again at top speed, to greet a pack of dogs obediently walking on leashes beside their dog walker. I know it’s a dog walker because all the dogs are wearing light blue bandanas. The dog walker is calling to all of them by name like Santa’s reindeer. “Buster!” “Claire!” “Mikey!” “Bones!” “Mr. Bowjangles!” (I’m serious.)

Rocky saunters up to the professionally-walked group and casually sniffs a labrador’s bum. A springer spaniel wags his tail upon seeing Rocky and begins to sniff Rocky’s bum. Rocky, in turn, sniffs the spaniel’s bandana and moves on.

Rocky’s perspective: Hey guys! How’s it goin’? What’s up with the bandana?

Just then, a long haired terrier comes bouncing along, he’s wearing a wool coat that makes him appear sophisticated. He’s also got matching boots. Rocky canters happily to meet the terrier. He sniffs his bum, but then moves on to the coat.

Rock’s perspective: Dude, nice coat! Aren’t you a dog? The Terrier: Doesn’t your mother love you?

We reach the end of the path aka “as far as I will go in this blizzard” and turn around to go back to the car. All the while Rocky is sniffing the ground, eating sticks, eating other things that i can’t identify (and beg for him to drop so that I don’t have to touch it), greeting other dogs by sniffing their bums, greeting people by sniffing their bums (he’s not a discriminating dog) and lastly, he lifts his leg against the fire hydrant before gracefully leaping into the back of my very dirty car. He lays down, adding more of his shedding fur to the carpet of dog hair he is currently weaving in the back of my Rogue.

Just as I close the hatch, a great Dane with a red coat walks by. Rocky barks: “Nice Coat!”  The Dane hangs his head in shame: “My mom made me wear it.”

Until next time: take your dog out for a routine walk, it reduces their anxiety and makes them happier animals!

Be One With The Bear…

Lately I’ve found myself wishing the snow would melt and sprigs of spring would appear along the icy sidewalks, and the great and wonderful Chinooks (translation: a nice wind that blows in like a kiss from an angel, bringing warmer weather with it) would just stick around a little while longer…like 3 or 4 months longer. Just to get us through the winter. Come on!

And so in the spirit of wishing for spring, I wanted to write about a really funny conversation I had with a friend of mine one day. First: what do you find wrong with this sentence:

“There’s a berry that’s in season right now that attracts the grizzly bears, so I wanted to go hiking this weekend.”

I don’t know if you are currently listing all the things wrong with this on your fingers and toes, or perhaps simply laughing because there are so many things wrong with this you can’t even begin to list them….I was in the latter group for sure. Nonetheless, my friend, who by the way is the theorist behind: Erickson’s Evolutionary Steps of Living in Canada (something I’ve yet to blog about, but will, oh I will), thought this statement was perfectly, perfectly normal. Hiking with the bears. Being one with the bear. Ha! The only way someone can be one with the bear is to be inside his stomach: 2-1= 1 satiated bear.

So when she asked if I’d go hiking with her, in that way, I simply answered: “No.” I may have added something along the lines of: are you f***ing crazy?, why don’t you just visit the zoo?, and my favorite: have you been sniffing bear spray?

NO. No, I won’t go hiking with you! Why? Because I’d rather not become bear food. I’d rather not have to promptly run my ass up a tree in a desperate situation. I’d rather not try out my bear spray, my jingle bells, my mace…

It’s not that I haven’t gone hiking in Canada because it’s bear season. In fact, I have braved the wild hiking trails and despite the fact that I look around my shoulder every 2 to 3 seconds, certain I’m being tracked by a bear, or that I wolf down my lunch, positive a bear will smell it and come running from the forest–I actually enjoy the scenery. To a point.

I used to really enjoy seeing moose or elk or deer–that was pretty incredible. Until I learned the moose and the elk are actually more dangerous than the bear and have a higher chance of charging and wreaking havoc. Really?

Well, then there’s the sweet chipmunks and squirrels. They’re safe right? Safer than a rabid dog. Go ahead, give those furry little animals with their innocent squeaks and dark eyes a little bit of your lunch. They’ll maul you that’s what they’ll do. They find out you’ve got more where that came from and they’ll contact their rodent families who come rushing to your picnic table in a matter of seconds. Then your peaceful lunch in the mountains turns to you, at a picnic table, surrounded by small, rabid dogs. (Darn, should’ve obeyed that sign!)

If you’re a little more optimistic, you might say: Hey, if there’s a berry in season the bear likes, perhaps it’s a good time to go because they want the berries, not the humans.

That’s like saying a dog will go for a carrot over a big, juicy, thick steak. Not gonna happen.

Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, you want to hike and be among the wildlife, among the hungry bears with their plethora of berries, the bipolar elk or the unpredictable moose…let’s just say you want this experience. I have some advice (I know,I know, this isn’t an advice column you’re saying, but just this once, I’m going to give you advice, but don’t keep asking for it, I won’t do it. This is a special occasion.):

Hike with a buddy. Put all food, snacks, anything that smells good in your buddy’s pack. Voila! You have bait. Now you have a chance to run. And you’re safe. As long as your buddy doesn’t run the same way you do.

So, here’s to my theorist friend: Let’s go! Can you carry this pack? :) My back hurts.

Until next time: Always hike with a buddy!

 

 

 

What do all these things have in common? All three of them are related to both the US and Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday. “I don’t buy free-range organic turkey…” you say. Well to that, I stand high on my soap box and say, “You should.”

In recognition of the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday this weekend (Oct. 11th–to be exact) I decided to do some research in anticipation of Jack asking “Why are we celebrating Thanksgiving again?” when we indulge on another turkey feast in November. After my extensive research (okay, one website clearly defined everything I needed to know) on the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, I finally found the answer to the question I’d been asking myself over and over: Why is the Canadian Thanksgiving on a different day from the American Thanksgiving? There had to be a reason.

My first inkling on this elusive (not really) question was: Americans simply celebrate Thanksgiving in November because Bud Light always has a real good sale then, the tryptophan in the turkey is higher (the tryptophan is allowed to build longer in their system) and lastly, because all Americans can take the next day off (which is already a Friday anyway–so what’s one day) and shop like one of the Housewives of Orange County–running each other over and trampling the weak just to get a $5 laptop at Wal-Mart. Really, it’s true.  I’ll have to address this situation later because apparently, Canadians do have a Black Friday–it’s called Boxing Day (Dec 26th)–so just when you’ve shopped like one of the Housewives for the past month (or since July if you’re like my mother)–you go back out the day after unwrapping all your parcels and shop some more….Housewives watch out!

Enough about that–that will be a future post: Boxing Day: Get into the Ring and Shop! (and yes Canadians, I know it has nothing to do w/actual boxing…).

Whew! Boxing Day just keeps weaving its way into my Thanksgiving post! Stop that! This isn’t your month!

On to Thanksgiving–so as I was saying…after my extensive research and note taking–the official answer to my question is this: Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second month of October because it is a celebration of a successful harvest. And, as everyone knows-they are farther north than the US (if you didn’t know that, then quite simply put, you are a moron)–hence, if they were to celebrate a successful harvest in November when the Americans do–they’d be chomping on Corn on the Cob popsicles. By the time the US decides to celebrate the Pilgrims and the Indians sharing a feast–Canada has already been hibernating under a few feet of snow for the past month. So I say–celebrate on Canadians! Let’s get this party started before the snow hits and temperature drops so low it freezes your lungs when you inhale. :)

Oh and for all you history buffs–the Canadians also had this “Frobisher” dude that was trying to find a passage to get to the Orient faster (You’ve gotta question this guy’s motives–isn’t that where they have those massage parlors?), but he went to Newfoundland instead and decided that the Orient wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and Newfoundland was so much better so he  held a “celebration” aka the first “Canadian Thanksgiving”-to give thanks for the surviving the end of a long journey and probably to give thanks for mail order brides…

Anywho, Martin Frobisher (we’ll call him Marty from now on…or maybe The Frobmaster)–had his home, had his mail order bride and had his tummy full of tryptophan–but that wasn’t all! He was later knighted (hm?) and an inlet in the Atlantic Ocean of Northern Canada was named after him: “Frobisher Bay” or if you prefer: “Marty’s Bay”. ;)

The French also had a hand in this whole thing because they couldn’t let Marty have all the fun, so they too, held celebrations of thanks–probably thankful for the fact that they were now in Canada and didn’t have to eat French food anymore.

Besides the French cutting in on the Frobmaster’s shindig, a little while later the Americans (yes, you know how we all love a good party) came up after the American Revolution (with their discounted Bud Light) and wanted to celebrate too–besides the pony kegs and their charming personalities, they also brought dessert: pumpkin pie. So the Canadians decided: hey, this stuff’s pretty good and now we come to today where the main similarities between the two Thanksgiving celebrations are: pumpkin pie and the cornucopia. You know the reason for the cornucopia was that Marty probably asked someone to bring a relish tray. :)

Well, that’s about it. Now we all know the history of the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday, more or less.

Until next time: Canadians: Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

The reason I am writing this post on top of my foggy weather post is because we recently had a negative reaction to all the Canadianisms I describe on this blog. What?! I know, how can someone have a negative reaction? Don’t you think I’m funny? I certainly do. I find myself utterly hilarious. I mean, sure I’m likely the only one who thinks I’m funny, but at least I’m aware of that.

But why the negative reaction? I’ve also been told that it appears as though all I’m doing is complaining about Calgary and its weather (oh and its bylaws–but trust me, if I was a REAL Canadian, I would still complain about some of the bylaws–for instance, did you know that abandoning a piece of dog poo-left by your own dog of course-could be worth up to $250???) I’m going to start blaming it on other dogs–“hey! did you see that dog over there? Yeah, the one running at top speed? He’s not running after his ball–he’s running away from his poo!! Go get him!) On a more serious note–I do agree that bylaws definitely keep order in this city–for example, another bylaw is that a child under 18 must wear a helmet while bike riding–perfectly acceptable bylaw. I like that one–I like it more than taking my kid to the ER because of a head injury.

As I’ve pondered the negative reactions and misunderstandings–I began to think about my fellow Phoenicians for whom I’ve provided “translations” for due to the fact that they know nothing but sun and heat–flaming, egg-boiling-on-the-sidewalk heat. But, I’ve not gotten a negative reaction from the Phoenicians–maybe they appreciate my translations and explanations of this icy, freezing, foggy town?

Ah well! Let me just get to my point–this blog or any other thing my wife says or does (hee hee..just kidding) is not meant to upset, offend or harm anyone. I (well, we both) merely think it’s hilarious to take you on this journey with us while we figure out just what it’s like to live in a cold weather climate.  ;) And openly talk about how we dress Jack in a windbreaker and tennis shoes when it’s going all “Fargo” on us outside. :)

Anywho in summary: We love you Calgary-even with all your bylaws! ;) And we truly do love living in this gorgeous country with its endless bike paths and endless “not normal for September” rain… ;) Now, let’s just all get along–eh? :) Good. With that said, I’m off to Earl’s to get myself a Caesar.

Until next time: Love and laugh plenty.

If you’ve been keeping up with the Bryant Household Drama Series where the self-proclaimed leader (we know who really runs this roost…), Danielle, has been offered this job and that and flying from province to province-in search of the best job and the best place to live–you might think from the sound of this title that I am referring to the fact that we don’t quite know where we’re actually at anymore–are we Arizonans? (noooo….too hot), are we Ontario-ans? (noooo….too cold), are we Calgarians?! (Yup! Just right!).

But that has nothing to do with this title because seriously, this morning as I drove around desperately trying to find my usual Tim Hortons coffee shop–I felt like one of three in the infamous group of blind mice. Why you ask? Fog. Hazy, heavy, cold, fog. (Phoenicians: see translation).

We’ve had nothing but rain, rain, rain. So much so that I’ve considered taking the Noah-approach and building an ark, allowing animals to come aboard two by two and sailing off toward a rainbow–all the while hoping that the pot of gold will be on a tropical island somewhere. Incidentally, speaking on the lack of sunshine, I went to the Dr. the other day and he said my Vitamin D is low–well of course it is! I haven’t seen the sun in about a month!

But, as usual, I digress because this post isn’t about rain–it’s about the resulting fog when the sun is trying with all its radiant might to warm us up again–thereby increasing the population’s Vitamin D (whereas the rain has another effect and that is increasing the actual population-what else are people going to do when it’s raining all day every day?? play Monopoly??)

Okay, back to the fog. So, we venture out after blindly dropping Jack at school–at least we thought it was school-hopefully he’s not at the local pub next door. (Just kidding–there is no pub next door, if there was, I’d have volunteered to just wait for him next door until 3pm).

Right. The fog. Yes, we dropped Jack at school and went driving off down Richmond Rd toward our coffee place to purchase some of our favorite crack-infused blend of joe. First of all, I don’t usually drive around. Danielle does. Consequently (and I mean “with consequences”….), I don’t drive very much and also consequently, (with even greater consequence…) I don’t know the area as well as she does. There are three different turns you can take into the shopping center where Tim Hortons is located. And so, I literally have to stop my car at each and every turn so I can see what turn it is and decide whether it is the correct turn. Why do I stop at each turn? Because it’s so foggy this morning that I can’t see my hand in front of my face–oh wait, that’s a different story–so Cheech and Chong…) I mean, I can’t see the car in front of me it’s so foggy!

So, using my heightened smelling sense when it comes to Tim Hortons, I sniff out the correct turn (okay, Danielle told me where to go) and arrive safely at Tim’s! :)

We drove back home just as blindly–but now as I type this, the sun is winning out over the fog and dissipating the cloudy blanket that is covering Calgary. And now, here I am, telling you this story–happy that it is in Calgary–happy that we are lucky enough to stay here.  ;)

Until next time: Proceed slowly in foggy weather.

A Lesson on Indoor Shoes

Today was Jack’s first day of Grade One! I know, sounds like he is attending a video game right ? You are on Level One (use your best digitized voice here). Anywho, the morning appeared to go well as we got Jack out of bed on time (something that will most likely not happen for the rest of the school year…), he ate breakfast in a matter of minutes (even with a nervous stomach :) ) and after brushing his teeth and putting on something warm (since it felt like winter was around the corner this morning)–sped away on his bicycle sans training wheels with his Nani and Mom chasing him and shouting orders not to ride in the middle of the street, to watch out for cars, to turn around because he’d gone too far, etc.

The big Grade Oners lined up for school and like nervous, excited, worried, parents–we did what any parent in our position would do who’d just dropped their kid off at school–we stalked the classroom and took pictures from the hallway! Well, this is when I noticed all the kids walking in their socks–I immediately inquired about this–do they walk around in their socks?
“No,” my Canadian source replied. “They change into their indoor shoes.

What? I had the backpack, I had the lunch, the snack, the new school clothes…but no indoor shoes! Now, I can’t say I haven’t learned about indoor shoes–because we did learn about them when Jack started kindergarten. And for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about–ahem….Phoenician friends–indoor shoes are the shoes the kids keep inside when it is snowing or wet  out so they can change into nice clean shoes when they enter the school–thereby eliminating the ooey-gooey slushy dirty mess that results when over a hundred kids come clambering down the hallway in their snow boots, rain boots or what have you. (Phoenician translation required here as all we know is blue sky:  snow boots–boots that are used to trudge around in the cold white stuff I mentioned before.) :)

But I digress–now back to the indoor shoes which I did not pack for Jack–so he had to go back to the entrance of the school and put his outdoor, now indoor shoes, back on.

I immediately ran to the store to buy indoor shoes–that incidentally, once I tried on him, were much too small. Ugh. Another day without indoor shoes! OH the travesty!

Until next time: Wipe your feet on the mat! Or for pete’s sake–get some indoor shoes!

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