Heritage Days – Anticipation!

Heritage Festival

I spend ALL YEAR looking forward to Edmonton’s annual Heritage Festival. AND IT IS FINALLY HERE!

It is one of the top reasons why I’m thrilled I moved to Canada (and Edmonton, specifically). Seriously. Not only is it a huge festival that highlights FOOD (one of my favorite things in life), but it also celebrates culture. SO. MUCH. CULTURE.* I love being able to wander around and see people showcasing the parts of themselves and their families and their heritage that they are proud of.

Whether it’s a native dance or a bunch of drummers (or even fellows in chain mail mock-fighting!), I feel like I’m surrounded by joy and acceptance, and those are two feelings that seem to be in short supply all too often these days.

So yeah. It starts in less than an hour and a half, and Steven and I are going to walk down to the park and stuff ourselves until we can barely stand to walk home. And then tomorrow we’ll do it all over again. (Monday too!)

Ok. I just needed to squee about that briefly. If your town does something similar, I do hope you check it out. Edmonton’s seems to be one of the bigger ones in Canada, and I couldn’t be happier about it! But even on a smaller scale, it’s great to celebrate the people who make up the fabric of the area you live in. On a normal day downtown I can hear several languages being spoken in the course of walking two blocks (I love that!), but at the Heritage Festival, it’s more like a dozen. I love that even more.

Anyway, I need to get back to my spreadsheet. Why yes. I am creating a spreadsheet of the notes I’ve taken over the last few years. And yes. I do take notes during Heritage Days. Gotta make sure I don’t miss any of the amazing foods I loved from years past. And I want to make sure I don’t waste any tickets on things I’ve tried and not liked. Gotta sample a bunch of new stuff this year! So yes, I’m compiling my spreadsheet of notes. I’m that nerd. And I’d better get back to it.

If you’ve been to the festival in the past and have any recommendations for me, share them in the comments! (I’m off my usual dietary restrictions for the weekend, so ALL FOOD is fair game for me. Steven will be sticking to the vegetarian fare.)

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*Yes, there are a lot of caps in this post. I AM THAT EXCITED!

Canada Day!

Flag_of_Canada.svg

No, it’s not technically Canada Day. Well, not here anyway. As Andrew Smith already pointed out on Twitter, it is in part of the world already!

Tomorrow I’ll celebrate my third Canada Day as a permanent resident of this lovely nation (and my fourth in Canada, as I was visiting on July 1st of 2013). I must admit, I’m a little overwhelmed when I consider that. I still often think of myself as a newbie here (and in many ways I suppose I still am), but it won’t be too long before I can apply for citizenship (which I plan to do). Somewhere along the line, Canada (and Edmonton, specifically) became home.

I still get tripped up when I hear someone say “process”, but I usually remember to ask where the “washroom” is and no longer tilt my head when someone says “loonie” or “toonie”. I’m still getting used to the idea of being represented by an MLA instead of an assemblyman or a senator, but I’m 100% comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor whenever I need to and not worrying about how I’m gonna pay for it. (That last one still makes me deliriously happy, it just doesn’t feel weird anymore.) I think I’ve finally reached the tipping point–where Canadianisms seem more normal than not.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that I’ve acclimated is that this summer hasn’t completely wigged me out. That’s been the hardest thing to get used to. Everyone taunted me about the winters here, but I had exactly ZERO problems with winter. I don’t mind the extra dark. The longer cold months don’t bother me. And while Edmonton’s deep cold snaps are definitely longer than Wisconsin’s, the difference in temperature isn’t great enough that I notice.

The summers on the other hand, have been brutal. This much sunlight in a day is damn unnatural I tell you…or I would have told you just last year. I never had any idea what time it was, and that threw me off more than I ever expected. When you live your whole life of three-plus decades at one line of latitude, your body gets used to the rhythm of the year. My system had nothing to grasp onto when it was 11pm and the sky was still far from dark.

This year, it hasn’t bothered me. For the first time, I’ve kind of enjoyed it. I feel like I do have a (small, admittedly) grasp on what time it is based on the brightness of the sky. It’s neat!

It’s not only neat, it’s home. And tomorrow, I plan to celebrate the hell outta my home. We’ll eat Indian food (for a nation that’s so immigration-friendly, it’s the perfect way to celebrate–especially in Edmonton) and watch fireworks and I’ll spend every moment being happy and grateful I’m here.

Job!

Yes! I’m a working girl once again. Well, sorta. It’s a temporary gig, but it could possibly maybe lead to something permanent. (Please cross all your fingers and toes for me.)

Now I’m not gonna write much about my job specifically, ’cause I feel like that’d be unprofessional, but I will observe how much I am digging the structure of having a place to go to day in, day out again. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but my brain really craves routine. I wasn’t doing the best job of creating a routine for myself, so my mind-juices have been much more balanced the past week or so than they had been for a while.

If this does end up being a truly temporary position, I’m literally writing this note-to-self to remind me to do a better job of sticking to a schedule and create some at-home structure for myself. I always forget how good that is for me until it’s gone for a while and then back. So yay for that!

Additional yay: I really like the job. I get to write, and I get to organize information and track things to make sure they get done on time–all things at which I excel. Plus it’s walking-distance from home. In the summer in Edmonton, that’s a great thing. And I feel good about what I’m doing so it’s a win all around.

Now if only we could find Steven a job too… Actually, he’s been hard at work getting things set up for the podcast production business we’re launching. (It’ll be a side-gig for me if I end up with a permanent position. If I don’t, then I throw myself into podcasting! Kind of a win-win, really.)

Anyway, we’ve come up with a name which is both deep-dive geeky and perfect: Castria. Gold star to anyone who spots why we picked it.

Lightning and Wonder

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When I decided to move to Edmonton, my spouse and I decided I’d better visit for a while first, to make sure it was a place I could really feel at home. So I took a two-month leave of absence from work and came up to try to settle in and see how I fit. And a year before that, I’d visited for a week just for fun. During those visits, I saw several of the most spectacular lightning storms I’ve ever witnessed.

Before I visited Edmonton, I didn’t realize lightning comes in different colors. I saw the entire sky light up purple and bolts of bright turquoise lightning snaking across the whole sky (with thunder boomers that were nearly as impressive as the light show). It was amazing. I’ve always adored thunderstorms, and it felt like Edmonton was trying to woo me with a spectacular show.

I’ve now lived in Edmonton over two years, and I was starting to think the city had tempted me here under false pretenses. I’d seen not one thunderstorm that qualified as even remotely good in all that time.

Until last night.

Tonight I spent well over an hour sitting on my balcony watching the sky. I have now added pink lightning to my collection. (That picture above actually features my building, and yes, the lightning was that pink color in real life. Some zaps I saw were even pinker.)

And it was one of those odd summer storms that was lots of sound (and light), but not much fury. There was a bit of wind, but almost no rain so I could comfortably sit there listening to this week’s episode of Radio Free Skaro. It was delightful and soothing to simply sit and enjoy myself. (And yes, I did pause the podcast whenever I saw lightning so I’d be ready to hear the accompanying thunder.)

Steven and I are both between jobs right now (Steven was laid off just over a week ago), and I admit I’d considered moving elsewhere to find work. I wonder if Edmonton sensed that and stepped up its storm game to keep me here.

If so, I think it worked.

Photo credit: Vagabond Expedition

You Can’t Go Back

As I compose this, I’m sitting on the couch next to my spouse, Steven. We’re watching TV together. This wouldn’t be a weird thing, except that it’s during the day on a weekday.* That doesn’t usually happen. Or it didn’t usually happen. It certainly can now because Steven was laid off last week.

This was completely unexpected, though not entirely surprising. (He worked in the swiftly-sinking television industry. As he put it “I caught the first lifeboat off the Titanic.”) The lack of warning made it quite the heart-stopping day. The fact that I’m also between jobs leaves us with little in the way of a safety net. And that’s scary.

My greatest personal struggle right now is to keep from beating myself up. If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you know I chose to leave my job last year because it wasn’t a great fit, and I wanted to pursue something that would make me happier. That was the right decision at the time. I knew the job market in Edmonton was tough, but I felt it was worth the risk.

From this angle, that risk looks much worse than it did back then. But blah blah hindsight blah blah. As my wise mother told me when I called to tell her the news, “You can’t go back.” Continue reading

My Neverending Childhood

Neverending Story

Yesterday, a local theatre had an afternoon showing of one of my favorite childhood films, The Neverending Story. Steven had never seen it before, so I insisted we go. I own it on DVD, so it wasn’t like it was the first time I’d seen it in many years, but I’d never seen it on the big screen. The first time I ever saw it was on videotape.

When I was little, that was one of our go-to movies. It was before the days you could buy your favorite films on VHS. No, we had to rent it over and over and over again. Then we’d run down the street singing the theme song at the top of our lungs, pretending we were riding Falkor.

I always enjoy watching this film, but seeing it in the theatre, larger-than-life, with the music streaming out at me from large speakers…it was a much more emotional experience than I’d expected. I started tearing up just listening to the opening theme. It took me right back to that insecure, awkward kid I used to be. The little girl who wanted an imaginary world to disappear into in the worst way. By the end, when Bastian starts making wishes, I was a blubbering mess.

And it was great.

Even looking at it as an adult, it holds up rather well. There are a few exceptions–I had a huge crush on Atreyu at the time, but the “noble savage as savior” trope really doesn’t work these days. Also, there’s a dearth of female roles–something I didn’t notice at the time because most movies were like that. The fact that the few we have are either all-knowing Mysterious Creatures or nagging wives doesn’t really sit well with me now.

And this is the movie that taught me about continuity errors. The Childlike Empress wears a nifty pearl headpiece, but in her big scene at the end, the two strips in the middle move depending on which take they used. That bothered the heck out of me when I was little, but now that I’ve seen oodles of examples of this everywhere, I’ve gotten used to it. I do still notice it every time I watch though.

Given how well the rest of this film works, I find all those issues very easy to overlook. (I will admit nostalgia may be a big factor in that.) Even the special effects hold up pretty well. They’re not great, but they’re not laughable like some other fantasy media of the time.

Happily, Steven enjoyed it, even seeing it for the first time as a theoretically-grown-up adult. So we will remain married. And I’ll continue to show him more of the beloved films he’s missed. But that…is another story.

Coming Home

Returning home after a delightful vacation is always weird. Today I’m in that not-quite-here, certainly-not-there fog that follows a trip to a place that is very different from home. Steven and I rolled in the door and tumbled into bed around 1am this morning after a fun-filled trip to visit our Incomparable impresario Jason Snell and the magnificent Bay Area of California.*

SF-GG bridge w fog

This morning, I am digging through email and trying to catch up on the little things I missed while having fun. I did take time to water the plants before bed, but that’s the only thing. I didn’t even unpack until this afternoon.

At some point, I’ll probably do some more specific travel-journalling about the trip (knowing me, it’ll be weeks or months down the road, which will be great, because by then I’ll be entrenched in boring home-life and I’ll really want to reminisce about it), but for now, suffice it to say I had a truly fabulous time–even better than I expected! It’s a beautiful part of the world with exciting things to do (most of them sports, apparently), and it was made all the better by spending so much of it with good friends.

Would someone please tell my brain I’m now at home and should get down to work doing home things? Because it reeeeally doesn’t want to. It thinks I should go for a walk or be at a baseball game or pet a sweet doggie. Actually, that first option does sound both good and doable. Edmonton’s river valley may not be the Pacific Ocean, but it’s very pretty in its own right.

River Valley

I can feel my inbox giving me the side-eye at the suggestion leaving the house is a good idea. On the other hand, the empty, forlorn fridge thinks I should leave immediately and go to the store. I am being guilted from all sides by inanimates. Story of my life these days, really.

Okay, I should give in to one of these. I shouldn’t just lie down and read a book or play Ultima VII. I really shouldn’t…

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*I have to admit, it always bothered/confused me when people said they were from “the Bay Area” because I legitimately didn’t know what they meant. There are an awful lot of bays in the world. It’s only recently that I realized most people mean California when they say it. I’ve pretty much gotten used to it by now, but it still strikes me as a term rather typical of the kind of people who use phrases like “flyover states” unironically. Ahh, language.