Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Calgary Stampede

You may think you don't care about Stampede. But let's look at it this way- right here on my cozy little blog you'll be able to quickly learn about the biggest rodeo in the world, giving you the ability to discuss it with your friends and look like a smarty-pants. Yahoo!

See? You just learned something: the battle-cry of Stampede. It's not "yee-ha" or "whoop-de-do." If you toss your cowboy hat in the air and yell one of these phrases, NOBODY will slap you on the back and buy you a beer. Quite the opposite. People will avoid you, assuming you're a terrorist trying to blend in. Or worse- an American.

"Ya-hoo!!" is the only accepted Stampede call. It is so beloved that your boss will merely smile and give you the afternoon off if you yell it during a meeting and the judge will order a keg for the proceedings if you yell it in court. But ONLY during Stampede week. Oddly enough, you go back to being ostracized if you yell "Yahoo!" at any other time during the year.

So, it all starts with a parade early on a Friday morning. Frankly, I find parades boring but we were invited to a  party where we were provided with bleacher seats...

live music...

a hot breakfast and -get this- BEER:

Nothing says "morning" like a tall, cold one! I resisted until about 10:30. It was hot, they were passing them out in the bleachers, I took one. I gotta say, the parade suddenly became a lot more interesting. Ya-hoo!!

As the morning wore on and the beer flowed, our group started to cheer for EVERYBODY who passed in front of us. Even the street sweeper, following behind the horses:


Even this guy:


Even...oops...yeah, we cheered for the fuzz:

"Ya-"  *cough*

Let's move on. What you WEAR for Stampede is just as important as what you yell. Obviously, the cowboy hat is de rigueur. (But please- never say "de rigueur" out loud. It's annoying.) Back to the obligatory lid:

Yep- even THEY wore cowboy hats when they came for Stampede last year.

Then pair cowboy boots with anything at all and you're good to go-

Stampede is many things: a rodeo, a fair and a chance to see world class shows.  

The whole town gets into Stampede spirit:

In summary, The Calgary Stampede keeps alive the spirit of the old west. It reminds us of Alberta's humble  beginnings when those brave men and women blazed a trail into the unknown so that we might one day enjoy the beauty of this great province. Also, during Stampede, we get to party a lot. Thanks, brave men and women! I tip my cowboy hat to you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Henry on Long Island

My plane arrived at the Long Island airport earlier than scheduled so there was no one there to meet me. Since the bags weren't riding the carousel yet, I walked around the empty airport, looking for Mom. I spotted a woman and a little dog on a leash, walking away from me.


Yeah, I'm afraid I called Henry's name instead of my Mom's, but I had a hunch he was the one who might run to me. He did. He turned at the sound of my voice and pulled on his leash while Mom continued in the other direction.

But soon they were both on the same page, making their way to me. Henry lost his mind- wiggling around on the floor and whimpering- as other passengers walked by obviously jealous. (I could tell by the way they pretended not to notice us.)

Henry helped me with my bag and resisted the urge to pee on it. What a good boy!

But then he did the strangest thing. He started to look at the people around us, as if he thought he might know someone else. He strained against his leash, trying to get to one man in particular. You can see him here, his tail wagging at some poor schlub he was sure was a member of his family.

Back at Mom's house, Henry collapsed in a chair, drained from the task of retrieving me from the airport.

But then he remembered I was there! "Hi, Mommy! I will sit here and stare at you coz I'm so happy to see you!"

Um, no, that wasn't it at all. I realized he was staring at the chicken leg in my hand. Didn't take his eyes off it.

For the rest of the week, dear Henry did this:

Until it was time to get in the car and take me back to the airport.

The end.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Houston- Part 2 of my Trip to the U.S.

(You can read Part 1 here:

It was a pleasant five hour drive from Baton Rouge to Houston. I don't remember what we talked about but Jamie is always good company. We pulled into the parking lot at the hotel, left the windows down a bit for Jamie's dog, Herschel, and went into the lobby. And there was Greg, coming in from the parking garage after work. Amazing timing.

Greg and Jamie only had a moment to talk since Herschel was waiting in the car, but they made the most of it. After we said our goodbyes to Jamie and dumped my luggage in the hotel room, we went back down to the lounge for a glass of wine. Ahh..I was so happy to be in a nice hotel with a proper glass of wine that I took a picture:

Simple pleasures, man.
So, let's talk about the reason I needed to be in Houston. I'm not in the business of embarrassing people, so let's just say that someone that I'm married to was having a colonoscopy and I needed to drive him home. Why Houston? It's part of a company physical that's done at Houston's Medical Center.

Did you know you have to have someone drive you home after a colonoscopy? You're not even allowed to take a taxi. I guess they're afraid you might tell the cab driver to take you to another state or something. In fact, in the release papers, they tell you not to make any important decisions for the rest of the day. I considered re-doing our will- well, HIS part of the will- but it sounded like a lot of trouble and he seemed to be coming out of the anesthesia anyway.

Please forgive me, my dear friends who live there but, well, I hate Houston. It's hot, crowded and flat. Everyone spends the summer inside.

I remember walking down our street in the middle of July back when we lived outside of Houston and feeling like I was on a movie set. No people. No animals. Even the birds were hiding someplace cool. I didn't realize how much I dislike the city until we left. My fondest memories are of the people we met there who are still some of our closest friends.

So, let's move on to the fun stuff. On Friday, we drove to our friends' house on a lake. These folks were born to entertain and they do it well! We ate dinner out on their expansive porch after taste-testing a few unusual beers. A bottle of wine was opened with dinner. And maybe another.

I mentioned in Part 1 that I'm a light-weight when it comes to alcohol, so things get a little blurry here. I know we laughed HARD at things that didn't sound funny at all over coffee in the morning. And I know that their recycling bin was full to overflowing with cans and bottles. Let this be a cautionary tale to those of you who are facing an empty nest soon. You will revert to teenagers. Pace yourselves. And drink lots of water.

We spent Saturday night at our friend, Gail's, house. Another fabulous host. We had a great meal with some great wine, whilst sitting at her beautiful dining room table. I did not feel like a teenager. I felt like a proper adult. Then we hit the hot tub.

Personally, I think the sight alone of seven middle aged people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, holding plastic wine glasses above the bubbling water of a hot tub is funny. I don't have much more to say about it except that one of those seven people (name withheld for no good reason) actually FELL in with his glass of wine and came up laughing, with a full glass of spa water.

Good times.

To be continued...(yeah, that's what I said. This trip ain't over.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jasper National Park

June 2012. These are the best photos of the wildlife we saw. (By the way, we used a very effective zoom lens and most photos were taken from the safety of the car.):

Bear turning over rocks, looking for grubs:


Bear in a tree, eating leaves:


Brown bear. Most of them are black in Alberta:

Big horned sheep on a hill across from the Columbia Icefields:

You can see the tour buses driving up the Athabasca Glacier:



Baby sheep nursing on the highway:

A smarter baby sheep NOT on the highway:

3 big elk. Yeah, they all look the same to me, too:

Ptarmigan- can you see him?

"What are you lookin' at?"

Which photo is your favorite? Let me know!