Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hockey Night In ... Texas?

This evening I realized that you can take the Canadian out of Canada, but you sure can't take Canada out of the Canadian. I found myself planted on the couch, screaming madly at the television, yelling crazy things like offside!! ... icing!!! ... defense!!! and GET BACK IN THE NET YOU PSYCHO!!! Yes, tonight I realized how much of an affect Hockey Night In Canada has actually had on my life over the years.

The funny thing is that when I was growing up my sister and I would groan when my dad would turn the channel to the hockey game. In fact, over the years we would continually find ways to get him to change the channel assuring him that we could definitely catch the third period because really that's where it would all count anyways. It used to work ... sometimes, it was all a matter of who was playing. Its not that I didn't have an appreciation for the game, but to sit through three periods of stressful action and my dad yelling at the television screen was not always what I considered a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday night. But that intro music from Hockey Night In Canada and Don Cherry's crazy comments on Coaches Corner have managed to bleed their way into my subconscious and certainly into some great memories of my childhood. In fact, one of the greatest accomplishments of my childhood was achieved with endless hockey games in the background. That's right, with goals and offsides and icings in the background, I officially mastered the cartwheel in our living room in Edmonton. I would make a running start in the hallway that led into the living room which had a nice open space where I was free to execute my gymnastic feat. (It was winter, which in Edmonton can start as early as October, and I had to be ready for summer, when showing off your cartwheels was seriously linked to how cool you were).

So yes, the little hockey fan in me was born many many years ago, when I was probably seven, back in the days when Wayne Gretzky still played for Edmonton and in my mind the Edmonton Oilers were the best hockey team in the world! In fact, Wayne Gretzky once parked his car in front of my parent's delicatessen and this was HUGE news, for us anyways, my dad even shook his hand. And then alas, the trade happened. Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, and as he sat there in that press conference crying about how sorry he was to leave Edmonton, I cried too. If he loved us so much then why was he leaving? I was young and I didn't understand the concept of million dollar deals yet.

And so over the years I became a playoffs fan. You know, perhaps not the most dedicated fan, but come playoff time I would really get into the games and especially if a Canadian team was making good progress or better yet, playing for the Stanley Cup. There have only been two teams that I could ever consider myself a 'fan' of, the Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, mainly because I grew up in Edmonton and then when we moved to Hamilton, Toronto was the closest NHL team to us. Since moving to Texas though my hockey watching has been rather ... limited. It would seem that despite the success of the Dallas Stars in past years, hockey does not in general draw a big crowd, or at least not where we are at. But tonight, tonight was different, game 5 of the finals between the Caroline Hurricanes and ... you guessed it, my old home town, the Edmonton Oilers, was on and I can honestly say that I was almost the entire game.

Chris, I am sure, at the beginning thought that I was crazy. I was getting all nervous, yelling at the screen. See, if Edmonton had lost tonight, the Hurricanes would have won the cup, this game was crazy important. And I'm not going to lie, I not a fan of hurricanes right now, still a little bit of a touchy subject actually! But really, as if I wouldn't cheer for the team that made me like hockey in the first place!

Okay, so like I said, at first, Chris was like "she is out of her mind" ... but then by the middle of the third period even he would throw in his own little gasps and groans when things were not looking good for Edmonton. And then ... OVERTIME. I hate overtime!! Craziness happens in overtime, everyone is seriously desperate and in hockey, whoever scores the first goal in overtime wins. This is why they call it sudden death! So, naturally craziness is happening, poor Tigger is freaking out because I am yelling at the players every two seconds ... and then ... it happened, Edmonton scored!!! And Chris and I, almost as if in unision, screamed our heads off with pure joy!! Final score : Edmonton 4 Carolina 3. Game 6 will be played in Edmonton and this means that they still have a chance to tie up the series and go on to Game 7 and win the cup!!

So ya, tonight, on a hot night in Texas, I felt a little more at home. And though it might not have been a Hockey Night In Canada, our little Hockey Night in Texas had its own charm. Even Chris who isn't much of a sports guy got into the game. And I was reminded of what a carefree childhood I had lived with the hockey game going, my dad yelling at the players and the refs and me perfecting the art of the cartwheel. And of course, I ended my hockey night high with a lively post game discussion with my dad about the whole thing! Yup, I'm still a Canadian ;)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Locals

I have been out and about snapping photographs all over our little part of Texas ... and here are some of my recent adventures.

One of the locals ... it is lizard season again it seems. Well to be honest I am not sure that there is ever a time when there aren't lizards but you see them a lot more in the summer. These ones are just little guys though. Still, once I moved something on the porch and one jumped across my hand and it freaked me out. This lizard was lounging on one of our patio chairs. I can't say that I blame him, it is a nice little patio :)

What freaked me out a whole lot more though ... was when Dianne had this brilliant idea to go to this "bird conservatory" and when we got there we saw a total of ONE bird ... and instead THREE crocodiles in the water. Now if I knew I was going to be walking through a crocodile infested area, well, I wouldn't be walking first of all, but secondly I would have made sure that it was somehow safe, this place was not. Three crocs in the water and all that seperated us from them were the bushes along the water line. Dianne thought that I was over-reacting when I said that I was leaving immediately but come on, it is spring, and what happens if there is a protective mama croc just waiting for someone to try and mess with her. And so we left the "bird conservatory". And this mean looking guy. I still can't believe that I actually had the guts to stay around long enough to take this picture.

So we went to the beach instead. It was a pretty cloudy and gloomy afternoon, the sky over the sea looked like a storm was brewing. And with our recent hurricane history it made us all wonder what the ocean must have looked like when Rita was looming over the waters and moving inland.

It was at the beach that I finally found a bird. And I chased this little guy (possibly girl) around the beach with my camera. I kept trying to convince him that he would be famous if he would just sit still for a second and let me take his picture, but he was not interested in fame. Still I have so many pictures of this bird it's crazy. You would have thought that I had never seen a bird before.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Slavic Easter

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sheer Dallas

(Republic Bank Building) (Bank of America Building)

Having been in Dallas last week, I have officially visited three of the largest cities in Texas. Austin, Houston and Dallas. Of course, I love AUSTIN!! It is such a beautiful place and so much going on there without it being too big and we are totally moving there! Houston has it's charms though it is certainly a big city and as such the traffic is atrocious but the shopping is great.

I wasn't sure what to expect of Dallas but I was really excited to go, especially because I had heard so much about it. Francesca was worried that I might pick up some of Dallas' more flashy habits, which she had seen last year on TLC's program Sheer Dallas but I assured her that I would not being purchasing anything with rhinestones on it. I think what actually scared her is that I really enjoyed Sheer Dallas with all of its glitz and totally outrageous personalities. I guess that I must admit that one of the things that I really enjoy about Texas is that people here love to do things on a grand scale, they do things with real gusto! I love that. And so, off to Dallas we went, looking for adventure! Well actually really we went for business, but you know still there was a little bit of adventure too. We took the back roads from Vidor and saw some beautiful countryside. And then we reached the Big D!

We stayed at the famous Adolphus Hotel which was built in 1912 and to this day retains much of its charm and tradition. So charming in fact that the morning we were leaving, InStyle magazine was hosting a Wedding Party for brides who were preparing for their big day. I was so thrilled about this that I went down to take some pictures! I was able to get some good practice taking photographs at an event like this. And even stopped another photographer to ask for tips.

As for the city itself. Well, we were primarily in the Downtown. But the skyline was great and the pictures above were taken from our hotel room window. Not a bad view! We asked someone at the hotel to tell us about the building with the green lights on it. They said that it used to be another building but later became the Bank of America building. At some point the maintenance of the lights got to be too much so they were abruptly shut off one day. This resulted in an outcry of protest from the people of Dallas who felt that it was a signature of their city's skyline and after enough pressure the green lights returned! I must admit that the green building rather grew on me as well.

I also found that it was really wonderful to see so many buildings with that stunning old architecture of times past. The Adolphus building itself was adorned so beautifully with wonderful relief work and it was not alone. Another building of historical importance to Dallas was the first ever, original Neiman Marcus department store building dating back to 1907. Before coming to Texas I did not realize how big department stores are here. In Canada, I find that they seem to be a dying breed, but not here in Texas! And Neiman Marcus, well they are their own story. Most things in their store I could not hope to afford at this point in my life, that is to say, I cannot afford at this time a night gown for nearly $600. But don't get me wrong not everything there is so outrageous, but still Neimans carries with it that high end feel. It is a place where very rich people call in and place orders to be delivered directly to their homes, where you can arrange for a personal shopper and where that old-timey classy department store atmosphere still abounds, especially at the downtown Dallas location.

Our trip to Dallas was only a few days and the days themselves were filled with other activities but I must say that I left feeling glad to have experienced at least a little of what Dallas is about. They say that Dallas is a very friendly place and I have to say that I did find this. While taking pictures outside of various buildings a man sitting in a park handing out some kind of pamphlets spared me his own cause to suggest other great building to take pictures of. The night before we left we were having dinner in the hotel bistro where the wall decor happen to be all sorts of tea pots and since I love taking tea and have been collecting tea sets of late, I really wanted to take some pictures. Well, the waiters went out of their way to make sure that I got more than just the ones by our table and a lady sitting in another booth called me over to make sure that I got a picture of the ones by her table which she thought we just as worthy of being photographed. The cowboy teapot below was one of my favorites simply because it was so very Texan!

And so, I am back. It is good to be home. And Francesca will be glad to know that I have not warped into a flashy Dallasite, though in reality I do not believe that all of them are as flashy as the one lady on Sheer Dallas. But one thing that I could not get over and found incredibly hilarious was the sight of full on winter coats being worn by some of the people on the streets in 54F (+12C) weather! What a travesty that I did not have my camera with me at that moment!

(This is just not a sign that you are likely to see in Canada! I had to take a picture of it!)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Blonde Liberation

I was born a blonde. I was a very cute blonde. But then grade three rolled around and shades of brown started making an appearance amidst the lovely shades of blonde. And by fourth grade I was a brunette. I am not bitter about it, in fact, I think that it served me well to be a brunette for those formative school years, it kept me studious. And as a brunette I had my fair share of fun too. Once several years ago I tried going blonde again, but the drugstore variety hair dyes did not do their best to make the transition a successful one. And so my brunette days continued.

But then, I moved to Texas, and my soon to be mother-in-law marched me into a hair salon and demanded "BLONDE!! We want blonde highlights to liven her up a bit." I was not opposed to the idea, but at the same time, how would I look, would it be too much? Well, I threw caution to wind and thought, lay it on me, let's go for it. I loved the results! By the time it was time to touch up the roots again I was even more bold than Dianne had been, "MORE BLONDE" I demanded. A couple of days ago I had a fourth appointment. In the last six months I have managed to nudge my brunette days further and further out the door, but on Thursday I think I all but slammed the door shut.

I have officially reclaimed my blonde self!! And she a fabulous woman! Full of life, happy, laughs a lot, and it would seem with a few less inhibitions! Watch out world!

I have also passionately fallen in love with disgustingly huge, face eating sunglasses, a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The irony here is of course, that when I started wearing glasses back in the third grade, my parent's felt that the bigger the glasses the better you could see, so for years I had HUGE glasses. And as soon as I could I started trying to downsize my frames to almost nothingness. Now here I am quite willingly buying the biggest sunglasses I could find! Ha! I love it!

So having liberated my hair and having found the most awesomely huge sunglasses I could get my hands, I stepped out from behind my usual station behind the camera and let Dianne and Chris turn the tables on me. With Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made For Walkin' blasting from the stereo I had quite the photo session! We had a blast!

So what will I do with all this great blonde liberating energy?!? Who knows! The possibilities are endless! And I feel ready to take on the world .......... so "are you ready boots?"

Friday, December 23, 2005

Wesolych Swiat

And so, we are home for Christmas! We moved back into our house last Thursday and I have spent the last week getting things back in order. We still do not have our bedroom back since we are waiting for the mattress and the furniture needs some attention but we are enjoying our stay in the guest room! I assure all future visitors that the bed is extremely comfortable, the sheets are soft and warm and of the highest quality and the room, in general, has a very inviting feel to it.

What has been especially wonderful for me has been being able to put up our first Christmas tree! It is a little small and dwarfish compared to most of the other trees in Chris' family but we love it and it suits our little cozy home.

I have also decided that since this is my first Christmas away from my family that there is no reason why our Polish traditions shouldn't live on and with gusto! And so, I have been baking traditional Polish cakes for Christmas and today I have started preparing some of the dishes for the ever-important Polish Wigilia. Wigilia is celebrated on Christmas Eve and in Polish culture we do not eat any meat that day and so you will not find any turkeys at the table. Instead traditional dishes include a wild mushroom soup, perogies, fried fish and several different varieties of herring, and in our house wild mushroom crepes, as well as all sorts of cakes. The wild mushroom soup is on the stove as we speak, and the perogies I made back in November and they are patiently waiting in the freezer to be pulled out and devoured. I am very excited to be hosting this dinner!! It will just be small, Chris, his parents and me, and the dogs too, but being able to do this is just very special to me because we are back in our house and because it is our first Christmas together. And being able to share my traditions and my culture with Chris and make it a part of our own traditions is especially meaningful.

Here it is, our first Christmas tree!!

Here are some samples of the baking that I have been doing. This poppy seed roll is not as perfect as my mom's always are, but since it was my first one I am still pretty proud.

For over a week now, Dianne has been practicing the two words, Wesolych Swiat. They make up the Polish way of saying "Merry Christmas" and she has been diligently practicing so that she can say it to my parents on Christmas Eve. I am very proud of her progress because typed here you cannot see the accents and Polish can be a pretty tricky language so she has improved quite a bit in the last week.

And I too, would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May you find yourselves in the company of friends and family, enjoying the many marvels of the season and looking hopefully to the new year which will, no doubt, bring you all many wonderful new adventures and the opportunity to continually pursue your dreams! WESOLYCH SWIAT!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Adventures in Magnetic Poetry