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Our Life

Settling In

July 5th, 2004  · stk

The move from Vancouver took place a couple of weeks ago, as scheduled, on the 17th. It took a complete day to load the 26-foot U-Haul truck (see slide show above). We were bushed, but very thankful to have Grandma and Grandpa Pilley there to look after the Oop, while Rachel and Scott were busy loading boxes, bikes, tools and STUFF.

The next morning, we hit the road early. The fully laden truck had a slow time of it, making it over the Canadian Rockies and we were slowed to 15 km/hr on some of the steeper grades (seems like we could have just jogged faster)! Still, it was way better than hauling each box by hand! The truck sucked some fuel too -- about $600-worth to get our STUFF to Edmonton. We got a hotel in Valemont (just shy of Jasper National Park).

The cat (who had spent the balance of the first day's drive hiding under the passenger seat), was relieved to be out of the truck. He immediately sniffed around the room and promptly sat in the middle of the bed (I guess he thought he deserved to have the king-sized bed after being cramped under the bench seat all day). Alex slept a good part of the way, but she too, was happy to be out of her cramped car seat. I think we were all happy to be out of the cab, even if it was just overnight.

The next day we drove through Jasper National Park (we saw a bear, a big-horned sheep, some elk and a few deer on our drive through). We figure that Edmonton can't be all that bad if the best way to get there from Vancouver is to drive through Jasper National Park! We pulled up to our new home early in the afternoon and began unloading. We did half and then left the other half till morning. The goal was to get a bed up so we would have somewhere to sleep for the night. Whew ... we were "home".

The next few days were hectic, as we found ourselves deep in boxes, packing paper and trying to find a home for all of our personal possessions.

Two weeks later, we're beginning to have a semblance of a "home". Computers are up and running again. Rachel has an "office" area downstairs, where it is nice and quiet, where she can study and also work on crafts. (She has not one, but TWO desks - Scott is jealous). He has an office too, on the main floor, where he can better look after the Oop while Rachel is in school. The kitchen is functional. Bedrooms are still a mess, with boxes of clothes stacked on top of one another. The Oops room is pretty organized, but her dresser drawers need some handy-man attention, so her assortment of clothes are stacked on make-shift cabinet of cardboard boxes. (She doesn't care). She's just happy to be out of the truck and in a house with lots and lots of carpeting (softer on the knees).

We love the neighborhood. We've now met our immediate neighbors. Fortunately, the neighbors to our south - Wayne and Diane - were willing to look after Alex while we unloaded the truck that first day. THAT was a huge help, allowing us to concentrate on getting the couch and bed into the house. She even brought over some dinner for us that first night, because of course, we had no food, dishes or silverware. What GREAT people!

The first Sunday we were here, we took the day off and went for a cycle ride along the North Saskatchewan river parkway. It was a pleasant outing and we took a picnic lunch. We followed something like14 miles of dedicated bike paths during the 20-mile ride, opting to following city streets back, getting a flavor for the east-side.

We still have much to do before we're "settled", but the major things have been done and now we can relax some, tackling them in smaller chunks (rather than non-stop all-day for 10 hours).

Tuxedo loves his new back yard. He's found a place in the flower garden off by the back door, nestled in tall Irises that just finished blooming. He'll sit in the middle of the grass, lounging in the sun or poking around Anna's backyard (our neighbor to the north, who is pet-less and has wonderful gardens in her backyard). We think he likes Edmonton a lot, but we haven't yet told him about the cold winters. No doubt he'll survive by finding himself a warm lap to sit on.

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Filed in:Alexandra

9-Month Oop

July 5th, 2004  · stk

Alex celebrated her "three quarters of a year" birthday between Canada Day and the 4th of July. No special cake this time, just her normal fare: oatmeal cereal and a few un-sugared Cheerios (that she barely chews, just plops them in her mouth, gums them a while and then swallows them with a grimace). A little breast milk mid-morning, right before a nap, then a variety for lunch - banana, applesauce in yogurt, a cracker maybe or some other solid food concoction that we've blended up and saved for her (leftover big-people dinners). More breast in the afternoon followed by a bottle of formula, perhaps. The afternoon nap is sometimes long, sometimes a 10-minute power-nap, or sometimes non-existent. Dinner must come around 5:30 PM or we have a fussy little girl on our hands (she takes after her dad, apparently - ha ha). Dinner is the BIG meal ... nearly two Gerber bottles of solid food (again, rice & beans mixed with other things, parts of our leftover meals - blended and frozen, fruit and yogurt for dessert, punctuated by crackers, bananas or "O's" (Cheerios) and other 'finger food). A bit more breast in the evening, then it's off to bed and quickly asleep around 8-8:30 PM.

She has a bath every other night and OH BOY, has she been enjoying those baths! She's got rubber duckies and colorful plastic tugboats that swirl and splash around the tub! She gurgles and coos and swims and splashes herself (the wall, the floor and the towel) till she's clean. Yep, our little girl is eating and growing.

And of course, what goes in, must come out ... so we're very busy in that department too!

She knows three words: kitty cat, mom and dad. Of course, it's more like "Pitty-blat", "maaaa-maaama" and "plah-dah" ... and they're often said about MANY things OTHER than kitty cat, mom and dad ... but you know how parents are about interpreting child-speak. So, in our eyes, she's quite conversant. To anybody else, it's just so much blather!

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Updated: 15-May-2005
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Filed in:Our Life

Edmonton - Eskimos, Ermine & Energy

June 8th, 2004  · stk

What little we knew about Alberta completely outstripped ANYTHING we knew about Edmonton. I swear, about the only thing I knew about Edmonton was that it was home to a hockey team (Edmonton Oilers) and that Rachel's friend, Patti, grew up there. That's it. (Oh yeah, and that it's WAY further north than I thought I'd EVER live!!)

Now we're headed there. Go figure. What can I tell you about Edmonton?

Well, for starters, it's the capital city of Alberta! It straddles the great Saskatchewan River and sits on the central prairie, about 400 kilometers east of the Rocky Mountains (and Jasper National Park). The city sits at about 50°30' north latitude (about the same latitude as Hamburg, Germany; Liverpool, England; or Kiev, Russia), at an elevation of 2,200 feet. It's the most northerly of Canada's major cities and the sixth largest. Edmonton proper holds about 700,000 people (and the greater metropolitan area is home to some 1 million, fully 1/3 of the population of the whole province).

On the plus side, Edmonton has the longest stretch of urban parkland in all of North America (about 22 times larger than New York's Central Park and 8 times larger than Vancouver's Stanley Park). Hey, if you like golfing, you'll like Edmonton because there are over 70 golf courses here (of course, the water obtacles become geese runways in the fall, ice-skating rinks in the winter, duck landing spots during the spring). If you like to shop, you'll likely be attracted by the fact that Edmonton is home to the World's largest shopping center, the West Edmonton Mall, home to over 800 stores and 5 World-class attractions.

Like most cities, Edmonton has a "sister" city. Edmonton's is in the U.S.A. and is Nashville, Tennessee (the tie was created in 1990).

TEMPS: Summers are very pleasant with daytime high temperatures averaging around 20°C (68°F) and overnight lows around 10°C (50°F). Occasionally the daytime high surpasses 30°C (86°F). Due to the low humidity, the heat is dry and seldom oppressive.

Normally the first frost appears sometime near the end of September. Most trees change color in late September and shed their leaves in early October. This is a very pretty time of year. Daytime highs are usually around 15°C (59°F), but evenings require a jacket or sweater. The first permanent snowfall usually occurs in early November, although this may vary by a week or two.

The first real taste of the colder winter temperatures usually occurs in November. January and early February are the coldest months of the year, and the overnight lows can reach as much as -40°C (-40°F). Temperatures can vary considerably in winter, depending if the climate comes from the Pacific Ocean or Alaska. Daytime highs during these months can range from -30°C (-22°F) on the coldest days to above 0°C (30°F). Usually a cold spell lasts a week or so and then there is relief. Most of the colder days are usually sunny.

Spring can be quite unpredictable, although most of the winter snow has usually melted by the beginning of April. The leaves reappear on most trees near the middle of May.

The hottest day in Edmonton's history was 37.3°C (98.6°F) on June 28th, 1937.
The coldest day ever recorded was -40°C (-40°F) on January 19th, 1886.

SUN: Visitors are assured of plenty of sun and beautiful blue skies during their visit, regardless of the season. The city averages 12.32 hours of sunshine each day, more than any other major Canadian city!

During the summer months of June and much of July, daylight lasts about 17 hours. The sun rises around 5 am and sets around 10 pm.

In most of December and early January the days are short. The sun rises around 8:30 am and sets around 4:30 pm.

MOISTURE: Rainfall and snowfall combined, accounts for an average of 19 inches of precipitation per year. Rainfall averages 13 inches and snow makes up the rest, with a moderate average annual snowfall total of about 51 inches (equalling about 6 inches of meltwater). Because of low temperatures and humidity, the snow is usually very light and powdery. Rarely does Edmonton receive large dumps of snow. It might be a week or so between snowfalls and they're usually only a couple of inches at a time. There is about 121 days per year where Edmonton has a snow cover of an inch or more.

NIGHTTIME: During certain nights of the year, it is likely that you'll catch a glimpse of the spectacular northern lights (Aurora Borealis).

Edmonton myths debunked:

Edmontonians do NOT live in igloos. (The nearest igloo is probably several thousand miles north, though Santa has been spotted hanging out at a couple local bars).

Edmonton does NOT have snow all year round. There is usually snow on the ground from mid-November to mid-March (4 months), but it's rarely very deep. (The person writing this, observed that the daytime temperature on Jan 14th was 43°F, under bright sun. There was about 6 inches of old snow on their yard and it was melting rapidly.) The 70 golf courses in Edmonton are busy from mid-May to mid-October.

Edmonton police are NOT Mounties, dressed in red uniforms. Canada DOES have Mounties, but they only wear red for ceremonial occasions. Edmonton has its own police force, and they look and sound like cops in most American cities (only they say "eh" a lot). The Mounties (RCMP) have a limited presence in Edmonton and they are more active in rural areas . . . minus the red uniforms.

Edmontonians do NOT speak French. People in Quebec speak French, but in Alberta everyone speaks English. (Well, there is a tiny minority that speak French, but most of them speak English also.)

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Filed in:Our Life

Alberta "Where's the Beef?"

June 5th, 2004  · stk

Alberta Facts:

Alberta became a province on September 1st, 1905, which means that we'll be there for the centennial celebration in 2005. (It was all part of our 'master plan' ... ha ha).

The province is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), who was the fourth daughter of England's Queen Victoria. (She's also the namesake for Banff's famous "Lake Louise"). On the right is a snappy photo of the Princess. She traveled to the North-West Territories in 1881, one year BEFORE the territories were ceded to Canada by the Hudson's Bay Company and divided into 4 districts: Assiniboia (an Inuit name meaning 'Ass in the Bush'!), Athabasca, Saskatchewan & Alberta.

Alberta is the fourth largest province of Canada (661,190 square kilometers) and is 50% larger than California (with about 1/10th the population). About 10% of Canada's 30 million people live in the province.

Alberta is home to five National Parks (Banff, Elk Island, Jasper, Waterton Lakes and Wood Buffalo). Together, these Parks encompass some 63,045 square kilometers, the largest of any Canadian Province.

Alberta is also the sunniest province in Canada, averaging 2,264 hours of sunlight per year. (This will warm the cockles of your heart: Even on the coldest winter days, there is often bright sunshine.) During the summer solstice, there is up to 17 hours of daylight.

Alberta's claim to fame ...

Canada's largest National Park (Wood Buffalo)

Canada's largest mountain National Park (Jasper)

Canada's first National Park (Banff)

World's largest Shopping Mall (West Edmonton Mall)

Canada's largest ski area (Lake Louise)

World's largest Tyrannosaurus Rex (Drumheller)

World's largest herd of free-roaming buffalo (Wood Buffalo)

World's largest buffalo 'jump-site' ("Head-Smashed-In" Buffalo Jump)

World's largest oil sand development (Fort McMurry)

Canada's only city contained within two provinces (Lloydminster)

World's tallest teepee (Medicine Hat)

World's first (and only) UFO landing pad (St. Paul)

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Updated: 14-Jun-2005
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Filed in:Alexandra
Scott

8-month Oop

May 31st, 2004  · stk

We can't say that the "Oop" had a great time on our trip to Edmonton, but she did survive. It's tough to ride in a car-seat for 1,159 kilometers, but (as usual) she was a trooper.

She had a difficult time adjusting to the tent-trailer that we borrowed from Rachel's parents, however. The first night, we tried to put her to sleep, by herself, on one side of the trailer. But she just howled! She ended up sleeping with Mom, which helped settle her down and dad ended up sleeping on the other side.

At home, Alex is now consuming more and more solid food. She's drinking from her sippy cup (but not by herself yet, because she keeps insisting that the bottom tasts better than the top (which dumps the liquid out of the sippy cup all over everything).

She is just starting to learn to crawl, getting her knees up under herself in a very unsteady fashion. She's knows what "kittycat" means, and looks for one of two cats every time we say the word. She absolutely SQUEALS with delight when the cats come near, as she loves to pull their tails (they don't come near very often, either one!) It doesn't seem to dampen her enthusiasm for cats, however.

Rachel spotted a used bike trailer in one of the local 'bargain classified ads' that come to the door. We drove out to have a look and it seemed to be in pretty good condition and fairly well constructed, so we bought it. Of course, we had to test it out, so we took it out for an inagural ride around the seawall at Stanley park. It's a two-seater and Alex is still pretty small, so we ended up having to prop her up with blakets and pillows, so she would stay upright. In true "Oop" form, she slept most of the ride away. She did have fun at the park, where we stopped for a bit, had a snack and let her play in a field full of daisies. It was a gorgeous day.

In unrelated news, Scott has been working at a handyman painting job, left over from the tail end of the last "painting season". He is eager to be finished, as he says, "The only thing less exciting than painting is watching the paint dry!" It's been raining some lately (which is why you're able to read this journal entry). Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and he can finish prior to June 17th, our move date.

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Updated: 15-May-2005
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