The Gun Man

I have been reading a lot of posts from Canadians condemning the American’s right to bare arms. Oh Canada, take care of your own backyard before you start judging our neighbours to the south.

I am a Canadian, born and raised. I have worked in Canadian elementary schools most of my adult life. I have been in lockdown situations more than I care to think about. 3 of those occasions were because of a gunman. Gun laws and stricter school policy are not going to change school shootings. Only you will.

The man-child who was involved in the Connecticut shootings was the son of a substitute teacher. He was disgruntled about something. The school has a policy of keeping the children locked in for their safety. The school recognized him. let him in and he went on a rampage. The school policy didn’t save those children. Strict gun laws about assault weapons didn’t protect those children.

Teachers lost their lives to protect your children. They huddled in corners and closets keeping the children quiet and safe. When children cried, teachers would gently take the child’s face into their hands and whisper, “It will be okay, we will be safe. I won’t let anything happen to you.” The teachers lived up to their promise as best they could.

People who wonder why need to look at the broader picture. changing policy and laws won’t help very much other than making life more complicated for the average law abiding citizen. If someone wants a gun, they will find away. If someone wants to create a bomb, they will find a way. We need to think about why these people want these things.

Removing the stigma of mental health issues will help but so will kindness and empathy. Be kind to people, listen to people when they want to talk. Ask people questions about how they are and mean it. Be intentional with kindness and compassion. It may not save everyone but the world will be a better place for.

Peace and kindness is all I ask.

The Art of Neon: CarsLand Radiator Springs

I have always been a fan of neon signs and art. Years ago, there was a child in my class whose dad was a neon sign creator. I was fascinated by the process and he invited to me to his shop to see the production of a new sign. He would also repair neon signs. I was amazed at the process! Not only must an artist be creative, they are glass blowers, chemists and electrical engineers. Here is a detailed About Page that goes through the process and the gases you combine with neon and mercury to create different colours.

This past week I made my way to Disneyland Resort in California to celebrate a friends birthday (her 40th – shhhh). Although I went under the pretence for her birthday, I was really interested in CarsLand, the Radiator Springs from Pixar’s Cars movie. It was like being in the movie. The detail was unbelievable! The purpose of my trip was to explore Radiator Springs at night time because the Imaginears used neon signage to make the place shine at night, just like in the movie. It truly became a different place.

John Lasseter sent his Imaginears across the United States to get a feel for how route 66 use to be. They came back armed with ideas from quirky to beautiful to down right amazing. Wondering down route 66 at night was akin to looking at Christmas lights. The colour and sparkle was a sight to behold! I spent 2 or my 3 nights exploring Radiator Springs and taking in the breath taking beauty of neon. Knowing the labor intensive methods and the craftmanship involved makes these signs into works of art. Stunning!

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Say Something Canadian

While I am away, I am reposting some of my olders blogs from 2010. It is interesting to see where I have come from. This is from /2010/09/29.


When I travel a strange feeling comes over me. I think that feeling is patriotism. Odd for a Canadian to say that. I think there is a larger patriotic movement happening amongst Canadians since the Winter Olympics. I had it all along we just didn’t talk about it.

As a culture we tend to enjoy self-depreciating humor, apologize a lot,eat weird food and worship the cup that is Lord Stanley’s. My Grandfather, fondly remembered as GP, forced us as young children to sit and listen to long lectures and rants that made us appreciate the fact that we are Canadian. As a family, we celebrated Canada Day, GP called it Dominion Day as was his tradition. Back yard BBQs, Baseball,and Balloons were hung instead of bunting and in the colours of Red, White and …Blue?  Blue? Seriously? We were not Americans. Well, GP’s Dad was an immigrant from the Untied States, came over in a covered wagon – or so the story goes. There have been plenty of stories and who knows what to believe at this point. Still…Blue Balloons? Because the Canadian Flag, Red and White Maple Leaf was not  real flag according to GP. No that would be the Red Ensign. And when I say Ensign I don’t mean the random guy in red on Star Trek who dies in an away mission. I mean the Red Ensign Flag. Red White and Blue because of the British Union Jack.

However, when I travel, I always carry a maple leaf when me because that is how the world sees us. When I was in Kent years ago, we were camping next to a couple who came up to us and said they couldn’t place our accent. It wasn’t American, was it possibly Australian? Nope, Canadian! The woman screamed THE CANADIANS ARE HERE! Wow, talk about a nice welcome! they had us over to their tent for tea and biscuits and she kept saying to me “say something Canadian!!”. Hmm, Canadian…what makes our language distinctly unique? At the time I could give a very good answer. So I asked for another cookie please, and she just about fainted because she thought I was so adorable. Several years later I was in Lake Elsinore in California. I was at the grocery store when the check out girl exclaimed that she had never met a real live Canadian before and said “Say something Canadian!”. Wow, really? So I did my best Bob and Doug MacKenzie and said “How’s it going Eh?”. Then I cracked up and explained that no one says that ever! She said my accent was cute but she was disappointed that I didn’t sound British. That would be because I am Canadian! I am actually Western Canadian. A Proud Prairie Girl. That means I do not speak french nor do I have a french accent. Apparently this was also disappointing. For this trip I decided I need to be prepared! I am going to brush up on my uniquely Canadian language so if I get asked to say something Canadian I will be ready.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Canadian Vernacular.

  1. Clothing – Toque, parka and mitts with idiot stings.
  2. Food -kubasa, poutine, muktuk, butter tart, bismark and nanaimo bars
  3. Beverages – Canada Dry, two-four, double-double, Newfie Screech
  4. Hockey – dipsy-doodle, road apple, shinny, spinarama
  5. Party – kitchen party, bush party, grad
  6. Cash – Canadian Tire Money, baby bonus, loonie, twonie
  7. Roads – trail, ice road, ice bridge, trunk road
  8. Weather – thunder Shower, wind chill, ice storm
  9. Games-blanket toss, crokinole, high kick
  10. Holidays – Family Day, Heritage Day, Remembrance Day
  11. Song and Dance – Chicken Dance, Butterfly, throat sing, chin music

If you need explanations on any of these terms I would be happy to explain in the most polite way! After all, this Edmonton Tourist needs practice taking risks and bragging about being Canadian.

There are no mosquitos in California and 10 other reasons I want to move there

Well I am back from a much needed diversion. I wouldn’t call it a holiday nor a vacation, but it was a fabulous diversion. I spent 5 fun filled glorious days in Southern California. Most of it at Disneyland with one hour of it watching Genetic Offspring’s concert ensemble play amazing numbers in Disneyland. IN DISNEYLAND PEOPLE!!! They came in second in the competition and will not get to go to Carnegie Hall  in New York, but they had a great time anyway. Quite frankly, so did I!

Yes I have been to Disneyland a bazillion times, and yes I see something  new every time I go. But this time I noticed cultural differences. Many people may not think there is a large difference between Americans and Canadians, but I think there really is. Of course I think there is a North American Culture as well, but I am talking about the distinct difference between Canucks and Yanks. For the record, I love Americans. Not every Canadian can say that. I think Americans can be their own worst enemy and the media doesn’t help the situation, but I have met and got to know many Americans and can say, your hockey knowledge sucks as a collective society but I really like you in spite of that.

Getting back to the culture aspect, it is defined as – The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

Given that definition, I will lump food into the “other manifestations” because food can be a large part of culture. I think it is time for an Edmonton Tourist top 11 list.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Cool Cultural Things About America

  1. I learned that Americans are okay with with clogged arteries but high blood pressure is not okay. Restaurants do not use salt. Weird, but good. I often find food too salty. I find it hilarious that every thing was loaded with fats, oils, mayonnaise, cheese – can I just say Americans have perfected melty cheese! Fats make food taste good. Sadly …it was too good.
  2. California has the best fresh fruit I have ever tasted. DAMN a California Orange is so freaking awesome! Being able to pick fruit off a tree is mind blowing to me. I would consider moving to California for this reason alone.
  3. American Birds are not scary. Again, weird… We all know how scared I get from birds. They terrify me. Remember the story of the baby bird who hopped up to me and wanted to peck my eye out? Well in  America, particularly Disneyland, birds make dresses and sing with English words – so they are not scary. This is awesome. I need to keep that in mind when the Swallows fly up here from Capistrano. They are American bird seamstresses…not Hitchcock killer birds. There is a big difference. I may now be over my fear of birds.
  4. Getting lost in America means you see cool things. In Canada it means you stop at a hockey rink or curling quonsit to ask for directions. In America you get lost and find the Jim Henson Company! This was the coolest find! It use to be the Charlie Chaplin Studios. Parts of the Muppet Movie was filmed here and I was in heaven. Some of the most creative people in the world were able to market their talents to showcase their fabulousness right in California. That was cool for me.
  5. Media has done a bang up job of self promoting their talents. We saw street signs like Sunset Blvd, Hollywood Blvd, or Vine. There were buildings I recognized like Capitol Records, Staples Center, Mann’s Chinese Theatre and In and Out Burger. I recognized brands and labels that are available only in America, that was cool for me. Growing up across the border and then seeing some of this stuff was awesome!
  6. American Candy has more variety. I ate M&Ms chocolate covered pretzels for the first time… I would move there just for those.
  7. The United States has their own Folk music! This is cool – except it has too much Banjo. Just say no to the Banjo people!
  8. You can actually see people get arrested! I felt like I was on an episode of COPS! This would have thrilled my brother, he should have come.
  9. Food labels are in English only. I am halfway to being french bilingual because of cereal boxes. I also cannot understand cab drivers in the States either. Some cultural aspects are unilateral, except French isn’t part of their culture.
  10. There are no mosquitos in LA. This is worth the price of admission. People can walk around without OFF or leave the window open and only worry about birds and rats… okay – I can handle a few mosquitos over birds and rats.
  11. The best thing about the cross-cutlural differences? I have NEVER been to California and seen or felt rain. Yet all the plants grow as if by magic. Intellectually I understand they use up the Colorado River water and buy water from Canada… but no rain and only sunshine is AWESOME for vacations! Heat and sunshine! 31C on Sunday…10C tomorrow here in Edmonton.

I’m packing my bags and immigrating.

I am DONE with Canadian weather. I can live with all that American stuff. I understand the language, they have hockey teams (GO RANGERS!), I could live on California fruit and M&M pretzles. Diet coke comes in tomato juice cans and food comes on handy sticks so your fingers don’t get messy. I am IN! I am starting the job hunt pronto.

The Edmonton Tourist is On Strike Today

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Ding! Ding! One of us is eatin’ canvas, and it ain’t gonna be me

Today’s post is from my favorite writer and story teller. After reading one of his posts about running in the New York Marathon with no – well very little – training, I figured…What the hell! If he can run a full marathon, I can do a half – Easy Peasy! Well, it wasn’t so easy peasy, he  just motivated me to the point where mental was more more significant than physical. I invite you to take a peek over at Back of the Packer. Joe is about to embark on an incredible journey. His plan is to run 13 marathons in 2012. One every month to raise money and awareness for the Dream Team in support of Make a Wish foundation, and one extra one – his Super Bowl – the New York Marathon in support of Team for Kids. No matter how you slice it up, a marathon a month is insane. I, along with his family, hope he is alive able to walk by the the end of next year. Good Luck Joe!

Now on with the words……


My grandmother was five feet tall. She barely weighed 100 pounds, and came from a large Irish family dominated by domineering older brothers. Growing up, she experienced the transition from a horse & carriage to the automobile – yet she never once sat behind the wheel of a Dodge Dart. She lived through World War I, Babe Ruth moving from Boston to NYC, the Great Depression, World War II, the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., the Korean War, NASA placing a man on the surface of the moon, Vietnam, Watergate, twenty six New York Yankee World Series Championships, DiMaggio and Monroe, the Rat Pack, the music of Louie Prima….and the all four New York Ranger Stanley Cups (that last one is a biggie). (…I just re-read that last sentence – wow do I love commas). She passed away at the ripe old age of 94 years…yet she would never admit her age to anyone. If someone asked her how old she was, her response would always be “I’m 21+”. My grandmother is one of my sources of motivation – for I cannot comprehend the degree of worldly change she took thin through those crystal blue eyes.

One of the many, many things I have learned from my grandmother came from a conversation I had with her about a year before she passed on. I recall asking her, “Grandma – you’ve seen and experienced so many difficult times…how did you keep going when things got tough? I mean, it couldn’t be easy getting by during the Great Depression and World War II. So much negativity throughout the world. Not much was going right. How did you see things through?” ….her answer floored me – and it echoes in the back of my head each time I feel like things are taking a turn for the worst.

My grandmother took my hand in her’s and said in that soft voice which carried a wonderful Bronx accent “Joey, you gotta wake up every morning ready to go toe-to-toe with the world. Life’s like a boxing match, and you gotta be Rocky Marciano. She’ll throw lefts and rights at ya all day long. Wake up late and miss your bus to work? Whack – right in da face. Gotta work overtime and won’t be home for dinner? Pop – a hard left to da jaw, ya know? But every time the world slugs ya a good one in the kisser, ya gotta smile and say ‘is that all ya got?’ and then egg the bastard on to throw the next punch. And once in a while, da bastard will get lucky and sock ya a good one right on da button. You’ll get knocked down. But then ya gotta bounce back up quick, ya know? Dust yourself off and then tell da bastard he got lucky and egg him on again. That’s da key.”

“What’s the key, Grandma?”

“Joey, whenever the bastard clocks ya a good one in the face and knocks ya down, ya gotta pop right back up. Don’t waste a second on the canvas. Get the hell back up quick, even if you’re still walkin’ down Woozy Boulevard. Get up. That’s the key. Get the hell up. Don’t stay down.”

“But what if it’s something really tough, Grandma? Sometimes I feel like I cannot handle my responsibilities. And I have goals for myself – big ones. But there are times where I feel like I don’t have what it takes to attain them.”

She sighed, took a sip of tea, and patted my hand and replied “Joey, we were all born as undefeated champs. Ya can do anything ya want in life, as long as ya stand toe to toe with da world. Look the bastard in the eye and tell him ‘one of us is eatin’ canvas…and it ain’t gonna be me’.

Unfortunately, I forgot that conversation for a few years. I got popped on the chin a few times and took a looooooong time to get back up. But that’s OK, and long as I keep answering the bell for the next round.

Ding! Ding!

So Where’s Your Snow Now?

Last week New York received a pile and a half of snow. It made international news. INTERNATIONAL NEWS! Yes there was a lot. Yes it was “coldish”. Yes it is WINTER.

This last weekend Alberta was hit with a TON OF SNOW. Did it make international news? I don’t think so. Was there a lot of snow? Yes. Was it cold? Yes it IS winter! It is always cold in winter. New York’s snow is nearly gone, it may be all gone, I don’t live there I don’t know for sure. The weather in New York was above freezing, and my scientific knowledge tells me snow melts when the temp is above 32F or 0C. Our snow wont leave until April – if we are lucky.

In New York, I learned on Facebook, that some people couldn’t make it into work, or didn’t even try because of the snow. Here in Edmonton, there is no such thing as a snow day. You have work? Better leave early. You have school? Better leave early. You need to go shopping? Be careful of the parking lot, you may get stuck.

My Offspring have been shoveling along with their Dad and every other citizen of Alberta the past few days. Chatterbox had to stop because she could no longer lift the snow OVER her head to store it on the lawn. I have good news for Chatterbox. The snow stopped and the sun came out! I have bad news for Genetic Offspring, there is more snow coming Thursday. Another 5″-10″ on top of the two feet we already have. Where are we going to put this stuff? The City hasn’t sent snowplows out to residential yet. Our neighbors all pitched in with shoveling the road so the cars wouldn’t get stuck. I think I need to buy a patio heater to melt the snow in my yard.

This is the view from my car window. I am backing out my driveway and looking to see if any cars are in the way. Can you see any?

This is the Snow Fort the Offspring made, the snowbank is nearly 6 feet high.

The view looking east at my neighbors garage – I can’t see it either.

The Sunset at 4:15 today looking out my window. This is why I live here. The amount of sunshine and blue sky is worth it to me.

Stay warm, have that shovel handy and keep your stick on the ice.  🙂


That is a Great Costume! What are you?

Children dressed up in Halloween costumes.
Who dresses like this for Halloween?

I use to spend hours flipping through catalogs and patterns looking for adorable Halloween costumes for the Offspring to wear. Some costumes were incredibly cute! I was particularly fond of a ladybug outfit that I had wanted one of my kids to wear, but the sad reality was, Ladybug costumes just aren’t warm enough.

As I write today the current temperature is -2C or 28F. Winter has arrived here in Edmonton and brought a dusting of snow along with it. Typical Halloween Costume criteria for Canadian kids is 1> does it fit OVER a snow suit? 2> is it made of FUR? 3> Are the mittens able to hold on to the bag of candy?

It sounds so complicated here. Last August I was at Walt Disney World, Florida with my family. It was hotter than walking on the sun. The bottom of my flip-flops stuck to the sidewalk because they were melting to the pavement. That isn’t normally a problem here in the Great White North! All the shops were filled with tiny costumes the required bare legs or arms. Sizing meant the ACTUAL size of the child, not snowsuit size. Nothing was made of fur! Buying costumes in the United States was never really an option for us. Simply not warm enough.

When I was a kid, costumes were never that fancy.You either dressed like an Eskimo Inuit or you went digging in your Dad’s closet to dress as a Hobo, and when I say hobo – I mean my dad was not really a Hobo. Sure Mom thought he dressed like one, but his clothes were large enough to fit OVER all my winter gear. It was very warm and it needed to be. We would head out in the DARK, because sunset was 4:00pm. Thanks to Daylight Savings later now, the sunsets after dinner. One thing was always constant, there was snow and lots of it. A colleague and I were talking about the year there was a blizzard for Halloween. It was so cold most kids stayed home. Snow drifts were thigh high and the temperature had to be -25C. We would trudge ( because you can’t just walk in a snow drift) up to the house, people would be so impressed that you braved the cold, they would dump candy by the handfuls into your pillowcase. 10 houses and you had enough candy to last until Christmas!

In the past 10 years, Halloween has been warmer. My Offspring really doesn’t know what it is like to be out in a blizzard for Halloween, but they still wore snowsuits under their Minnie Mouse, or Darth Vader costumes. It looks like this year will be a bit colder in years past. Only one Offspring is braving the cold this year. Obviously I have failed as a Mom raising a true “Canadian” trick or treater. Braving cold is no longer a badge of honor. Kids rather eat food in the pantry then go door to door and beg for it.

I don’t have anyone to take door to door this year. I faked being really happy about it. But the truth of the matter is I am kind of sad. No dressing warm, no walking around in the dark, no laughing with other moms and the outrageous costume ideas. But mostly I will miss visiting one special house down the street from me. They gave candy to the kids but “special” treats for the adults  – and when I say “special” I mean Kahlua. That is what made walking around the neighborhood really fun.

I wonder if I can “borrow” the neighbor’s kids this year?