Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Pink Lady

Curling Bonspiel, Lake Windermere
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I will begin this post starting from Friday evening. The Snowflake Festival and Taste of the Valley in Invermere all complete with a curling bonspiel on the Lake.  Everyone is getting excited for the evening to approach.  The temperature is almost tropical, hovering at a toasty -6 Celsius.  The sheets of ice have been polished and pebbled ready for rocks and brooms.  The aroma of chilli and hot chocolate is drifting along the crispy shore of Lake Windermere.
Bob and I show  up promptly at 6 p.m. before the crowd and before they run out of chili, bison burgers and tasty cake.  The bands are just warming up (in more ways than one).  The ice is being swept ready for the around the clock friendly competition.
There is only one problem....I am not feeling 100%. Maybe it is just tiredness, or not?  It was an early evening of good food and hot chocolate while we watch the Bonspiel begin.  Home by 8 p.m. and in bed within the hour.  Morning slithers by quickly as I am reluctant to crawl out from between the warm covers.
We arrived at the slopes approx. 9:30 a.m. still not well, but too stubborn to stay at home, we skied the morning.
This is where the "Pink Lady" comes in.  After lunch, we arrived at Invermere Hosp. in emergency with chest discomfort.  It's a scary moment when you begin to recognise familiar faces!  I go directly to the hospitality suite a.k.a. the cardiac room when the hospital vampire (lab Tech) introduces herself as she siphons off some of my blood. I am connected up to an ECG to rule out any serious issues.   After peeling the intensely sticky leads from my upper body and leg the Doc ordered me up a "Pink Lady"  Hoping it was a cocktail involving Strawberry liqueur and cream, as it was not anything that tasty.  Doc was ruling out tummy troubles.  The recipe for this sadistic concoction is Malox (I'd rather be chewing on chalk) and Lidocaine. For those not so familiar with Lidocaine, it is widely used for dental anaesthetic. "You want me to drink this?" Forget the straw, so I banged it back as if I were a redneck in a Western bar.  Get 'r down!  The Lidocaine isn't so bad, but please substitute the Malox for some chocolate milk at least.  Anyway, I have Bronchitis!  No worries.....until I am told my Ontario Health card has expired.  Glad they took my blood pressure first! Another long story as my card was only issued for a 9 month period instead of 5 years and no renewal notice sent.  Many phone calls later to Ontario Health I am told: "Yes, your card is active, but it is also expired. You do have coverage, but you don't."  Exact words spoken by a not so pleasant woman on the other line. What else can I say, it''s Government.  I won't go on about the issue, so lets get back to skiing.
Clouds over Invermere

After a few days of laying low and knitting profusely while I am getting cabin fever, Bob is catching some groomed runs enjoying the sunshine and the T Bar (I am feeling better)  " I am skiing tomorrow!"

The Rat House
We catch up with some good friends slopeslide the next day.  Still no new snow. "It's coming" we are told. Still, a great day. Bumps in the morning and groomers in the afternoon. Time for a Bladder break, and a convenient outhouse to the right of the Sunbird Chair.  Last season the same privy was missing the door. What do you do when you are a woman? (my She-Wee is still in my kayaking life jacket back home)
Butt Biting  Rat
Now, the door has been replaced.  I'm told by my ski buddy to "Watch out for the rat living in there! He'll jump up and bite you in the Butt" Well...a snow rat? Or an outhouse rat?  What shall he be?
 What shall we name this 4 legged Mountain Friend?  We shall "Warn the tourists of the terror of the mountain"  All in a days' fun, of course. And I did relieve my full bladder... in the village at the base of the mountain.

Hoar frost on the road down the mountain

Tomorrow, I will be 100% once again, thanks to Oil of Oregano and Rx from Doc.

Feel the flow against the Snow.

Ski good, or eat Wood!

Just get out and Ski...............

Friday, 17 January 2014

Skier: pronounced (Ski'er)

Ice flow on the road to Panorama Mountain Village
Definition of a Skier: The art of catching cold and going broke while rapidly heading nowhere at great personal risk!
Skis:  a pair of long,thin, flexible runners that permit a skier to slide across the snow and into debt.
Bindings:  Ingenious automatic mechanisms that attach the skis to the ski boots at the heel and toe. Bindings very effectively protect skiers from potentially serious injury during a bad fall by releasing the ski from the boot, sending it skittering across the slope where it trips another skier, who avoids serious injury when his bindings release, allowing his skis to spring loose and trip two other skiers, who fall, causing their bindings to release before they suffer serious injury, sending their skis into the path of four other skiers, and so eventually causing the entire slope to be closed, thus protecting every skier in the area from serious injury.
Boots:  (see: pain)
Happy to be on the hill again
Yes, we both need new ski boots.  Bragging rights to actually wear out your boots. So, off to Cranbrook shopping.  Gerick's Ski and Cycle shop was recommended to us and this is where it all begins.  Shane is our boot fitter today as he begins to questions us on skill level, preferred ski terrain, age (ha ha), weight (you think?) and ability.  After the interrogation, it is time to try on boots.  My turn.  A quick measure and we begin.  I have always had good luck with Nordica Boots as this is my first pair to try on.  As I struggle, push, and squeeze my foot into the liner, then repeat into the boot shell it is then to shackle tight any air space left between my toes. not bad, but not perfect.  I requested a stiffer boot with more ankle support. Shane recommended a new model "Soul Sister" by Full Tilt Boot Company and made in Italy.  Pretty funky looking boot, as it looks like a retro cable boot right out of the 1970's.  Shane recommended this boot as it would be a more customized fit for comfort and ability. Perfect fit! Of, course, it is considerably more expensive!  Since, our VISA card needed to be cancelled as it was compromised during our travels, Bob insisted he wait for his new pair of boots. We will definitely return to Gerick's.
Time for custom fitting my new boots. remove my socks, stuff cotton balls between my toes, Shane tapes my feet with green drywall tape (very attractive) slides on a stocking, then a neoprene cap, another stocking, then the boot liner, another stocking and into the cooked (and very warm) boot shell.  Shane did warn me that this would be a bit uncomfortable. He shackles up the boots very tight.  "O.K. now stand up and invert your toes on this wood plank and balance for approx 20 minutes."  Sounds like a mid 13th century torture chamber.  When the hammer stops hitting you in the back of the head, it feels good!  Off with the boots, tape, cotton, etc. and back into the newly formed Soul Sister.  WOW...just heavenly, and time for lunch.
The Cottage Restaurant:  Borscht, home made breads, a BLT with chicken noodle soup.  I say, one of the best lunches on our list! Beth and Pat Thom, have been owners for 24 years. Everything served at this lovely establishment is hand crafted every day.

Cat skiing on Outrider...66 kmph!!! Woo Hoo
Once back from Cranbrook and a sound sleep, it is time to work my new "Ballerina Slippers"  I strap on my gear like an over anxious child.  Out we go with phone in hand with a new ski app. "Alpine Relay". I tend to be an  endorphin junkie, and this new app is just more encouragement that just isn't necessary!  A few days with new boots skiing with my nee app, I reach 66 km per hour.  Crazy, for an old girl.  I think 66 km will be my max. speed as we aren't made of rubber and bounce like we used to.
Bob, Husband and best friend

It is great to ski with my Best Friend, and husband Bob (who is 130% recovered from surgery) for another glorious season. Panorama does feel like home....our winter home.  We have been visiting here for the last 15 years to ski. The terrain has everything a skier would want from greens to double diamond bowls.  We are breaking in our muscles, joints and bones gently this year as we have been taking more days off than our previous seasons.  More room for Apre's ski time.
After a morning of great skiing, we break for lunch in the Great Hall at Panorama.  Since this is the year for the Sochi Winter Olympics, and Para Olympics, Panorama is host to the most incredibly talented Para Olympians in the world. Sochi 2014.
Ski Team from Japan
All the Alpine teams are here.  We met, Mick Brennen, U.K. a hopeful for
Mick Brennen
His inspiration, drive and talent is such an inspiration to both of us.  A very humble and wonderful athlete!  We had the pleasure speaking with him, as well as learning about his journey here.
Mick's Sit Ski 
 Mick served his military life in Iraq, where he was severely injured. After a long recovery and rehabilitation, he was introduced to the world of the Sit Ski.  Mick has only 4 years of skiing under his belt.  His strong drive and determination through his injury and recovery to be one of the best athletes in the world as he approaches Sochi.  Words cannot express how this young man inspires the rest of us!  We wish him all the best in his Olympic journey and his journey through life.  Go for the Gold!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We will be watching.

Bob and I are skiing all day these days.....Building stamina despite all the training we put ourselves through to prepare for the three months skiing.  Time for some apres' time.  An evening of  presentation, "The Geology of the Panorama Ski Hill" by Walter Benstead BSc, P. Geol.  and a very good ski friend.  Walter, who has and interest and passion for rocks as well as skiing, wrote and published this very informative book.
Bob & Walter
"The rocks beneath and around us are a fascinating story. The Panorama Ski area is an 18 km. drive from the town of Inveremere. It is along this road that we see some of the best, most easily accessed exposures of the area's bedrock foundation. They are an intriguing story that enhances our area ski trip with a knowledge of the geological history and structure on which we traverse"  So..without the rocks, there is no skiing! Actually, it is these same rocks that cause injury to the bottoms of our skis!  Bitter sweet rocks, snow snakes, land sharks and death cookies.  Skier beware.

Snow Snake:  an invisible but malevolent creature whom skiers, blame for causing their falls.  Other troublesome unseen slope dwellers include the rack rat, who knocks over carefully propped up skis; the pole cat, who snatches ski poles from skiers' hand just as the chairlift starts and flings them into the snow below; the piste weasel, who momentarily obscures or reversed trail marking signs; and the powder parrot, whose weird squawks make it appear that an exasperated skier has just said something extremely crude.

Time to ski.....

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Miles from Home

1,660 miles or 2653 kms.  from home. It's now 2014 and another season a Panorama.

Before our final trek from Calgary to Panno, we have a few more days to spend with our good friends Stan and Liz. Liz is our tour guide today.

 We started out fairly early that day, hopped the  C train to Downtown Calgary.
Indoor Garden,  Calgary
Calgary architecture

First stop, an indoor garden on the top floor of a shopping mall.  I don't do shopping malls, but this was the exception to my rule.  Absolutely tranquil as we could feel the tropical warmth warming our damp bones.  Before we knew it was time for a quick lunch, then off to the core.

The architecture of this sprawling city was structurally beautiful.

The day flew by, as quick as the night.

It was time to depart and on the road again.  Another blizzard on our last leg of driving.
And, the worst driving conditions we encountered this year. Superstition has it coming in 3's. three days of driving in blizzards!  We crossed the Continental Divide then the road disappeared!  But, safe and sound...time for a cold beer!
Continental Divide 

This year we are house sitting in Windermere.  Bob and I thought it would be a good experience to live off the mountain for a season for comparison. It is approx. 30 km from Windermere to Panorama. Not too bad.  We have been spoiled last season by living on the mountain. A bit more preparing the day.

A few days to recover from the last blizzard and some sound sleep.  Then, up the mountain to pick up our ski gear from Wilhem and Gee.  We all had a great visit and good cup of coffee.  It seemed like yesterday as we were catching up on the last year of mountain life.
"Tumbleweed" & Gee
We met their new member of the family... "Tumbleweed" a pony doomed for the glue factory.  Thank goodness for big hearts as Wilhem and Gee adopted this beautiful 8 year old Pony.

Now, time to check out the scenery, pick up our season's pass and some mountain friends.
Wilhem & Casey (ski bums in training)
 What we thought would only take a few hours, took all day meeting a friendly familiar face every turn of our heads.  It is great to be back to our Western home.
Back at Panorama...with our favorite Mountain Friend
Monday: ski day at Panno. A full day of skiing.  Deb, Don, Richard and Doug are Mountain Friends today.  Well, it's Baptism by Fire as Deb is lead this day. It's a day of moguls, bumps and steeps. Forget the groomed runs as we ski with gusto! 
Bob, "The Silver Fox" the end of the day we limp back home to lick our wounds, eat and crawl into bed.  Just to do it all over again the next day and the day after.
What a life!!!
Deb, Don, Bob, Richard & Doug

Miles from our Home

No one in sight for fifty miles
Sleeping fields sigh as I glide across their spines
If I can just reach the crest of that hill
This whole day will tumble and out the night will spill
The sky is still as a spinning top
Shooting stars drop like burning words from above
If I could just connect all these dots
The truth would tumble like a cynic vexed by love
And yet people keep saying
I'm miles from my home
Miles from my home
I met you again in my sleep last night
And these are days of slow boats and false starts
Hearts remain under lock and key
You will be the one to set them both free
And yet people will tell you
You're miles from your home
Miles from your home
But that's where I want to be
Out there searching
Out here fumbling, out here waiting
For you and you for me
The moon hangs like a question mark
Pale as milk, bold as a promise
When will you share these sights with us?
When will we hold you in our arms?
And people will tell them
We're miles from our home
Miles from our home
Yeah, and people will tell them
We're miles from our home
Miles from our home
Miles from our home, miles from our home
Miles from our home, miles from our home
Miles from our home

Read more: Cowboy Junkies - Miles From Our Home Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Year of the Fox

Medicine Hat
Good morning Swift Current! Another early start to our day.  Destination: Stan and Liz's in Calgary.  It was a pleasure driving in good weather. We had a quick break in Medicine Hat and visited the World's Largest Tee Pee.

One of the medallions on the Tee Pee

We arrived in the beautiful sprawling city of Calgary in the afternoon, bad weather all behind us with temperatures hovering a tropical -4c. 
if pigs could fly....

Wow, three years went by so fast since we saw each other.  Many hugs and kisses later, we picked up where we left off just as if it was yesterday.
Stan, Bob, Hillary, myself, Liz

Shopping.....Girls, only.....Today, Liz is my tour guide and personal shopper. We dropped off Hillary at the Chinook Mall for the afternoon. Now, off to Vespucci's women's consignment shop.  This was no ordinary shop.  The size of a department store, this "consignment shop" was all high fashion, designer wear ready for the taking. The frugal spirit inside me was screaming to jump out. Liz suggested we ditch the purse (wallet and credit card excluded), scarf, mittens to be left in the truck. "We need our hands to be free to sort and select our finds. The only phrase to come to my mind as we entered was OMG!!!! And " Away we Go"  Shop, Shop and Shop some more!  We collected as much as we could carry to the attendant in the change room.  Cleverly, she ties a pretty blue scarf around a dozen clothes laden hangers for me to hold while we hunt for more.  Three trips in all! Time to play dress up and decisions to make.  A Rossukon Thai silk dress, reversible fur/leather coat, Alpaca purse, evening purse, an assortment of tops, shoes and jewellery.  I did have my eye on a purse, and asked a staff member if I could have a look. Retail price was $6,000.00, yes the zero's are correct. consignment price was a bargain at $ 1,500.00. I made a wise decision on this bargain and placed it back on the shelf. We both left with giggles and smiles.  I will be back in the spring for another round.

Spruce Meadows
The evening crept up on us quickly. Stan's turn as tour guide. We hopped up into his Harley orange Avalanche to visit the Spruce Meadows Equestrian Facility.  From November to December, Spruce Meadows is bathed with red, blue and green Christmas lights adorning trees, buildings surrounded by acres of rolling hills and equestrian building.
 I hoped to photograph many sites on this foggy cold evening, except the temperatures drastically took a negative dive as my camera lens froze and prevented me to capture the brilliance of the magic in the air. I did manage to capture a few shots.

December 31: pre nap is in order as a late night will be guaranteed.

New Year's Eve.
  Farewell to the year of the "Pig" as we welcome the "Fox"  This is the first New Year celebration Gala for Bob and I. Usually we enter the new year's attending dinner parties. All dressed up and somewhere to exciting.  A fabulous and funny evening at Jubilation's Dinner Theatre to experience the "Best of Friends Reunion", dinner, DJ and dancing. Ten years ago the television series Friends played their last episodes and it instantly became on of the biggest hits of television. Now Ross (Brad Zacharias, Rachel, (Kara Swayze), Monica (Gillian Moon), Chandler (Kevin Pownall), Joey (Luke Salmon) and Phoebe (Jill Martin) have returned to the coffee shop we came to love.

The cast of Friends Reunion made us laugh till we cried.  An interactive evening combined by all staff (actors) playing various parts of the sitcom "Friends" Our server Hans Freedman (role character) aka"Hans Free", Phoebes analyst gave us some good advice on life.

 Good job to all. 

Stan & Liz on the stage of Friends Reunion

Nice Shirt

It is now the year 2014, the Year of the Fox. What will this year bring? What does the Fox Say ? ?

In China, fox animal symbolism revolved around the afterlife. Lore has it that a fox sighting was to be a signal from the spirits of the deceased.

 Fox animal symbolism takes a turn of intelligence in the Celtic realm, as the Celts believed the fox to be a guide, and was honored for its wisdom. The Celts understood the fox knows the woods intimately, and they would rely upon the fox as their guide in the spirit world.

In Japan, the fox was considered one of the rain spirits, and a messenger of Inari the rice god. Here the fox also symbolizes longevity and protection from evil.

In Native American lore, fox animal symbolism deals with two interpretations. One perspective (Northern tribes) observes the fox as a wise and noble messenger. The other (Plains tribes) views the fox as a trickster playing pranks, or worse - luring one to demise.