A Travelogue

Friday, August 19, 2005

Twisted Ankle

I fell on a crack and twisted my ankle.

We're moving our office into temporary quarters on the same floor. When our old office was originally created, the floor was extended by adding 10' of some substance which was different from the existing floor. It didn't take long for the two substances to conflict. Thereafter, there was a pronounced ridge where the two floors met and over time, this ridge increased to a full vertical inch in height differential.

It was never a big problem since the ridge was very close to the edge of our desks. While occasionally it might cause you to stumble, with the desks were right there it was easy to catch yourself.

This morning both desks were moved to their temporary homes. The ridge is now fully exposed. While carrying an armload of binders (blinders, more likely) I twisted my left foot on the ridge and down I went. We have everything in our first aid kits except tensor bandages so I'll be hobbling around a bit.

33 Years Today

33 years ago today Hans and I got married.

I've been asked, "What makes a relationship last so long?"

Most of it comes down to who you are. What your values are, your ethics, your morals.

A lot of it is luck. We're lucky that as we grew older and changed, we changed together.

A lot of it is money. More marriages break up over money than over anything else. We are fortunate not to have that problem, though money was certainly tight in the early years.

And finally, we treat each other with affection and respect. But most of all, we have fun together!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Dinner in Banff

The Maple Leaf Grill is THE place to eat in Banff. I know this to be true because two of my dinner companions have lived in Banff for over 30 years and own Canada House, an art gallery now run by their daugher Barb and her husband Eric.

I met Peter and Marika through our friends from Wellington, New Zealand. Wally and Margot are currently on a 4 month holiday which includes a visit to Banff. Despite their lengthy absence from NZ, they are on a tight schedule in Alberta and didn't have time to visit Red Deer. So they invited Hans and me to join them for dinner in Banff.

Peter and Marika spend most of their time at their other residence in B.C. and so asked their daughter to recommend a good place to eat. That's how I found myself enjoying *happy hour* at Peter's condo prior to dinner.

"Can I get you some kind of cool aid?" he asked when I arrived. I heard *Kool Aid* and was momentarily nonplussed. After all, some people don't drink. I even know a few. However, his earlier email had mentioned *happy hour* so I was hopeful.

Into the silence, Peter finally added, "A highball?"

Whew!

I gratefully suggested a glass of wine and was offered a deliciously smooth, nine year old Chardonnay from Quail's Gate Private Reserve. Turns out Peter and Marika also enjoy wines and belong to the Barrel Club at Quail's Gate - a much more upscale version of the vine we own at Tinhorn Creek .

Dinner was fabulous, as promised.

To our left, when we entered, was a two-storey wine cellar. Waiters were busy carrying platters of artfully presented meals. I knew right away I was going to like it here.

Wally had the wild B.C. salmon, Peter had the special which was a baseball sized piece of tuna seared on the outside and sushi in the middle, and I had the lavender and mint crusted Halibut. Marika and Margot had duck. You can read the descriptions of our choices when you click on Maple Leaf Grill at the top of this post. Peter chose an exceptional Hainle Deep Creek Pinot Gris which complemented each of our meals.

We're eating dinner, my phone rang. It never rings. Totally flustered, I fumble with it and it makes more noise when I flip it open. The caller is *anonymous* so I end the call and put away the phone, babbling apologies. It rings again. I feel like everyone is scowling at me and with more fumbling, manage to turn it off. Later, on my drive to Calgary, I remember to turn it on and moments later it rings again! Turns out that Hans was calling to say hi to our friends from New Zealand! *sigh*

Holey Moley

The mole left a hole.

But, thanks to my skillful surgeon Dr. Skochylas, it doesn't show. In fact, this morning I've had to point out my wound to everyone and they all said the same thing: "If you hadn't told me, I wouldn't have noticed." Well, that's why I told you!

I had a mole in my right eyebrow. I first noticed it as a teen when I started plucking my brows though undoubtedly it was there before that. It was never a problem and when I was younger, it was smaller. Sort of like the rest of me. Since the mole got bigger my eyebrow hairs no longer grew in a pretty line but stuck out from it in a perculiar starburst fashion much like the witch's wart in Snow White.

The good doc saw it one day and said, "I can remove that."

Alright! It had never occurred to me to have this done, and so we set it up. Yesterday noon was the big day. I'm lying stretched out on the operating table in Outpatients.

"Are you just going to give me a local anaesthetic?"

Nodding over to the male nurse he replies, "Yes. Unless he brought the Big Hammer." Dr. Skochylas likes to joke around.

"Will there be a big bandage or just a small bandaid" I wondered out loud, because I was heading to Banff for dinner after the surgery.

"I usually don't put anything over it," he replied. I was momentarily disappointed. While I didn't want a big white flag on my brow, I also didn't want it to go completely unnoticed.

And he did such a fine job that I just had to draw attention to it. And also because I like a little sympathy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hearty Party


It was the best of times.

We had a huge party to ease Hans' transition into the next decade. 50 people came to wish him well on Saturday, and we pigged out on pig. Mr. Big Pig came and turned the beastie on a spit for 5 hours while succulent aromas wafted around the yard. The cats hovered nearby hoping for a stray morsel. The humans weren't far behind.

Festive balloons lined the driveway and encircled the deck. Three huge Rubbermaid containers filled with beer, coolers and pop covered in ice lay in the shade of the front deck while boxes of wine (yes, we only serve the best!) lined the downstairs bar. Little deck tables were covered with finger foods: an ice bowl with fresh flowers frozen between its walls was chilling pink shrimp; a tasty crab dip sat in another corner; a creamy feta slice smothered in honey and garnished with cracked pepper left its sticky residue on many fingers.

The really good part about having lots of people over is that they take care of themselves - everyone find someone to talk to. I just love it. The last people left at midnight, so it looks like others loved it too!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Omigod!

I'm an idiot, and I have proof.

Back in June a little *check* light went on in my car. Not the oil light or anything straightforward like that. I had to look it up and the manual said, "Take it to your dealer." Okay.

After work I pick the car up at the dealer's.

"I've run the diagnostic, but the only thing we can find is that the gas cap is on loose," said the serviceman. "That'll be $50 please."

"What? $50 to tell me the gas cap is on loose? That can't be the problem."

"The code says it's an evaporation leak, and it's all we could find." He goes on to explain the 3-click rule. "Tighten the gas cap until you hear 3 clicks. Then you know it's sealed."

"But how do I tell my husband it cost $50 to find out the gas cap was loose?"

He humours me and gives me a long and convoluted explanation which I can't remember anyway, so I 'fess up. It's no big deal.

A week later the light comes back on. The first thing I check is that the gas cap is on tight. It is, but as I tighten it I wait for the 3 clicks. The car makes no sound. I try again, but as tightly as I turn it, it remains silent. It must be defective, I think. And the evil check light stays on too.

Since I was going to be kayaking and then in New York for the next two weeks I had no time to bring it to the dealer so I ignored it. But all the way to the airport that first week my eyes were glued to the amber check light which mocked me with its steadfast glow. I was suddenly worried that maybe there really was something wrong with my car. And in a blonde moment I had removed my AMA card from my wallet along with all other superfluous cards. Yikes.

And the light is still on when we get back from New York.

Finally, nearly 3 weeks after its second appearance, I phoned Toyota and arranged to bring it in the next morning. On my way to the dealer's, the light went off. The serviceman explained he couldn't run a diagnostic if no light is showing but he invited me to return if it did.

It did, three days later.

I huffily explain that I don't want to be charged again if this persistent problem is in any way related to the original evap leak. No problem, he assures me.

He phones me later that day.

"It's your gas cap. It wasn't on very tight."

"What?" We replay our original conversation. "I can't believe that. I tighten it as much as I can. Really. It's on very tight."

"Did you hear the 3 clicks?"

"No. But I did screw the lid on very tightly."

"We'll give you a lesson when you pick up the car."

And the sweet young receptionist, who looks to be about 15, walks me out to my car to give me a lesson. How embarassing is that? On the way, she too explains the 3 click rule. I admit that I've heard that, but my car doesn't make that noise. It's an older model, you know.

She pops the gas door, unscrews the cap and then tightens it. My God, it does make the 3 click sound. I can't believe my ears. I try it and tighten it the way I normally do. It's quite tight and she's kind enough to agree but urges me to continue anyway. I do, and by golly, with a little extra effort I too get 3 clicks. In complete disbelief I repeat this at least three times. I am gobsmacked.

With a little smile, she hands me my keys and I leave.

I am a $50 fool.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Spilling Beans

Hmm. Hans' surprise birthday party is no longer a surprise. In the last week a couple of people have inadvertently spilled the beans. But, it's SO much easier now that he knows!!

You know, I'm guessing he would have become suspicious anyway when he saw the boxes of wine and all the beer and pop stacked up in the wine cellar.