Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Wild Wild West…

A few more days and then my vacation will be here. I can’t wait! For 10 days I’ll be seeing a part of Canada that I’ve heard so much about, but have never been to. We’re going to Alberta. Rich’s dad and stepmom (Robin and Claire) live in Calgary, so we’re going to visit them. But it’s not just any ordinary family visit. Oh no, you see - when they have company – they do it up right!!

Our first few nights will be spent with them at their place and seeing some of Calgary. Rich also has a bunch of cousins there, so we’ll probably hook up with them if we can one evening for dinner. Then on Tuesday, Robin, Claire, Rich and I pack up their SUV and we make our way into the mountains!

First stop…Banff! They’ve booked us accommodation at the Hidden Ridge Resort. (picture # 1 below). It looks just beautiful. I can’t even imagine how amazing it will be in person. I’m sure we’ll do some exploring, hiking and shopping (of course!). I literally can’t wait to get there!

Then on Wednesday we are heading to Lake Louise. Again – Robin and Claire have gone above and beyond and booked us into Deer Lodge – which is just down the road from the Chateau Lake Louise. I’m speechless by the pictures alone, so I don’t even know what I’ll do when I’m standing there in person (picture #2 below) (http://www.crmr.com/deer-lodge.php)

I think it’s safe to day that I’m not going to want to come home!! But it doesn’t end there. On Thursday we will make our way to Jasper. Just the name sounds relaxing - “Jasper”. Here we are staying at Bear Hill Lodge, where apparently the Elk like to say too! (see picture # 3 and 4 below). (http://www.bearhilllodge.com/ourplace.html). Here I will also get to see and experience the Columbia Ice Fields (picture #5 below). I can’t believe that I’m going to see all these beautiful and wonderful places all in one trip. I’m a very lucky girl.

We’ll also be going to Edmonton towards the end of our trip to see some of Claire’s family, and to play in their annual family golf tournament! Wouldn’t it be a kicker if I came back with the trophy! haha…you never know! Perhaps a stop at the West Edmonton Mall (picture # 6) and then we head home. I think its going to be a truly amazing adventure. I’ll post some of our own pictures to post when I get back!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Time to Say Goodbye

On Tuesday, July 17th, my family and I had to say good-bye to my dear grandmother. She passed away that morning at the age of 90. I am grateful to have had her in my life for as long as I did. I wanted to pay a little tribute to her here, as she was a very strong woman and came through a lot of hardships in her life. My gram never talked much about herself and her childhood, but my mom and my aunt helped me to learn a few things even I didn’t know.

My grandma endured the loss of her father when she was just a toddler. She left Russia (on a boat!) with her mom at the age of 6 (it was 1923), and landed in Halifax. The funny thing she always used to say was that they were supposed to be going to the U.S. – but they got on the wrong boat! We’re not sure if that was really true or not.

Her mother soon married a widowed business man with many young children. My gram struggled to fit in with the smart, blond, blue-eyed children who did not speak funny English (my gram had to learn English as her second language at a very young age). When in her teens, she met my grandpa and she was delighted to find someone to love and so they married in 1938. My gramps joined the Air Force in 1943 to do his duty, leaving my grandma to fend at home by herself, and pregnant with my mom.

As happened with many men returning from years away in service, there was a transition time for my gramps to get reacquainted with his family and assume his leadership role as head of the household. My grandma later gave birth to my aunt Linda.
When my grandma’s own mother (who was not well) became widowed for a second time, she came to live with my grandparents and the girls (my mom and aunt), adding to the work in the household. My grandma worked hard to provide things for her girls. She wanted them to have the right things, piano lessons, and nice clothes. She liked to bake, listen to classical music, play piano, play Maj Jong, and later play bridge. For years she worked at Eatons in the shoe department. I was too young to appreciate that at the time, but boy would I have reaped the rewards on that one if I was older! Many women did not work outside of the home in those days. But my grams wanted more for herself and worked hard to accomplish that.

When my grandfather lay in bed in the hospital with a serious illness, my grandma came everyday and stayed all day with him, taking the bus to get there. She never considered it a sacrifice. My grandpa was her life and she was proud to be his wife. She never really got over his death, and although she lived 13 years longer than he did, she was lonely and looked to my mom and my aunt, and us grandchildren for companionship.
My grandma lived with me for five years before I moved in with Rich. I am so grateful to have had her that close to me during that time, even though I may not have realized it then – I do now. My gram loved her family so much. I’ll miss her greatly, but I have tons of memories to look back on and I just hope she’s back with my grandpa now and they’re together again.

Monday, July 16, 2007

FORE! the love of Golf – Part II

Friday night we headed up to Rich’s cottage. We were teeing off early Saturday a.m. Family in from Calgary were there too, and we spent the evening eating, drinking, laughing and reorganizing the teams due to some last minute additions. It was a fun evening, but make no mistake - the competition was ON! Amongst all the laughing, there was a Survivor-type feel to the evening of outwit, outlast, outplay! It started to become an “East Meets West Battle for the Trophy”!

A 6:15 a.m wake-up call on Saturday morning…a quick coffee and bite to eat, and we were off to the golf course. Unfortunately, so was the rain! It wasn’t the bright sunny day we had hoped for, but everyone’s spirits were up, energy was high and we gathered around the first tee. Nine teams of 4, plus one twosome – a great turn out!

I was in the seventh group to tee off. This year I was paired up with one of Rich’s sister’s friends, Christopher. My brother was also in my foursome and he was paired with Rich’s sis – so the scores would for sure be on the mark! (you hope that everyone records their scores truthfully). Nerves usually play a big part for me when I’m teeing off in front of a crowd, but this time I was fairly relaxed. I think because I hadn’t played much all year, and because I had won last time, the chances of me winning again were slim, so I really didn’t have any high expectations for myself. I know that sounds bad, but when it comes to golf, it’s good for me to be relaxed. I lined up my shot as people stood and watched – took a deep breath – and let her rip. And what do you know…..I put it on the green about 6 feet from the pin! Yessssssss!

The round took about 5 hours to play. We were a little wet – a little cold – but had a ton of fun. The beer helped too! Christopher was a great partner. He and I played really well together. I was relaxed the whole game. At the end of the round we made our way back to the cottage for some good eats, good wine and the presentation of prizes and the green jacket and trophy to the winners. There was probably over 50 people there…and because of the rain, everyone was inside – but they have a HUGE place, so it was fine. Chris and I had a good score – but we had no idea how anyone else did – and we wouldn’t know who won until the scores were tallied and the announcements were made.

They started the prizes from 12th place down…calling out the names….people clapping and cheering…when they got down to 2nd place – it was announced there was a tie with first! In order to break it and determine a winner, they went with the lowest score on the hardest hole of the course. And the Champions for the 2007 Annual Golf Tournament…(drum roll please)…LISA and CHRISTOPHER with a score of 89! Can you believe it peeps? I won again!! Thank goodness I’m engaged to Rich, or I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be invited back next year! lol….it was a great day, and a great night and I had a fantastic time. Maybe a three-peat is in store for next year. Wouldn’t that be sweet!? I’ll add some pics soon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

FORE! the love of golf

This weekend is Rich’s family’s annual summer golf tournament. Every year since 1980ish (or possibly earlier!) they have been putting on this tourney. Family and friends are invited and teams of four are put together – good golfers paired with not-so-good golfers to make it fair for everyone. It’s all about fun and having a good time – however, it can be a tad stressful teeing off in front of a crowd of 40 people – which is exactly what I had to do last year my first time playing with them!

This year once again I shall play, and my brother will be joining the brood as well. We start early in the morning at a nice golf course near Lake Simcoe, and everyone ends up back at Rich’s cottage afterwards for food, drinks, and of course the prizes! Even though it’s a “fun” day – trust me – there’s some competition in that family! The coveted trophy is worn and torn, and inscribed with the winnners’ names during all the years of play. It’s truly a sight….but everyone wants to win it!

As I said – last year was my first year playing with the clan – I was scared, but I’ve golfed a couple times before, so I knew that I wouldn’t be “terrible”. I was paired with one of Rich’s good friends – he was the “good” golfer – I was the “not-so-good golfer”. So, after the tournament ended and we were back at the cottage…the scorekeepers sat down to tally up the playcards. GUESS WHO WON!?

That’s right. Yours truly took home the all-mighty trophy and was adorned with the “Green Jacket” (it’s very official!) and I could not wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the weekend. Actually….I’m smiling right now just thinking about it! So here’s hoping for another victory…but something tells me I should watch myself. I don’t think Rich’s mom will let me away with another win – if I see her pull out a retractable club from her bag….I’m running! Here’s a pic of me last summer when I was presented with the Trophy and the Green Jacket. Told you I was happy!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

You Know You Need to Chill Out When…

Wedding Date: June 7, 2008

Venue Booked (Ceremony and Reception) - check
Minister Booked – check
Photographer Booked - check
DJ Booked - check
Wedding Party Picked Out - check
Guest List finalized - check
Addresses Compiled - check
Draft Seating Plan arranged - check
Music/Song choices picked - check
Dress Shopping Day arranged - check
Cake Maker Booked - check

Programs Drafted - check
(and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other things)

The way I see it, the more I can do now – the less I need to do later. However, if I’m not careful – the groom-to-be may change his name, jump a plane, and start a new life selling melons on a beach somewhere. He’s helped a lot – so now he deserves a break. So, I will chill for the summer. (Aside from some harmless internet surfing – a couple visits to a florist (‘tis the season after all!) and of course browsing for a dress). I’m a girl. I’m excited. And I’m a bit of an ‘organizer’. So sue me. I just know that I will have calm and peace the days before the wedding, which in my opinion, will be best for everyone involved! After all, a happy bride-to-be is the best kind of bride-to-be. Wouldn’t you agree?