Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Congratulations Tori!

She has become the first University graduate in our family.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with minors in Geography and Political Science.
The convocation was several weeks ago but I am slow to update because May is extremely busy in the garden business and we have been running our revolving door bed and breakfast again.
It was a whirlwind trip.  2 days driving there.  2 days in Sackville, NB and Amherst, NS and 2 days driving back.

We took a drive to Cape Jourimain at the base of the Confederation Bridge and went for a little hike.
Me and my mom.  Kevin's mom came with us too but went to visit an aunt in a nursing home while we explored.
Us old folks also toured the Anne Murray Museum and all found it interesting.

The actual graduation.
With the proud grandmothers

With best University pal Caty.  (Caty spent the last two weeks here.  They drove down to Pennsylvania on Friday and competed in Tough Mudder.  Now Caty has gone home.  But the girls will reconnect soon as they are heading off to Europe together in 5 weeks.)
The street was closed so the dignitaries and graduates could parade into the hall.  It was a very windy day.  They looked like they were being pummelled by a Dyson dryer.
Tori received her diploma from the University's chancellor, Peter Mansbridge.  Deepa Mehta was also there receiving an honorary degree and they both gave inspiring speeches.  This was the 150th convocation at Mount Allison.  Over 500 graduated.

Did I mention it was windy?
This was the view from our hotel.  The turbines are not in the pictures on the hotel's website.  They have been installed within the last year.  Tori says it is always windy here so I guess that is a great place to put them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas tree hunt

They don't hunt for trees in Germany.  Julia says they use mostly potted trees that they then plant outside.  We decided that a tree hunt was something she had to do while she was here.  The weather didn't co-operate and provide snow for snowball fights or sledding but it worked out that Caitlin had the morning off and Alec was home for the week so we went anywhere.

Here Julia cut down her very first Xmas tree.

I removed the little pesky branches at the bottom.  I consider this my best side.  My hair is neatly braided and you can see my hand knit mitts but not the aging face.
Julia was most impressed with Alec carrying the tree.  It was a very small tree.  But it fits perfectly in the corner where I wanted it.
The farm we went to is down a number of tiny roads, each progressively smaller, more hilly and then dirt.  But the service is amazing.  Here we are with Laura (who owns the farm) and her dog Spruce.  Laura is very outgoing, likely ADHD and had sparkly makeup.  In this picture she looks like a mannequin but she doesn't often stop moving (or talking).  We were the only ones there so she spent the whole time providing commentary and details.  Unfortunately she lost 2000 seedlings this year because it was so hot and dry.  It is a small farm and that really cuts into the harvest for the coming years.

I look like a real hick.  I expected it to me muddier.  And if I worked in a barn that would be my barn coat.  But I love it.  Warm, co-ordinates with everything but alas really starting to show its age.
Here we are with our tree.  Make sure you look at Kevin's shirt.  His favourite Christmas movie is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and I was thrilled to find this shirt in San Antonio.
The tree was put up and decorated quickly then Julia and I spent the afternoon baking.  It is so nice to have someone in the house who loves to cook.  Julia wants to experience "Canadian" food so we have made apple pie and Nanaimo bars and my grandmother's shortbread.  We are having tortiere Christmas Eve.  Other than poutine what would you consider Canadian food?

Julia's Story

Once upon a time there was a smart young girl named Julia who lived in a country far, far away.  Julia wanted an adventure and wanted to work with horses so she did lots of planning and then more planning and finally bid her parents and Prince Charming Auf Wiedersehen and headed for the wilds of Canada.  Julia spent 3 months working at a ranch in northern BC and all was well.  Then Julia spent 3 months working at the racetrack in Vancouver and all was well.  Then Julia came to Collingwood.  All was not well.  The accommodations promised her were not furnished as stated.  The farmhouse had cracked walls, ceilings and windows and questionable water supply.  It was left a mess by the previous tenants.  (Caitlin, Connor's girlfriend Sabrina and I had spent the previous day cleaning so Caitlin could move in.)  The owner (we will call her Cruella) had given incomplete information to the barn manager and then headed to Florida.  She was expecting a girl from out west and not until the new year.  I guess Germany is west if you go far enough.  The manager tried to give Julia the full time hours promised but after the evil Cruella returned and said they were over budget Julia's hours were cut and another girl laid off.   So basically Julia was left underemployed and homeless.  She moved in with us for a month. (And Caitlin decided she couldn't live in the farmhouse either.) We enjoyed having Julia but she needed more money than the few hours the barn provided so she found a job cleaning condos and moved into staff accommodations.  Not her plan but she took it all in stride.  We hope to still see Julia a lot over the coming months so you may see her occasionally in my blog.  Julia will be in the area for another two months then she will be doing some exploring in the states before returning home.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Goodbye San Antonio

After a week in San Antonio I have these observations to make.

Don't mess with Texas is so wrong.  Everyone we met was friendly and courteous.  Everyone called us ma'am. We felt so welcome.

We had great weather - about 10 degrees warmer than normal seasonal temperatures.

The roads in San Antonio are poorly designed ad the signs are even worse.  There were many areas
that our GPS didn't work so we usually had a map and printed instructions in addition to the GPS. We never really got lost but sometimes we went in circles or zigzags or stars.  If you understood that - you have been to San Antonio.

We went to the oldest bakery in Texas (Naegelin's bakery in New Braunfels) and the worst bbq in Texas (Rudy's).  We saw the most famous bar (Coyote Ugly). 

The pride that American's have in their military (and their sports teams) is evident on bumper stickers, articles of clothing and just about everything else.  They don't value their seniors as much.  Mom was only eligible for senior's discount at 3 places.

San Antonio needs to start recycling.  Our resort didn't recycle.  None of the attractions we went to recycled.  We did finally find a few half garbage/half recycling bins in the downtown.

I really, really miss Tim Horton's coffee.  Starbucks sucks.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Last Full Day in San Antonio

We spent some time at the pool again.  We have had the pool virtually to ourselves every time but today.  It was great.  This picture is for my hubby - to prove I used the new prescription goggles he bought me.
These tracks were in the sand at the beach at rattlesnake river.  Does anyone know what they are or do I have to wait until I get back and can look it up in my book?

Mom and Leanne spent the afternoon shopping while Lynda and I did the rattlesnake river, walked on the nature trail and played shuffleboard.

When they returned we ate whatever we could find in the fridge - leftover teriyaki chicken with blue cheese dressing anyone?  Then we went to the firepits for our own private fire.

Alamo and Riverwalk

Whenever I told anyone we were going to San Antonio they would invariably say "oh, you have to go to the riverwalk and the Alamo"  So we did.  We started at the IMAX to watch the Alamo movie to set the stage.  It was made with historical re-enactors and not real actors.  Then on to the Alamo.  I didn't get any pictures of the Alamo but we enjoyed the history.  Photos are actually prohibited inside and outside difficult to get a shot with all the modern amenities.

Riverwalk was a bit of a disappointment but that could have been just how much everyone had built it up. It is beautiful.  The banks are lined with restaurants and the odd gift shop.  And waterfalls and flower gardens.  There are lots of little footbridges so you can cross to the other side.
We ate right on the river.  The guacamole was made fresh right at our table.

We walked during the day because we wanted to do the tour at night to see the lights.  The tour starts at the lower level of a mall.  All the trees, bridges and buildings were lit up.   The guide tells you a bit of the local history (which I could barely hear because of the toddler beside me).  One of the most interesting tidbits was about the 500 room Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel.  It was built in 1968 in a hurry when they realized they didn't have enough rooms for the 1968 Texas fair.  The units were prefabricated then stacked onsite in 46 days.  They attached the tail of a helicopter to each unit to stabilize it as it was craned into position.

This is the underside of an underpass.
And since it was the 5th day of Christmas , Santa was there too!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More Exploring

We had planned on doing Riverwalk today but changed plans due to a bit of rain in the forecast.  On Tuesday we went to Natural Bridge Caverns.  I have never been in anything like this before.  The formations were amazing.  There were so many different colours and shapes.  We were glad we went.

After a gourmet meal in the parking lot (canned tuna with crackers, canned peaches and a cookie) we headed to New Braunfels then to Groene.  Groene is a very pretty town.  Very old.  We had an amazing meal at the Grist Mill - local catfish and steaks.  The pic below is the grounds around the restaurant.
We stopped at Groene Hall for a live band but didn't stay long.

Tomorrow - Riverwalk for sure!