Archive for July, 2012

‘my favorite quote around Calgary.. and it’s just on the doorstep at work in Eau Claire’

How can we help but get into the olympic spirit?

I love my sports, no matter what it is, but in Olympics, it’s swimming (and basketball) that have me hooked.

Mum had me in the pool at a young age. It was never competitive (well to me it was) but seriously a first in the breaststroke or butterfly in a 25 meter pool at the local primary school sports was never going to get me (let’s face it) anywhere near an Olympic sized pool or a gold medal for that fact.  Plus really, 4am to train.. pfft.. I had trouble getting up to go to VicSwim at 8:00am!!!

No, give me the pool at the pub, the dam and eventually our (read my for my brothers) own pool and I was happy..

But watching the Olympics over the last couple of days got me thinking.  I have lived in. No, let me rephrase that.  I LIVE in a city that has hosted an Olympic games.

I know, I know.. Winter Vs Summer.. I’m from a summer country, but who has not heard of the 1988 Calgary Olympics?

They were famous.

Cool Runnings? The Jamaican Bobsled Team? any of this ringing a bell for you??

Most of the lines from the movie have haunted me for the two and a half years that I have lived in here and yes, I have been to Canada Olympic Park (or C.O.P. as it is affectionately known in this neck of the woods.

‘The closest I will come to driving a bobsled.. safe inside C.O.P’

I have seen the Ski Jumps. I have seen the Bobsled track.

Even ventured out one Friday evening and saw the Canadian Bobsled Championships (it was friggin cold!!).

‘Getting a look at the angle on that bobsled track’

‘One of the competition team’s ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOMING by’

‘Finish Line’

I have been to the Olympic Oval and to the Saddledome.  I’ve even driven up and checked out the ski hills at Nakiska.. but I’ll be honest.. there is a place called Olympic Plaza downtown that I have only really ‘skirted’ around.

Sunday I decided it was the day. Sunday would be the day to enjoy Olympic Plaza and check out a couple of other Olympic ‘relics’ that have been left behind and dotted over the city.

‘Olympic Plaza Refection Pool’

Officially (or so I have been told), Olympic Plaza was built to hold  medal presentations for the 1988 Winter Olympics, however since then it has been turned in to a beautiful urban park complete with ‘reversible’ reflections wading pool for the summer and refrigerated ice skating rink for the winter (two birds..one stone!).


‘As close as I will probably come to the Olympic Rings’

But walking around there is still definitely a feel of Olympics in the plaza..from the official Olympic rings embedded into the top railing of the black iron fence, to the athletic statue below the Olympic cauldron and the Honor plaques of Canadian athletes who have represented their country and brought home medals.. How can you not get excited by that?

‘The Olympic Cauldron’

‘Some of the honour plaques’

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I don’t even know where to begin this blog!.

Everything about today has seemed dark and gloomy and honestly… the longer it went on.. the worse it got.

Ok, it’s true.  My secret is out.  Not everything about living overseas, on the opposite side of the world is all rosy and amazing.  There are dark days too.  Days when you wish that it wasn’t a 24 hour plus flight home.  When you wish that you could simply skip home for the weekend, get your family, your friend and your Mum’s fix of happiness, joy and laughter and return back to what is, otherwise an awesome opportunity.  But it’s simply not that easy.

I never expected it to be, and trust me, there have been many a dark days in the last 2 and a half years.  I’ve just never really spoken openly about them, nor have I allowed my family to see just how much it affects me.. perhaps today is some kind of reckoning that I am feeling. Perhaps I’m just sick of having this pent-up feeling inside of me and I simply wish that I could jump in a car and drive down the road, around the corner.. 10 – 20 hours, just to see those that I love… trust me.. if it was that easy and cheap.. I would do it.

To be able to meet my beautiful new niece who is now 5 months old, who is smiling and being pestered by two bigger and loving brothers each and every day.  To join in the 10-year-old birthday celebrations for my not so young niece who is growing up oh so quickly and to be able to celebrate my nephews 18th birthday.  To go to the footy each weekend and watch my nephews run around in the mini’s, or play their first U’16’s game.  To watch my nieces play their first game of A Grade netball, and to be standing beside them on the court too.. teaching them, guiding them.. to see them in their dance recitals… to simply “just be there”.

To witness friends getting married, to see the joy in their lives, to see their families growing and to meet and know their children.  To revel in every special occasion that I miss out on, simply because I choose to live where I am….

I am left wondering each and every day that I feel like is, what is harder??..

Knowing what you are missing out on, or missing out on what you don’t know?

There is no easy answer..

If I had not come here, had not stayed as long as I have, I would not know the beautiful and amazing people that I know now. The friends that make living so far away from home bearable, the friends that have become my family.  I would not have seen many amazing places, taken chances, gotten lost and re-discovered myself.

I would not have been able to share some amazing times with my Mum, brother, sister-in-law and nephews that visited, nor seen the awe in their eyes with the amazing scenery that is Southern Alberta.  Not had the chance to see the joy and excitement of my nephews when they experienced Canadian culture for the first time, saw bears, climbed mountains, watched ranch work that they had never seen before, nor gotten to know them in a different light away from their comfort zone, away from the farm.. I truly have something that only Aunty Jean can know.. memories that they will have forever..and more importantly memories that I will share with them forever..

I look at the photo’s on my wall and am reminded how lucky I am. So many amazing memories with people that I love and cherish.. Dog sledding, New York, Vegas, Florida, Pike Place, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Lake Louise, Cross Country Skiing, Snowboarding, concerts, Havana, Mountains after Mountains of stunning scenery, amazing rivers and lakes, mixed in with loved ones, family, friends, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews…it’s what traveling and family are all about..

I truly am lucky…

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Missing her 10th Birthday today… but always in my heart.. love you gorgeous girl

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Darrell Lea’s FAMOUS black gold!

I must admit, I did quickly glance over the headline yesterday ‘Darrell Lea goes bust after 85 years‘, but today I read it a little more closely and realised that yet another connection to my past was slipping away.

Now I’m a lover of chocolate, a lover of lollies and a lover of all things sweet and honestly I struggle to fathom how a chocolate company can go under (oh that’s right, I left oz. no wonder their sales dropped!), but there is a larger part of me that has a connection to good ole Darrell Lea that I really don’t want to lose.

When Dad was alive, I remember there always being a bag or two of Darrell’s soft licorice in the fridge, and even though to a 5 or 6 year old it’s not really that tasty (well the first few pieces anyway), it is one licorice that I have come to love and one that I almost cherish with all of my heart. I’m pretty sure that there are other licorice’s out there that are just as good as Darrell’s, but none will ever hold the memories like this one.

Years pass by too quickly and in someway or another, even though memories remain, connections slowly disappear.

There are many things I know I have grown to forget about my Dad (or that at least are pushed behind newer memories), but one of the memories I have is of his licorice stash.  Well I guess it wasn’t actually a stash, but it was for him and technically us kids weren’t allowed to eat it (plus Mum kept in that little cheese storage section at the top of the fridge door… which at one time I couldn’t see into…. oh how times have changed!!)

How lucky was I… Mum, Dad and I

As much as I’d love to believe that he only shared it with me, I know that Dad never had favorites and I’m sure that at times (when Mum wasn’t looking) he shared it with the boys too.

I remember climbing up onto Dad’s knee for a hug, a dry shave (think 5 o’clock shadow whiskers and him rubbing that against my face) or simply to watch TV.  Secretly when he didn’t think that Mum was watching he’d slip me a small piece of the darkest, softest licorice and tell me that this was our little secret. Of course Mum knew, she knew everything and still does, but she turned a blind eye and let us have our secret, after all, what harm was in it.

After Dad passed away, the licorice stash slowly dwindled, but whenever we were in Mildura, Mum would venture into Darrell Lea’s and buy a couple of packets of the black gold to have at home to share as a family. I’m sure the subconscious memories in each us 5 kids is what keeps drawing us back to this licorice even today.

For me at least, I hope the Darrell Lea can work through this rocky road and can at least get the opportunity to purchase just one more packet of licorice… just for my Dad!.

xx J

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Enjoying the wonders of the natural world

One thing that I love about Calgary is that it is less than an hour from the mountains.

No matter what time of year it is, no matter the weather, driving through the mountains always takes my breath away and keeps me wanting more.  Sunday was no different.

My boss had told me last year of the spectacular drive that him and his wife had taken along Hwy 40. The Highwood Pass from Longview to Canmore, from the rolling green foothills and ranch lands to the high peaks of the rocky mountains.

At around 4:30pm and with still plenty of hours of sunlight ahead of us (yes, it doesn’t get dark here now until well after 9:30pm), I decided that it would be nice to take in some new sights.. and it truly didn’t disappoint.

Hwy 40 ‘The Highwood Pass’ – The road ahead

The stunning valley through Kananaskis Country

Enjoying some of the sights

The Avalanche Trails along the Kananaskis Range

Beautiful Wild Flowers

Simply stunning

Our tiny Suzi Suzuki 

Overcast weather….. who cares

Big horn sheep.. yes sheep.. no matter where I go…

Yummy.. salt on the road

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