Swan memories of Dad

I spent last night and most of today down for the count with a stomach virus. Not a lot of fun, but I’m grateful that I was able to rearrange life so I could take some time and get rid of it. This morning Jenna (who has the week off of school) came into my room, hopped under the covers of my bed, and snuggled up with me.

We talked about how when the kids were little and one of them was feeling sick they would pile in bed with me and we would cuddle until things were better again. There is nothing like a good snuggle with someone you love to make the rainbows come and brighten things up.

While we were lying there, my cousin texted me that the swans were back on the lake by their cabin. When I see swans I think of spring and of my Dad. He was always so excited to see them come – because it meant the end of winter and because it meant he could take some great photos. It’s hard to believe we are looking at another spring coming, which will mean he will have been gone for a year soon. What a year this has been!

I thought the girl snuggles were going to be my happiness moment, but the text about swans left me with Dad on my mind all day today. Jenna and I were driving into town so she could have a sleepover at her Grandma’s and she started talking about my Dad and some of her memories of him. It was a beautiful moment to share as she laughed about how he would flip her on her raft at the creek, and how he took her out for wildflower walks (my dad knew the names of all the flowers and very patiently spent years teaching us about them. Later on he began taking breathtaking photos of the flowers). Naturally I started to cry, but it was so wonderful to share those loving memories with my girl. I’m so glad she has these to hold in her heart. Dad loved his grandkids (and his whole family) so much, he worked really hard to make a lasting impression on us all – and succeeded.

These photos of the swans near our place are ones Dad took  3 and 4 years ago. He loved being out there with his camera!

The happiness moment today was sharing fond memories of my Dad. I miss him so much there is an ache in my heart, but I am so thankful for his presence in my life. Soon the swans will be here too and I will be out with the kids and my Mom watching them and thinking about our memories of my Dad.

And just in case I forgot how much I love being back home, God put on an amazing show this morning:

The view from our front yard this morning. 


Being Canadian

I have always loved being a Canadian, specifically an Albertan, but I love my entire country. I mean, it’s awesome. I may not always be able to describe exactly why it is the best place in the world to live, but I believe it to the bottom of my soul.

When I was trying to figure out what to become when I grow up in my 20s (not knowing that I would be in my 40s and still not know the answer to that question), I fell in love with Canadian History. I took every class I could until I ended up with my B.A. in the subject. It may not be extremely useful in my every day life (especially those 8 years I lived in the States), but I really enjoyed it. One of the best parts was that it gave me a much better understanding of what Canada is (or is not).

I spent some time today watching the documentary Being Canadian, where Robert Cohen took a trip across Canada to answer the question what does it mean to be Canadian? It seems that what he discovered is that  it is almost impossible to explain exactly what it means to be Canadian. This identity of having a non-identity is something that is really difficult to explain to people who aren’t from Canada – something I learned during my time in the States. 

I too bonded with other Canadians while living in the States for the sole reason that we were both Canadian. It was something that had to be mentioned, the same as there is always some kind of acknowledgement when I come across a fellow Lefty. A kind of relief in knowing that you’re not the only one floating around out there.

Also, the fact they had an entire segment about the Beachcombers was incredibly awesome. 

I proudly kept my Canadian sorry in my vocabulary until after living in Southern Virginia, I finally gave it up. I was shocked to live in a place where when someone bumped into me and I said oh, sorry they would grunt at me that yes I should be, now get the *** out of my way. I’m happy to say that I have my sorry back now that I’m home again.



I watched the documentary (thrilled that since he’s also from Calgary he spent a little longer there, no offense Toronto, but I was glad that you weren’t the centre of the universe…. sorry) and it got me thinking about what it means for me to be Canadian.

I have strong Canadian roots on both sides of my family. Of course since we are all immigrants, that only goes so far… But, my Dad’s side has old standing in Ontario – I came home from my Canadian history class one day and told my Dad we were learning about the Northway store and he was like oh yeah, that was your great grandfather’s store. And my mom’s family was one of the first to settle out here in Alberta.

I have always identified very strongly and proudly as a Canadian and it thrills me to be back in my country and raising my kids in our Canadian culture (whatever that is).

So what does it mean to me to be Canadian? Well it means my prairie/foothills/mountain roots in Calgary. It means time on the ranch that was started by my great-grandparents and continues on now with my uncle, aunt, and cousins. It means horseback riding and freedom.

It means summers with family at the creek

It means going to the Canada Day Parade in Canmore and celebrating how awesome it is to be Canadian.

It means going to the Stampede (the kids here with my uncle when we were at the rodeo last year). 
It means going branding and being a part (a limited part since a lot of this cow stuff is totally out of my wheelhouse, but I love it) of learning what makes the ranch work. It’s important we know our heritage. 

It means tobogganing down the hill by the barn while the horses watch

It means having your kid throw snowballs at you while you’re unloading groceries from the car (not off the dogsled)

It means beautiful skies and unexpected snowstorms.

It means Santa Claus Parades in our hometown. It also means being closer to the North Pole and all of Santa’s goodies.  

Pure and simple, it means home. It is security, love, peacefulness, kindness, humour, and a place where I am truly blessed to live.

Ok, maybe that is just what it means to me to be Albertan. However,  I think one of the best things I did was live in Quebec for 2 years. I actually think there should be an exchange program between our two provinces where everyone has to spend some time in each other’s provinces. I loved living in Quebec and some of my greatest friendships were made there.

My happiness moment today: watching something that made me sit down and think about how much I truly appreciate this wonderful place that I call home.