Hey all! Been taking a break right now to focus on my health so I have been slow in coming up with posts. But I had this moment that just hit me as the most Canadian story I have had so far. Read on to find out what it is!
How Things Started:
I had been recovering from my second COVID-19 shot for a few days. My main problem was fatigue, but I was slowly recovering from that. I wanted to go on a short walk at one point, so my Mum said she wanted to show me this little place by the Elbow River. Lately, when I walk by the river, I have been finding these little hidden spaces where I can just stay and watch the river without any interruptions. I am really into that! So, Mum decided to show me a new place by the river that she found and I was excited to check it out.
One significant part of the story is that my Mum took her cane with her on the walk. Remember the cane! We were about a block away from the river when we heard some geese calling. It was a constant call, so we didn’t know what to make of it. We’re used to hearing magpies having corvid parties, so we thought the geese were just having a party on the river.
Then It Got Serious…:
As we got closer, we saw two adult geese by the fence in front of the bench that overlooked the river. They were the ones constantly calling. When we saw some goslings in the river, we pieced it together that these adults were the parents of these goslings and were trapped. They were pacing up and down alongside the fence calling to their babies.
On the left side of the fence, there was a tree that blocked any immediately visible view of the riverbank, so the geese thought they had no way to get to the river. On the right side of the fence, there was a gate to someone’s backyard, which we thought at first we couldn’t open. The geese couldn’t squeeze between the bars of the fence or under the fence either. The parents couldn’t fly because the space was narrow and geese need a sort of “runway” if you will, to take off.
Those parents clearly didn’t want to do anything that would make them lose sight of their babies, even for a moment. I don’t know how they ended up there, but we knew we had to do something to try and help. What was fortunate for the goslings was that there were other goose families near where they were swimming on the river. The other geese weren’t too close, but they were close enough in case something happened to the goslings.
Normally, I save the phone number to an animal rescue place as soon as I move someplace new in case I see a sick or distressed wild animal. I found out after moving to Calgary that it’s not possible to call an animal rescue place right now. They are all closed due to the pandemic. So, I knew that wasn’t an option to help these geese. Plus, the longer the parents were from the goslings, the more distressed they got. So, Mum and I began to think of a plan. It was so lucky Mum had her cane with her. She let me take it and get closer to the geese to try and herd them. Mum stayed back to make sure the geese couldn’t get into the road. They could have hurt her more easily than they could have hurt me.
I approached carefully because every Canadian knows this hard and fast rule: our geese are assholes. I tried to herd them around the tree a couple of times, but it didn’t work because they were between the bench and the fence. The goose closer to me did hiss at me when I approached, but it wasn’t too bad. I backed away at first, but then I kept trying. I was wracking my brain for other ideas.
Then Help Arrived:
There was a guy across the river who was watching this thing unfold and he called to us, “Go, girls!” or something like that. I assume he was trying to think of something to do about the geese before we arrived. Then, this woman came out of the apartment next to the river and tried to help us. She stood at different places to help me herd the geese better. One of them walked around the tree and found its way back to the goslings. Mum noticed the goslings crowded around its parent. The second goose was trickier. Eventually, the woman helping us opened the gate to the person’s backyard and the goose walked in and found a way to the river!
I was so glad that worked! How many Canadians does it take to herd a pair of geese? I was afraid I was going to have to pick up those geese to let them fly over the fence! That thought was especially scary because 1. They bite. 2. Those wings are strong enough to break your arm. I don’t underestimate how strong wild animals are and I just got over the geese hissing at me thank you! The only reason they did a “light hiss” was that I was nowhere near their babies. Plus, they didn’t have the room to lunge at me.
Afterwards, I felt like I just performed First Aid or something. Mum and I decompressed by watching Fly Away Home. That really has been a significant movie for us, especially for this move to Calgary!
This could have been so much worse if a predator had got either the parents or the goslings. Or, what if it was the goslings behind the fence? It’s clear that imprinting goes both ways. It’s not just the parents imprinting on the babies, but vice versa. After the parents joined the goslings, they all swam down the river with their babies as if nothing happened and Mum and I sat on the bench and watched them.
Do you know the expression “herding cats”? Well, I have officially started saying “herding geese”. When I was trying to herd the geese, I tried to think of how they herd the geese in Fly Away Home. Then I realized, they make herding geese look easy! I’m glad I didn’t have to touch them.
One time I was at a beach in Santa Cruz, California eating a sandwich. This seagull came up right behind me and stole my sandwich! The one time I’m mugged is by a seagull! The seagull gave me a dirty look like, “This is MINE now!” Anyone who has seen Finding Nemo knows that to be true. The thing that I remember was the seagull brushed me with its wings. Don’t take “brushed” lightly. I felt how strong that bird was! I don’t underestimate wild animals, even small ones.
I am not advocating that you should always try to help a wild animal in obvious distress by yourself. I already said I didn’t have the option of calling a wildlife rescue place. One thing I have found to be significant about Canada is you live in closer proximity to wildlife, even in the cities. So, it’s even more important to know what to do when you have a close encounter with a wild animal, especially one in distress or pain.
I know there are hard and fast rules about what to do when you see a wild animal that’s distressed or hurt, but sometimes, you have no choice but to step in and help. There are basic things you can do without training, like what just happened. I have found Canadians seem to have a better idea of how they can help wild animals because they encounter them frequently. That’s not to say stupidity doesn’t happen though. I am thinking of learning more about what I can do in case I ever need to help a wild animal again and I don’t have the option of calling in the experts. And okay, I know geese are jerks that crap everywhere, but I couldn’t stand by and watch those goose parents distressed being away from their babies.
Was this story Canadian or what? Let me know in the comments!
Hi everyone! I decided to share one of my travel stories about seeing a total solar eclipse. Originally, I was planning to travel to see this annular eclipse in Northern Ontario/Quebec in June. Let’s just say it’s not going to work out. So, I wanted to share the story of how I officially became an Eclipse Chaser, plus my recommendations if you ever travel to see an eclipse. Read on to find out more!
Before I start though, I wanted to say that there was data out of sync on my site, which is why my posts haven’t shown up in Reader. Tech support said that you might need to refollow my site, but let me know if this post shows up! Sorry for the inconvenience!
Before The Eclipse:
The eclipse I am talking about happened on Monday, August 21, 2017. Six months before, my Dad noticed that the eclipse would reach totality in Oregon, but sort of disregarded it. When the eclipse date was a month away, we decided to see it reach totality. Planning got a little tight! After all, it’s a major event and people travel all over to see it, so it can be a pinch to get accommodation at the last minute. We figured this might be our one chance to ever see a total solar eclipse. The eclipse was projected to reach 70% totality in the SF Bay Area. Not good enough. We wanted to see 100% totality!
We decided to leave a few days before the eclipse so we could see some sites along the way.
Friday, August 18:
First day of our road trip! We drove from the SF Bay Area to Redding. Our road trips within Northern California generally seem to start by going to Redding first, with the exception of Yosemite. It’s like a base camp for just about everywhere else in the most northerly part of California.
I’m going to cut a long story short about my driving history because it spans different countries! That’s a whole other post. By the time we did the eclipse trip, I had been sharing the driving with my Dad when we did road trips for over a year.
It only took a few hours to get to Redding. We got to our motel and then decided to drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park since it was mid-afternoon. Note, it’s a long, windy road to Lassen from Redding! It took a couple of hours to get there. We didn’t get back to Redding until 9 pm! You might think this was the longest drive we had done this trip… Think again! I love how Lassen is significant both as a volcano and shaped by glaciers! How often do you get that?
We tried this restaurant near our motel that was open late, and ended up loving it! If you are staying in Redding go to Lumberjacks Restaurant after a long day of travelling! Their meals are hearty and warm and their service is great. Since repatriating to the US, I had a problem with restaurants serving large portions. I CANNOT eat everything on my plate in a US restaurant! If you’re looking for a restaurant that doesn’t overload you with food because you can’t get a doggy bag, Lumberjacks is the one! Plus, we appreciated the added benefit they are open late in this instance.
Saturday, August 19:
Today was exploring day! We slowly made our way up to the Oregon border and stayed in a motel in Yreka. Don’t confuse it with Eureka! They are both in the far north of California, but Yreka is closer to the state line. By the time we got to our motel in Yreka, it was becoming clear that things were getting busy because of the eclipse. Our motel was completely full, which never happens! Also, the restaurant we went to that night was bursting at the seams! Let me get back to the things I saw that day though.
I get an eerie feeling whenever I see dams in California. Water wars are legendary there. Little known fact: Most of the energy produced by the Oroville Dam is used to raise water 2,000 ft to go over the Tehachapi Pass and provide water from NorCal to SoCal. California has to think of more sustainable water systems so that there isn’t this war between NorCal and SoCal! Plus, it’s an enormous energy waste!
Six months before, the Oroville Dam had a failure that caused almost 200,000 people to be evacuated. The event was not far from peoples’ minds and there was a lot of talk about it. I have visited dams before, but this one felt different because of what had happened. As I was walking along the dam, I looked into the valley and I saw how exactly the dam failure could have been far more disastrous. I do like walking along the top of dams and taking photos of things as I go. This time, there was a lot I couldn’t see because there was a wildfire going on nearby and the smoke was obscuring the view.
During my walk on the dam, I saw a bird of prey happily eating a fish. The bird looked familiar but I couldn’t place it. I looked it up after my trip and found out it was an osprey! Also, I saw a number of them flying around looking for fish. It made me feel better about the dam seeing that animals are thriving there. I spent a lot of time just watching the osprey eating the fish and it was so close!
Next stop: Burney Falls! It was a welcome break from California water wars, drought, and wildfire. The sky was clearer there and the falls were full! After a drought, it’s refreshing to see the falls being so full! It was one of those places where I could stay all day! I couldn’t get enough pictures! I highly recommend walking the park trails too. They are just as lovely as the falls.
I took a photo of the sky with all the smoke. There was smoke going on in Oregon too and we wondered about our chances of seeing the eclipse. Luckily, we planned to see it in eastern Oregon. We hoped it was far enough east to be away from the smoke.
Sunday, August 20:
It was time to cross the state line into Oregon! My Mum explained that state lines tended to be based on natural features, and this was no different. The marker was the Cascade Mountains. I should mention that I have this CD of theme songs from Western movies that have the best arrangments. So, I was driving when we were going over the mountains and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly theme song was playing! That’s one way to remember your experience driving over mountains!
Here’s one important thing I have to say about the Cascade Mountains. If you cross them on Interstate 5, it can be rather hairy, especially in the wintertime. I hadn’t had too much experience driving in mountains, so I stayed cautious as I went over the Cascades. My uncle once hauled a load over the Cascades in the middle of winter and he said, “Never again!” My uncle’s an excellent driver, but he reached his limit there. Plus, he saw more than one truck that had jackknifed on the road. It’s rainy, slippery, and steep and if professional drivers are jackknifing, yikes! Regardless, I would rather drive the Cascades on Interstate 5 than any other road.
The Motel Situation:
Before I talk about what touristy stuff we did, I want to say something about the motel situation we found ourselves in. Because we were so late in planning the trip, motels near Portland were absolutely packed! The one motel we could find was in Shady Cove, Oregon and that was a 400-mile drive to the nearest point in the totality zone, in John Day. The eclipse was about 10 am on the 21st, which meant we had to drive ALL NIGHT from Shady Cove to John Day! That was a lot to plan! Additionally, the motels were STILL full the following night, and we had to go back to Redding to stay the night. That was another 400-mile drive. We were talking about driving over 800 miles in one day!
We checked into our motel at Shady Cove and then drove to Crater Lake National Park. It was a beautiful park, but the smoke from the fires was obscuring the view. It was kind of a letdown, so we decided to drive along and see if there was anything else fun that we could do. I have to make sure to NOT visit Crater Lake during fire season next time!
We decided to meander back to Shady Cove along the Rogue River, and then we came across this area by the road called Natural Bridge. It looked woodsy and beautiful, so we stopped and walked around for a bit. We were not disappointed! It was a loop path and the river was pretty calm in that area. The peacefulness was indescribable! I soaked it up considering what was ahead of me (a night and day of tag-teaming with my Dad on driving and sleeping). If you’re in Oregon, it’s a place worth seeing! I love gems that are off the beaten path!
And then… surprise!
We were driving back to Shady Cove when we came across a place where we could go river rafting! We hadn’t had the chance to raft before because the drought made California suspend all rafting. Now, the Rogue River was full and we thought, “Why not?!” We booked the raft for an hour though because we did need to plan for a nap.
I didn’t get any photos of rafting because I didn’t want to get my tablet wet. The river was full and fast and there were some hair-raising moments where you had to react quickly! Okay, I am not the best at paddling. It takes me a while to get the hang of it. Still, it worked out and I was able to react quickly when needed. I wish I had known the term “Send it!” at the time! The only problem was getting out of the raft at the end because the water was super fast. My Dad got soaking wet because he had to jump back in and stop my Mum from floating down the river! Overall, it was an incredible experience. It’s days like this that are going to drive people to do something about the drought and wildfire on the West Coast.
preparing for the main event:
Once the rafting experience was over, it was all about preparing to get to John Day that night. We got back to the motel, and after showers and food, we double-checked everything we needed for the trip and packed our bags. One part of the plan was to take gas cans for the 400 mile drive. The car we rented was the most fuel-efficient car we could get, but even that would have just BARELY got us to John Day on its tank of gas. We would be driving through the boonies and we weren’t entirely sure of the gas station situation. I will say more about this later because this is not a strategy I recommend. After my Dad filled up the car and the gas cans, we took a LONG nap!
We knew we had to leave by midnight at the latest if we were going to get to John Day in time. I set an alarm for 11 pm, but we all agreed that if one of us woke up before then to get the others up too. I woke up just after 9 pm and noticed my Mum was up, but like me, my Dad was awake but staying in bed as long as possible. The two drivers need sleep after all!
Since I felt pretty fresh, I decided to take the wheel first. I hadn’t driven at night since my driving lessons, so I had to readjust. Luckily it was country roads. I had the idea of if it was an 8-hour drive, my Dad and I could switch off every 2 hours. Of course, plans never work out that way. Environments don’t work in your favour.
Monday, August 21, 2017:
I handed my Dad the car at midnight, according to my plan. By then I could tell that my schedule of sleeping and eating was going to be thrown off. We stopped along the road at one point and had some food. It was then when we saw the Milky Way! I was mesmerized! I might have seen the Milky Way as a child, but I don’t remember it. The night was still and pitch black because there was no moon (my Dad said that makes sense for an eclipse). When we got back on the road, I continued napping. I tried to drive at one point because I was pretty restless, but it didn’t work. I needed more rest.
Here’s why you don’t carry gas cans with you:
It was between 4 and 5 am when we arrived at this little town to try and fill up on gas. As we suspected, there were no name-brand gas stations around and the local ones are not 24-hour ones. This little town had a population of 7 and its distinctive feature was a gas station. That made it the perfect place to try and fill up! Lol. So, we were trying to fill up the car with limited instructions, no internet to help us find any further instructions during a COLD night with no moon in the boonies! It was a perfect recipe for an Eclipse Flambe!
We realized we didn’t have a necessary piece of apparatus to help us with filling up the car. Because we had some spillages, we ended up needing to keep the gas cans and try to find a gas station that had graveyard shifts. So we were driving in a car that stank of gas fumes with cans in the back HOPING we wouldn’t get pulled over or go up in flames! I took the wheel because I drive more attentively and felt able to keep my eyes peeled for a gas station. Every street I went on I kept thinking, “Please have a gas station!” I found one in a larger town when we were almost running on empty after 8 hours of driving. I honestly never thought I would be happy to see a gas station!
The sun was rising as I was cruising down the road to John Day. I drove with a certain spring in my step! We had cleared the major hurdle of having enough gas and we made it to the totality zone!
We got to john day!
I thought I was going to explode with happiness when I saw the sign that welcomed us to John Day! I drove around to see where we could get breakfast and scored an ideal parking spot! The spot overlooked this grass space surrounded by a fence and you could see the sun clearly! As long as I live, I will never forget that I scored a perfect parking space for a total solar eclipse!
We got breakfast at The Outpost Pizza Pub and Grill. It was exactly what we needed after driving all night and eating car trip food. Sometimes, only tasty, hearty grub will do! The atmosphere was electric with anticipation for the eclipse and there was an Eclipse Menu!
We finished breakfast around 8 am and we decided to lie the car seats back and sleep for a bit. The relief of an uninterrupted 2-hour nap surpasses all understanding. I woke up at 9:30 am, saw my Mum was already awake and acquainting herself with other people around the area. I decided to join in and wait for the eclipse to start.
The Best Half hour ever!
Even though I knew the timing of the eclipse stages, to see it actually happening was exhilarating! Just before 10 am when I saw the moon start to go in front of the sun and I squealed! It was really happening! If you look at the sun directly, the moon was starting to go in front of it from the top right corner. We dug out the equipment we were going to use to see the eclipse stages. My Mum had brought some lenses to project the sun onto the ground. We didn’t have eclipse glasses, but someone offered some to us. They sounded as rare as gold dust and my Dad was skeptical if they were any good. We gave up Mum’s scientific experiment and tag-teamed on the glasses.
As the eclipse got closer to totality, I could feel the excitement building! It was about 70% totality when it became clear on earth that the moon was going to blot out the sun. You know when the sun sets, the temperature drops a bit and there’s a little wind? That was the first thing to happen. We looked on the ground and noticed the leaf patterns were semi-circles, which is another sign of an eclipse on a grand scale. Not a lot of people know that unless they have read how astronomers describe eclipses, so we went around pointing out the leaf patterns to people. I didn’t have sophisticated camera equipment to photograph the stages, so this was the best I could do.
Once the eclipse reached 90% totality, massive changes occurred! The light began to dim and it felt colder. A street light came on right before totality. Birds were flying back into the trees. You instinctively keep thinking the sun is about to set, and you have to fight with yourself on that.
Suddenly, the sun was completely blotted out and there was no need for eclipse glasses! A hush fell over the crowd like everyone was holding their breath. Then the diamond ring happened, which was more brilliant than the crown jewels! Everyone cheered and clapped! The sun appeared and that was the end of totality. Was it worth all the trouble to drive to Oregon, freak out about enough gas and drive all night? You bet your life it was! Once the euphoria wore off, we hit the road. I was amazed to see this massive line of cars leaving John Day.
The long and winding road:
I drove at first, and then the fatigue hit, so my Dad decided to take over for a while and let me sleep. He did tell me to be prepared because when the roadsigns showed certain distances, he stated how far he could make it. I joked that of course I was exhausted, it was a night without a day and a day without a night. Get the Ladyhawke reference?
I passed out so hard, nothing could have woken me. I happened to wake up when we were driving along this cliff face and I was amazed that we had driven that area at night! Sometimes it’s better to drive at night so you don’t see how treacherous the landscape is! I was happy to pass out again.
After stopping to have lunch, I took over driving so my Dad could sleep in the back seat. I was concerned because I had never driven while I was on the verge of exhaustion. Normally, I don’t drink coffee, but I had to have some of my Mum’s coffee beverage at lunch and at the wheel. I kept the radio on low so something could keep me awake. Plus, my Mum was willing to keep a conversation with me. I was hoping to make it all the way to Redding, which was about 230 miles from where I started driving, but it didn’t work. I had to switch with my Dad 30 miles before Redding because my legs hurt. My penguin walk became iconic.
We stopped at Lumberjacks in Redding for dinner. Mum kept thanking me and Dad for doing all the driving and kept saying how she was proud of me. It felt like that scene in The Incredibles when Dash and Helen/Elastigirl work together as a boat to get to shore. She says, “What a trooper. I’m so proud of you!”. I felt exactly like Dash when he says, “Thanks, Mom!”
After dinner and showers, we turned the TV on briefly to see what they said about the eclipse. We saw that the photobomb of the day was the International Space Station in front of the earth when the eclipse was being photographed from space! We must have passed out for about 12 hours. The only comparable fatigue was a transatlantic flight. I woke up and said, “Let’s go home!”
I knew people who were excited to watch the eclipse on HD or were content with 70% totality. Call me old-fashioned, but technology is not going to replace the experience of seeing an eclipse. One science magazine said that if you aren’t sure if you have seen a total solar eclipse, you haven’t seen it. We’re talking the stuff of folklore and superstition in ancient civilizations here. There’s a reason why there was a fear surrounding eclipses before science advanced and explained everything. Even if you know the science behind it, all the science in the world can’t replace the sense of awe you get when you see an eclipse.
Before I give you my personal tips on seeing an eclipse, let me emphasize that you HAVE to go see it for real! You really do! I tell everyone I know they have to go see one! Now, I am officially an Eclipse Chaser. After reading my story, can you blame me?
Tips for Travelling To See A Total Solar Eclipse:
First and foremost, remember this is a major event and people are going to be visiting in droves!
Don’t see it in a city. There are fewer people in the countryside, and traffic won’t be nearly as bad.
Find accommodation early and be aware that prices are going to increase because of the eclipse. I heard that accommodation in John Day was between $500 to $1000 a night right before the eclipse!
If you can’t find a motel, keep your eyes peeled for other alternatives. Apparently, a school in John Day was renting tents for people to sleep in on their sports field! We didn’t know that, or we wouldn’t have driven all night!
If you are in a situation where you have a long drive to the totality zone, rent the most fuel-efficient car you can get, and prioritize fuel stops if you’re driving in the middle of nowhere. You don’t want to run out of gas and not make it to the totality zone. Don’t do what I did and get gas cans full of gas though! Eclipse Flambe is not a worry you should have!
Be aware motels are going to be packed the night following the eclipse as well, so be prepared for a long drive.
Switch off driving!
Have you seen a total solar eclipse? Are you planning to see one? Let me know in the comments!
Hey everyone, didn’t know how to title this theme even though I gave it a lot of thought. It’s really been a mishmash!
Health is A Factor:
A week after I got my COVID-19 shot, I had gum graft surgery. Fortunately, the pain was FAR less than it was the first time I got it and I recovered faster! I have been super happy with the healthcare I have received in Calgary so far, and this was no exception. At least during my recovery, I was able to let my immunity develop after getting the shot without having to worry about going outside.How do I feel now that I got my first shot? Weird. There is a certain mental block I have after getting it. When the pandemic started, I got the attitude, “I’m not f***ing around with that s**t!” and I would overthink following COVID protocols. Now, even though I do still follow them, I don’t worry if I make a mistake. Even the best of us screw up sometimes, but the shot gives me peace of mind that I didn’t have before when I screwed up. Also, I read this New York Times article about languishing. Wow! Nailed it! There are lots of things I want to do, but I guess I have been locked down too long. I’ll get past it though.It doesn’t help that cases have been exploding in Alberta. I was recovering from surgery when new restrictions came in. My reaction was, “Fine with me! I’m home anyway!” I’m glad that vaccine eligibility has been expanded. Still, if you need tips, feel free to read my post about getting my shot!
Thank you to everyone who gave me some travel recommendations last month! Word is that the Calgary Stampede is going to happen. Considering the current COVID-19 situation, it’s like “Oh no!” The plan is to definitely get out of dodge. I know how international events can take over cities. I was in London when the 2012 Olympics happened and there wasn’t a pandemic on top of it. Plus, there might be trouble if there are restrictions on the event because of COVID-19, so I feel it’s best to step away this year.So far, I am in the planning stage of a trip, and I don’t think anything will be finalized for a while. Restrictions keep changing all the time. At least I will be able to travel a bit (safely, of course) and hopefully, be able to see my Dad! Hopefully, next year will mean better times, and I will be able to see what the fuss is about with the Stampede.
More On Cultural Adjustment:
Normally, after the honeymoon period, there is a phase where you don’t like your new home. I found out I was going through that this past month. It’s one of those things I haven’t mentioned before in the past for various reasons, but I am breaking this cycle. There are many misconceptions about this phase, so let me clear some things up.
As a general rule, this phase is really nothing personal against a new country. On the other hand, after this phase, if you STILL don’t like your new home, there is something more going on than meets the eye.
You can tell when you’re going through the phase if your feelings are going to be temporary or permanent.
This phase is completely normal! A country can be absolutely perfect for you and it will still happen!
When you are feeling bad about your new home, it’s not necessarily what people say or do, or things going on in the country. Anything can set this off. Of course, things like the pandemic don’t necessarily help.
You can get it with reverse culture shock too.
A certain amount of homesickness contributes to it.
I know I am going to get past this, and once I do, I am going to love Canada more! I saw the movie, Brooklyn recently. It’s so real about moving to a new country! My Irish side was saying, “I’m not crying! You’re crying!”
Some Other Cool Cultural Things:
Note the featured photo on my post. I find it touching how people are still saying “Welcome to Canada!” to me even after several months. I have also learned more about foods in Canada after watching the Great Canadian Baking Show. Despite my current phase of cultural adjustment, I am still trying to find hidden cultural gems!Funny story, I was with my Mum in Uber once and the driver asked us, “So where are you ladies from?” I don’t know if I have said this before, but TCKs have a weird relationship with that question. We can tend to dread being asked that. The general advice is to have a short version answer, a medium version answer, and a long version answer. What I tend to do is start with my short answer and if I get a good response, expand on my medium or long answer. I vary it depending on how people respond to me.This time, I gave my long response. My long response includes that I moved to Canada because the situation was getting pretty desperate in the USA. The Uber driver was very direct with how he felt about the USA and I took it. I said I completely agreed, but also added, “Having lived in other countries, I do understand those sentiments, and it’s okay with me.” I can’t believe I had never said anything like that before, but then again in England, there was a lot about American culture I didn’t know because of growing up there. Although I had some variation on that phrase, it fell flat.I think now that I have actually seen how American culture is after being away for so long, I can imply that it’s okay to say how you feel about the USA to me. I can also implicitly slide in the warning, “Don’t treat all Americans this way!”
Canadian Country Music In Time for Summer:
I stumbled on the following song and had to look it up!
How perfect that summer is coming and found the song. Killed the replay button! I’m starting to learn more about Canadian country music (hey, I’m in Calgary)! Is it different from American country music? That’s a big yes! I am listening to Dean Brody as I write this post. I like his song Canadian Girls as well. One of my biggest hopes is that I will see Dean Brody perform (hopefully at the Calgary Stampede)!
I can’t get enough green things now!! I have waited 7 months for blossoms to appear! Lately, I have gone crazy with the camera photographing flowers, baby bunnies, goslings, and other signs of spring!
Right now, Victoria Day weekend is about to happen, and the weather has turned. It’s now what I call snailing: a mixture of snow, rain, and hail. Only hardcore campers go camping this weekend. This is apparently the last gasp of winter and then June 1st is a whole different story!To my fellow Canadians, have a nice Victoria Day weekend!
I get so many questions about what winter has been like in Calgary compared to London, so I decided to write everything about it down. That way, if anyone asks me, I can be like, “See my blog post!”
Did You Know?
London and Calgary are both 52 degrees north. I’m not kidding. The fact they are both so different just shows me how our world is unique and beautiful! It hit me that I was going that far north again when I was flying from YVR to YYC. The plane was flying north for more than half the flight and I thought, “Okay, this is real!” So, what are the differences in winter between London and Calgary? Read on to find out!
Before I moved to Calgary, I mentioned to a friend of mine here how I struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder in London. My friend recommended buying special lightbulbs, aka SAD lights. It was like this moment in Legally Blonde.
How could I have grown up in London and NEVER found out about this?! I don’t think SAD lights are a thing there! Talk about a stiff upper lip. Lol.
During my quarantine period after moving here (see my Quarantine Diaries I and II), the clocks went back. There was no way I was waking up before 8 am! I then went to Canadian Tire (which I love more than Home Depot) and got some SAD lights. Voila! Cleared my fatigue right up!
As I got older in London, SAD got worse for me. It didn’t matter what I did (walks, Vitamin D, etc). Nothing worked. I got to the point I couldn’t stand another English winter and moved to Sunny California! My thing to say was, “Ask me if I miss London!” So, you can imagine how pissed off I was to know that the constant fatigue I felt in London could have been remedied with SAD lights!
Temperatures and Humidity:
Zero degrees Celsius in England? More like Absolute Zero. Yep, the humidity was such that I could feel the cold cut through me. I knew people in England who would buy cold-weather clothes from other countries because what they had in England was not sufficient. Don’t even get me started on shoes. When someone in England says it’s cold, believe it. I read Canada by Mike Myers, and he described the cold as bone-chilling. Okay, it says a lot if a Canadian describes English temperatures as bone-chilling. I knew people from other cold-weather climates think it was much colder in London than it actually was.
On the bright side, I became a big tea drinker. Nothing like a cup of tea to warm me from the inside out. No wonder that became a cultural thing! Here in Calgary, sometimes the heat in my apartment can be too much because it’s not humid. In London, it would be sheer bliss!
Dealing with Snow:
In February 2009, there was a massive snow dump of 8 inches in London (more in other parts). I kid you not, the city completely shut down. It was fun to get a couple of days off, but it made the UK look like a laughing stock to other countries. I mean, it’s not LA. You would expect the largest city above 50 degrees north to not shut down over a little snow, but it did. It snowed some more the following year and things were only slightly better.
That wasn’t even the whole story. People didn’t know how to shovel their front walk or said they wouldn’t do it because they were afraid of being sued for doing it wrong. So many people ended up in emergency rooms with broken bones because of it. My Mum ended up being one of them. She blamed herself because she didn’t grow up around snow. I don’t think she was to blame. It can happen to anyone. It’s even more likely if your country doesn’t handle snow properly. Our friends who were from northerly climates were the most sympathetic about what happened.
I reached the end of my rope with London when it came to snow. Plus, it knocked the confidence I had from living in snowy climates. Therefore, I was rather dubious about ever living in a snowy climate again. It took me a while to get my snow confidence in Calgary, but it did come back. If anything, I have learned more here than I did in other snowy climates, but that’s a whole other post. I will say this though, I wasn’t expecting to feel like hibernating when the temperatures were the lowest in February.
Staying Physically and Emotionally Healthy:
I didn’t know what it was like to be really sick with a cold or flu until I moved to London. After that, I just accepted the fact my immunity was bad. Even though I did everything I could to boost my immunity, it didn’t work. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I realized my body was feeling like it was constantly fighting infection. I don’t know what it was about England that made my immunity worse, but I know I wasn’t unusual. I knew other people who moved to England and felt it impacted their health. The most famous example is Srinivasa Ramanujan who died of tuberculosis after living in England. It’s not usually that extreme though and everyone is different. In contrast, I felt like my health got better in Calgary.
I have noticed big cultural differences in other factors like obtaining good quality fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods, and winter activities. It almost surprised me how good produce is readily available in Calgary. Plus, I feel like the level of food quality is higher overall than both the US and UK. Even though I haven’t participated in winter activities in Canada just yet, I am excited about doing so! I noticed that in London, there weren’t any activities that I could label as “winter activities” like they do in more Arctic climates. It makes me wonder how that impacts well-being too.
Overall, I would say that Calgary winter is much better for me. My tricks for combating SAD work. I have had to get my mind around the fact that it’s actually really sunny here. I don’t think I am really built for England. What do you think about what I said about my winter comparissons?
Hello everyone! This is the first collab post I have done! Please welcome Pooja Gudka from Lifesfinewine. Our post is about our experiences with different English dialects. Pooja hails from Kenya and is studying in Canada.
Our Experiences with English Dialects:
Pooja: My mum is from India and my dad is Kenyan and I was born and raised in Kenya but now reside in Canada. I have had the opportunity of hearing many different dialects and I think my dialect changes depending on who I am talking to and which country I am in. Like Winteroseca, I had to adjust to how people talk in Canada and it has been quite interesting to observe their dialect and how it differs from my own.
Winteroseca: My parents are American. I have adjusted to dialects in the US and UK. I am now adjusting to how people talk in Canada. Additionally, when I was living in England, I knew many people from former British colonies and it was interesting to talk about how our dialects differ.
When did you start learning a new dialect?
Pooja: I sounded a lot like my parents when I was younger but as I got older I started reading a lot and watching a lot of American shows as well as listening to American music so I think my dialect changed a lot between 10-18. After that I think it has remained the same and I still sound like I did when I was a teenager- just less teenager-like haha.
Winteroseca: I was 5 years old. My parents and I had just moved to Texas and I picked up on their way of talking so fast! I thought it was cool. The most significant change was when I moved to London at 10 years old. That was a complete overhaul of the way I talked.
Did your accent change too?
Pooja: Not particularly. I think it changed when I was about 10 and started to get more into American culture but I think it has remained pretty much the same since then.
Winteroseca: Yes, and no. When I was in London, there were certain words I had to say a different way or people wouldn’t understand me. I got to a point where my accent would change depending on who I’m talking to and what I’m saying. Third Culture Kids get to a point where they frame-switch between their cultures, and I have done that for a very large portion of my life. Since moving to Canada, I have been reconnecting with a lot of British English while learning how people talk in my new country.
What challenges did you face?
Pooja: I speak four languages fluently and I am currently learning a fifth language and one challenge I face because of this is not having the right words to say in English. Sometimes I will know what I want to say in a different language but I won’t be able to translate it well in English which can be frustrating. Another challenge is that I did a British curriculum at school so I ended up learning words in the traditional/British way and a lot of times I will talk to someone American or even Canadian and be confused about what they mean and then be like “oh wait we call it blah blah blah”
Winteroseca: I had to learn to speak slower and more clearly when I moved to London. There are a lot of immigrants in London. Additionally, the variation between different British accents was huge! Whenever I answered the phone or started talking to someone new, I didn’t know what dialect or accent they would have. I had to learn to adapt my way of speaking to match theirs. Sometimes, the person I was talking to wouldn’t be speaking slowly enough for me to understand, and that would be awkward when I had to ask them to repeat themselves. Typically, the challenge I have is when I need to recall a different way of saying a word. Like, “What do we say in the US instead of trainers?”
What are some things about learning another way of speaking that surprised you?
Pooja: I think I was surprised by how many people have been through this- I have talked to multiple friends who have immigrated from countries where English isn’t their first language and they share a lot of my frustrations or even just thoughts. It’s actually helped me bond with some people which is nice.
Winteroseca: One time, I was talking to my grandmother in the US after I had been living in the UK for several years. She commented, “You speak so beautifully!” It had been years since I had initially trained myself to speak more clearly and deliberately. Eventually, I automatically spoke that way around everyone.
When I repatriated to the US, I made a few friends who had recently immigrated to the US. A friend of mine from China said that one of the first things she noticed about me was that I talk slowly and clearly enough and she could understand me. That was one reason she wanted to get to know me better. She heard my UK accent too, but she was most relieved about the fact I could communicate well with people whose English was a second language. Other friends of mine who were immigrants said they really appreciated the fact I spoke in a way they could understand me. And I told them I was happy to explain things they didn’t understand, like slang or if someone was talking to us and they didn’t understand what they were saying.
How do you have fun with different dialects?
Pooja: I think it’s always fun to try something new and learning a new dialect can be a lot of fun! Like Winteroseca, I like to switch between accents/dialects for fun sometimes and it can be nice not to take things so seriously. I think it also opens you up to new experiences, new people and can be a fun way to learn more about the country/area you are currently in.
Winteroseca: I love comedy that tastefully jokes about language and dialects. Even if I don’t speak a certain language, I can appreciate comedians that can use a language they speak to make humour translate between cultures. I like to make up some jokes of my own. When I was in London, there were so many ways of saying different things in different English dialects that I tried them all. It was rich in different ways of talking. Plus, I kept needing to frame-switch depending on who I was talking to.
Sometimes, I can get a little sassy with my frame-switching. If someone says something, and I want to politely tease them, I put on a different accent and pretend I don’t understand what they are talking about. What’s the point of speaking in different accents and dialects if you can’t have a little tasteful fun with them?
What are the annoying things about speaking in a different dialect and/or accent?
Pooja: It annoys me when people judge you based on your dialect or accent. Like, a lot of people will tell me I don’t sound “Kenyan/African/Indian” which is so weird to me because we don’t all have one dialect/accent. People also sometimes assume that if you speak differently you are not as smart/good at English as they are which is something I experienced at university which was a bit frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you have to try to be better than everyone else just so you can get on the same level as them or so that people will take what you are saying seriously. You have to work harder because every mistake you make will be a reflection of your culture/race/nationality instead of just a mistake you made.
Winteroseca: The thing I really can’t stand is people who won’t talk slowly enough so you can understand them. Either that, or if you ask them to slow down, they talk to you like an idiot. To me, it’s disrespectful to either not slow down, or talk to someone like they’re an idiot because they have an accent. It’s embarrassing enough to ask someone to repeat something anyway. After I repatriated to the US, it was more embarrassing to ask people to repeat what they said. There was more pressure to understand Americans because sometimes, they couldn’t hear my UK accent. Since I have American parents, I felt like I should be familiar with how Americans talk and others thought the same about me as well. People often associate accents with intelligence and that’s absolutely wrong. Sometimes, when people make fun of the way you talk, it can be in bad taste, and I hate that as well.
I also hate how people have stereotypical thinking about certain accents or dialects. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to correct people on their thinking. The good thing is I am not afraid to call people out and some people do listen to me. I hate how other people don’t listen though. My trick for calling out Americans is to say, “Don’t say that. It makes you sound like a Trump supporter!” That works, especially if the people I talk to are not Trump supporters!
After I moved to Canada, I was confused about how to talk or spell for a while. Thanks to influences from both the US and UK, it felt chaotic! Now I know that context and regions are a factor in how people talk.
What are your personal tips for adjusting to a new dialect?
Pooja: My main tip would be to dive into their culture. If you are moving to a new place watch their local shows, listen to their music, read their literature, etc. Get a feel of what it’s like and what people there are like so you can assimilate better. It will be a bit hard at first but once you actually mingle with everyone you will be able to adjust over time and you will feel like one of the locals before you know it.
Winteroseca: The best thing you can do initially is to listen to how people talk. It’s important to not make assumptions either. For instance, you may have been exposed to stereotypical thinking, and you might not know if it’s true. Now is the time to question whether or not something is a stereotype. It is good to do research beforehand of dialects, but even then, it can be incomplete. There’s nothing like getting out in the world and doing things. You will make mistakes while learning to speak in a different way. It can be tough to not be hard on yourself, especially if you aren’t in a supportive environment. But it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one who has struggled with a new way of talking. It can be helpful to find others to share stories with.