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!
I have been here a month now, and the most common question I ask myself is, “Is this a thing?” I ask myself that because it’s surprising to me, not because I think it’s good or bad. Then, I try and find out if it is a thing and I withhold judgement until I have more information! Here are some things I have experienced living here that have made me ask that question and the answers I have got. I’m probably going to be asking myself that question a lot for a while at least. So, if anyone has anything to contribute to my possible “things” please let me know in the comments!
On a different note, I have been making changes on my page because I’m going independent. If you’re having problems with my interacting on my blog, please let me know either in the comments or through my contact page. Bear with me please with this transition!
What I have noticed about Canadian TV shows is that they are very real and don’t have that in-your-face that US TV shows and movies have. Every country puts its stamp on their TV shows, and I like the personal and transparent aspect of Canadian TV shows. I fell in love with English comedies while living in London. They will always have a special place in my heart!
I was pleasantly astounded that Schitt’s Creek put LGBTQIA+ representation front and centre of their show! No wonder they have won several awards for that! As much as I would love to see that happen with US TV shows, I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon, since conservatives have quite the grip on media.
I have got some good recommendations for other Canadian shows, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the future! I have found TV shows and entertainment are an excellent gateway to understanding a culture. Plus, right now, I can learn a lot about how people speak and spell words here in Canada. At this time, I am a little overwhelmed with that considering I am already fluent in both American English and English English and I’m trying to figure out how and when to relate to which dialect or when to abandon the rules with both dialects completely with Canadian English.
Currently, I am watching movies from the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival, which I can do for free through my local library. I will write a post on that later. Right now, I’m still trying to find out what’s a “thing” with Canadian TV and movies, but I’ll get there!
I’m in love with the food here! I discovered the joys of the Co-op and Cal & Gary’s my first day out of quarantine! Still exploring what they have to offer at this point, but I’m hooked! I’m really into organic, local and ethically sourced foods since I’m a trained chef, and it appeals to my French side. I know this sounds crazy, but it doesn’t feel like the food is slowly killing you here because corporations get away with putting SO much crap in it! I know a few things about Canadian laws on food and trade with the US, but I’m still learning about it. Frankly, I think the fact that the US just lets corporations do whatever they want makes the population more unhealthy, even if you personally take care of yourself. Plus, giving corporations free rein strips people of their livelihoods, and that’s one of the things that has lead to that orange baboon being in the White House for four years. I told my Mum that and she hadn’t thought about that, but she thinks I’m right.
It was a weird thing to realize that you can’t get completely cold water from the cold water tap! I have lived in Colorado, where the pipes would freeze sometimes, but you could still get cold water. I joked with my Mum that the tepid water from the cold tap is like the tepidarium in Roman baths!
Winter Infrastructure and Lifestyle:
I used to take my water bottle everywhere with me back in California. It helped with getting my required 2L per day of liquid to carry it around. Now, there is no way I can take it with me without the water freezing, so I have to drink as much as I can before and after I go out! I also started drinking 2.5L of water a day because of the dry climate. Additionally, I have been using lotion and chapstick a lot more! Every store I go into has Burt’s Bees chapstick, and I can see it’s for a good reason.
I can tell if it has snowed during the night because someone comes by with a snowblower at about 6:30 am and it’s loud and stinky! Worst alarm clock EVER! It makes me pull the blankets over my head and hope I fall back to sleep!
I’m doing fine acclimatizing to subzero temperatures, and so far, I have learned how to deal with -10 C ish pretty well! I come alive whenever there is snow! I have missed that feeling after living in California and London. Lately, I heard that California is getting “cold”, so I created a meme. Basically, no one in the US is getting any sympathy from me when they say it’s cold! There are a few exceptions, but this meme sums me up pretty well.
Most of all, I love taking walks in the winter weather and seeing other people taking walks and enjoying the outdoors. Life seems more deliberate here, unlike the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, which is a recipe for burnout, and why people are doing a mass exodus of the Bay Area.
I could write an entire post about winter lifestyle here (including what I see when I take a walk), but so far, I just want to mention those few things. More later!
I wanted to say a few things to follow up on my post about Remembrance Day. First of all, I noticed on Remembrance Day a nearby flag was flying at half-mast. I got this feeling that I have only ever had in England whenever I saw Armistice Day customs. It’s a feeling of realization that it really was world wars you’re talking about here.
Additionally, I was outside the day before Remembrance Day. When I passed the monument to an unknown soldier, I noticed a flame burning and people laying a poppy wreath. I smiled respectfully to myself and lowered my head as another memory of England cropped up. I went to that memorial again when I visited a local library. I saw the eternal flame burning and took some photos of the memorial with the poppy wreaths. I definitely felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for England, and also a realization that Canadians really love their country!
The US doesn’t fly the flag at half-mast on November 11. The US used to call November 11 Armistice Day, like in England, but they changed it. My Mum remembers when that happened, and my grandparents were really upset with the name change. To them, it was a slap in the face to get rid of a name that signified the termination of The War to End All Wars. It’s like changing the name made the US forget about the sacrifice during the World Wars and isolated themselves further from the world. My Mum told me to NEVER forget that the US did that, and I promised her I never will!
After my mandatory 2 week quarantine upon arrival, it was weird for me to go outside and find out how many places have successfully reopened with COVID measures in place! I avoided stores like the plague back in California. I only went to Costco a few times in the seven months we were on lockdown. I trust a lot of stores here in Calgary since they are transparent about what they are doing about COVID procedures.
When I was in Safeway and found that they have arrows on the floor to indicate where to go, I was like, “Wait, WHAT?” 😮 I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. It was just inconceivable to me that stores would do that. I have had to get used to that though and be conscious about it. I was at the Co-op the other day and it slipped my mind briefly to check the arrows, and I got told off before going down an aisle in the wrong direction. I deserved that. Now, my Mum and I keep reminding each other to watch the arrows until it becomes routine. Lately, there have been some more restrictions, so I can see businesses are being more careful, and I’m completely willing to respect that!
Additionally, when I found out I could subscribe to updates to restrictions on the Alberta government website and there’s a contact tracing app, it blew my mind! 😮Can you blame me after coming from a country whose COVID response is nothing short of pathetic?
Overall, I feel I can relax a bit here when it comes to COVID. Cases have been going up in Alberta recently, so we are still careful when we go outside. When we left California, we figured out that you basically can’t go outside without being borderline paranoid anymore. So, I had a bit of paranoia at first when I went out for the first few times in Calgary, but a bit of perspective has helped. I go out more often than I did back in California, especially since it’s more of a necessity as a preventative measure for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I still have no idea how it’s going to affect me yet since I had it really bad in England! Plus, it’s a nice treat after being among the good people in the USA who have been sheltering in place for seven months and staying disease-free! Note: I’m NOT getting complacent though! The last thing I want is COVID!
If you have seen my Quarantine Diaries posts, you will know I was amazed to find black squirrels here! I have seen more city wildlife since then, like rabbits and magpies. Whenever I go for a walk in the park, the rabbits come right up to me! I have noticed people feeding them, so I get why they are tame. One of our friends did warn us that rabbits are pests in Canada, so I’m not so sure about feeding them until I know for sure that it’s a thing. The rabbits kind of remind me of the squirrels at UC Berkeley. The squirrels there are just as tame and they know the students give them nuts. When I did a summer class there, I always had nuts on hand for the squirrels. Plus, those squirrels are the subject of many UC Berkeley memes, beside bears.
I haven’t seen so many magpies since England! There’s a superstition on how many magpies you see, “One for sorrow. Two for joy. Three for a girl. Four for a boy.” I gave up on that superstition though because I see so many lone magpies here, I’m just like, “Whatever!” Still, there are three magpies that frequent the front and backyard. We call one of them Belle and the other two are clearly a couple, so we call them Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie since they strut around like they’re a celebrity couple!
We have started putting birdseed out for the birds since we know from living in England that not a lot of animals make it through the winter, and England’s climate is less harsh than Canada’s.
The other day, I was walking home and it was snowing, and I saw SO many rabbits out! It makes me wonder if they go and grab as much food as possible when it starts snowing! Thing, or not a thing? 🤔
Disclaimer: This is just my own personal experience so far!
I have successfully resumed my chronic pain treatment and it’s been going so well! One of my observations is that there are so many chiropractic centres around here. Clearly, chiropractic has more recognition as a healthcare profession in Canada. In the US, I have had some bad experiences with chiropractic care, and even the good chiropractors aren’t at the same level as chiropractors in Canada. Legally, chiropractors can’t diagnose your problems in the US. Additionally, even though I have had some good chiropractors in the US, the care didn’t provide any more than just occasional pain relief. My treatment and care recommendations have been sticking more than before, which is great!
Additionally, I went to the dentist since I needed a check-up and a problem that needed attention. It was the most thorough appointment I have ever had! The hygienist saw me before the dentist did (it’s the other way around in the US). I got some excellent oral care tips from the hygienist, which was also a first! The dentist explained possible steps in my care very well. I understand that a good dentist is a good dentist, and maybe that would have happened where I was getting care before, but who knows?
Diversity and Representation:
I grew up in a multicultural neighbourhood in London, and the diversity enriched my life like nothing else! When I repatriated to the USA, I wondered if I would ever have that again. I got some diverse, multicultural experiences in the USA, but it wasn’t to the same extent as London. I guess one of the defining factors for me leaving the USA, was not just that lack of diversity in my life, but also living at a time of terrible polarization the last four years. Someone who was your friend before, could become your enemy overnight.
Before I moved to Calgary, my friends told me Alberta was rather white, so I was kind of bracing myself. I’m white myself, but because I identify as multicultural and multiethnic, I’m not white by US standards. If anything, white Americans have explicitly said to me that I’m not American if I have spent any part of my life overseas and ostracized me in other ways too. My reaction is, “Fine. I would rather be an expat anyway!”
I was pleasantly surprised to move here and find it was more diverse than I thought it would be! I have connected with other immigrants, and I have already met another Third Culture Kid this past month! (Doing a little dance right here!)
Another thing I noticed is there is more representation overall. Since I have had to buy some good winter clothes, I have been looking at clothing websites a lot. All these websites I have visited have racially and ethnically diverse models. Plus, I have seen some ads from time to time and they have diverse representation, and minoritized groups are portrayed in a positive way. I can honestly say I’m impressed! Go Canada! 👏👏👏🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦
Quarantine is done and my Mum and I are officially healthy and cleared to go out and explore! The first thing we did when we got out was to start our treatment for chronic pain. Not exciting, I know, but anyone who has dealt with chronic pain or a serious illness knows that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have ANYTHING!
Still, our first appointment went very well, and we have a treatment plan in place. I explored the area where my new chiropractor is, and got a cool introduction to Canadian co-ops! We also went out for a walk to find our nearest Canadian Tire that night and we officially LOVE how Calgary is at night! More on all of that later though.
I wanted to say that I’m SUPER grateful to the people we have met so far who have been so welcoming and friendly! We have a few friends in Canada, who have been so happy to share their country with us and guide us through the bumps, and that’s the best! We weren’t sure how we would be received since we had moved from California, and Election Day just happened. One of my friends has affectionately referred to the US as “that shitshow down south” and I couldn’t agree more! When I meet people, I say that I moved from California, but this is the fourth country I have lived in. If they want to know more, I elaborate. I think it helps. The people at our new chiropractic office were really cool and welcoming. We had to stop at Best Buy to pick something up, and the guy who helped us talked our ears off about the climate and weather!
On our eighth day of quarantine and sleeping on the floor, we were anticipating our mattress delivery from Amazon that I had ordered the night before. I had paid for 2 Day Shipping, but anyone who has had a bad experience with it knows that even if you pay for 2 Day Shipping, there’s no guarantee Amazon will keep their word. Another reason to hate them. 🙄
By now, Mum and I had learned our lesson with ordering from US companies. Now, we’re ordering from Canadian companies, or, if necessary, international companies where the delivery does NOT have to come from another country! Okay. Rant over.
I am thinking of doing a post about international trade sometime. It will be both my perspective as an economics major mixed with my expat experience, so watch this space!
By now, the snow was definitely melting and I saw our front yard for the first time! 😄 I felt kind of sad though, like I used to feel whenever snow melted 🙁
I lived in Colorado a long time ago. We used to get this kind of “fog” sometimes if it wasn’t snowing. I saw it again here in Calgary and it covered the tops of the skyscrapers I can see from my window that make up the Calgary skyline! That was nostalgic!
When I took a nap, I was HOPING it was my last time sleeping in the bathtub!
I found a 10-second video of Justin Trudeau talking about COVID, saying “This sucks… etc” and at the end, he gave a smirk! It made us wonder if he knows whether Trump will be defeated! We thought that before Election Day though. Now, we’re not sure.
Okay. Yes, I have a celebrity crush on Justin Trudeau! But 1. Can you blame me? 2. Who doesn’t? Of all the politicians who run the countries I have lived in Trudeau and Obama are tied for my Best Looking Leader award!
I’m not saying I idolize Trudeau though. I don’t like that he did blackface when he was younger, or that he has supported oil companies and pipeline expansion. However, there is a lot of good stuff he has done, and I can see he has tried making amends for his blackface scandal. Ultimately, I feel like he’s a good leader and we’ll see what he does in the future. Plus, as I said in the photo, it’s nice to have a leader who I can healthily disagree with, instead of finding everything he does utterly repulsive.
Day 9 meant waiting for deliveries because it’s easy to miss them in our situation. By now, we were positively ACHING for mattresses!
It was a nice wait though. We observed the magpies that have been stopping by our yard for food. Suddenly, we had a surprise!
I didn’t know that grey squirrel species evolved extra melanin further north as an adaptive quality! I read an entire Wikipedia article on them while waiting for the deliveries and it was fascinating! I think this squirrel is one of the rare jet-black squirrels the article talked about because I saw a squirrel that looked more mixed and it was lighter than this squirrel! I got a video of a magpie chasing this squirrel, but it’s not letting me post it.
We were expecting other packages as well as the mattresses. At one point, I got a text from Purolator saying that they tried to deliver the packages, but I wasn’t there! What a load of tripe! We could see the delivery guy didn’t even TRY! I rescheduled the package deliveries for the next day, and still kept an eye out for the mattresses.
By the afternoon, we were still waiting for the mattresses. We were also doing an Instacart order (our 3rd one since we’ve been here) and I kept my eyes peeled for a same day delivery slot. Instacart was busy that day, so the slots didn’t appear right away.
I don’t normally do same day Instacart orders, but since moving, I have done it twice because we really needed stuff! Anyway, I eventually found a late afternoon delivery slot, and figured it might come at the same time as our mattresses.
In the middle of the afternoon, I checked Amazon and found they had changed the delivery day to the next day! We were FUMING because we had paid for 2 Day Shipping! We called Purolator though and told them we needed the mattresses because we had been sleeping on the floor for over a week! Fortunately, the woman who helped us was really understanding and said she would notify the driver.
We waited about an hour after the call, and then… OUR MATTRESSES ARRIVED!!! They happened around the same time our shopper for Instacart was shopping, so we were disinfecting things and organizing our space for the mattresses. The mattresses were vacuum sealed, so we had to unroll them and let them gain their shape. We had planned to eat after getting our Instacart delivery and then go to bed.
I could feel myself getting tired as I was dealing with the above and the Instacart notifications that kept coming up. It felt like all day, I was chained to my phone! I have definitely been umbilically attached to my cell phone since moving here because of the deliveries, etc. That’s why I’m so responsive on here right now! Lol. I couldn’t WAIT to put the phone down and have a good night’s sleep on my new mattress.
After getting our Instacart delivery, disinfecting everything (including ourselves), and dinner Mum and I were like:
We crashed about 6:30pm 😴😴😴.
I woke up from the most wonderful sleep on Day 10, but still knew I had a certain amount of fatigue to sleep off.
We got the rest of our deliveries without a hitch, which was another relief.
I had to find out what was going on with our internet service because we hadn’t had many updates on it. After a few live chats, we realized we didn’t have Wifi and we needed a new router from the one they sent us. Since it was a Friday, we knew we weren’t going to get anywhere, and by now, I was SO sick of contacting customer service, regardless of the reason! I managed to unwind by taking a long nap though.
Day 11 was Halloween, but no celebration for us. We didn’t even get candy to hand out, since it’s not a good idea if you’re in a mandatory quarantine period after travelling. We did watch a few YouTube videos on Halloween stuff though.
I needed a Me Day on Day 12. Mum and I have had to set rules on privacy in this small apartment. I’m glad we did, because I hadn’t had a Me Day for a while now.
It was the first day of the time change. In general, those days are a royal pain for me! So, I tend to make an easy day of it anyway.
Day 13 was a nice, warm day and I SO wanted to go outside! I asked, “Are we allowed to go out yet????” It was a rhetorical question I knew the answer to, but the point is, I was tired of quarantine. By now, I was emotionally exhausted from dealing with customer service. Had to call the internet company again and then I took a LONG nap on my wonderful mattress!
It’s getting dark around 5pm now, and it reminds me of London. So far, I’m just tired, but I used to have bad Seasonal Affective Disorder when I was living in London. It made me leary of moving to a sub-Arctic climate again. I’ve learned from my mistakes though, and I plan to do better now. I’ll write a post comparing my experiences with SAD sometime.
On Day 14, I woke up and was elated that I have had NO COVID SYMPTOMS AT ALL these past two weeks! Same with my Mum too! It just goes to show that if you take every precaution you can while you’re travelling, the only thing that can possibly derail it is if you are in contact with someone who has COVID! We did it! We are officially cleared to go outside, but still taking appropriate precautions, of course. We celebrated that evening by going for a short walk because we hadn’t seen our neighbourhood yet. We also had some junk food on hand because it was Election Night. Even so, we were feeling pretty good about it.
I remember Election Night in 2016 vividly! I felt sick that afternoon and asked my Mum if it was normal to feel that way on Election Night. It was my first presidential election as a voter while living in the US, so I didn’t know if that was a thing. Mum assured me it’s definitely a thing! In 2016, one of my friends said she nearly threw up after voting because she said, “Both those candidates suck!” That made me feel better that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
I didn’t feel sick this time, but I wondered if it was because I am not in the US. There was only one way to find out, and I didn’t want to find out right away. I stayed off social media and news sites all day. I know some people did that too. My plan was to find out by accident what the results are. Even so, before I signed off, there were a lot of tips going around for election self-care and staying safe, which was nice. I think people now realize they shouldn’t underestimate a time like this.
Coming up: New Calgary adventures! What will they be? Who knows?