Tag Archives: culture

Tomahawks and Giddy Up

‘If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come’ ~ Arapaho

Hay bales line the streets. Restaurants and bars take on a saloon-like appearance. The crowds, a sea of cowboy hats. Dusty boots, clicking spurs and faded-worn jeans walk the streets. I never realised what a big deal Stampede would be to Calgary, not only is the city transformed into a metropolitan version of the Wild West for the tourist invasion but I got a real sense of genuine local pride for the cow-herding, gun-slinging heritage of the province.

On Friday I went to the Stampede Parade, spectators lined the streets awaiting parade floats in the 31ºC heat. I love parades and festivals, on the condition I get a decent standing place in the crowd (I’m a little 5’3”) to watch the colourful celebrations. I love how the music fills the air and everyone is in high spirits and there to enjoy themselves. I love the dancers, the marching bands, flag wavers, balloons, bejeweled costumes, the horses. Maybe I’m just a really excitable person? Here’s a few of my favorite images from the day:

Perhaps this is the appropriate time to tell you that back in the deep dark dawn of time I bought Horse & Pony magazine and replaced my Transformers wallpaper with my Little Pony. Even now I have to say, horses are quite beautiful animals especially when they’re in motion cantering and galloping.

The parade lasted for about 2 hours, so I was shifting between standing and sitting, doing a little jig on the spot to keep my legs awake. I finally got to see the Chinese Cultural Society do their lion and dragon dances which was worth waiting for. Now cowboys are rootin’ tootin’ and all, but Native Americans are pretty awesome. Totem poles, tomahawks, dreamcatchers, battle cries, potlatches and pow-wows. Brave warriors and hunters of the old West.

So what else has been going on?

  • I have caught up with snail mail, so instead of online activity I’ve put pen to very pretty paper, mailing postcards and dusting off those air mail envelopes. I love the thought of my friends’ faces lighting up when something drops into their mailbox and they know I’ve thought of them. Now to tackle that scary looking pile of emails.

  • Uploaded nearly 1000 Banff photos, intrepid traveler tales will follow.
  • World Cup withdrawal. I get sucked in by world sporting events – the passion, the frantic flag waving, crowd eruptions and goal celebrations. I had backed Spain since England came crashing out, the final was very physical and tense. But I did cheer when Spain won especially after the Dutch ninja-kick foul that never got red carded. Must add to Bucketlist – Will attend one World Cup in my lifetime.

  • Becoming more and more demoralised by the job (or lack of) situation. I’m trying not to question my achievement and self-worth, but I see so many things I lack the requirements and experience for. Applications I’ve made (via job sites and speculatively) are hardly setting the place alight.  Should I reassess my career dreams? Should I go to graduate school? I’m really asking myself these things. If I don’t find employers willing to sponsor me to stay in Canada I will need to return to the UK by March. I graduated almost 1 year ago and it’s really denting my confidence that nothing has worked out. I don’t know how to sum up this year with a positive tone that recruiters will drool over. I have really been trying but it feels like I’m running out of steam. Limiting my job search to Calgary is really frustrating, maybe going back to England wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The term double-dip recession scares me, but maybe we’ll be out of it by then. It’s so tough. Especially when David has got a nicely paying jobs here.
  • Volunteering – been enquiring about tutoring in homework clubs for Grades 1-12, an internship at Shaw TV (something a bit different!), becoming a member of Big Sisters and having conversation meet-ups with Korean students wanting to get to grips with English. Not exactly career-related but I’m not one to sit around and do absolutely nothing.
  • Getting excited about Shark Week on Discovery next month. My first ever science career dream was shark and marine mammal research.

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Filed under Building my CV, Calgary, Canada, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, Nature and Planet Earth

Treasure Troves of Chinatown

Chinatown shops are treasure troves of the weird, wonderful and kawaii (‘cute’). Amongst the jade dragons and lucky cats you’ll find Hello Kitty, paper lanterns and garlands, resting or jolly laughing buddhas and miniature Chinese lion puppets. There’s no real logic to what goes where on the shelves,  it’s a colorful assembly with a splash of red and gold and a hint of disorder and chaos. Which all adds to the charm. Surrounded by Chinese script on the packages it almost feels like leaving behind the English-dominated outside for a moment or two, being immersed in something quirky in a language you don’t fully understand, besides the dollar signs on the goodies that is.

The little girl in me couldn’t resist ‘Milk’, clearly David couldn’t either.

The Chinese Cultural Centre in the area actually has a Lion Dance society, it’s not only the lion’s vivid colours which cause the audience to marvel but the group of skilled people inside the lion’s body – they are able to move in such a coordinated, harmonious manner that the lion’s movement is nothing short of fluid, almost appearing to sweep effortlessly over the ground without a stumble. The head dancer controls the lion’s ears, mouth and eyes moving them rhythmically to the music and giving them dramatic expressions. Making the costume leap to life. Hopefully I will get to see this spectacle mark the Chinese New Year in China one day.

What do I think is really awesome right now? This video. What a tradition! Wait till the champion lion starts balancing on the poles and rearing up to really see the skill involved, this isn’t child’s play.

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Filed under Arts & Culture, Calgary, NABLOPOMO, Nature and Planet Earth, Travel

Wardrobes of Literature

‘Somehow reading a book never feels like sitting still’ ~ Jef Mallett

The libraries at Sheffield University buzzed with activity – students researching for assignments, pulling all-nighters in a desperate bid to meet end of semester deadlines and raiding old journals in the eerie labyrinth-like stacks. I spent most of my final year nerdin’ it up there whilst developing a caffeine addiction. It became a bit of a social hub, even as far as pyjama parties for late night study sessions. The main library in the city centre felt near deserted. A shell with bookshelves and no pulse.

Calgary City Library is very much alive. People absorbed in literature and enjoying the social aspect. In fact I’ve had some interesting passing conversations in the library.

My trip to the library, lets be pensive and call this aisle a 'corridor of knowledge'.

I finally sorted out a library card. With a 99 loan limit, I asked the library assistant where I could park my truck. She laughed, but I wasn’t joking – I love books. I love possessing a bundle of knowledge at my fingertips or having realms of material to flex my imagination with. My ‘books to read in this lifetime’ list is pretty inexhaustible, too many interests and recommendations.  This quote says it well.

‘The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species.  I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries’. ~ Carl Sagan.

Nikki’s reading list

Always with the whipped cream.

I restrained my inner eager beaver and settled on 3 books.

Mastering Norwegian – I’ve been slacking too much on my language learning and I need to stop my brain turning to mush. Any one else get that feeling when they haven’t been stretching their brain? I really feel like my mind is becoming mental sushi. At college I was constantly learning, I don’t miss the pressure or exams, but I miss knowing new stuff. Fellow blogger Sophie will be proud of my choice!

IVF: The A.R.T. to making Babies –  Most of the IVF books I’ve found have been more focused on the patient’s perspective. Empathy is a big part of interacting with patients but this is a more medical focused book. Theory and concepts I will actually use in the real world. Sense a hopefully there too. Oh, and ART = assisted reproductive technologies, doctors attempting nerd funnies there.

The Handy Science Answer Book – Because you can never know enough useless facts and pointless trivia and they make me a lethal weapon in quizzes.

I’m always interested in other people’s reading lists and goals, so if you’re engrossed in a novel or there’s a book that has inspired you or you think I’d enjoy then feel free to contribute ideas for my bookshelves.

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Filed under Arts & Culture, Bibliothèque, Calgary, Life