Category Archives: Calgary life

Light Up The World

A couple of days after writing the previous post I was walking through Bankers Hall on my lunch break when I came across a little booth. On the table I saw a small solar panel attached to what looked like a tiny car battery and some lights. I had almost passed the booth when I brought myself up short and backed up to have a look. The posters on the wall told me the topic of this display was EXACTLY what I had just written about!

I stopped to chat with a cheerful and enthusiastic fellow who I later found out is Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, the man behind Light Up The World. We talked a bit about LUTW, about Scotland, and about how to get this project onto the radar screen of big players who could help (yes, I will be writing to Oprah). I spent so much time chatting I used up my lunch break and had to forgo my errands for the day and get back to work, but I didn’t mind. It just seemed like more than coincidence that I was there talking to this sincere fellow with the beautiful dreams.

I got paid today, Dr. Dave. I’m heading right over to your site to make a donation!

It’s all a matter of perspective

We got our first snow the other day, and even though I’m mature and wise now I still get really excited about the first snow of the season. I sat on the bus watching the flakes coming down around us. It was starting to get dark out already and in the light of the streetlight it looked as though we were being showered with fairy dust. (Lame, I know. So sue me.)

Apparently, not everyone shares my enthusiasm. The next morning on the bus I heard some teenaged girls talking about how much they HATE the snow; “It’s like all WHITE and disgusting.” I tried to block them out, but they went on and on about it. Of course, when you’re that age that’s pretty much the extent of your worries – that and homework and boys, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised or disappointed.

Anyway, my faith was restored later that same morning. There’s a petite young mom that brings her two little boys onto the train every morning. They must be five and seven or so and they still get excited about snow, too. As they gazed out the window at the glistening white fields contrasted by dark streets I heard one of them exclaim about how wet and shiny everything is. I love little boys! (Then one of them said, “Right mom?” and I almost lost it, but that’s another story.)

Why I love my job (well, part of the reason, anyway)

That ol’ nine-to-five is a whole lot easier to bear if you love the work you’re doing and at least respect the company you work for, am I right? Currently, I am on contract with EnCana in Calgary and the longer I’m there, the more I love it. Not only do they take really good care of their employees, but the people I work with are, without exception, bright, hard workers that also happen to know how to laugh and have fun. (Plus, I’m doing nerdy stuff in the web department – does it get any better than that? I don’t think so.)


The so-called “corporate culture” of what some might view as just another one of those heartless “big oil” companies was really made clear to me when I read a recent article that featured. Native Canadian concerns being near and dear to my heart, I was really tickled about this:

EnCana had already decided where it was going to build its oil sands processing plant in Foster Creek when it did something that would make your average oil man choke: It asked the tribal council of the Cold Lake First Nation if the plant’s location was acceptable to them, even though the land wasn’t on their reservation.

Turns out EnCana’s site was where the tribe’s roaming ancestors were buried. So EnCana moved its plant site several miles away. It also rerouted a road around a former gathering ground of medicinal plants and a rock that was, according to the council, imbued with spiritual properties.

Read more here.

This was the sidebar for a bigger article about EnCana called Frick and Frack.

Tattooed Jedi

Telling my story about meeting the lady on my commute home the other day (Pay $5 forward) made me think of another cool experience I had on the train. I think this commuting thing may wind up being kind of fun, after all. I may learn some stuff. Anyway…

I got on the train after work one night and found a seat next to a tattooed young fellow, who was chatting with his friend sitting facing us. I could tell from their conversation they were returning home from college or something and when the tattooed fellow wondered aloud about where to eat in Chinook I said, “Joey Tomato’s is always a good bet.” They enthusiastically agreed and the decision was made.

Since the ice had been broken with such sound advice, I was henceforth included in their conversation. We talked and talked about movies and Star Trek, Star Wars and George Lucas, and captains and kings. We discussed the age old question of which captain was best – Kirk or Picard? (As an older female Trekkie, I made the observation that they all had their strengths and that I personally liked Janeway – then had to briefly endure their derision.) I even offered a word of wisdom on a matter of the heart that blew them away. “I’m going to remember that and quote it,” said the Mr. Tattoo.

Too soon, it was time for them to get off and leave me musing. How often do you see young fellows like that, who are so open to talking to a middle-aged lady on a train? I thought how some folks might have been turned off by all the tattoos the one young man was sporting and what a pleasurable conversation I’d have missed out on if I’d been one of those folks. I thought about how humour and smarts and advanced thought can come in all kinds of packages and that even we “mature” ones can learn a thing or two from the young. Hanging out with these two young fellows gave me hope for the future.

Pay $5 forward

I had the most unusual experience on the train home tonight. I was sitting there gazing out the window, my mind a million miles away, when I heard a voice beside me say, “Excuse me. Do you drink coffee?” I looked over and saw a Native woman about my age. I said yes I do drink coffee – in the mornings when I’m trying to wake up. With that, she slipped a $5 bill from her pocket into my hand. I sensed an importance to what she was doing and held the crumpled bill, waiting.

With a soft voice she launched into a story about how someone had given her five fives today and she felt that she couldn’t keep them all; that it was in some way bad luck. I didn’t understand much of what she was saying. She talked around in circles, embarrassed, yet seeming compelled to carry on. Her words kept tumbling out; then she’d laugh and make a self-deprecating comment.

I kept watching her while she talked, maintaining eye contact. Something about this interaction held me spellbound and I wanted to show the utmost respect to her. Finally I said, “I think I understand.” She laughed. She thought I meant I understand you’re nuts, Lady. But I said, “No really. It’s like giving back in a way.” She looked me dead in the eye, a small smile playing around her lips, grateful that I’d caught on. “That’s it exactly,” she said.

At that moment we arrived at my station and I got up to leave. “Have a wonderful evening,” I told her. She smiled and returned the greeting, her happiness making her face beautiful. All the way home I thought of her and wondered if I’d ever see her again. Something happened there tonight, some kind of graced moment that I’ll remember for a long time. I decided to keep the bill in my coat pocket, ready to pay forward to someone else when the right moment presents itself.

Summiting Jumping Pound Mountain

The surprise birthday party would have made my weekend complete in itself. However, the next day I decided to join Holly and Isaac (#2 and #4 offspring) hiking in Kananaskis. It was a stunningly beautiful fall day and I figured I’d better get out there while the getting was good.

Trudging ever upward

Holly and her friend planned to summit TWO mountains that day. I’m not sure what Isaac had in mind, but I planned to only go as far as I felt comfortable, then hang out communing with nature until everyone came back. However, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually there came a point where I said to myself, “I’m going to go for it.”

It took me hours and hours (far longer than it took Holly), as I had to stop to catch my wind at times, but eventually I made it. Isaac, bless his heart, stuck with me the whole way and we summited! Somehow, I thought it was the perfectly fitting way to finish off the first half century of my life. If I can climb a mountain at 50, there is nothing I can’t do!

Fall harvest

Potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and zucchini - part of my fall harvest

Apparently, the whole three weeks we were in Scotland, not a drop of rain fell on our garden. As a result, it was in pretty sad shape when we returned – especially the poor tomatoes. Still, when I went out yesterday to start bringing it in, I was tickled with the results. I still have some carrots and zucchini out there, but the rest has been brought in. I wasn’t expecting a pail and a half of potatoes in such a little garden!

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