Since having kids, September has always brought with it a lot of issues. Back to school issues, back to sports issues, back to sniffles issues. Luckily, this year, I’ve had a different set of September Issues to look forward to. Here are a few recent articles that appeared in some local publications on a variety of topics — from examining post-secondary education in the city, designing better dementia communities, to reducing the risk of preventable cancers in the province — all of which I enjoyed researching and writing much more than wiping noses. (It’s too early for flu season!)
When you have two super creative chefs, 60 minutes of interview material and a 100 word limit, it can be a recipe for disaster. Or at the very least, a challenge. I loved contributing to Avenue Calgary’s recent feature on what inspires some of our city’s culinary best. Bon appétit!
A few posts ago, I mentioned an exciting follow-up opportunity for one of my articles with Calgary’s Child. The magazine asked if I would be interested in discussing my piece, Five Issues of Online Safety To Discuss With Your Babysitter, on their Global Calgary segment this month. Live. On TV.
Interested? Yes. Crippled with debilitating fear? YES! Well, today was the big day and I’ve survived to tell the tale. The hosts were lovely, the segment went smoothly, and I don’t even mind that my name was mistaken as “Sherry Clearly” on Twitter. (If the segment had gone horribly wrong, I was planning to change my identity anyway.)
Here’s a link to the video. Enjoy!
When I was 19, I had no talent and no chill. Brodie Sun Walk has both. In another piece for Vern Magazine, I interviewed hand-lettering and calligraphy artist Brodie Sun Walk as someone Calgarians should know. Despite his rising-star status, Brodie is pretty down to earth. It was a pleasure to meet him and I hope his star continues to climb!
Sometimes you get a story assignment that you just have to write. Vern Magazine (short for vernacular) is a fun, new online publication that speaks specifically to Calgarians. It launched in June and is an exciting new voice on city life, food, drink, travel and entertainment. As a child of the ’80s, I had so much fun writing this piece on the perfect throwback summer. Enjoy!
We did it. We came, we saw, we camped. We ate, we hiked, we left a teensy bit earlier than planned due to the blistering heat in Alberta’s badlands. Overall, it was a successful summer memory. Our kids, who complain in the best of times, somehow slid pretty effortlessly into a camping state-of-mind.
The day we were heading out, I made a discovery that proved invaluable: podcasts for kids. I downloaded a few modern fables from Storynory and a couple TEDTalks for Kids and Family. My intention was to play them during the long drive from the city, but I forgot. It worked out for the best, though, because we listened to them together at bedtime, as we lay in the tent in the dark. It was the calmest our family of five has ever been in a 100-square-foot space.
My concerns for our kids’ sleep had been unfounded, since they melted into a deep, blissful slumber around midnight. My husband and I, on the other hand, lay awake until about 5am, nodding off just in time for what the Alberta Parks staff call the dawn chorus—a fitful, morning cacophony of birds and insects and I’m assuming tortured frogs.
Fortunately, there was coffee. Enough to make the dawn chorus seem special, even cheerful. When we packed up our things at the end of our stay, the birds were resting in the very little shade and for the most part, spared us from their melodic squawks. Still, I think we left on a high note. Who knows, we may even do it all again.
We were rummaging through a bin of old belongings when my daughters unearthed a (somewhat scandalous) photo of my husband and I. It was taken in the summer of 2003, sometime in the early days of our bourgeoning courtship. We were cuddled, tightly, in a tent during a small town folk festival in Nova Scotia’s eastern-most tip. The photo had made its way among the junk during our moves as a couple from Nova Scotia to Ontario and eventually Alberta.
My girls were agasp at this photo. It wasn’t our tangled limbs and locking lips, or the bottle of Alexander Keith’s dangling in my hand. It wasn’t even the unfortunate khaki bucket hat my husband was wearing without shame. They were shocked. Incensed. Stunned.
“YOU WENT CAMPING??!!”
I’m proudly Canadian. I know and accept that camping is a thing. But here in Alberta, camping is a thing. It’s the thing. I was not prepared. I was also not prepared for my three daughters to make it their thing. The last time I went camping was exactly that time in the photo, when I was falling in love with an older boy who invited me camping. Nine years of marriage and three kids later, I was finally being called out on my bullsh*t. If I could go camping for their tall, dimpled father then I could go camping for our little, dimpled kids, because EVERYONE IN THEIR CLASS GOES CAMPING AND WHY CAN’T WE.
Ok, ok, we’ll go camping.
Since the total sum of our equipment equaled one French Press and nothing else—in our family, coffee is a camping essential—I had a lot of work to do. One of my first lessons on this wilderness journey: camping ain’t cheap.
You’d think it would be, but starting from scratch for a family of five meant collecting everything from a tent, sleeping bags, stove, right down to the matches. (Thank God I had already invested in a French Press.) I stockpiled our inventory over the course of a year, and the day that Alberta Parks opened its site bookings in early Spring, I was finally one of those Albertans who was part of the buzz. I picked our date and site in one of Alberta’s super popular Provincial Parks. Which lead me to my second lesson: camping is a culture.
Convinced we would stick out like sore (city) thumbs, I did a little research about camping etiquette. I practiced pitching our massive tent, I assembled and test-ran our cute little stove. I may have even roughed up our cooler a bit, so everything didn’t look so, you know, shiny. Which was completely unnecessary, due to the third lesson that I’ll likely learn very soon: camping is dirty.
As I’m gathering our equipment, planning our meals and packing our bags for our extra-long weekend in the wilderness, I’m also preparing myself for our time in the great, dusty, bug-filled outdoors. Our kids are ecstatic. My husband is relaxed. My breath is shallow, my to-do list is long and my internet search history is filled with tips for identifying rattlesnakes. But I’m now totally confident that we’re fully prepared and fully equipped to have some fun (and maybe a few Keith’s). If I have time, I may try to find that old photo before we leave to remind me of those early days. The bucket hat, though? Sadly, the bucket hat did not make it.