Category Archives: Home & Garden

Jack Rabbit

I was just out taking photos of all the lovely ice on the trees this morning when this little Jack Rabbit popped out of nowhere (as you can see in relation to the car – not so little).

Following the footsteps in the snow, we think he might live under our front porch.
J&E

Weather Report & Local Scenes

Having reported in the last item that we hadn’t had any snow since just after Christmas, we’ve now had the biggest falls of the winter so far. We’ve had several inches over a couple of days ending on Sunday, as illustrated with this shot (from Janet’s new camera) of the view when we opened our back door.

The last few days have been very overcast (white skies) and on at least one day, we have seen temperatures in the mid minus twenties Centigrade. Still, that didn’t stop us nipping out to “road-test” Janet’s recently acquired Nikon D80 with 18-200mm zoom lens, (a very nice piece of kit – although we are still at “neanderthal” level in terms of understanding and using all its features).

We popped up to take a shot of the new church in the north east corner of Okotoks that acts as a land-mark for several miles around.

We drove to look at Big Rock (which we have mentioned before) in winter. You may recall, this glacial erratic lies behind the naming of Okotoks.
We managed to pull over to the side of the main road into Okotoks to catch the sun as it set over the mountains to the west.
And the following morning, before the next bank of cloud rolled in, we managed to snap the tree outside our house, along with a view of next door’s very nice house!
J&E.

You can’t beat a bit of Bully on a Sunday!

With all the space we have going spare in the basement, we thought it might be fun to start investing in a few cheap games to entertain us. First up, is Darts! At just $9 (about £4.50) from Wal Mart (including the darts), it cost next to nothing. We are both truly awful (but improving ever so slightly as time goes on). The games are tending to be pretty close run things. With the iPod set to throw out tunes from the Eighties to remind us of when we might last have played Darts, the game has already provided us with numerous hours fun, competing against eachother for the bragging rights.
The “post-it note” flipcharts and flipchart markers that stayed with Eamonn when he left BT have proved to be extremely useful for keeping score!

We’d like a Pool table but the Wal-Mart one is a bit flimsy so we’ll have to keep looking.

J&E

Satellite picture of the house

Until recently, Google Maps were using an out of date picture of our local community with lots of bare land awaiting house building. However, upon checking today, they have taken a new shot that shows our house and that of our neighbours. We’ve also marked the nearby community “beach house” which is our access point to the lake (unless we want to climb over the garden fences of a couple of our near neighbours!) You’ll see that those houses backing directly onto the lake each have a little jetty. It is from these, that the locals are making their way out onto the now frozen lake to clear ice hockey rinks and so on.

Wikipedia gives a good little summary of the history and geography of Okotoks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okotoks,_Alberta

It mentions the flooding risk but we’re situated way up out of the Sheep River valley and so hopefully any future flooding should not directly impact us.

J&E

Christmas Day 2007

So we’ve made it…our first Christmas as residents of Canada. Whilst it’s strange to be away from our families, we are also proud of what we have achieved in making it through the Canadian immigration process and then actually making the move across in October, finding a house and car and getting ourselves settled.
2008 will present us with all sorts of challenges, not least getting financially established as the search for work begins in earnest in January – but with all the hurdles we’ve jumped to get here, we feel confident about our ability to wrestle to the floor, all the big tasks ahead.
From a very mild Okotoks (it hit 6°C today – with a clear blue sky and lots of sun!), we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Lots of Love
J&E

Watch out for the bears…

…as they are innovative forragers and this bunch have taken up residence on our front porch.
We bought these at Spruce Meadows (a local show-jumping venue) when they held their Christmas Market recently. We spent an age choosing just the right three bears, each of which had a slightly different expression.

http://www.sprucemeadows.com/

Danny, the chap who makes the bears (with a chainsaw!) was selling his wares directly and it was nice to be able to speak to him personally about his work. Here’s his website.

http://www.mountainpeak.ca/

J&E

The overhaul has begun…

We love our new home, but some of the paint colours are dreadful.  So, in the period before Christmas, we have got to work on eliminating the worst of them by re-decorating the 3rd bedroom, the family bathroom and the main floor washroom!
The 3rd bedroom was the worst. Before our predecessors moved in 2 years ago, this house was a show-home and unfortunately, the designer that Sterling Homes (the builder) had got in had thought it a good idea to half cover the walls with a dark chocolate brown colour, beneath two other fairly ghastly coloured stripes. This in a room that does not get a tremendous amount of natural light. As the Canadian’s would say, “go figure”!

So off we went to Home Depot (the nearest equivalent in the UK being B&Q) to get some stain blocking primer to cover up the dark colours and a top-coat of an off-white (Linen) colour. We have left all the woodwork as is for now and we will tackle that as a job throughout the house at a later stage but we’re pleased with the outcome.

Neither the family bathroom or the downstairs washroom have any windows and so the use of fairly dark shades of green paint was inexplicable.

We have changed these out too for the same Linen colour and again, the impact has been fairly striking.

The problem, of course, is that the rest of the rooms and open areas now look that much more dreary…oh no, what have we started!

J&E

Post

A number of people have asked us about the postal system here.

The first thing we should say is that postage is very expensive (especially for parcels), it feels quite dated, and it is a bit flaky.

The key difference from the UK is that you don’t get the post delivered to your door. Indeed, the doors do not have letterboxes. Instead, you are assigned a box at a nearby postal delivery station and the post-person drives up and pops all the post for the local area into the respective boxes. You’re given a key for your box and you pop along each day (or whenever you want) to see if you have mail. You can imagine how our little faces light up when we find mail in our box! Our box is just around the corner from the house, so it’s no big deal to walk (or in current weather conditions – more of that later – slide) over there to check. Here’s our postal station…our box is on the bottom row of the middle section.

J&E

Thanks

We’ve been delighted to receive a variety of new home and Christmas cards. They have all been so welcome. One, in particular, really took us by surprise, so much so that we have framed it and it is now hanging on the wall. The author will instantly recognise her handiwork, thank you to Sue, Jan’s sister, who hand painted such an accurate picture of our new house without having seen it “in the flesh”. Again though, sincere thanks to everyone for the well-wishes.

J&E