Do you have organic himalayan sea salt?

Given the exchange rate and the fees for changing Australian dollars into Canadian ones we thought it was about time we started earning the dollars direct. Simon is still hunting for the perfect job, I took the first thing coming – Produce Clerk at the Community Food Store. Nothing like a bit of fruit and veg to make you feel alive in the mornings – especially with the 7am starts! Not all of my shifts start that early, but enough of them.

The job is not too bad, basically shifting fruit from fridge to shelf all day. It doesn’t pay particularly well – $10 an hour, but apparently that is good for Canada. One guy I work with has three jobs at the moment and this one is his best paying! But I have been given hope – the Manager says that after my first three months I get a raise, wait for it, – to $10.50!!

One benefit is the staff discount on gluten free products, 10%, which makes a difference on the bread and flour. The shop is bascally all organic (Melanie you would love it!) and the customers vary from hippies to yuppies. One thing I have learnt though is that Canadians are very fussy about their food, even the regular supermarket has a large organic range. Some customers have been very shocked to hear that Australian’s would regularly serve their children vegetables that had been sprayed with pesticides – you heathens you!

And yes we do have Himalayan sea salt (are the Himalayas by the sea?), my favourite though is the biodynamic cherries, organic and planted in line with the luna cycles! I dunno…


Stampede Breakfast

Stampede Breakfast

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Another Stampede tradition is the Stampede breakfast. This ritual is held at a number of locations all over Calgary, generally by store owners or churches encouraging people to hang about after this free feed. On any given day there may be three or four of these breakfasts and today it was our turn. The cafe at the botton of our apartment, Crush, in conjunction with the Red Cross held a stampede breakfast. I woke Simon up around 9:30 and after a bit of prodding and poking to get him moving we were in the queue with our $3 donation. We enjoyed blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausages and hashbrowns, followed by a coffee. Not too bad – and all in the name of charity.

The man at the end of the table in the white cowboy hat is Lee Richardson our federal member of parliament. I said hello, just to let him know I was keepn’ an eye on him, can’t trust these Conservatives! Another interesting note, Stephen Harper the Canadian Prime Minister is the federal memebr of Calgary South West, and the federal member for Calgary North East is Art Hanger (I get the feeling his parents never expected him to get into politics).

How do I keep ending up in these hotbeds of conservatism…

Super Dogs Spectacular!

I thought this was a hoot – Simon’s failure to comment and the title he gave the photo give you a good idea what he thought of the Calgary Stampede Super Dogs. But for me this was just like a ballroom dancing competition, except with less bitches – truly most of the dogs were male.

With loud dance music, flashing lights and loads of sequins and diamonte collars this show had it all. My favourite, the Rumba, where the dogs danced there way through a maze of flags and tunnels to be greeted by there overzealous handlers at the other end (Stage Mums!!).

Having said that I would not trade the dignifed and refined cattle dogs of the Royal Agricultural Show for this type of show – after all we already have Dancing with the Stars, I think that is enough ballroom to last us a life time.

Calgary Stampede – like the eastershow with less cows and more cowboys


Calgary Stampede – Chuck Wagon racing
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Today we went to the Calgary Stampede. The whole of Calgary, mabye even Alberta, seems to stop for this event. There are paintings of cowboys in all the shop fronts, hay bails in the bars and the herbs and spices shop even has a drawing of a Cowboy riding a Chilli Pepper in its window… crazy!

The stampede is very much like our Royal Easter show but with a bit of a twist. Kind of Like the easter show meets the Tumbarumba Rodeo (or if your an Albert the Coonamble rodeo), except they pronounce rodeo incorrectly here.

$12 gets you through the gates where you can loose money to the carnies on sideshow alley, see an art exhibit, a warehouse full of products only otherwise found on late telemall shopping and listen to some country and western bands. In addition, every day there is two rodeo events with tickets costing $60. However, you can go to the doors an hour before the event and buy standing tickets for $15 which is what we chose to do.

The evening we were there had 10 heats of the Chuckwagon Racing. An interesting event that combines wagon racing, as seen in the photo, with 4 outriders in tow. Teams must complete a figure eight at the start line before continuing and avoid touching barrels markers on the course. While our standing tickets didn’t give the best elevation compared to the grandstand they had us almost on the fence where you can feel the teams of horses thunder by.

Following the racing was a performance by the Young Canadians that was absolutely exhausting. I have never seen a performance involving so many young kids (youngest of about 7 i’d guess) go for so long, have so many costume changes or a fireworks display that could rival most new years eve celebrations. The only photos I managed to take was of these two male gymnasts that had all the ladies screaming, except Gem ( I screamed a little). By the time the show ended we must have been standing for over 4 hours straight.

A great day that could only have been bettered through a showbag full of lollies and gag jokes. Someone will have to pass that tradition on.


Calgary Stampede Parade


Calgary Stampede Parade
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

This morning Simon and I got up nice and early to watch the Stampede Parade. The march kicks off the Stampede fortnight and is quite a show. We could join the Parade about three blocks from our place but to get a seat we had to walk a few more. We stood behind a group who were all sitting in chairs so whilst we weren’t on the kerb we still had a good view – although it was very hot.

There were floats for everyone, the First Nations people (pictured), the Mounties, approx. 6 school marching bands, the Humane Ferret Society (there is a picture in there for you Stace). Big horses, tiny little horses, chuckwagons, some Australian polo players, dancers, singers, aeroplanes and of course a Canadian Pacific Railway train. (Canada was built on the CPR). We didnt see the entire parade, much to long and it was much to hot, but we certainly got a feel for a good ol’ fashioned Canadian parade.

George and Mildred


Arm chairs
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Success! Yesterday we went shopping and today we had our purchases delivered. It was quite an adventure getting our stuff, way out to the boon docks of North East Calgary, a train and bus ride to the Inter Faith Furniture Store. It took us a bit longer than a local as we missed our stop on the bus, but a friendly driver helped us out and we were back on our way.

As we entered the back of the warehouse it looked like a jumble sale of Dapto proportions. I wasn’t hopeful but Simon encouraged me inside where we were promptly grabbed by a sales women and bombarded with questions over what we wanted. ‘A bed’ she says, ‘right this way, Queens size, ensemble, and a base’. Simon tried to find out how much it was going to be but she put up her hand shooshing him and said ‘you need lots of things, I will make it a package’, but how much we insisted, ‘ah uh, its a package’. WIth this she was off, next was a fan, a coffee table, a bed side table – ‘sheets you want sheets?’, I put my foot down – no sheets, then it was the lounge. Outside we were thrown, ‘under the tarp, you pick a lounge’. We sifted and sorted through the maze of lounges and decided on these two arm chairs. Mine is the green rocker/recliner and Simon’s – well his is the big floral thing! They are both very comfortable and have suited our purposes.

So how much was the package? Guess! Simon will pass on his kudos from George (see blog on Peyto Lake) to the closest estimate. Those who already know – shoosh.

For our smaller items like pots, pans, and cutlery I headed down to the local Women in Need store which is a bit like a Vinnies. Also hit the downtown Sears and got our sheets!

Home away from home

For the past few days we have been staying at the HI hostel in Calgary and it is one of the nicest we have been to.  Unfortunatley though they are booked solid for the next two weeks, as are all the other hotels in town, so the only way we were going to be able to stay and see the Calgary Stampede is to find a more perminent place.  Our first Appartment together!

Finding an appartment to rent in Canada is difficult at the best of times as the real estate agents do not deal with rentals, only buying and selling.  So this means walking from building to building and trying to locate the building manager.

Things didn’t look good, especially as we wanted to move in the next day, a few people laughed at hearing me say that.  Calgary has a rental availability of about 2% apparently and everything works on Calander months so the few that had anything told us they might have something available begining of August – about 25 days too late.

After walking for a few hours around the streets of southern downtown calgary, we found a lady in an appartment building that was most helpful.  While she didn’t have anything available until about the 18 of July she was able to look up availabilities amoungst the network of buildings that she belongs too.  Amoungst the 15 or so buildings there were 2 appartments available.  We called the first to be told that it had been taken.  The second thankfully was available althought the manager said it wouldn’t be  ready for a week.  Better than anything else we had heard today!

A brisk 7 block walk to the building and we sat down to have the first of several chats with ‘Randy’ the building manager.  Randy is a nice guy, rides a honda, and after explaining our situation to him he took us up to see the room which had apparently been deserted the previous day.  Except for the Cheerios (breafast ceral) throughout the appartment it was very nice and within our budget too.  A quick walk down the road to withdraw a Deposit, sign some papers and it was ours.  He even managed to pull a few strings and has got the cleaners, painters etc in tommorow so we can move in tommorow night. 

Unfortunatley it is not a furnished appartment (furnished appartments are almost twice as expensive) so we may be sleeping on the floor but that is better than on the street.  Once again we are taught that when we strive for something on our own it is next to hopless untill we acknowledge we need help.  We have much to be thankfull for.

We will put some photos up of the inside shortly, in the photo above we are on the seventh floor, left side of the picture (top floor is 14th).   As to location we are about 10 minutes walk to the centre of downtown.  5 minutes to a busy street with cafes, bars and resturants

If anyone would like our address just send us an email as I’m not sure how wise it is to publish that on the internet.