Saturday, August 30, 2008


My grandfather passed away yesterday morning. Herbert Dale Anderson - Andy is what everyone called him. Here's a picture of him with Andy and Sam the last time we were able to visit him two summers ago in Michigan.

I'm feeling a wee bit guilty about not seeing him for the past two years. I was planning on going up this summer, but then we found out about the big move and it postponed my plans. I am very happy that he was able to spend the last 15 years with his wife Lyn, who has been a terrific companion, with a keen ability to match any wise crack that came out of his mouth with one of her own!

He could fix anything. He was a mechanical and chemical engineer, and certainly where I got a lot of my engineering ambitions from. He was VERY proud when I received my engineering degree and became an engineer, and somewhat disappointed when I stopped being one.
He helped develop Brach's first chocolate formula, helped create the Harvest Crisp cracker, and I think I was the first kid on the planet to try Oreos with ORANGE stuffing - a new product they were trying out for Halloween.

I'd go up to visit my grandparents every summer in La Grange, IL (a suburb of Chicago) after we moved to New Orleans when I was in first grade. He would make pancakes every Sunday morning. I'd tag along when he had to go to the bank on Saturdays, mostly for the lollipop that the drive-thru teller would send back through the tube with his deposit receipt.
He'd shoot pool with us in the basement. (When I say 'us', normally my cousin Katheryn's visits would overlap with mine, so we have some great shared memories.) He'd take us to Cubs games at Wrigley Field, which incidentally is the best place in the world to see a baseball game.

I think it was the last game he took Katheryn and me to, somehow the keys got locked in the car with the engine still running. We had parked on the street in front of a bar, and borrowed an ice scoop from them which he used to break the small window in front to turn the car off and get the keys out. After the game, we arrived at the car to find a parking ticket on the windshield! (If I remember correctly, the signs in the area didn't make the illegal parking abundantly clear.) But he never got upset about it - kept his cool through the whole ordeal. 'Not to worry' was one of his favorite sayings.

One summer he successfully fixed my well-used fencing lame by soldering patches on for me before the national tournament, which happened to be two hours away from where my grandparents lived. It wasn't pretty, but it worked!

He used to like to play tennis. He had a stroke a couple years ago, and has since needed a walker to get around. I hope he's playing tennis right now, and drinking a Schlitz. I love you, Papa.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A little more fishing, digging, and swimming

We went fishing again on Saturday, this time at Three Mile Bend. Sam caught a small perch or walleye, or maybe it was something else, but the fish wriggled its way off the line before I had a chance to take a picture. After a while, the boys were tired of fishing, so we headed up the hill to eat our lunch while Otto fished a bit more.

After eating, Andy and Sam wanted to do some digging with their shovels.

When that got old (didn't take long), we headed back down to the pond to see about casting a few more times. Still no fish, and the water was looking reeeeeeeeeal good on a hot summer day. I had thought about bringing their swimsuits, but didn't. So the boys stripped to their skivvies and hopped in!

It was a little chilly at first, but it didn't take long to get used to the water.

That evening we cleaned up and tried a local Indian restaurant called Astha. The boys decided to play a game of Chutes and Ladders before we headed out.

Wait - something exciting happening on the Olympics!

The Indian food was very tasty. The shrimp curry that I had tasted a lot like shrimp creole, but with curry added. Yummy sauce - and yummy naan to dip in the sauce, too.

On Sunday afternoon we waded in Red Deer River for a while. (I have no pictures because I didn't want to chance leaving my camera unattended at the river bank with our towels, nor did I want to get it wet.) There were many, many people launching rafts and tubes to take a nice, slow ride down the river. Looked fun - maybe next time. :o)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Swim lessons

Sam will finish up his two weeks of swim lessons tomorrow. He's been doing very well. When we went swimming at the pool this weekend, he was able to swim a good distance from the wall to me. Nice glides, front floats, and back floats. They are a little stricter with moving on to the next level here. If you can't perform all the skills listed for the class, then you repeat the same class until you can move up to the next level. Andy also did well in his lessons a couple weeks ago. I think we'll take a month off, then go for some more in October.

Here they were in the deeper pool playing a game.
The child in the middle swims out under the arms of the others at some point, and here Sam is taking his turn.

This pool is much cooler than the one next to it where most of their lesson takes place (without life jackets), so this may be half smile, half teeth chatter!

And a cozy moment yesterday morning....

We're off to start amassing school supplies. School starts September 2nd, and we'll be in British Columbia the last week of August, so it's time to chop-chop!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Home sweet home

The front and back of our house.

And here is Sam smiling at me, with cookie in hand, as I walked back into the house after taking the picture.

I wish I could tell you this was our house, because our next-door neighbor is such a phenomenal gardener. I guess if you can't have a garden like this yourself, the next best thing is to live next to someone that does!

Thursday evening we went over to Kin Kanyon for a little outdoor grilling at the park. There is a playground and wading pool/sprinkler in the vicinity, so lots to do while we wait for Otto to cook the meat. The city provides wood to use, and there are five or six pits in this area.

Looking for twigs to throw into the fire after some water play.
Enjoying the eats.

AND, Otto made his first Saskatoon pie last week from our Saskatoon stash. This was taken in-process.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All Aboard!

Monday was Civic Holiday here and Otto had the day off. So, we went for a ride on a steam engine train on the Alberta Prairie Railway! We left from the Stettler train station, and had about a 1.5 hour ride to Big Valley. We were enjoying our ride on the beautifully refurbished coach built in the 1920s,

when all of a sudden we came under attack by a band of train robbers!

Sam and Andy watching the dramatics unfold.

They boarded the train and demanded money from us!

Luckily this gentleman saved the day,

and shot 'em all dead!

These Canadians are a bunch of characters!

When we arrived in Big Valley, we were served a roast beef buffet lunch, and had a couple hours to walk around town. They also did a steam engine ride-by for us at full throttle.

Once back on the train, Papi treated Andy and Sam to their first too-large-for-their-own-good multi-colored lollipops.

But it didn't take long for that gentle back and forth sway of the train to rock Sam right to sleep...

and Otto, too!

This lovely lady came and sang some WWI/WWII era songs for us. Much to the amusement of everyone, she started her set by leaning over Otto and waking him up with song. (I so wish I had a picture of that!)
All in all, a good day! Oh, and the "bandits" raised about $250 for the children's hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton. :o)

Monday, August 4, 2008

New to me...

Chinook (pronounced shinook in these parts): warm air that comes over the mountains from the more temperate British Columbia and warms the prairies during winter. I welcome any chinooks that choose to float this way!

Ski Doo, pronouced sk'doo. I think I would have known this was a snowmobile had it been pronouced skee doo. And you wear your sk'doo suit when you're riding your sk'doo, out on frozen Lake Sylvan during the winter festival in the sk'doo races. I don't know about the sk'doo racing, but I'll give the ice fishing a shot.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Really - that's the name of the town. It's in southern Alberta, and, according to the internet, is one of the best preserved buffalo jumps in North America.
** Correction: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a historical site, not an actual town.**

Medicine Hat. Located in the badlands of Alberta. I thinks it's cool that we live an hour away from something called "the badlands". We don't live an hour away from Medicine Hat, but we live an hour away from Drumheller, which is also in the badlands. I hope to go to Drumheller soon, because they have a great dinosaur museum there, among other dinosaur-related stuff. Lots of dinosaur skeletons have been unearthed in the badlands!!