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Life, love and language

The Town of Irricana, Alberta

Last month we made another trip to Saskatchwen.  Beautiful as the prairies can be, the long straight roads and flat countryside can become monotonous after 6 or 7 hours driving so this time we decided to make a few side trips to see places of interest.  I found six places along our route which I thought would be worth visiting on a website called bigthings.ca/alberta.

The first place on our list was Irricana, a little town of approximately 1200 inhabitants just over 50 kilometres from Calgary.  In fact, Irricana was only elevated from village to town status in 2005.  But what an enchanting little town!  The ‘point of interest’ we were after was a metal horse standing in front of the rather run down Irricana Hotel.

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The only information I could find on the horse was that it was built of an unknown metal in approximately 1988 or 1989 and was commissioned by a man named Mel Brown who had lived most of his life in Irricana, presumably spent much of his time at the hotel,  and wanted the statue to stand as a memorial to himself.

But Irricana lived up to its slogan: More than just a one horse town.

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It was obvious from the little gardens on either side of the road as we turned off the highway that this was a community with a great deal of pride in their town.  We found, and duly admired the metal horse, but it was the fire hydrants which had us driving up one street and down the next, trying to identify as many as we could: Donald Duck, Sylvester, Tweety and many more added more than a touch of whimsy  to the streets.

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Eventually we decided to have our breakfast in the little camping area, near a statue of a unicorn, and, having spent an hour at our first stop off point, whittled down our list to avoid reaching Saskatoon after nightfall.

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November 24, 2013 Posted by | Day Trips from Calgary, Living in Canada, Travels | , , , | 2 Comments

Day Trips from Calgary: Crowsnest Mountain Resort

 

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Friday was a lovely day, warm and sunny, blue skies and the mountain tops just dusted with snow.  We left for Crowsnest at about 3.30pm, stopping half way through our journey at Chain Lakes to take the dogs for a short walk. With the break the 206km (gate to gate) took us approximately 2 ½ hours.  While this trip was a weekend outing ratherthan a day trip it is one which features in Corbett’s book, so I’m posting it under this category.

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This is our cabin which had a magnificent view of the mountains. Here is the view from our deck.

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Once we had settled in we went for a walk around the resort and chatted to a fellow dog-walker.  Then back to the cabin where we sat on the deck sipping beer and admiring the mountains until the suns started to sink and it got a little chilly.  Dinner, rummy kub and a bit of desultory TV watching and then to bed, planning on spending the next day at Chinook Lake, fly fishing.

Fishing should ideally be a dawn or dusk activity.  By the time we had climbed out of bed, taken the dogs for a walk, eaten a full breakfast – eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, crumbed prawns followed by coffee and orange juice – the morning was half gone!  We drove to Chinook Lake, which is a beautiful body of water, but the wind had started to come up so just enjoyed the scenery   and then went for a drive towards the BC boundary, stopping for a while at Crowsnest Lake and chatting to a lone fisherman who had not been successful enough to encourage us to try casting into the wind. (Brenda, where were you? You would never have let us wimp out so easily)

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Next stop was Island Lake where we found a parking spot under the trees right next to the water to enjoy the soup we had brought along for lunch.

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Sherry relaxing on the shore of Island Lake.

This is a beautiful country and I find myself taking photo after photo just to try and capture the splendour of the landscape.

Drove back towards the resort, passing a flock of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep along the way, but decided to bypass it and head into Coleman, which is the nearest  town, to pick up some supplies.  Coleman is part of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and is on the Crowsnest Heritage Route.

Settled in 1903, Coleman was a coal mining town and it has a number of  historic buildings, a museum,  and, nearby, the ruins of several abandoned coal mines.  Someday we need to explore it more fully but today we were frustrated at the lack of any shopping facilities, after driving through West Colesman and Central Colesman we finally got back onto the main road and discovered a Happy Mart where we were able to buy  what we needed and also treated ourselves to ice-cream cones.

Another walk around the resort when we returned then hotdogs, more rummy kub and Baileys, and a movie before retiring.

Reading back it sounds as if our weekend break revolved around food and, true to form, we started Sunday with another big breakfast before packing the car and heading out.

Richard hadn’t been to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump so we decided to go back home the long way around, driving along Route 3 towards Fort McLeod and turning off to the Buffalo Jump which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jump is said to be named for a young Peigan hunter who stood under a ledge of the cliff at the edge of the Porcupine Hills over which the buffalo were driven.  His desire to watch the buffalo fall to their deaths resulted in his own as the piled up bodies eventually trapped and crushed him.

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I waited in the parking area with the dogs while Richard went through the Interpretive Centre.

From there we made just two short detours before going home.  Looking in vain for a turnout with a bit of shade we eventually turned into Granum – a pretty little town, which is, according to its website, the smallest town in Alberta with a population at last census of 445 people.  There we parked under a tree  to have coffee and a hotdog for lunch.

From Granum we continued along Highway 2, eventually turning off towards High River, still showing signs of the devastating flood, and then Okotoks to see the Big Rock, or Okotoks Erratic, close up, having simply driven past it previously.

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Okotoks Big Rock originated near the town of Jasper approximately 18000 years ago and was carried by a glacier down the Athabasca Valley  and along the foothills to its resting place outside of Okotoks.  The rock weighs 16500 tonnes and is the biggest glacial erratic in North America. The name Okotoks comes from the Aboriginal work okatoksituktai meaning ‘where the big rock lies’.

By now we, both human and canine, were ready for home and it wasn’t long before we were unpacking, settling down with a cup of tea and looking through the photo’s we took during the weekend.  Our next road trip will probably be a longer one.  We’re looking forward to visiting Saskatoon again.

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Day Trips from Calgary, Living in Canada | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jubilations Dinner Theatre

Last Saturday night we celebrated our anniversary by attending a show at Jubilations Dinner Theatre next to the Westbrook Mall in SW Calgary. This was the second time we’d been there and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening. The show, Corner Gassed, was a spoof on the TV production, Corner Gas. The action took place in Cat Creek, Saskatchewan, rather than Dog River and, for those who know the TV programme, the characters, thinly disguised, were hilarious.
The menu featured soup and a Weed Whacker salad; entrees included Cow Tipping (Alberta choice prime rib – delicious), Heritage Days Chicken, Cat Creek Catch (a tortilla crusted tilapia) and Prairie Pasta (Tortellini loaded with cheese and herbs and covered in garlic cream sauce). Deserts were a choice of Black Velvet cake or Apple Crisp. Cocktails such as Gas Guzzler, Diesel Delight and Moose Juice help the food go down.

During the courses the cast mingle with the audience, and help to serve the food, always staying completely in character. Members of the audience are invited to join in the production at various times throughout the play, and this takes me back to the first time we attended a show at Jubilations:

The show was Hard Days Knights, a mixture of Camelot and the Beatles songs, and the occasion, my daughter Raylene and her partner, Brian’s engagement. Unbeknownst to Ray, Brian had arranged, with the enthusiastic participation of the cast, to propose to her onstage, as part of the production. When the time came, Brian, who had left the table on some pretext, appeared on stage and told King Arthur that he could give him some pointers for his love life and Arthur called for Lady Raylene and Queen Guinevere to join them onstage. Guinevere, who had been hovering around our table, took Ray by the hand and led her up to the front, where Brian gave his speech and, on one knee, asked her to marry him.

Very romantic!

March 24, 2012 Posted by | Living in Canada | , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadian Skies

I still remember clearly the first time I ever looked at the sky in Canada.  It was sixteen years ago that I flew into Vancouver that night.  Born and bred in South Africa, this was my first venture into the northern hemisphere and I stepped off the plane, jet-lagged after 2 days of international travel, and walked out of the airport into a bitterly cold, strange, white world.

I drove with my daughter and her husband through Vancouver to catch the last ferry across to the Island where they were living.  After landing in Victoria we continued our journey through the dark to the little village of Shawnigan Lake.  With the voluble excitement of our reunion over for the moment, I leant back in my seat and gazed out of the window at the sky.

Of all the new sights and experiences it was the sight of that alien sky which suddenly made me realize just how far I was from home.  I’m no expert on astrology and could probably not name more than 3 or 4 of the constellations that grace our southern skies, but their absence made such an unexpected impact on me that even now, after 13 years of visiting and 3 years of living in Canada, that first impression of a foreign sky still remains with me.

December 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Our new Canadian pup

On the 19th of November we took delivery of a beautiful little Pom – Sherry.  Shandy, our male Pom, came from South Africa with us so Sherry is our first truly Canadian dog.  In less than two weeks she has undergone a complete metamorphosis from the timid puppy that burrowed into the sleeve of my jacket on the way home to an adventurous, playful and curious little dog.

Taking a break - on my lap

Shandy, at 14 years of age, loves the companionship but is rather overwhelmed by all the enthusiasm and is probably not as playful as Sherry would have hoped.  But on Sherry’s first night here he got up 6 times to walk over to her basket and check that she was still there.

Meeting nose to nose

Although Sherry is our 4th Pomeranian we have come up against a couple of problems which are typically Canadian.  These, of course, revolve around outdoor activities, such as walking and toilet training.   The first time I took the dogs out in the snow Sherry simply lay down and stuck her cold little feet up in the air.  Shandy, even coming from sunny South Africa, adapted to the snow with ease and has never needed booties nor a jacket.  But Sherry’s coat is still coming through and her undercoat is nowhere near as thick as her new brother’s.  We will probably have to go shopping for a winter outfit suitable for our pretty little girl.

Sherry testing the snow on the deck

As far as toileting is concerned I have virtually resigned myself to the fact that we will have newspapers scattered about the house until spring.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Living in Canada | , | Leave a comment

Starting a new business

This promises to be an ongoing post. Over a year ago I decided to open a business in Calgary.  Since early childhood is both my passion and my area of expertise and, since Calgary has a real need for daycare spaces, that seemed to be the obvious way to go.

I didn’t count on the time it would take to find premises which would accommodate a daycare and provide outdoor playground space.  However, now, after 16 months of searching, of alternating between hope and despair, I have finally found the space I need – and have unsuspectingly wandered into a tangle of red tape.

So far:

  • I have applied for and received approval for a change of use (zoning) for the premises (6 weeks), BUT
  • I then received notification from the safety code officer that I need 2 extra toilets and windows to the outside – SO
  • I have obtained permission from the owner to put in windows, BUT
  • I need a plan drawn up by an architect or draftsman with a good understanding of the building code -THEN
  • I have to reapply for a development permit (original one granted zoning) for approval for the windows, THEN
  • I have to submit the plans to apply for a building permit in order to make the changes which they stipulated, AFTER WHICH
  • I need to find a suitable plumber and general contractor to install toilets and windows, and to move an interior wall, THEN
  • finally, we can start cleaning, painting and buying equipment.

It has been like climbing a mountain – every-time I think I’ve reached a plateau, I turn a corner and the path heads upwards once more.  So, to keep myself motivated, I will post on this blog each time another milestone has been reached, until, finally, I make the summit.

The front of the premises, formally a martial arts centre

8th November

Saw this in the CBC News dated August this year.  It confirms my experience of trying to find premises for a daycare in the new communities in the south of Calgary.  There is just no space allocated for childcare in these communities:

“The other thing that’s a challenge is new neighbourhoods aren’t being built to have child care centres in them,” she said. “It’s very difficult for centres to find space to open in some of the newer neighbourhoods in the city.”

Received news from our architectural designer that the floor plans are ready for the development permit and that he is busy with the building code review, which is very strict for childcare centres.  Hopefully we will be able to apply for the permit to install the two necessary windows this week.

15th November 2011

Last Thursday we met with our architect and went through some changes in the plan, which he altered and emailed to us over the weekend.  We took them in to Staples to have the necessary copies printed on Monday, picking them up today – Tuesday.

Then, armed with

  • the completed application;
  • 10 x 4 copies of the plans (2ftx3ft);
  • 4 photo’s of the premises;
  • the Title Certificate;
  • copies of all the caveats on the Title Certificate (collected from the Registry Office at the cost of $100);
  • a letter of authorization from the agent;
  • a letter of authorization from the owner of the property for the agent;
  • and a cheque for $526,

we headed into the city where we spent an hour going through everything with one of the very friendly consultants in the Development and Building Department. (Probably picked up a ticket for staying too long in our parking stall – but won’t know that until later!).

Now we play the waiting game again, since nothing can be done until the windows have been approved.  It’s beginning to look as it March will be the earliest we can open which means we will have to pay the rental and operating costs for three months without any income from the premises.

2nd January  2012

Things are on the move again, at last!  On Thursday, 29th December, our application for a development permit in order to install windows and two extra toilets at the centre, in line with the requirements of the City, was pre-approved.  Today we met with our architect to discuss a few small changes to the plans in order to submit them for a Building Permit.   Tomorrow we will take the updated plans to Staples to have them copied and then drive into town to hand them in at the Municipal offices.

Now that we virtually have the go-ahead to make the necessary changes we will probably spend the next couple of weeks, as we wait for this final round of plans to be approved, demolishing walls which have to be moved, pulling up a floor which needs to be replaced, and generally getting ready for the contractors who will be doing the plumbing, putting in the windows and framing and dry-walling the new walls.

Slowly our dream of more than a year is becoming a reality.

4th January, 2012

A real, if short-lived, dip on the roller coaster today!  We had the building plans printed at Staples and then took the fast-becoming-familiar trip to the municipal buildings in town to hand in our application for a building permit.

The friendly lady who handled our paper work went through the forms and then called someone to check the plans.  Well, according to him, besides a few fairly minor changes we also needed a sprinkler system which the building doesn’t have.  And not just a sprinkler system for the daycare!  Because the premises we’re leasing takes up more than 10% of the entire building all the shops and offices would need to be included.

Besides the costs involved, we obviously could not fit the whole complex with a sprinkler system and could not seriously contemplate being able to persuade the landlord to do so either.  Gathering together our plans and forms we headed home, very deflated.  Not willing to go through the whole process again we were discussing other business possibilities when I received a phone call from the municipality and a very contrite young man apologized profusely and explained that he had been mistaken about the sprinkler requirement.

Back on track again, once home I called our architectural designer and told him our sad/mad story.  The upshot is that he will contact the municipality, make sure that all requirements for the plans are met, and then take them into the offices himself to ensure that everything is in order.

And so the saga continues ….

8th January 2012

 

Here we go again!  As arranged, John Trinh took the application for the building permit, with the few changes they wanted, down to the municipality early this morning.  He phoned me mid-morning to say that they now want a mechanical engineer to draw plans of the duct system in the building.  The unit has air conditioning so I don’t expect any problems with the ducts, but this involves at least another $2000 to $2500 and another delay.

We can’t afford to wait until everything is approved so, taking a step in faith, we started demolishing the floor which has to be removed in one of the classrooms.  At least this, and the removal of a wall, can be done without the building permit.  We also assembled the reception desk which has been lying in pieces for the past two months.  A March start is looking more and more remote and I am now planning on advertising April as our opening date.  Of course, this means that I am paying the rent and operating costs for an additional 3 months (originally we planned on opening in January) with no income.

Half of the floor demolished.

Stay tuned for further updates.

24th January 2012

 

Since my last post we have had the mechanical engineer, the contractor and our architectural designer wandering around the premises, cutting holes in the walls to peer inside, climbing onto the roof to check the furnace units and counting air ducts.  At last the mechanical and electrical plans have been drawn up and submitted with the application for the building permit.

Two bits of good news: the development permit for the windows, which had been preapproved and then advertised for the obligatory 2 weeks has now been passed, which means that the building permit application can be processed immediately; and the landlord, through his agent, has agreed to give us two more months rent-free to finish our renovations.

Richard and I met with the contractor and the plumber yesterday at the premises.  Our contractor, Steve Shiu, says he has been in contact with the city and that the building plans should go through now without any more hassles.  Fingers crossed!

Today we are doing the last of the demolitions – that is, Brian will be doing them, cheered on by Richard.  Once the rubble has been carted away there is nothing more we can do until the windows, plumbing and walls have been completed.  Then we will paint and lay the carpet tiles.

In the meantime I took the programme to the licensing department to have it checked before submitting my application.  I am busy doing the necessary alterations and hopefully that will go in before the end of this week.  I also have to contact the Health Department so that they can look at the plans and make sure there is nothing there that they are unhappy about.  There shouldn’t be a problem since everything has been done strictly to code.

Now to get the website up and running, have our posters and brochures printed, and advertise, advertise, advertise.

15th February 2012

I am still waiting for the building permit to come through.  The mechanical and electrical plans have been accepted but the city requested a drawing of the roof of the building.  I’m sure they have their reasons, and these plans have now been sent to them, but, of course, this has resulted in another holdup.

In the meantime the contractor and plumber are on hold, waiting to start on the renovations.

The cheque which I sent with the licence application has not yet appeared on my bank statement, after at least 2 weeks, so I have just sent off an email asking whether they have received the documentation.  I won’t be able to admit any children until I am licensed and can’t get the licence until everything has been approved, which means that, as well as my programme being accepted – all 34 pages of it – I also have to have the premises fully furnished and equipped.  And, of course, until I know how many children I will have, I don’t know how many teachers to hire.  How many balls can one juggle at the same time?

Hopefully my next post will be to report that the renovations are proceeding smoothly.

28th February 2012

We heard today that the building permit has finally been approved – we’ll pick it up tomorrow.  At the same time got a letter from licensing to say that I hadn’t included the health and fire reports in my application.  Since I had explained in my cover letter that these would only be available when the renovations are complete I was a little confused.  Have sent an email, followed up by a phone call to arrange a meeting.  Waiting for a response.  Only hope that they don’t put the whole thing on hold until the contractor has finished at the premises, that will really delay the opening date!

14th March 2012

Things are moving smoothly at last.  The contractor has laid the pipes for the plumbing and is busy with the interior walls (a bit of a hiccup here as, apparently, the architectural designer had mis-measured and placed one wall in front of the fire door!).  Tomorrow the electrician comes in the start roughing in the electrical work and by the 23rd the windows should have arrived.

Framing started for interior walls

As far as licensing is concerned, so far everything seems to be OK, all the documents other than the programme for Out of School Care have been submitted, and I’m busy working on that one now.

I have advertised online and put up a couple of posters.  Advertisements will appear in the community newsletter in April as well as in the Coffee News sheet which serves this area.  A waiting list has begun!

23rd March 2012

All the framing for the interior walls is up.  The roughing in for both plumbing and electrics is done and today the inspector turned up and passed it all!!  Now Steve, our contractor, is left with the dry-walling and the connections for the plumbing and electrical outlets.  Then the extra toilets and hand basins and the kitchenette. Lastly the windows, which should arrive early next week.   Its exciting seeing everything coming together at last.

Tomorrow we will be looking at the playground to decide how to go about leveling it and to measure it again for the fences for the two short ends, which we will order on Monday.  I have a quote for the basic furniture – chairs and tables – and will do a quick check on prices before placing the order.

We will be doing the painting and laying the carpet tiles on the floor ourselves.  This must be complete by mid-April so we can get Health and Fire to come in and pass the premises and Licensing to check it out and issue our licence.

The advertisement for teachers will be posted on Monday and the waiting list for children is growing slowly but surely at a rate of one or two a day – up to 16 at last count, most of the queries coming from our online advertising.

Still, hopefully and optimistically, looking at the 1st May as our opening date.  The final count down has begun.

3rd April 2012

 

The good news is that the dry walling is up (but taping and mudding still to be done), the fence and furniture have been ordered.  The windows have arrived, but are not yet in.  Teacher interviews have started and the waiting list continues to grow slowly.  We also have our sign up!

The bad news is that the plumbing inspector has discovered some existing pipes and fittings which are not to code.  This has led to another hold up while Steve tries to sort out the problems.  The same inspector also condemned all the existing toilets.  Our long suffering landlord has agreed to replace them.

In addition, while the load of soil which we have ordered to level the playground is due to arrive on Thursday morning, we now have a winter storm warning in Calgary and on Thursday morning the playground could well be under 12cm of snow!  So our group of eager(?) helpers who were going to be shoveling and leveling soil on Good Friday will now be sipping hot chocolate instead and we will probably be pushing wheelbarrows ourselves come Monday morning.

Oh well, if we’ve learnt anything from this whole process it is that nothing runs smoothly when you’re involved with building and renovations.  Still aiming, rather desperately, for the 1st  May.

20th April, 2012

I had hoped the contractor would be finished by today and that the painting would be done and the carpet tiles laid – both of which we will be doing ourselves.  Any reader of this blog would have been able to predict otherwise!

So what has been accomplished?  Well the kitchenette is just about finished and looks really nice.

Steve, the contractor, busy in the kitchen

The commercial dish-washer still has to be connected, which will only be done next Wednesday; the washrooms have all been painted and everything is in place for the toilets to be installed; all the interior walls have been taped and mudded but most still need to be sanded and we have been able to get into one of the playrooms to paint.

Raylene busy applying the first coat of primer to the playroom walls.

The windows will only be installed next Wednesday and the plan is that the final inspection will take place on Thursday or Friday.  After that we will be able to get back into the premises to finish painting and lay the carpet mats.

The good news is that the furniture has arrived from Educan in BC and, without completely unwrapping it, it looks good and sturdy.  The soil has been delivered and spread in the playground to level it and the sod has been ordered and will be delivered on Monday.  The computers have also been ordered and should be here early next week as well.

Raylene’s firm very kindly lent us a bobcat – one of those you walk behind – to move the soil to the playground and Richard spent the day steering it back and forth from the enormous pile  of loam next to the building to the playground at the back.

Richard dropping off another load of soil to be spread.

Unfortunately our ‘Open House’ will have to be put forward a week to the 5th May so that we can have everything complete and the rooms set up for the parents to see.  On this day we will also register the children on the waiting list and collect the deposits.

Hopefully (everything crossed and double crossed) neither Fire nor Health will find anything needing changing and our license officer will grant the licence quickly.

Opening day?  With luck, the 14th May.

30th April 2012

Well, the sod has arrived and has been laid (in the rain), although, due to weather conditions and bricks flying from window installations, has not yet been rolled.

Trace turned up unexpectedly from Saskatoon to spend Saturday helping us paint the hall, passage and reception area which are now a lovely shade of blue.

On Sunday the old carpeting in the reception area was ripped up, the whole area thoroughly vacuumed,  and we started laying the new carpet tiles.

Windows were not installed last Wednesday, apparently stress fractures in the brick wall necessitated steel lintels instead of the wooden ones quoted on, but the first two are now installed in one of the playrooms and, hopefully, the contractor is busy finishing off the dry-walling under the windows today so that we can complete painting and lay the carpet tiles in there.

The commercial dishwasher (second-hand) was connected and promptly flooded the kitchen.  It will be going back to its original owner and I will be attempting to get permission to install a domestic dishwasher with NSF rating.  Otherwise the cheapest commercial dishwasher I can get is a $3000 Lambert from Costco.

Today, since the electricians and contractor are busy at work at the centre and it is clear that there is no space for us to continue laying carpet tiles, we took a drive out to IKEA and bought lockers, storage units and a long table to use for the computers in the media centre.

Open house still on the 5th, even if prospective parents have to negotiate ladders and paint pots. I can’t leave it any longer.

Tomorrow my first staff member, Amber, joins us, when she will find herself wielding a paint brush rather than working with little kids, obviously her job description is very loosely interpreted.

And so it continues.  Is that a light I see at the end of the tunnel??

10th May 2012

 

May 5th arrived in a flurry of snow and rain.  A number of brave parents braved the weather to come and look at the centre and register their children.  The kids themselves had a great time.  Amber had one of the playrooms set up with a variety of toys and games and watched over the children while their parents filled in forms.

Richard and Amber assemble the work table before setting up the playroom for our Open House.

Raylene presided over the kitchen and welcomed our visitors, and, with her encouragement, many Oreo’s were consumed by the littlest of our guests.

It was so nice to hear children’s laughter in the centre – a reminder of what we are working towards.

Monday brought a return to reality.  Two windows still had to be installed in the second playroom.  Painting had to be completed and carpet tiles had to be laid once the windows were in and the walls dry-walled, mudded and sanded.  A new dishwasher had to be bought and installed.

Putting up the fence – note the coffee cup in Richard’s hand while Brian works away industriously!

Still, things are moving at a reasonable rate.  Richard and Brian have put up the fences on either side of the playground, and today the windows are in and the drywalling in process.  The dishwasher has been ordered and should arrive next week – no leeway given on a domestic model.  We are still waiting for the toilet partitions to appear, they were ordered the week before last and apparently have arrived in Calgary, but no-one knows where they are!

I invited our very friendly and helpful lady from Health to look at the centre yesterday and give us some pointers and now have a list of, mostly, small issues to see to before she comes to look us over and submit her report next week.

Fire wardens have turned up at the centre twice to find out how we were going.  I will call them in once everything has been completed.  Once the Fire and Health reports are in our licensing officer will give us the once over and, hopefully, give us our licence.

Opening day?  I’ve been wrong so often I’m not even going to hazard a guess!

17th May 2012

Hopefully this will be sorted out by tomorrow, but I had to share today’s issue simply because it is so farcical.  As I said earlier, I need a report from the Fire Warden to submit to Licensing.  However today the Fire Department phoned me to say that they could not come out and look at the premises because I had an outstanding building permit which had to be signed off.  So Steve phoned the Building Inspector, who told him that he could not sign off the building permit until he had a report from the Fire inspector.  So here we are in a catch 22 situation until the Building inspector and the Fire inspector manage to sort out their respective places in the process!

4th June 2012

Last week we were overrun by inspectors – electrical (twice), plumbing, health, fire and, finally, the building inspector signed off on our occupancy form and the building permit is now closed.  So we may now legally occupy the premises, but cannot, as yet, open our doors for the daycare.

A private firm specializing in this field (required by the building inspector before he would do his final inspection), discovered that the fire system for the entire mall was not working and reported this to our landlord.  It took another full day to get someone out to change a fuse and get us back on track again.  Then it was decided that the smoke sensors should be changed to heat sensors (at our expense, of course).  Another day’s work.  The fire verification certificate finally issued by this firm was a requirement from the building inspector who would not do his final inspection without it.

The health inspector gave her approval subject to a few changes which we have since made but now, despite the fact that we have a fire verification certificate and an inspection by the city fire warden who also had to sign the occupancy form, we still have to get the provincial fire officer to come in, check the premises, and give us a certificate of compliance before the licensing officer can make her appearance.

In the interim the T-shirts I ordered from Wordans arrived.  What a disappointment!  The logo and name look good but the XS which was supposed to fit ages 2 – 4 years is actually larger than one of my grandson’s T-shirts marked 10 years.  I am currently involved in an email argument with Wordans who informed me:  “the size chart were indicated , and you cant reorder.”

The orange T-shirt fits a 10 year old, the blue one underneath is supposedly made for a preschooler!

Reading back, this is sounding awfully depressing so I must add that the centre is looking really good and I am having a great deal of fun buying all the necessary (and unnecessary) toys, books and equipment.  Roll on opening day.

Section of the 4 and 5 year old playroom

7th June 2012

 

Out of the blue the fire department phoned us on Monday to tell us our Certificate of Compliance (allowing us to get a provincial licence) was ready for us.  Rushed down to pick it up and emailed it to my licensing officer.  Waited impatiently for a response which was not forthcoming on Tuesday or Wednesday, despite a number of phone call messages and emails.  Today we heard that the certificate had arrived too late for us to arrange for our initial licensing inspection this week as she is on leave from tomorrow, and can only make an appointment for the 26th  June, aiming at getting us licensed by the 1st July.

When I said I had a number of parents who were very anxious to get their children into the centre ASAP she pointed out that I could, legally, take 6 children without being licensed.  That would allow me to accommodate those who are most desperate for childcare.  Something to think about!

27th June 2012

I’ve waited a long time to be able to say this: we are finally officially official!  At the beginning of July Fledglings will open as a licensed daycare centre.  Now starts the next leg of our journey.  We will be applying for accreditation almost immediately and, of course, advertising, advertising, advertising.  If anyone who has read my blog this far would like to continue to follow Fledglings fortunes I will be posting at regular intervals on my website: http://www.fledglingseducare.com.

And so ends my saga.

October 31, 2011 Posted by | Living in Canada | , , , | 19 Comments

Calgary to Saskatoon

With Tracy, Mark and the boys living in Saskatoon now we will probably be making many trips to Saskatchewan, our next-door-neighbour province.  Our first trip was on the Monday after they left, ostensibly to help move some of their belongings but, far more importantly, to see them settled and happy in their new home.

An 8 hour drive through the Prairies did not really appeal to us and we resigned ourselves to a long, boring trip.  Happily, this was not the case, and the trip reminded us anew of the particular charm this part of Canada holds for those who are open to its beauty.

Driving through the badlands

The drive took us through the badlands with their distinctive coulee landscapes and hoodoo rock formations and along route 9 past endless fields of yellow canola flowers.

Canola fields

We took Shandy with us which necessitated a number of stops for walks and water.

A 'Shandy' stop

In Hanna we found a lovely coffee shop/antique store where we stopped for the obligatory latte before continuing on our way.

With only one wrong turn we found our way to our destination and spent the next two days exploring Saskatoon.  What a pretty little town!  Highlights of our stay were the visit to the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo,

Taken at the zoo

lunch at the Berry Barn

The Berry Barn taken from the pathway alongside the lake

and cooling off at Pike Lake Provincial Park which is just 20 minutes from Saskatoon where the boys took the pedal boats out onto the lake.

The boys set off across Pike Lake

The 8 hour drive no longer seems so daunting and we look forward to our next visit at the end of September when the Fall landscape should offer us a completely different perspective.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Living in Canada, Travels | , , , | 1 Comment

Two Years and Counting

The 14th January marked the end of our second year in Canada.  Time for some introspection as I look back at the 24 months which have flown past.

Moving countries was easier for us than for many who have taken the same route.  First of all, because we visited extensively, usually for 6 months at a time, between 2003 when we first applied for permanent residence and December 2008 when our application was finally accepted; and, secondly, because, by then, both of our daughters and our two grandsons were living in Calgary.

The only part of South Africa that I can truly say I have missed is the people, friends and family, whom I have had to leave behind.  But visits from a good friend in 2009 and both my sisters in 2010 helped to lessen any feeling of loss, and, of course, Facebook, Skype and emails keep everyone connected these days.   It also helps that I will be going back to visit this year and plan to do so every two years if possible, so the ties may be stretched but certainly haven’t been cut!

Meeting new people, making new friends, and getting involved in the different activities Canada has to offer has also helped.  Richard has re-written his Ham Radio exam and regularly meets with other radio aficionados.  I have found hiking companions who have become valued friends and joined a book and a writing club.  And, after a few fairly disastrous attempts at skiing, I have made snow shoeing my winter sport of choice.

I have grown to love Calgary and the surrounding countryside.  I love the prairies, where the grass and canola fields stretch endlessly under an ever changing sky. I love the mountains with their tree-clad sides and craggy, snow-covered summits.  I love the many parks, such as Nose Hill, Bowness, and Fish Creek which bring the wild countryside into the city. And I love the rivers and creeks which flow in and around Calgary.

The wild life might not be as varied as that of Africa but it is ever-present.  Moose, coyote, foxes and even bears have wandered in close proximity to our home and mule deer sleep in our yard in winter and dig through the snow to find the grass which sustains them.

Many of our visits were in winter so the snowy landscape was not unfamiliar to us.  Driving to work and back in the dark, however, when the snowplows’ valiant efforts have not been enough to clear the roads and black ice is an ever present threat, can, at best, be described as interesting, at worst, as a white-knuckled, clenched-teeth roller coaster ride.  For all that, I haven’t yet lost my delight at waking up to a snow covered landscape and still marvel at the sparkling crystals which sometimes dance in the air turning our garden into a fairyland.

But, strangely enough, it is sport which made me realize just how much I identify with my new country.  During the Winter Olympics in Vancouver I sat glued to the screen as Canada and America battled it out for the gold in ice hockey and celebrated with the same feeling of euphoria that I experienced when the Springboks triumphed over the Ozzies at rugby.  Similarly I mourned with the rest of the country when Russia overran our team in the Junior Championships during the third period.

Cale has now lived in Canada longer than he lived in South Africa and it won’t be too long before Asher can say the same.   Both of our grandsons speak with a Canadian accent and their memories of their home land have, I think, faded a little, as they haven’t been back in the 5 years they’ve lived here.  Richard and I will always have our South African accents and we lived too long in our motherland to ever be anything but African-Canadians.  Still we look forward to being able to apply for citizenship of this great country in another year and, more and more, Calgary is truly becoming our home.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Living in Canada | , | Leave a comment