Saturday, September 25, 2010

My "Team"

I need to take things to the drycleaner. And the tailor. And I need to make a dentist appointment, and a chiropractor appointment. And I need a massage. And I need my eyebrows threaded, and Dallas needs a haircut. Whew. If we were still in Edmonton, I would have access to all the members of my "team." These are the individuals who, if I were a multi-millionaire, I would pay each of them a salary and/or keep them on retainer. I miss them, and am trying to figure out how to amass a similar group of folks here in Victoria.

For those of you still in Edmonton, I can recommend the following:

Lauren at Raw Beauty in St Albert:
Lauren is THE BEST. Dallas actually just told me the other day that he plans on not having his hair cut until our next visit to Edmonton. In a similar vein, I have promised Lauren that after I have tired of my ever-growing-longer hair, she will be the one to cut it off for good. For the first 2 years we lived in Edmonton I let her have her way with my locks and received endless compliments on the haircuts she gave. I say that not to toot my own horn, but to acknowledge that Lauren makes people look their best. Even though it took us about 35 minutes to get to the salon from our house on the south side, we would not trust our hair to anyone else in Edmonton & area - and neither should you.

Friendly Nails:
Located in the Capilano area of Edmonton, these ladies give the best pedicures in town. For $30. You can be assured an excellent experience that includes the latest gossip magazines and those crazy massaging chairs. I first heard about this place from my friend Jennifer, and soon a whole bunch of us from work were making frequent trips. Because you CAN afford a pedicure every 4 to 6 weeks when it's only $30.

Bella Tonic Spa:
I was a faithful attendee for 4 years, and miss this place dearly. Who doesn't love having their eyebrows threaded for only $5!

Wallace Shoe Repair
It's no secret that I have a penchant for shoes. My favourite brand is Camper. In order to keep my Campers looking good I would bring them in each spring for a clean up and to be winterized for the next year (I own 3 pairs of Camper boots). When I would pick them up, they looked NEW. Wild. Michael does a great job on heel taps as well.

Bill at Fashion Tailors:
Bill is a GENIUS. Caitlin originally referred us to Bill when Dallas' first pair of Nudies were in a state of disrepair after our month-long trip to Europe. Bill has this unique ability to patch jeans so that your worn-in favourites have a second (or third, or fourth...Caitlin, I'm talking to you!) lease on life. If you've ever been on the receiving end of a pair of pants that were hemmed incorrectly, you will know the value of finding an excellent tailor. Bill works wonders on all kinds of other clothing too, right Amy?

My doctor and our chiropractor both referred us to people out here, but now it is up to us to do the work of building those relationships. I should also really work on finding a family doctor out here. Am thankful for some recommendations on that front. And I've also got to find that massage therapist...with all this time on my hands, I better do something, and what better thing to do than get a massage?

If you are in need of any services in Edmonton, please try the above folks - you won't be disappointed. And if you have any tips for Victoria, please send them my way.

We live in VICTORIA?!

Yes, it's true...we are residents of Victoria. This past month has certainly flown by. I can't believe that one month ago today (Aug 25, 2010) we were busy with loading the UHaul, cleaning, and saying our last tearful goodbyes to all we know and love in Edmonton. We had a long (15.5 hours) drive to Vancouver and then we traveled to Victoria on Aug 29. I am so thankful for all the helping hands we had on move in day - my parents came over from the mainland, our landlord (for reals!), cousins Craig & Melissa and aunt Joanne. We could not have done all of that heavy lifting without help, and the generosity of those in our lives never ceases to amaze me. It made moving in to a new city just that much easier. After a few days of working on unpacking, I was back to White Rock (Dallas came shortly after) to celebrate the wedding of my sister and her h-band Joel. It was a fantastic mash up of family, friends, food and love...all of my favourite things! Their photos are really gorgeous - you should check them out here

It was only when we got back to the Island after the wedding that it all started to really sink in. It seems to continue to sink in, often in waves...I'm going about my day and it hits me that I can't go for coffee with my dear friends at work or to the market or eat ice cream sandwiches with Caitlin and Arlene, we can't hang out with the Jeske's, etc. Dallas says he notices this the most on weekends, when it is not as easy to get together with the people who know us so well.

So you are probably wondering, what ARE they doing? Well, Dallas started work almost right away, and I have still not started work yet (I will probably talk about the work situation in a later post...or not. Email me if you want details). Dallas is logging 10 hour days, working on construction of the new patient care centre at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. He joined the IBEW (electrician's union) which was an easy decision for us. He receives a good wage and benefits and all of these things will help us move towards more traveling and buying a house. And maybe other things, ahem, little Synchyshyn's? But only maybe on the last one there.

I think Dallas and I both have moments of "is this for real?" One of the first moments like that for me was a week or two ago when I was riding my BICYCLE beside the OCEAN for the first time in a very long time. It is this glorious experiences that make me feel at home in Victoria. We are slowly getting to know the city, but it is admittedly easier for me to do given that I am not yet working.

While Dallas has been working all of the time I have been exploring Victoria, on bicycle and by car. I've ridden downtown twice and it is a good time. This is a beautiful city on so many fronts and you definitely get to experience that differently on 2 wheels instead of 4. I've been taking care of the multitude of administrative tasks that seem to accompany an interprovincial move. Car inspections, address changes with every bill/catalog/magazine we get, getting rid of stuff (we have only 1 closets, storage is an issue), trying to find a job, etc. I think I have 5 or 6 to-do lists on the go. So I have not just been sitting on the couch and eating bon bons.

I've also been cooking quite a bit. I made stuffed mushrooms this week (SO good.), and blueberry muffins yesterday. There are 2 apple trees in our yard and our landlord gave us a bunch of apples so pie is on the list for tomorrow (it is supposed to be rainy). It is beautiful and sunny outside right now but Dallas is surfing and I'm waiting for him to get back so that we can (hopefully) go on a bike ride.

I really didn't get to finish all the posts I wanted to write about Edmonton, so I'm going to try to get back to those.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saying goodbye to: The Stollery Children's Hospital

Is it this time already? The days seem to be zooming by with lightning speed. Friday marked the last day of work for Dallas and I at our respective work places. Edmonton has been so generous with respect to employment for us both. When we first moved here I was able to transfer to a branch of TD Canada Trust with ease and carry on with my illustrious student-career as a bank teller, and Dallas started his electrician apprenticeship right away as well. However, we have both moved on since those first jobs in Edmonton. Dallas has spent the past two years with Optimum Electrical and I have been employed at the Stollery Children's Hospital for approximately two years as well.

August 20 has long been the potential date we would finish working and being the full-time job of transitioning to Victoria, but it seemed to come so quickly. I first came to know the Stollery in Fall 2007 when I did my first BSW practicum. I had an amazing preceptor (who is now a good friend) and started to figure out what social work actually looked like in a practice setting. The team of social workers at the Stollery and the University of Alberta Hospital (which exist in the same giant building) are a knowledgeable, hard-working, professional and dedicated group of individuals. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by peers who are willing to lead by example, encourage me to take on new challenges in practice and to serve the patients and families in our care.

After finishing my degree in spring 2008 I decided to begin work at the hospital. Though my status has been "casual" for a large part of my employment, I have worked a great deal. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work on every unit of the Stollery, from PICU to ambulatory care. I have worked on teams with brilliant staff and physicians, and have met countless families who face the challenges of having a sick child with strength and determination. I am truly honoured to have provided care to the children and families who have walked through those doors with the ever-smiling white and pink bear above them. Each one of my interactions has shaped my practice, provided times to grow and learn more about myself and those around me.

Given that we are moving to a smaller city, I do not know if I will ever have the opportunity to work in a setting like the Stollery, serving patients from 4 provinces and 3 territories. I consider it an honour that I have spent the past two years - the first two or so of my career as social worker - in such an incredible place. On Friday when I walked through the front doors of the massive building, my eyes filled with tears. I was able to spend much of the day sharing my gratitude with my co-workers and the staff of the units who have believed in and supported me on my journey. It was a day well spent.

What does it all mean? (like that silly double rainbow...) Well, I figure that I am going to spend a lot of time at work, b/c that is how things seem to go here in North America, so I might as well enjoy myself. Perhaps the word "enjoy" is superficial, because certainly I did not enjoy each day at the Stollery. Work loads were high and my job was to provide support to families whose children were sick, or dying, or somewhere in between. It was, and will always be, difficult work. But so rewarding, so rich. I hope that I will have more opportunities in the future to be surrounded by equally dedicated groups of people and see the resilience and light in patients in the darkest of times. Although I don't yet know what "work" will look like in Victoria, I enter the next phase of this thing knowing that I have strong roots. Thank you, Stollery Children's Hospital, for all you have taught me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Newest Edmonton Favourite.

Folk Fest. Ah, sweet, lovely folk fest. How is it possible that I have overlooked it before this summer? I have heard rumblings since the summer of 2006 (our first summer here) about how great it is. I think I would have gone to see David Gray the first summer, but was for sure far out of the ticket buying loop and missed out. I still remember Alyssa's story about sitting outside the grounds and listening to DG.

So what exactly is it that is so great about folk fest? It is the perfect combination of music, venue, people, food and drink. More specifically this year, Ben Harper, sweet Dallas by my side (not to mention the countless other friends on the hill) and mini doughnuts. I don't know if the sound has always been as good, but 31 years has certainly given the organizers time to perfect it. I was beside myself with excitement when the initial announcement came across the internets that my favourite BH would be headlining Thursday night. And Van Morrison for the endowment concert on Wednesday? We were in.

For those not from Edmonton, just to give you an idea of how popular this 4 day folk extravaganza is, the weekend wristbands sold out in hours, I think. This is the perfect setting to enjoy Edmonton in the summer - lush river valley, sunshine, etc. Everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed and everyone wants to have a good time. And kids are free (to get into the festival)...not that we have kids, but I find this marvelous! When we were kids my parents took us to concerts frequently, many of them outdoor music festivals. I remember these times fondly and wished the same on all the littles I saw roaming the grounds, trying to collect plates to be redeemed for $2 a piece.

From what I understand, there are some folks who have volunteered at the folk fest for years, even decades. This festival has a dedicated following. This sense of enjoyment and commitment fosters a sense of community, I think, and even as a first time "folkie" I couldn't help to feel the love. Cheesy? Maybe, but it is certainly an experience. If I could do the last 4 years in Edmonton over again, I would make a point to have gone to folk fest each summer. I could also see us returning in future years around folk fest time because summer really is the best time to visit Edmonton (you know, when it's not -40C).

A little bit more on this year's fest, even though we only attended the beginning. Van Morrison played for the Wednesday night endowment fund concert. Was our first FF experience - I was floored when I walked through the top gates and looked down on "the hill" of Gallagher Park - people, tents, tarps, tarp markers, good times all around. To be quite honest, Van Morrison was...underwhelming. There is no denying that he is a fantastic and very talented musician, but he is certainly not a performer. However, we had lots of fun hanging out with our friends and enjoying the good vibes. Thursday night solidified my new love of folk fest. The beer garden was open, we ate dinner at the fest (pulled chicken on a bun from Homefire Grill - delicious!), ate mini donuts, and saw Ben Harper! He puts on a great show, and I'm convinced he was feeling the love that we were all sending his way.

So if you're thinking of planning a trip to Edmonton, I would recommend next summer (and every summer thereafter), for Folk Fest. Perhaps we can share a tarp?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dear Edmonton, I love you.

Where to begin? 4 years plus a few months ago we began life together in Edmonton. Dallas and I were recently married and excited to figure out what it meant to be Mr. & Mrs. We decided on Edmonton originally, if I remember correctly, because Dallas thought he would have luck finding work here. It was easy for me to transfer school and continue at the U of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work, Edmonton Division. I was eager to be near his family to get to know them better, and the housing situation that presented itself was a good fit at a time when rents were going up and we were very, um, strapped for cash. Who knew, at that time, that Edmonton would become home?

It is funny to look back to those first 2 years here, while I was still busy with school, Dallas was working on his apprenticeship as an electrician. Our monthly income was limited, but we enjoyed the city, old friends (Dallas’) and made new friends (Rachel & Dallas’). Somehow the last 4 years have flown by and though we are both excited to see what the future holds, it will not be easy to leave this city where we have jobs we enjoy and find fulfilling and countless other things to add to our general happiness.

The point of me getting back to blogging is, for now, to show YEG some love. We are approximately 3 weeks from moving away and I have been meaning to write these posts for months. Edmonton has been very kind and generous to us. We have always had work, reached personal goals (Rachel = BSW, Dallas = Red Seal), deepened old friendships and made new forever friends, grown, been challenged, and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It is cathartic to put it to paper, or computer, I guess.

Just this week I was hit with the thought, “I wonder if Victoria will ever feel like home the way Edmonton does?” The city is familiar in the best way, comfortable and broken in like your favourite pair of jeans. It is exciting and nerve-wracking to think of the enormous amounts of change that are going to be occurring in our lives very shortly, and before I become entirely focused on staying above water through those things, I want to be intentional about remembering Edmonton. So check back over the next few weeks – I will procrastinate from packing and share the best of Edmonton, in my humble opinion.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall is on the way.

I can't say I have a favourite season, but I do know that I have a least favourite season - winter. That's right, after 6 prairie winters (that means this upcoming one will be my 7th. Augh.), I can honestly say that I do not like the months on end of snow and sub-zero temperatures. But, friends, not to worry...summer seems to have held on longer than usual here in Edmonton, with a spat of +25 C days in September. I believe we've even broken some daily records on the odd couple of days when the temp has been in excess of 30 C. In SEPTEMBER. In CANADA. It has definitely been a treat.

So, you're probably wondering what the point of this post is? Well, I guess it is a reflection on the seasons. The warm September has allowed us to drag out some favourite summer past times - a wienie roast in the river valley, bike rides in tank tops, sundresses. At the same time, the temperature will drop on some days and have hints of what is to come - crisp fall air, leaves changing colours, slippers and the like. For this weekend, that meant cooking up a potato & lentil curry dish served with sauteed swiss chard and red wine. I love red wine, but don't drink very much of it in the summer months, which makes me so happy to fill my cup come fall.

If I recall the forecast correctly, we'll still get a few toasty days this week. One last chance to wear a skirt with no tights and get the last wear of the flippy floppies for the year. Though I'll be sad to bid adieu to the warm days of summer, I'm actually looking forward to wearing my Ugg boots and my down vest. And getting my cook on with the delightful autumn recipes in this cookbook.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You know it's time for a haircut when...

Your split ends have split ends. For reals. I saw this on my own bad self last week and promptly phoned my dear friend Lauren at Raw Beauty. The soonest I could get in was this week - tomorrow, in fact. Thursday cannot come soon enough!

However, I'm always conflicted about haircuts. I'm in the process of trying to grow my hair out, which means I tend to stave off even a trim for as long as possible. I had been getting my bangs trimmed in between cuts, but missed out on that this time around (you know, being in Spain and all...)

Here is some photographic evidence to show you just how hairy (ha!) it's gotten! (don't worry, the shot is mostly of the bangs...I won't scar you with a macro shot of the split ends upon split ends).