Monday, July 16, 2007

Stampede Breakfasts!

Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Local Time: Monday, July 16, 2007

Why did no one tell me about the free breakfasts? All those years of living in Vancouver, with no free breakfasts, wasted.

Stampede goes for about 10 days here in Calgary. It started a little over a week ago. My company gave a Stampede breakfast. Free food. That was sweet. Then long time residents of Calgary broke the news.

There would be free breakfasts during the whole Stampede! Nice.

So, I had free breakfast at Chinook Mall, at Val's mom's church, at the Coop in Southland and a final one at the hotel a couple blocks from work.

All the breakfasts had pancakes and syrup. They also had sausages, bacon, baked beans, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, at different breakfasts.

It was great. Looking forward to next year.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Lilac Festival

Location: 4th St. SW, Calgary, AB, Canada
Local Time: Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Lilac Festival is a yearly event, in late May. This is my first year here in Calgary, so of course I've never been before.

I thought it was great.

There was piles of food (though I didn't actually eat anything), booths for shirts, jewelry, henna tattoos and lots of other stuff.

My favorite was the performances. I saw at least 3 different belly dance shows,

2 salsa dancing performances, a magic show (which was after the lion dance that I missed),

singers and musicians and capoeira.

Cricket in Riley Park

Location: Riley Park, 8th Ave NW, 12th St. NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Local Time: Saturday afternoon, May 27, 2007

So, when I was in Merritt about a week ago, I was talking to a fellow from Calgary who said he had heard that there was often people practicing poi and fire spinning in Riley Park, evenings and weekends.

He hadn't been there yet, due to weather difficulties, but he'd heard about this from other people.

I thought I'd swing by and take a look. I didn't find any poi, so I'll have to try again for that. I did find a couple of cricket fields. Unbelievable. People in Canada play cricket? I had no idea. I had never seen cricket until I was in Nepal in 2005.

CBBAG in Calgary

Location: NW of Calgary
Local Time: Friday, May 25, 2007

For those of you not in the know, CBBAG is the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, a group dedicated to the bookarts. I did not belong to the Vancouver chapter, however I had weekly binding lessons with Terry Rutherford, so she kept me up to date on what was happening. Here in Calgary, I thought I'd try to get in contact with the local scene.

There were bookbinders, professional and hobbyist, papermakers, paste papermakers and other connected arts, I'm sure. A fun group. On Friday, it was a BBQ hosted at Robert and Jamie's house. Robert and Jamie run Octavia Press out of their basement, as well as the Illuminata Bookstore.

The Illuminata Bookstore in particular seems like it would be worth keeping an eye on. They host a variety of events in the store, music and meetings for groups and so forth.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Crux

Location: Barlow Trail and 16th Ave NE, Calgary, AB, Canada
Local Time: Noon, Sunday, March 18, 2007

Danny and I went bouldering at the Crux. We were bouldering at the Stronghold last week. The Stronghold is much cheaper for bouldering. The Crux has the same price for bouldering as for climbing.

The bouldering was good at both places. We were there for about 4 hours at the Crux. We met a guy named Al and worked on an overhang problem. Danny almost got it done, but was tired by the time he had it worked out. I lack necessary strength. It's a work in progress.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Calgary Public Library

Location: Central Branch, Calgary Public Library, Calgary, AB, Canada
Local Time: Saturday, March 10, 2007

I think the Calgary Public Library is such an extra-ordinary place, I just want to comment on it.

So far I have only been to the Central Branch so far, so my observations can not be considered universal.

The librarians as so friendly, and helpful. I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia before coming here. The librarians there really manage to make you feel that you are only permitted in the building at their sufferance. Here, they like to help you, they take an interest. It's pretty extra-ordinary.

Of course they are also friendly people, but I'm beginning to realize that is just Calgary. The people here are so darn friendly.

The central branch is stocked with 6 glorious floors of fabulous, wondrous books. There is a small DVD section, but a significant music section. I'm starting to work my way through the classical guitar section. First Andres Segovia, not John Williams.

When you reserve a book, they tell you of it's arrival in the requested pickup branch, then you go there and all the reserves are on a shelf off to the side near the checkout counter. You can find your name and pickup your book. Much better than going up to a counter, waiting in line, then dealing with someone who looks at you like you really shouldn't be wasting their time.

My only complaint so far is they close at 5 on Friday night. 9 would be much nicer. However, since downtown Calgary only has 4-5 people in it, total, after 8pm, I can understand why they wouldn't have late hours.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Straw Bale House Building

Location: Near Sundry, Alberta, Canada
Local Time: Sunday, March 4, 2007

Sundry is a little far afield for this blog, but it was an interesting day.

There is a company here in Alberta, Living Design Systems, which builds houses out of straw bales. I went out with my buddy Wayne to see a building going up. We spent the day out there, looking around seeing how things worked and helping install rafters.

Straw bales are cheap building material, locally produced (less transport costs and energy consumption to receive them) as well as good insulation. The final product is coated in stucco, so it does not look like you live in a haystack, it looks like you live in a cement building, without the cold cement feeling.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Calgary Philharmonic

Location: Epcor Center, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Local Time: Thursday Evening, March 1, 2007

Val and I went out for dinner at a recommended restaurant, The Blue House Cafe, 19th St. NW. Not impressed. The ambiance and decor were lovely, the service was good, but the food was very mediocre.

After that we went to see the King Arthur presentation by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. That was quite nice. A two and a half hour performance. We arrived a few minutes late but were able to seat ourselves quietly as there were many extra seats at the back.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Martial Arts In Calgary

Location: Chinese Cultural Center, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Local Time: Monday, February 27, 2007 - 6:30pm

The Chinese Cultural Center in Calgary hosts a variety of martial arts classes, as well as Chinese language classes and dancing classes (not Chinese dancing though). Have a look at their site for full details.

I went to try the Wing Chun class. I've long been curious about Wing Chun because of the Chi Sao practice that is part of the training. Since this is about Calgary, I won't say anything more about Wing Chun, there are plenty of resources available for that. Even better, find a teacher and try it yourself.

I was able to sign up for the class over the phone, which was convenient. The class itself was held in a 3rd floor meeting room with a wooden floor, a nice workout space for the 6 people and 1 instructor who attended class.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Spanish Meetup

Location: Second Cup Center Street, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Local Time: Noon, February 25, 2007

Today I went to meet with a group of Spanish speakers/learners here in Calgary, the Spanish Meetup group. It was my first time to meet the group.

A friend of mine somehow stumbled on the Meetup website and sent a link for a different group to me, from there I looked around, motivated solely by curiousity. When I stumbled upon the Spanish meetup group, I thought that looked like a good time. And it was.

The group was great. Enthusiastic, fun people all around. A variety of levels (so if you are reading this and considering coming, don't be shy). Highly recommended.

The Broken Plate

Location: 302 10 Street NW, Calgary, AB, Canada
Local Time: Noon, Saturday, February 25, 2007

I've in Calgary for a couple of weeks now and today was my first opportunity to meet with Tammy, a friend I first met over a year ago in Nangi, Nepal.

We went for lunch at a Greek restaurant called The Broken Plate (302 10 Street NW). We started with a sampler plate of dips, on which I recognized humus, but there were 5 others as well, and really good pita bread to dip. I had a baized lamb shank. It was quite nice.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

An Evening of Food and Drink

Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Local Time: Friday Evening, February 23, 2007

I met my friend Wayne for a workout at the YMCA, then we went out for pizza at a place called the Urban Baker, on Edmonton Trail.

The two lovely young women who were working there graciously accommodated us and turned out 3 nice wood fired pizzas, even though it was about 10 minutes before closing time.

The pizzas were really tasty. Thin crust, but not crispy. One with feta cheese and spinach, one with sausage and one with chicken.

Next, down to Kenzington and 10 St. area for tea at a little tea place called Oolong. There you will find a wall of teas to choose from, all loose leaf in carefully labeled glass jars, available for sniffing. Roam the wall of infusions, roobios, white tea, black tea and green tea and make a selection.

Wine Fest Calgary

Location: SAIT Campus, Calgary, AB, Canada
Local Time: February 16, 2007 - Evening

I'm not by nature much of an alcohol drinker, but this looked like something interesting to try, simply out of curiosity.

Winefest, Calgary Wine Fest seems to be a yearly event. Val and I were able to get tickets for Saturday evening.

Never having been to a wine tasting, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I suppose I had some vague idea of people sipping wine from little paper cups and the spitting it out (which seems to be something people do.) Nearly everything I know about wine comes from the Wine For Newbies podcast, so I am not at all what might be termed a wine connoisseur.

Well, we navigated our way through the coat check, and dropped off our backpacks. Strangely, we seemed to be the only people with backpacks. At the main entrance to the wine tasting room, our tickets were checked and we were given wine glasses that we got to keep. Well, I assume we were allowed to keep them. All I really know is no one chased us down later as we made our way out to the C-Train.

Once inside, I noticed right away, there was no spitting. Val and I had eaten dinner just before coming, not wanting to drink a lot of wine on empty stomachs. We really shouldn't have eaten so much as there was lots of cheese available to tasting, as well as wine. Now, I may be an indifferent wine drinker, but I am a cheese aficionado. However, I was stuffed from dinner, so really wasn't into eating at that time.

We made our way over to the Wolfblass table, because I knew the name, and had given away a few bottles of their chiraz over the years as gifts, but had never actually drank the stuff.

"Some of the cab?" the girl asked.

Do I already look like I need a ride home? Oh, right. Cab for Cabernet Sauvignon.

It should be obvious to everyone by now I'm really not qualified to comment on the wines I tasted, so I won't.

We tried:

  • Delicato Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay

  • Elephant on A Tightrope Chardonnay and Sabernet Sauvignon

  • Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages and Brouilly

  • Settesoli MandraRossa Chardonnay

  • Trivento Cabernet Malbec

  • Vignoble Barron Chateau Meric Red and Chateau Chante l'Oiseau

  • Yellow Tail Semillion Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz

We also tried Field Stone Fruit Wines Raspberry, Strawberry, Wild Black Cherry and Bumbleberry, which are fruit wines from a local producer located near Calgary. We didn't try Saskatoon Berry, but the others were my favorite of the evening. I may have flopped as a wine connoisseur.

All in all, a good evening.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Motorcycle Show

Local Time: Saturday, January 6, 2007

Well, we went to the motorcycle show to drool over the new flashy bikes that are available to people with too much money.

Want to see?

They have this show every year in Vancouver, Calgary , Edmonton and Toronto. They trot out the newest bikes, local dealers show up, sometimes there are deals on riding gear.

I always go every year and look for any local motorcycle riding instructors who have advanced rider courses. Since I am new to Calgary, I was particularly interested this year.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Search For A Yogurt Maker

Date: January 2, 2007

Well, I just moved to Calgary, and I thought I'd make some notes on the things I see. Well, actually, I found out when I was travelling last year that I just like having a blog, so here it goes.

I've been trying to find a yogurt maker. Seemed like a fairly straight forward proposition to me. The Bay doesn't have them, Zellars, Community Foods, Williams-Sonoma, London Drugs, Home Outfitters. However, someone at Home Outfitters mentioned a place called the Complete Cook. I found a phone number on the web, and Val and I made a trip down to Anderson C-Train station, which is close to where the lady on the phone said they were located.

They did have one, but it was of the variety with several different cups. I'd rather get one with a single bowl, so the search continues.

However, since we were in the area, we dropped in on Springbank Cheese. Wow, nice place. Lots of cheese. I like cheese.

After that, late lunch at an Italian place called Chianti. I had the Fetuccini Supremo. Wow, a cream sauce with scallops and smoked salmon. That's great.