Thursday, May 31, 2007

Foodies in distress

I have it in good authority that Cold Lake would be a substantially better place to live if you could just get a half-decent falafel within a 100 km radius of here.

(Which you can't.)

Or, you know, I'd even settle for any meal from a Cold Lake restaurant that doesn't include a 8 oz. steak bleeding onto its plate with a healthy side of oil riggers or military men staring at me.

I'd also like a place in town that opens at 8 a.m. that actually serves a decent coffee. Tim Horton's makes me want to painfully burn my tongue with my inital sip of their coffee--just so that I won't have to taste the rest.

And while we're at it, hi, I'm vegetarian. Can you please start serving some veggie burgers around here? A potato with a side of steamed but previously-frozen vegetables does not constitute a vegetarian meal. Neither does an iceberg lettuce salad with some celery on top. If I wanted to eat something that disgusting, I'd throw some garden dirt into my water bottle and make sure some neon-green aphids made it into the mix.

And even that would probably have more nurtitional content that an iceberg lettuce salad.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Love-children, cigarillos and more interns than you can count.

The midway point between Cold Lake and Edmonton is a little town called Smoky Lake. It's the kind of place that prides itself upon being the pumpkin capital of Alberta. And in all technicalities, it's actually the two-third point (or one-third, depending on which direction you're driving) between Cold Lake and Edmonton. Nonetheless, it's nearly impossible to stop for gas in Smoky without running into a fellow Cold Laker.

On Friday, the Cold Laker I ran into was my old school chum Justin. I haven't seen him in literally years (although he's apparently seen me driving around Cold Lake in the last month) but that didn't stop me from immediatly launching into a rant.

"I need to tell you something," I said, unwrapping the ice cream cone in my hand. "Today's my birthday and for some reason I really wanted to smoke a birthday cigarillo. But I have no idea how to smoke and I was afraid that I was going to light myself on fire. So, instead, I had to settle for this birthday ice cream cone. It's kind of upsetting."

Justin looked in bemusement at me and he reached into his car. He pulled out two mini-cigars and a blue lighter. "Happy birthday," he said, putting them in my hand.

And then I had both a birthday ice cream AND a mini-cigar. I was pretty much the happiest birthday girl ever! (I didn't smoke it, though. The fear of lighting myself on fire was too intense. That, and I didn't like the idea of having a smoky car.)

But my day got even better. Alex Dodd made me stuffed red peppers and roasted aspargus for dinner, with chai-flavoured vegan muffins for dessert.

And then he let me play Scrabble with him. Which I won, of course. (Although he gets bonus points for spelling the best word of the game: AGAVE.)

And then he tried to smother me because I'm a poor winner. (And a poor loser, for that matter, which is the reason why I like to win.)

On Saturday, we found a patio and Alex got his olive fix for the day. (Like Alex's custom-made wallet? My co-worker and friend Jordy made it for him. She also made me a bag, which is pretty much my new favourite thing ever and matches everything I own. You can check out her designs here.)

That night, we went to Chloe's house for the Girl House* kegger. Amanda and Steve were still thoroughly enjoying the sweet wrist caressing move I had taught them three weeks earlier. They weren't even prepared for the latest form of affection I had discovered: caterpillar kissing.

Earlier in the day, curiousity about kissing prompted some solid research time on wikipedia. (Kissing has always seemed kind of absurd to me. I mean, who decided to stick their lips together in the first place? I had to find out!) I read all about butterfly kissing, French kissing and Eskimo kissing. But it was the caterpillar kissing that caught my attention.

Chloe let me demonstrate to the group exactly how caterpillar kissing works: you rub your eyebrow against your partner's eyebrow. (Check out the guy in the background leaning in to check out the intense caterpillar action!)

Chris was not impressed with the moves I put on his girlfriend. Chloe could hardly take her hands off me afterwards.

It's time to introduce you to someone. His name is Paul (pictured on the left). Paul was standing in the corner talking to Chris and I couldn't stop staring at him because he looked so familiar. And then it hit me.

"Alex," I said, leaning in quietly. "Doesn't that guy look kind of like Dan?"

Alex started laughing. "That's funny, because I was just thinking he looks a lot like David Berry. [pictured here on the right of Paul] But yah, he does look kind of like Dan."

[Just for reference, this is Dan in a photo that I quite unceremoniously stole from Facebook.]

"If David Berry and Dan Grey had a secret love child, I'm pretty sure he would look exactly like that guy. Let's call him 'Dan Berry.'"

And then, because I'm a creep, I told Paul that we had decided to name him Dan Berry and why. He quickly left the room.

There were a surplus of Ontariotonianons at the party. I had invited the interns from the Edmonton Journal, including Jen (second from the right), my editor at McClung's.

And then before we knew it, the Ontariontonians were teaching the Albertans a new drinking game: Flip Cup. Alex Dodd, resident Ontarion, is picture here demonstrating proper Flip Cup technique to Amanda's brother.

Perfect form. At first I was skeptical, because I don't believe in drinking games where no one has the possibility of getting hurt. But Flip Cup won my heart. (However, to all of your who keep calling the drinking card game "Kings"--the proper name of the game is Sociables. But then again, in Australia it's called "Ring of Fire" and there are variations on it. But it's just so much fun to yell out "SOCIABLES!" everytime the Sociables card gets pulled.)

, Basically, Flip Cup is like a relay race with two teams consisting of four people each. The first person has to chug beer and then flip their cup upside down on the table. Once they successfully do this, the next person in their team can go. Whichever team finishes first obviously wins.

The team on the left (featured here high-fiving with all their cups successfully upside down, while the opposing team's final cup balances precariously on its edge in the wrong direction) were unbeatable. But they had more Ontario folk on their side.

And now, it's time for some pictures of me with people:


James! (I met James when I went to the U of A and we used to have lunch together on Fridays. I haven't seen him since.)

Alex Dodd! (And some guy's eyeball!)


Josh! (Check out D-Dodd in the background eyeing me down for being a promiscuous caterpillar kisser.)

Redeeming myself.

Kim and her beau.

Girl House residents and keg-thrower extrodinaires: Kim, Costume-Change Chloe and Amanda.

Thanks for the awesome time ladies!

On Sunday, I got part one of my birthday gift from Alex: a pedicure for two. He may have sold me on Flip Cup, but Alex was definitely won over by the pedicure.

(Nobody bothered guessing what part two of my gift was, yet. So I'm not telling until next Monday.)


*Seriously, people: if you have two or more roomates, it's necessary to name your dwelling in the most appropriate fashion possible. It prevents people from saying, "I'm going to Amanda, Kim, Chloe, Natalie and Jenny's house." Because what if you are friends with more than one person in the house? Well, obviously you don't want to pick favourites. Solution: plantation-style names for homes, a la China, 518, Homewood, Brunswick and Girl House.

Facebook is good for something? Weird.

This seriously changes everything.

(Did anyone else ever name the characters after their sixth grade nemeses and then proceed to kill each of their family members off? Oh, I'm the only one? Yah, I was kind of a messed up 11-year-old. I blame it on spending a lot of time with an older brother who made grappling hooks for my Barbies.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I got the best birthday present from Alex Dodd. If you'r dying of curiousity, here's some hints:

-it's cleverly named, referring to both its function and a grammatical use
-three letters: G.O.B.
-I am in love with it
-they are obscenely expensive
-they are commonly mocked
-there are safety precautions necessary
-the dream I had about flying last night was perhaps prompted by excitement and anticipation about the gift

The dream gift will be revealed on Monday when I return to Cold Lake.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kissing Cousins: It's normal, right?

After waiting two weeks for some excitement to go down in this neck of the woods, the opportunity was finally here--May Long Weekend. The whole family was headed down the lake for the weekend, with some serious plans in order: a polar-bear dip in the lake, a game of capture the flag and some intense rollerblading and bicycling action.

There was just one problem. On Saturday morning, it wasn't just raining. . .it was snowing. (Well, just a little bit. But still! Enough that you knew that it was colder out than it should be on a long weekend.)

We needed to make the best of the day and there was only one solution. We loaded up the car with two cousins in the front seat, one cousin in the back seat and two boyfriends in tow. A road trip was in order.

To Saskatchewan, obviously. (Or should I say. . .naturally?)

After buying some fudge and moccassins at McClelland's General Store in Pierceland, we drove a little further down the road towards Goodsoil and hung out with the giant metal sculptures.

(I loved both these pictures so much that I had to include both of them.)

Saskatchewan's a friendly place. We made some lifelong friends there, like this creepy blue-eyed dog.

And this dead fish. Our time across the border was done. It was time to head back to Alberta.

We got back just in time to get a late lunch and head down to the bowling alley for a couple of games.

Alex Dodd worked on his game face while we waited for the rest of the family to show up.

Alex Dodd won for individual bowlers, but our collective team won both games. I was so busy trying to help out the team that I got a bowling injury. (I wasn't the only casuality. The next day, Katherine was complaining the her wrist was particularly sore. These are the lengths we're willing to go through to win.)

Okay, enough with the heart-warming family stuff. There may have been beer bongs of sorts involved in the weekend, too. And a game of "I Never," in which a number of unsavoury but nonetheless hilarious things about Katherine and I were quickly revealed.

Alex Dodd was pleased to go into the liquor store and meet Kandice. Before I even really had the chance to introduce him, she said, "I know. It's Alex Dodd!"

Andy (K-Flo's boyfriend) was the instigator of many beer bongs and apparently a tequila shot or two. Allegedly, they were requisite "bonding" activities for the boyfriends. (It's too bad they couldn't bond with each other later in the night over their mutual love of the friendly toliet seat head-rest.)

D-Dawg saw it coming all along.

At the bar, I ran into a few trouble makers who were brave enough to come out during Maple Flag. Tori and Kate were there. "Do you want to meet my boyfriend?" I asked Kate. "Yes!" she said enthusiastically.

"Kate, this is. . ." I was immediatly interrupted. "It's the Alex Dodd!" she finished for me. Apparently Alex Dodd is something of a legend around these parts.

I also ran into Chantel and Kara at the bar.

The girls and some random Maple Flagger.

I was proud of Alex Dodd for attempting to two-step, and for being patient as Flaggers pawed my ass, even when he was clearly holding my hand. The flask we filled with gin may or may not have been a factor, though.

The next day, it took a while to get going, but Alex's hangover wasn't stopping us. We picked up one of the cousins and drove out to the provincial park to work on our mad rock skipping skills.

We're pretty much professionals, now.

Alex Dodd chilled with his new friend, the unnamed lady bug. (Alex found the lady bug out at the lake house and brought it with us on the 10 minute drive out to the park. Yet, over an hour later, his new friend still hadn't left his side. They finally parted ways just before we left the park. It was a beautiful, tender moment that brought a tear to my eye. I'm sure the ladybug is enjoying its new home.)

Snow? Saskatchewan? Dead Fish? Hangovers? Hell, my family may be jamtarts at heart, but there's nothing stopping us on a long weekend.

(And, if you want a further conclusion to the story, on Sunday night we built a campfire, roasted some s'mores and even got in a game of flashlight tag with the Kasper kids. Also, we ate some mangos and birthday cake. And played Scattegories, bocchi ball and cribbage. Despite the snow, it was a pretty solid weekend.)