Oh Christmas Tree

Well, the weather outside might be frightful…it is yet another winter storm and it isn’t even officially winter yet until December 21st. Yet I am home warm and cozy in my new apartment making use of some much needed time to prepare for the fast approaching holiday. As the snow falls outside it is hard to believe that only a year ago I was eagerly preparing to spend Christmas in Tanzania and exotic island of Zanzibar. What a difference a year makes. 

Let’s just say that the Christmas trees that I experienced last year weren’t quite what I am use to 

Santa and the tree at the Maru Maru Hotel, Stonetown, Zanzibar

Santa and the tree at the Maru Maru Hotel, Stonetown, Zanzibar

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Tropical Christmas tree

Tropical Christmas tree

 

Thanks to the freezing cold (wind chill temperature have been hovering between minus 15 to minus 26 degrees) all week and the snow on the ground it is easy to embrace a traditional Christmas unlike my exotic adventure last year. Earlier this week I made a visit to the Christmas tree lot to pick up the traditional evergreen tree that I had purchased a few weeks ago. There is nothing like the gorgeous smell of a true evergreen tree standing tall adorned with tinkling lights to put you in the mood. 

So off I set to bring my tree home. In doing so I was reminded that bringing home the Christmas often is an adventure for me. When I was younger my family would hike back to the woodlot on our farm property, sometimes through deep snow to cut down our own tree. One Christmas while my parents were temporarily living in Goose Bay, Labrador the land of snow and polar bears we hiked through massive snow drifts to chop down a rather scrawny tree only to have a beautiful one blow off the back of a truck at our feet when we returned to the side of ride hauling our Charlie Brown tree. Needless to say we grabbed the beautiful tree stuffed into our car and quickly made our get away.

 

Just an example of my Christmas tree adventures. This year was certainly no different. In case you had any doubt bringing home a Christmas tree is now small feat and certainly a job for two people. But this independent Miss decided to tackle the feat alone! Where are Buche and Lawrence when I need them? 

Actually I had a plan….don’t I always? 

I was simply going to bring the tree home and unload it in the heated parking garage of my apartment building. From there I could get the able assistance of the resident property manager to wrestle it to my third floor apartment. The pick up of the tree went with out a hitch except that I didn’t have any cord to tie down my car trunk lid as I drove making my less than 3 km drive the slowest of my life to prevent the tree from flying out of the back of my car unto a poor unsuspecting victim. Luckily the numerous potholes and rounding corners didn’t dislodge my precious cargo and we arrived safe and sound in my underground parking garage. 

A trunkful of tree

A trunkful of tree

 Like all good ideas, once I executing it I always seem to come up with another one. 

As I had to take the tree out of my trunk before I could back into my parking spot, I thought why don’t I try to get the tree up to my apartment without waiting for someone else to do. Yes, I know, a brilliant thought. In my defense, there were accessories to the crime. One of the great things about my building is it comes complete with lots of extras that make your life so much easier including moving dollies and shopping carts for transporting heavy loads from the parking garage to the elevator and into your apartment. 

So a brilliant idea was formed when my eye spied a large shopping cart just waiting for a load…..

Just as I was beginning to haul the tree out of my car trunk my neighbors entered the parking garage on their way out. Let me first say how wonderful my neighbors are here. They are warm, welcoming and it seems indulgent of crazy independent women who think that they can tackle anything. And thanks to their able assistance between the three of us soon the seven foot tree was balanced on top of the said shopping cart just waiting for it’s ride. 

The next hurdle was navigating the said seven foot tree balanced on a shopping cart through two sets of heavy doors into the very tiny space where the elevator waited. Once again thanks to additional assistance from another set of upstairs neighbors I made it through that hurdle. A third set of helping hands held the elevator door open long enough for me to roll my rather cumbersome load onto the elevator for the trip to the third floor. 

Exiting the elevator was a piece a cake and easily executed all by myself

Proof of my tree's journey

Proof of my tree’s journey

 

Almost home!

Almost home!

Victory was in sight as home was only a very short distance away down the hall and through one more heavy door into my apartment. Putting my back into it , the tree and I were soon home at last. With an even more cunning plan. 

Once we were safely ensconced in the apartment and I had removed my winter coat and boots it was time to stand the tree up. Thinking on my feet I grabbed the tree stand and positioned it on the base of the tree screwing the tree stand to the trunk. When I was sure that the tree stand was not only tightly secured to the base of the trunk but that it was reasonably straight the next challenge was getting the seven foot tree now on a cumbersome tree stand off the shopping cart and upright in my living room. 

Ha, you doubt my abilities I am sure! I may only be just over 5 feet tall but I pack the determination of a 6 foot tall person into my body. So with some careful consideration of physics (never one of my best subjects in school) and I was ready to leverage the tree off of the shopping cart and upright. Okay, I will be honest, it took two tries to get the blasted tree off the cart. That sucker was a little heavier than I realized. However, by holding the shopping cart still with one of my feet while simultaneously tipping the end of the cart while also simultaneously tilting the tree into an upright position…this is definitely where an extra pair of hands would have been useful…I defied the odds. 

Victory!!!!

Victory!!!!

 Other than a few branches that didn’t survive the arm wrestle with my determination I had a beautiful Christmas tree stand tall and strong. And the best part was the intoxicating smell of evergreen wafting over me. It is truly one of my favorite scents in the world. 

With a few twinkling lights I now have a head start on the Christmas spirit

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

And yet another adventure under my belt just proving that my adventures didn’t end in Africa :) 

 

Categories: Africa, Canada | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Baby it is snowy outside!

The first of many winter storms yet to come!

The view from my balcony of the first of many winter storms yet to come!

The day started with the continuation of a major rain and wind storm that has been sweeping through our area. My walk to work this morning was in wind and rain, but my walk home today was in the middle of our first official winter storm in PEI.

While the very cute hat that I wore to work adequately protected my hair from being dripping wet this morning, it wasn’t up to the job of providing any warmth at all during my trudge home through snow covered streets with winds gusting to 100 km per hour and the icy cold snow blowing in my ears and eyes. Luckily there was zero traffic so I wasn’t in danger of being run over by a vehicle as the police have asked everyone to stay off of the roads as driving is too dangerous.

It is only the 4th of December and already this is the third snowfall that we have experienced so far this winter. I can only imagine what is in store for the coming months. All I can say is that Jetske has been reporting to me that temperatures have been soaring in Gaborone into the 40s while we have been experiencing windchill levels of -15 to -18 degrees on a regular basis. And now the snow storms have started in earnest knocking out power and closing offices, schools and other essential services.

I would happily take the 40 degree African heat (even with the five days without water) that Botswana offers over a winter storm Maritime style. Jetske, do you want to trade homes?

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A Cheryl Moment

First of all I have to acknowledge that I am truly back in the land of snow and ice. This week I have been walking to work in fluttering snow flurries, bone chilling winds (-6 degrees) and icy sidewalks. Oh how I long for the warmth and sunshine of Africa. Let’s just say that neither my body or psyche are adjusting well to cold Canadian weather.

Now on to my Cheryl moment of the day….while I may be back at work with the federal government of Canada taking on serious policy work that will make a difference in lives, I remain the typical Cheryl disaster just waiting to happen.

Today, I took a couple of hours out of my incredibly busy work schedule to accompany my dad to a medical appointment. My adventure in the doctor’s office proved that you might be able to dress me up but you can’t take me anywhere and I seriously don’t know if my dad will let me accompany him to any more medical appointments.

While I looked the part of a serious professional caring daughter, I am really nothing but a complete doofus :)

After patiently waiting in the outer waiting room we were escorted into the inner exam rooms and I quietly waited while the very professional healthcare worker did her thing and properly recorded all of dad’s very important vitals. Once she exited and we were waiting for the doctor I grew a little tired of remaining standing. Dad was in the only chair in the exam room so my options were to either hop up on the examination table (thank heavens it was minus stirrups) or the little round stool that the doctor sits on.

Well, like a good policy analyst, I seriously weighed my options and chose to avail myself of the doctor’s stool until he entered the room and required it. Did I happen to mention that this stool was on very well oiled wheels? Yes, you can only imagine as I backed up to sit down on it, the stool decided to do its own thing and rolled half way across the room without me.

Picture this me with my professionally dressed bum more than half down to the ground hovering in a position that could only resemble break dancing….I guess with my departure from Africa and no longer being able to participate in weekly dancing a girl has to do what she can. While the stool rolled, I gyrated and somehow managed to prevent my tailbone from making a sudden and painful connection to the very hard floor.

Fortunately both the stool and me were restored to respectful positions before the doctor entered the room saving me from having to seek my own medical attention for what would have been an incredibly sore tailbone had I made impact.

Thankfully it provided a moment of levity for my dad which fortunately wasn’t witnessed by anyone else and I returned to work with no one any wiser to my rolling debacle in the doctor’s office.

Categories: Africa, Canada, Humor | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Happy Halloween!

It is my favorite day of the year and let me tell you that so far I have enjoyed it to the max!

A beautiful Miss Piggy

A beautiful Miss Piggy

 

Yes, I went to work dress as Miss Piggy and spent the entire day in costume through meetings, frantic typing and even lunch. I was also joined by Big Bird and the Cookie Monster

The Muppets visit the Assistant Deputy Minister's office

The Muppets visit the Assistant Deputy Minister’s office

Although I put in a full day’s work in costume we just had to find some time to go visiting….which included brief stops in our Department’s Senior Managers’ office. My Director couldn’t keep a straight face when she had to sit next to me in her office and at meetings. And Big Bird and I took our show on the road heading out on the streets and into the Downtown Mall in Charlottetown. I just wish that I had a dollar for every picture that we stopped to pose for. All in all it was a wonderful day including an annual  potluck luncheon at work that brought out all kinds but which was rather tricky for me to eat due to my nose job.

Halloween Spirit

Halloween Spirit

While I was off having some fun or at meetings, my man Herman continued to work on my highly secret and time sensitive file

Herman at work

Herman at work

He even had to assist me with unlocking my secret file cabinet this morning…my nose and eyelashes made it extremely difficult to get the combination right. Good job that I have such a handy man to assist me

Charlottetown-20131031-00073

 

I love a man that can work a lock

I love a man that can work a lock

I am sure that my African friends could not understand my love of Halloween or how much I was missing it last year in Botswana. Perhaps these pictures will give them just a little taste of how bizarre I really am! Today I was in piggy heaven…Kermie, where are you????

Happy Halloween everyone!

 

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Happy Halloween

Although my job is certainly dominating my time these days…welcome to working for a living. I can still find time to prepare for my favorite holiday of the entire year, Halloween.

Last year I didn’t get to celebrate it in Botswana as it is not a culturally acknowledged holiday, so this year I need to make it count. Within my immediate work area I have some friends and colleagues who are equally enamored of this special holiday. For about the past three weeks we have been planning our costumes for the day which includes wearing them to work for the entire day.

I had settled on the idea of Miss Piggy from the Muppets as my alter-ego this year. In support of my costume choice my colleagues are all adopting a Muppet theme. My friend Trevor has agreed to be my Kermie (Kermet the Frog) and rumblings have it that Big Bird and some of the aliens are also making an appearance for the day.

My only hope is that on Thursday while I am wearing my Miss Piggy attire that I am not called upon to brief the Deputy Minister or Minister’s staff of my government department on my current file ;) It would certainly seem rather strange to presenting such a serious briefing wearing a blond wig, pig nose and ears. Actually it might be rather fun. I will post pictures of Miss Piggy and her colleagues so you can see just how seriously we take Halloween.

In the meantime, you can enjoy some of the decorating that I have done in my new apartment

Charlottetown-20131029-00057

Our work space is even more decorated but my favorite Halloween accessory is Herman, my longest relationship ever. Unfortunately Herman is getting a little older and like most middle aged men is now experiencing a slow leak. However he is still my constant Halloween companion and is currently sitting guard in my work station protecting my secret file cabinet.

IMG-20131029-00055

Yes, I know he is a little skeletal…next year I promise to bring him out of the closet earlier and put some meat on his bones.

 

 

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Cheryl’s not in Africa anymore!

This morning was a very rude reminder that I am no longer living the good life in the desert of Botswana.

I woke up to an outside temperature of -5 degrees. Brrrr is all that I can say.

So as I was getting dressed for the walk to work (it is only two blocks) and the day, instead of reaching for my usual wardrobe of dresses or skirts, only dress pants would do thanks to the below freezing temperatures. My short walk to work was brisk but lovely and I arrived with frozen hands as I forgot to grab a pair of gloves to wear.

Oh the joys of Canadian weather. While fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year with it’s sunny days, brightly colored leaves, crisp mornings, the smell of wood fires in the air and who can forget my favorite holiday, Halloween, this year my body and soul are not quite so enthusiastic. I guess you could say that I am truly missing not only my friends and family in Botswana but the sunshine and heat as well. But I am Canadian through and through and unlike my good friend, Buche I don’t need to bundle up too much against the colder temperatures. I just need to adjust my perspective….Jetske, can I meet you in the pool????

 

Categories: Africa, Canada, Humor | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Home at last

Although I left Botswana almost four weeks ago…it is so hard to believe that… this weekend I finally got to settle in to my new home – for now ;)

While I am truly grateful for my kind friend Alexa, who took in this homeless waif while I navigated the drama filled environment of apartment/condo rental, I am delighted to be able to stop living out of a suitcase and access my warmer Canadian clothing. And to put the drama of dealing with real estate agents behind me.

My new home is not the original place that I had planned on renting….let’s just say that the motto “buyer beware” is so appropriate as you should never sign on the dot lined line until you can visually inspect a place. Thankfully, I was smart enough not to fall for the sales pitch and as a result am now happily ensconced in an apartment fit for an African Princess.

As I was lying in bed last night after a whirlwind weekend of moving and unpacking (barely scratching that surface) I realized that my new bedroom which comes complete with a huge walk-in (through) closet and en-suite master bathroom with both a walk-in shower and deep soaker tub was in fact larger than my entire Bird Cottage at Peter’s Place in Gaborone. It just doesn’t come with a housekeeper and laundry services but I do have underground parking and lots of other amenities.

My bedroom

My bedroom

While the recent renovations at Bird Cottage in Gaborone left me with a substantially larger closet in which my ever expanding wardrobe had to be stuffed, my new walk in closet is more than adequate to accommodate both my African wardrobe and all 4 seasons of my Canadian wardrobes. It is every woman’s dream let me tell you!

Walk in heaven

 

IMG_1792

So now that I have some place to call home I can promise more regular postings again. To bad I can’t just find someone to unpack for me, then I would truly be a happy African Princess living in downtown Charlottetown, PEI.

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Africa, Canada, Humor | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Fun in the City

Yesterday here in Prince Edward Island it was Farm Day in the City.

This is a large street market which takes places as part of the month long Fall Flavours Festival. It is a celebration of our province’s rural roots. It was a spectacular sunny warm fall day, so of course I took to the streets with some friends to browse the stalls, buy some farm fresh produce, fresh bouquets of flowers and one very special item which is a surprise.

During our browsing we came across Sir John A MacDonald, the founding Father of Canada’s Confederation dressed in his farmer attire happily participating in the day’s events.

Farmer John A

Farmer John A

But my favorite find at the market were special pink pumpkins. This year as a special fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness, local producers are painting locally grown pumpkins pink. Guess who couldn’t resist purchasing one…thankfully my mom was only too happy it give it a home on her front step

Cinderella eat your heart out!

Cinderella eat your heart out!

Now you certainly wouldn’t find one of those in Africa!

 

 

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Potty Training

Everyone keeps asking me if I am experiencing massive culture shock from returning to Canada after a year in Africa. The honest truth is not at all!

I am simply not the type of person who ever has an issue with this. Where ever I go seems to feel like home for me and once I move on to somewhere else, it simply assumes the same feeling of home for me. I guess this is a lucky thing for me as I seem to pack up and migrate to new places so often during the course of my life.

However, this week I did make myself laugh. During my first day back to work I eventually was in need of relieving my bladder. As I stood up from my desk I found myself patting my bra to ascertain if I had stored the obligatory stash of Kleenex there as back up in case there was no requisite toilet paper in the necessary…old habits die hard obviously.

As I chuckled to myself that since I am now back in Canada I no longer had to worry about always carrying an emergency stash of toilet paper. I also was deliriously happy thinking as I entered our area restrooms that each and every one of the toilet stalls would not only have toilet paper but would also have a functioning door and working lock! Wow, definitely my idea of heaven.

So I will enjoy the pleasures that a Canadian restroom brings but I will still be secretly longing for the chaos and adventure of African toilets. What can I say, I am a sucker for punishment :)

 

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Home Again

Well this week was certainly a whirlwind of activity.

After putting in an incredibly busy day on Monday, tending to car and apartment acquisitions, settling into my friend Alexa’s house as my temporary accommodations until I can move into my new place and liberate my belongings from storage, it was time to go back to work on Tuesday.

As I already noted in my previous blog, I could not have had a more welcoming reception by my friends and colleagues. While working in public service can be extremely stressful these days, I am incredibly lucky to work with a fantastic crew. The sense of team work, support and fun within my work section is amazing. While our Directorate tends to be one of the busiest in the department with often being tasked to handle urgent crises by the handful, we always conquer the impossible but working together and laughing whenever possible.

This week while sitting in my well decorated cubicle, I had a constant smile on my face as I listened to the familiar banter and good nature ribbing that takes place among our considerable smaller policy team. Although everyone was working under incredibly tight and stressful deadlines there was still time to laugh and affectionately abuse each other over our cubicle walls. I had truly missed the feeling of awesome teamwork and genuine friendship that our policy team is composed of. It actually feels wonderful to back as part of the team.

While I might have temporarily left Lawrence and Buche for greener pastures, I am reunited once again with my other favorite men, Andrew and Trevor. Long before I had Buche and Lawrence, Trevor and Andrew were enduring me on a daily basis. This week I proudly informed them that they had better get use to being blog fodder.

Trevor had promised to give me a week of grace before the torment started, sadly he didn’t make it. Let’s just say that when I first joined this work team four years ago, Trevor who is a lawyer along with a fellow coworker welcomed me by turning my cubicle into a crime scene. For anyone who knows me well, they can attest to the fact that I could not possible rest until I found out the guilty parties. My investigative talents can easily equal CSI when necessary. What has ensured over the subsequent years between Trevor and I has been a constant game of torment and one-up manship.

As for Andrew, he is such a great guy and so easy to torment. I spent a year as a his policy mentor when he was learning the ropes and it is hard to say whether the good that I taught him outweighs the evil. Although I am happy to note that he did turn out to be a great policy analyst! I also conditioned him to bribe me with my favorite york peppermint patties. Which somehow I end up having to pay forward to Trevor as a user fee for using his highly functional three hole punch. Oh, the office politics.

All of this to say, while I certainly miss Africa, Buche and Lawrence to name a few, I am happily back at home in the bosom of friends and colleagues who are equally capable of keeping my life interesting. No doubt the simple fact that I am now sitting in between these two guys will give me lots of opportunities for mayhem and fun.

Categories: Africa, Canada, Humor, Relationships | Leave a comment

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