Christmas – 2006

This year the boys decided that we should do something different for Christmas, so they planned a ski trip for after Christmas and arranged for us to have Christmas with my nephew Richard and his wife, Lauren. Aaron drove to Gull Lake after work on Friday, the 22nd, and then we travelled to Calgary on the 23rd. We sort of bummed around on the 24th, doing a little shopping at MEC (just two blocks away from Steven’s apartment). Then on the 25th, we drove to the north end of Calgary to have supper with Richard and Lauren.

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Lauren prepares the
Yorkshire puddings
The feast
Irene & Aaron
Richard & Steven
ponder the intricacies
of the fondue pot

In the 26th, we drove to Banff. Not too much has changed in Banff in the last few years, except that skiing has become bizarrely expensive. It’s still a Mecca for Aussies, who comprise 90% of the workers at the ski hills and at least 50% of the service industry workers (waiters, …) in the town itself. We skied on the 27th and 28th. We had one day of fresh snow and poor visibility and one day or gorgeous, clear weather. The crowds were quite bad, but we were skiing Louise, so at least we could go to the back side and avoid most of the insanity.

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Supper in Banff Steven & Aaron
on the hill
the Bow Valley
From Larch

After two days on the hill, our legs were tired enough, so we travelled back to Calgary on the 29th and back to Gull Lake on the 30th.

There’s a Bluebird on My Windowsill

Well, it’s a blue jay, actually. And it’s on the deck, but that’s quibbling. This is quite a rarity in these here parts. Throughout the year, we can expect to see dozens of house finches and millions of sparrows. In summer we have plenty of goldfinches gobbling up the nyger seed budget. Pine Siskins are occasional visitors throughout the year. On exceptionally cold winters, the redpolls come this far south, and recently chickadees have become more common. But this is the first year for consistent sightings of blue jays. Last year, Irene saw one once or twice, but they have been here consistently throughout the summer, fall, and early winter.

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Peanuts! I love peanuts

Having had very little experience with blue jays in the past, we were surprised by a couple of things:

  • Their size: the adults are as big as a magpie (without the tail)
  • The shyness: having had considerable exposure to whiskeyjacks (gray jays) and Stellar’s jays in the past, I was surprised at how skittish blue jays were. They tend to vamoose at the slightest sign of human presence. The pictures above were taken through the dining room and kitchen windows.
  • Their voice: well, I wasn’t actually surprised as much as disappointed. Their call is every bit as melodic (gronnkkk!) as a stellar’s jay.