On a previous Sunday, Ryan and I decided to go to the Farmer’s Market out in St. Norbert. We were so excited—it’s been forever since we’ve been. The last time would have been when we lived on Pembina near the perimeter, so only a short drive or really long walk that we never took.

As we drove there after scouring the house for loose change, our reusable bags in hand, the excitement continued to mount. What kinds of foods would we get to sample? I was hoping for brownies (there’s a vendor that makes hot pepper brownies, and usually makes a regular batch for the kids and us picky eaters.

Ryan was looking forward to some bison or other meat samples. Even the fun-flavoured perogies that are the signature of another vendor crossed my mind.

Our taste buds were ready, my stomach was practically growling. Of course, when we arrived it looked like a ghost town. I swear I saw tumbleweed roll by.

Our plans for the day were shot. Here I was, wearing a lovely strapless sundress in the hopes of evening out some of my tan lines.

I suggested the zoo. (I still wanted some sun.)

Didn’t seem like it was going to happen.

But we kept driving.

Headed down McGillivray, Ryan suggested a cheap movie. I love going to the movies. It has nothing to do with the movie at all, it’s totally about getting movie theatre popcorn. But that’s not the point. We were nearing the theatre and normally I would be all for it, but I couldn’t justify spending a beautiful sunny day inside a cold, dark theatre.

Hmm.

We’re already on McGillivray, why not FortWhyte?

So we did.

Using a lot of our change, we paid for the two of us, me getting my student discount because my student card is technically valid until August, or so I keep telling myself.

It was fantastic. We walked the paths, we crossed the boardwalks. We even found a trail that was slightly flooded. Do you think that stopped us? Of course not! Mind you, when we got to the other side of the trail, we had to crawl over a big horse with a sign that read, “Trail Closed Due To Flooding.” Oops.

The mosquitoes were a nightmare. We did eventually find some spray and kind of went nuts with it. Oh well.

After, we headed to the bison lookout. On the way was the pioneer mud house. There was a chalkboard outside reading, “The Pioneer is IN,” whatever that meant. I figured there would be someone around the house doing pioneer-y things. There wasn’t. What a disappointment.

As I neared the house, however, I thought I heard something inside. Maybe it was my imagination. But now I was curious—what was inside the house? Could we go in? I wanted to, but what if we walked in on someone doing, well, anything really.

I reached my hand to the handle, prepared to push it open. My knuckles grazed the door, barely making an audible sound.

Then footsteps.

Large, creaky footsteps.

The door opened wide to a smiling British man dressed as a pioneer who invited us in and showed us around his home. It was a pleasant place. He had some of his long underwear hanging out to dry after doing the washing (obviously a permanent fixture). If you looked close enough, you would immediately see the human hand sticking out of one of the arm holes. A leftover remnant of Halloweens past that had slowly made its way as part of the exhibit. (As it turns out, the Pioneer is IN every Sunday.)

After our visit, we headed out to the Bison Viewing Mound. We passed some teepees, stopped inside for a few secret kisses and continued on our trek. It was a short walk, just over a km, but when you’re wearing flip-flops, that’s one long walk. We also climbed the Saturn Family Treehouse where Ryan somehow didn’t see the sign that read, “Watch your head” and managed to bang his head on the low ceiling.

We managed to spend several hours just enjoying the natural wildlife reserve right inside our own city. Oddly enough, Ryan has never been there! I don’t know how, but I guess it’s like the number of people who live in Winnipeg who have never been to The Forks.

While walking, I came to the conclusion that I was going to ensure I was not one of those people. I decided I would explore Manitoba on a limited budget doing mostly day trips. So that’s what the purpose of my “Around Manitoba” blogs will be: detailing the fun adventures of affordable places in Manitoba that are big tourist attractions, or at least could be.

 
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Today I discovered that mustard is a weed. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that people eat it since they drink dandelion and fennel teas.

But I also discovered that mustard oil is used to make soap.

That got me thinking. About Alvin and the Chipmunks (the cartoons, not the live action movies—still haven’t seen ‘em (although the chipmunk movie where they are in a race around the world in hot air balloons was pretty awesome; if I had it on DVD (I sold my VHS copy) I know what I’d be doing today…)).

Or more specifically, it got me thinking about Theodore.

Theodore was a little butterball—like the turkeys. I wonder if he used mustard soap and fell asleep on a pile of wheat near a lettuce patch—would people mistake him for a turkey sandwich and eat him?

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Animal Farm 07/21/2010
 
I have been doing a lot of reading lately. All kinds of books, too. I’ve currently got about 8 or 9 things on the go (what can I say? I’m a multi-tasker!):

  • 7 Pillars of Health
  • The Big Cook
  • Compost! Growing Gardens from Your Garbage
  • Good Housekeeping: The Complete Household Handbook
  • The Idiot’s Guide to Organizing Your Life
  • Jesus in Blue Jeans
  • Made To Stick
  • Organizing Your Day
  • The Path
  • Shameless Shortcuts
  • Weeds!
  • Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
  • Your Global Warming Survival Handbook
 
OK, so that’s actually 13.

Plus I just finished Animal Farm. (Ha! So I do actually accomplish things, not just start things—take that unbelievers!) I’ve never read it before. Really. It was actually somewhat overwhelming. I made my hubby read it too just so I would have someone to discuss it with. I was frustrated with Napoleon (really, who wouldn’t be?!). I kept thinking about poor old Boxer and his work, work, work mentality. I wondered how Mollie was making out in her new home and what she was wearing in her hair—and if the book took place today, what would she be wearing instead of ribbons? A crooked ball cap? A trendy headband? My heart still hurts for the poor scapegoat (scapepig?) Snowball. Suddenly all of his past transgressions are overlooked when you see him in the shadow of Napoleon.

But most of all, I cannot stop thinking about Benjamin. Wise, pessimistic, grumpy Benjamin who sees the corruption of the farm unfold and does nothing to prevent it or warn others of it. It made me wonder how many people are really like that. He’s going to die and remain miserable. For what? He could have done something, he could have spoken up—saved them all.

Benjamin finally opens his mouth when Boxer, his only friend, is being taken away to a special hospital in a van labeled “glue factory.” And even then, it was all for naught. All too late.

Of course, I also wonder if Benjamin had spoken up earlier, would it have mattered? Or would PR professional Squealer have spun stories to shame Benjamin before having him executed by the pack of vicious puppies. I love puppies, but I’m suddenly not looking so forward to taking care of my sister’s dogs for a week now. Mind you, Boston and Brooklyn, my black lab nieces, don’t have a sadistic pig as a guide to do evil and commit murder, and then another pig that specializes in public relations to clean up their mess.

Nope, I’m the one who will be cleaning up the mess. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to use the pooper-scooper.

 

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I didn’t plan for it to turn out the way it did, it just sort of happened.

On June 30th, I asked my hubby what he wanted to do. I didn’t want to stay at home on Canada Day. I always seem to stay at home. He had no idea. Just sort of whatever we come up with.

Hmm. Whatever we come up with. I’m a creative person—what can I come up with?

Naturally, I turned to Google. “Canada Day in Winnipeg.” Yup. How’s that for creative?

But I found a few things. Mostly it was all about The Forks. They had activities for the whole family all day long. I never go to The Forks on Canada Day. In fact, I rarely go to The Forks period. But I thought, hey, why not? It’s Canada Day—let’s celebrate with fellow ‘peggers and experience Winnipeg top-tourist spot.

So I went back to Ryan and said, “How about The Forks?”

“Yeah?”

 “Yeah. Why not? There’s lots to do there. Heck, we can even bike there!”

“Yeah?”

 “Yeah!”

(You can tell communication is one of our strong points.)

Ah, to be young and foolish, thinking far more of yourself than you should. Don’t get me wrong—I love biking (mostly because it takes too long to walk), but I really haven’t done much of it at all this year. A few 4km rides here and there, but nothing major. And this trip is to The Forks. I’ve never biked there. I always wanted to, but I’ve never done it.

Well, July 1st arrives and I’ve lost all motivation to cycle to The Forks.

Ryan has not.

So we do it. We ride the 8km to The Forks and the 8km home. We walk around with other locals and tourists, just appreciate the festivities. We enjoy an ice cream that melts too quickly because of the intense heat. We get more tan lines because we don’t have enough already (I am currently still trying to get rid of a line across the middle of my calves from when I fell asleep one afternoon while wearing capris). We meet up with a friend, walk along the river, watch a magic show and get a free pair of neon green shoelaces (insert sarcasm here: thanks HOT 103, we’ll definitely be wearing those! (After wearing neon jammer pants in the early 90s, I think I’m done with neon for quite a while. Even the car—just the name brings back horribly bright memories!)).

After our bike ride home I realized spending the day with 100,000 other people really isn’t so bad. It’s actually kind of nice. It sort of gives you this great feeling of community. So I figure I’ll ride the feeling a bit longer, you know, just see where it takes me.

And if that means it takes me on another bike ride, well, if you’ve seen my belly, you know I could use it.
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