Monday, January 31, 2011

Point form.

1.  It was -32 C when I got up this morning.  'Nuff said.

2.  The Pee Wees won the first Provincial series 22 - 3.  Does anyone else think they should have gone in a higher draw????   We went to The-Town-With-Three-Last-Names-in-the-Phonebook last night for game one of the second round.  We won 6 - 1.  Derek had two goals and three assists.  His comment:  "Good thing I went, or we would have tied them."  It was actually a pretty good game, and their goalie had the boys stymied well into the second period.  But I think he just got tired - the poor thing faced 60 shots in the game! - and it was all downhill from there.   I don't envy them having to come back here next weekend!

3.  The Midgets squeaked through their first Provincial round.  Rosthern beat us 3 to 1 in the second game, but we won the series 6 to 5.  Clem is setting up the second round with Swift Current at this very minute.  Stephen was very sick for a few days and was unable to write his departmental Chemistry exam, but managed to drag himself (literally) to the rink for the game!  The coach said the dressing room seemed like a hospital ward, but they played hard and had a couple of days to recuperate afterward.

4.  I have so far escaped the wrath of the flu bugs which have taken up residence in our town and school.  Stephen, Derek, and Clem succumbed to various symptoms but have rallied and will likely prevail.   Stephen said he has never felt so sick, ever.  It must have been bad, as I noticed that the car didn't move for almost two days.

5.  I spent the whole day Saturday, save for two hours at the library and one hour at church, at our local rink watching hockey.  Five games, folks!  The best game by far was the Initiation team, age 5 and under.  It was the best entertainment I've had in a long time!  (The fact that I stayed in town all day may or may not be related to the fact that Clem was sick in bed.  Just sayin'.)

6.  A local lady and her granddaughter traveled to Bangladesh in November to meet her foster child, whom she sponsors through Chalice.  (We have a Chalice foster child in Paraguay, and it's an amazing organization.)   They gave a presentation about their trip yesterday afternoon, and it was so good.  It was also so similar to my trip to Tanzania.  It was a good reminder to count my blessings.

7.  We learned last night of the death of Donna Purvis, whose mother, a McGinnis, grew up near my family farm and later worked for Clem's mom when the kids were small.  Another reminder to count my blessings and live every day to the fullest!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 24, 2011

You may not believe this, but we've been busy with hockey!

Hockey is at full throttle, folks.  If you blink, you will miss a schedule change!  Games added, moved, delayed, pushed up, and canceled.  Makes it all that much more exciting!!  Really!

Derek and I were in the border city for a tournament on the weekend.  The Pee Wees held their own in the A level games, but didn't shine like they usually do.  Camrose came out hitting hard in the first game, and threw the boys (and girl) back on their heels.  The seriously poor officiating didn't help, either.  (And no, I'm not one to blame the ref, but this was BAD!  I was really scared someone was going to get hurt.)  Derek got the only goal - a scorcher from the blue line - just before he got thrown out of the game for hitting from behind (which he didn't really do, but that was neither here nor there for the refs!)  The three kids who were punching him in the head after the hit were allowed to remain in the game.  But enough about that.  Our team went on to win against Clavet, lose to Meadow Lake (a AA team, we were told, and we only lost by two!) and then win the C final against a Strathmore team.  I should mention that the officiating did improve over the weekend, and the 7 am Saturday game (yes, you read that right) was done by one guy (you read that right, too) who was amazing!   All in all, a good tournament, and lots of good visiting with the other parents.  The kids only got kicked out of the hotel pool once and got to pig out on junk food.  What more can we ask?

Well, I would have asked to be able to go to the Midget provincial game in Rosthern, but no one outside of Star Trek has come up with instantaneously transporting/beaming people around and I am very obviously not Lt. Uhura, so that wasn't going to happen.  The other two Midget moms and myself had to be content with periodic (get it, periodic?) text updates from the Rosthern arena, which cannot boast of good cell coverage.  The upside of that was that Clem got to visit outside the rink with the nervous dad of the Rosthern goalie.  The Tigers were down 2 - 0 at the end of the first, then kicked the defense into high gear on their hitting game, and ended up winning the game 5 - 2.  Clem said by the third period (aha - now the pun light has come on!) the Rosthern forwards were scared to come into our end.  It was a fast, clean, hard-hitting game, and Clem expects the same when Rosthern returns this Thursday.  I plan to be at that one.  The three goal lead is nice in this two-game total-point series, but no one knows better than these boys how easy it is to give that up!  (If your memory is even foggier than mine, you can check out that story here. )  The Pee Wees are in Delisle that same night for the second game of their first round of Provincials, but they are going with a ten point lead (yep, you read that right, too!  Three for three!) so I'm thinking it's pretty safe to miss that one.  Kudos to my cousin for offering to take Derek along with them. 

And speaking of cousins, Stephen had his own little cheering section in Rosthern when Clem's sister, Cathy, and her boy, Daniel, along with Clem's cousin, Joanne, showed up to watch the game and have a visit.  And of course Chris was there, too, as Dylan plays on the Midget team this year as well.  A little Schraefel family reunion!

The only other thing besides hockey going on around here is the weather. We have oodles of snow, and have had a few storms and lots of poor driving.  Just like "back in the day", as the boys would put it.  I'm thrilled with all the moisture, as I am anticipating a full dugout in the spring! 

So thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

It's Happy Dance time again!

Yessiree, the boys are heading out the door as we speak I type.  This time of late nights and sleeping in and absolutely no schedule whatsoever has ended for the time being.  It's back to boot camp, boys.  They are just pumped (insert sarcastic tone here).

We had a great Christmas.  Lots of family and food and fun.  Not as much family as usual, mind you, but just enough!  The food, well, let's just say I can almost see the back of the fridge again now.  I am really starting to like Skype - got to talk to and see my sister in Chile and my niece in Prince George and my brother and his wife who were holidaying in Victoria.  And with Facebook and texting, we keep up with the Schraefel side, as well.  The wonder of technology!

We also used technology to bore our guests into leaving.  Clem has some do-hickey hooked up whereby we can see the photos from the computer on the TV.  So we just show slideshows until our company starts yawning and looking for their car keys to command-start their vehicles.  This Christmas it was the pictures from Chile.  And now it's your turn!    Warning - you may want to keep your finger on the "back" button.

Mom and I left on November 16, just as it was starting to snow and blow.  Lovely.  We had a long layover in Toronto, so we took the opportunity to visit Clem's nephew, Brendan, of "Men of Brooms" and Splash speedo fame.  He and Kristy have just moved into their own home, and Brendan cooked us supper with the fresh organic produce they have delivered to their house once a week.  Almost makes me want to move to a big city.  Almost.

We arrived in Santiago about 1 pm their time, after a long, exhausting 11 hour overnight flight on an airline that couldn't manage to seat us together.   And then it took an hour to get through customs and immigration.  The Chilean people are wonderful and kind, but the ones working that day were not overly ambitious!  Poor Lisa had been waiting with her friendly cab driver, Juan, in the hot, stuffy airport, and was quite relieved to see us.  I'm sure she thought we had missed out flight!  

The first thing we did when we arrived at Lisa's lovely apartment was dump our stuff and get our shoes and socks off!  It was hot, hot, hot.  Not bad for november! 

Then I started taking pictures! This is Lisa's tiny little apartment.  Compact! 

And this is Lisa making us supper, which we ate out on the terraza with the incredible view! 

The next day we started exploring.  Mom and I loved all the different plants, trees, and flowers.  Mom especially liked the palm trees.   

This tree was just starting to bloom - see the pretty little purple flowers?  By the time we left, some of them were in full bloom and looked totally purple - you couldn't see the green leaves at all.  Gorgeous.


 A little shopping!

 Such an incredible wine store.  Yes, we went back!

The side of this building was being covered with panels growing grass! 

On the first weekend, we drove about 3 hours south of Santiago to the Colquagua wine valley, and stayed at this gorgeous posada, or B&B.  

Our wonderful hostess, Leonore, brought us a bottle of wine to enjoy by the pool.  

 We toured around Santa Cruz and saw some of the damage from the earthquake last February.  This was a bank that collapsed on the car of one of Lisa's friends!  Santa Cruz was quite near the epicenter, and 36 people died here.

The church lost its steeple and they cannot use it now.  Many of these places have huge tents erected in which to hold Mass.   

We drove around a bit more, and discovered this lookout, which was quite near the restaurant Leonore recommended.  Many of the restaurants don't open until 8 pm, but El Candil was well worth the wait!

Our waiter, Ismany, was from Cuba, and took this picture.  He wants to come to Canada and learn English.  He hit the jackpot at our table, as Lisa teaches English and Mom has boarded English students in Lethbridge.  We are expecting him to show up soon! 

This is the Montgras winery we toured.  They grow Carmenere grapes, among others.  The Carmenere grape was imported from France and then wiped out there by disease.  Now Chile is the only country growing the Carmenere.  The owner of the winery spent twenty years working in Canadian wineries.  Still not sure where, as the guide wasn't really up on his Canadian geography!  Very interesting, very beautiful, very tasty!   

We took a back road returning to the posada, and saw the less beautiful properties, probably belonging to the employees of the winery! 

The old church at Lolol, near our posada.  They too are using a tent now.  Note the pampas grass - amazing! 

A pretty wall in Santa Cruz.  

The scenery on the way back to Santiago, which is nestled between two mountain ranges:  the Andes to the east and the other one! 

Lisa drove us up the winding road to San Cristobal, a large hill in Santiago, where there is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary and an incredible view of the huge city.  

One day we did a walking tour of the old part of the city.  This is the entrance to a wonderful art gallery near the government buildings.  Impressive waterfall! 

There was a gold and silver display at the gallery when we were there, and this piece was hanging in the grand entrance.

Another purple tree outside some typical colonial-style architecture.

This is the nave of the cathedral.  Very beautiful.  There were many side altars, as well, one of which was all silver.  

This is the BACK of the main altar.  Such vision and dedication from the craftsmen who built it! 

 These carbeneros were kind enough to have their picture taken with the "gringa"!

The night view from Lisa's balcony. 

Andres and Francisca are two of Lisa's students.  They joined us for supper one night as part of their lessons.  They speak English very well, and they both have an amazing sense of humour.  We really enjoyed their company.   They invited us to Francisca's place for a traditional Chilean barbeque, with lots of meat done over charcoal.  Fantastico!  

This is called "choripan", a chorizo sausage in a little bun (pan). 

This is the outside of Pablo Neruda's Santiago house.  He was a very famous Chilean poet.  Our guide was Israeli, spoke about five languages, and was extremely interesting.

 An unusual sculpture.  Santiago has lots of large pieces of art throughout the city.

The orange Christmas trees at this Juan Valdez coffee franchise. 

I didn't get a good overall shot of this park in Santiago called Santa Lucia.   This is the main fountain.   

I found a cousin to the carrigana!

The Museum of Fine Art is a gorgeous old building, but sustained quite a bit of damage in the earthquake. 

During our second weekend we traveled the hour and a half to the coast, and stayed in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.  This is the view from our B&B.  

An avocado, or palta, growing in the garden behind the B&B.  

 Pablo Neruda's Valparaiso home, which was almost next door to where we stayed!  

This old guy came to life when he saw Lisa! 

Our B&B, the Puerto Natura, in a somewhat dodgy part of town!  Mom was a bit nervous, but we were fine, and we found an amazing restaurant, which, again, didn't open until 8 pm. 

We tried ceviche, a raw fish appetizer marinated in citrus juices.  Yummy!

Our waiter, Orlando, recommended it! 

Two views from our window, night and day! 

The streets of Valparaiso were a bit much for these prairie girls!  They were so steep, I thought it looked like these cars were going to start toppling over!  The city is literally hanging on the cliffs and divided by hills.  Lisa did very well navigating and driving!

Then it was on to Vina del Mar, where many city people own or rent summer homes or condos.  This is the Sheraton hotel, perched over the Pacific ocean, where another prairie girl, Denise (Rob's school friend) was staying while speaking at a conference.   

This was more our wallet's style, a good old Best Western on the main drag of Vina del Mar.    

This is where we DIDN'T stay!   

I enjoyed our walk around the old city, until we came across the sign. 

There was a tremor that night, and I laid awake for quite a while trying to remember where the heck we saw that sign!!  I was rather glad we were leaving for home, and terra firma, shortly!

Denise joined us for the afternoon, driving up the coast and seeing the sights.  We took a walk on the boardwalk and dipped our toes in the ocean.  It was a great day, if you don't count the ordering/translation error that had us all eating huge bowls of some sort of fish soup.  Again, a bit much for these prairie gals! 

On our way back to Santiago, we stopped at another winery, the Casas del Bosque.  Gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Those are white rose bushes lining the drive. 

Yep - it was Grey Cup day, and Mom was all decked out! 

Lisa's friend, Ginny, and her Chilean boyfriend, Fransisco, joined us for lunch on the patio.  Then we drove up to the lookout point on the vineyard.   

This is the outdoor, three-storey courtyard at a huge mall in Santiago.   

Our Grey Cup party!  We paid to get the game online, but couldn't get it to go full screen, so it was about a four-inch square screen!  Oh well, didn't miss much!  And we had fun! 

The morning of our departure we finally got to spend a little time at the pool at Lisa's apartment.  It really is a nice building, and very secure.  There is a concierge on duty all the time, and it has survived a couple of earthquakes, so all is good! 

We also had to do a little more souvenir shopping, and this is an example of what we found!   

As beautiful and warm as Chile is, it was really good to get home where the earth stays still, and everything was brilliantly white and sparkling.  Besides, we had missed all the cold and snow!  And what a sight the first night home - sundogs!   

And now it's back to life as usual.  I don't know that I will take another trip at that time of year again - wasn't exactly sure we'd actually have Christmas this year!  But we did, and now we're going to hockey games and meetings and work and all of that.   No more snowboarding and sledding for the boys, especially right before a hockey game, because we might, you know, LOSE or something terrible like that!  And now I'd better wrap this up and try to figure out how I'm going to be a three different hockey games in three different places on Sunday.  Oh, and an ordination, too.  Never a dull moment, folks!

Thanks for stopping by!  Let's do it again!