Saturday, December 29, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: The Holidays

Well, another holiday season, come and gone. But this wasn't just another holiday season. We were 1800 miles from home for this Christmas. Which meant some new experiences!

Like the Mummer's Parade!

This is a tradition that goes back quite a long time. Initially it was about social inversion. The have-nots would dress up in disguise and go visit the haves, where they were fed and liquored up and allowed to have a go at the upper class (hence the disguises) with no ramifications. My neighbor Kathryn says not too long ago, they would dress up and crash parties, but it started making people uncomfortable. So now they pretty much dress up and have parades.

Pootie's advisor Neil and his son Ewan took us to observe. Of course, I had to get a picture of the beautiful Newfie I saw. I told Pootie I was going to write a photo journal called "Dogs I Have Met While Walking" and he said that would be one he would not be reading. Be that way. A lot of times they're nicer than people.

Isn't he cute? Ewan, not Neil. Neil is cute too, but I'll leave telling him that to his wife. Look at those eyes! And that hat! I want that hat. It was interesting, and we enjoyed it. Thanks to Neil and Ewan for bringing us along! We were sorry Kim and Margot couldn't make it.

Another new experience for us during the holiday season was snow. Snow! We've certainly gotten snow back home, and a couple of times, it's even been on Christmas Day or the day after. But nothing like this snow.

More than an inch, for sure. It didn't stick around long, but we enjoyed it while it was here. One of us especially much.

The Cove was beautiful.

We went for a walk at Pippy Park in the middle of St. John's after ours all melted to enjoy it some more.

The woods and marshes there are lovely. No, we didn't see any moose.

Next time it snows, we want to do some sledding and cross-country skiing.

But for this trip, we just wandered.

And we were fortunate enough to get to spend Christmas Eve with Megan and Dennis and Sadie and Dennis's mom. I got Sadie her own Magic Bunny. She already has one, but she tried to make off with mine one time she was here, so I thought she might like her own. Thank god there was no bunny cage fighting. They got along fine.

Dennis's mom Jo Ann made us a mouth-watering plate of what they call cookies - we'd call it candy. She had chocolate mice on there, which I have discovered here and absolutely love. She's going to give me the recipe, so if I don't make a complete mess of it, I'll blog it when I make them.

We are lucky to have met the Keoughs.

Christmas evening, we got to go to Neil and Kim's for a very fine dinner and good company. But I didn't take the camera, so you don't get to see that. It was fun! And the food was excellent. Kim is a great cook.

We had a very happy holiday way North of home. We missed our friends and family, but are glad to have gotten to experience Christmas here. It was something special.

Hope you all had a great holiday season! Happy New Year from us at the temporarily relocated Cafe 305!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: Christmas Tree Hunting

Last weekend, we went tree hunting with Megan and Dennis and Sadie. Pootie was a lot happier about it than he looked.

Back in Wilmington, we'd be buying our tree at the Home Depot. But here in Newfoundland, every citizen can cut down one tree on public land for Christmas. Which is way more fun than Home Depot! We just hoped no one stopped us and asked us for our Canadian ID or noticed our North Carolina license plates.

We piled in the truck and headed down the highway, looking for a good spot. Dennis guided us to the place they'd gotten their tree last year. Sadie was ready to get out and explore. Megan had some prep to do first, though.

There. Much more fabulous.

Dennis brought all the lumberjack gear, with the backup chainsaw in case we needed it. You won't get the humor in that until you see our tree. Sadie was all ready to help. It's easier to cut down trees after a leg hug.

We noticed a few shotgun shells on the ground. Apparently some folks were using this area for some gun practice.

Then we rounded the bend.

Oh my god, y'all. Someone call Fred Sanford!
I have to say that I've been a bit taken aback by the littering and junk dumping. It's a real problem. Such a shame because the country is just gorgeous.  Some of the Newfoundlanders need to see the crying Native American.

We walked past the junk and into the trees in search of the perfect one, muttering and shaking our heads a little.

The woods were a little on the thick side. It was sort of hard to tell what the trees looked like in their entirety. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Dennis wanted Sadie and Megan to help pick a tree out.

Sadie had other ideas.

Dennis captured a fine tree. I picked ours out, and Pootie looked at it and said "Are you sure?" I'm pretty lickety split with stuff like this. I honestly can't be bothered most of the time. Wait. I mean, I'm very confident and decisive! So he cut it, and it was a little on the pitiful side. As in Charlie Brown's Tree that needed a home. Bad. But the Mighty Hunters proudly displayed their prizes anyway.

Ours doesn't look so bad with a backdrop of greenery. Just wait.

Here's the happy family with their catch.

And here's us with ours. (I'm standing in front of the gaping holes.) Dennis is a better hunter. Pootie and I made too much noise and scared away all the good trees and that's why we wound up with the weakest in the herd.

Time to load up the kill!

We dropped off the Keoughs and went home with our special short bus tree. We got it all decorated and went back over in the evening for some really good chili, then we helped them decorate their tree.

They have some really cool tree decorations. Most fairly old and handmade, and they don't put any boring old balls on their tree. Just meaningful ornaments and white lights. As I was helping hang them up, I came across this guy.

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Scaaaarrrry Christmas! Scaaaary Christmas!!
I loved it. So much that Dennis sent me home with my own! I hope I didn't just get him in trouble with family members. I love it! It will go in a place of honor up with my Jean Luc Picard in the transporter ornament that Ben and Amy got me years ago and thought I would never hang on the tree. Ha!

Isn't he awesome???

It was a wonderful day and a great experience for us tree-purchasing city mice. Once stuffed and properly mounted, the wild tree looks fearsome and formidable! Our hunting succes makes us feel powerful and mighty.

Well, maybe we'll just say our sweet little tree has grown on us.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: The Portugal Cove Christmas Parade

A couple of weeks ago, we had visitors for a long weekend. And check it! They came in with some snow! See our backyard?

Our good friends Carol and David made the long and somewhat troublesome trip from North Carolina up to Newfoundland. They came in with a bit of snow and a lot of wind, so they naturally experienced some delays. They arrived about three or four hours late, so that made them even happier to see us. After feeding them a dinner of cod, which made the house smell so bad we thought we'd have to move out, we took them to their Inn and made plans to drag them hither and yon for the weekend.

We took them to The Rooms for lunch and the view. David was so happy that it was cold and snowy so he could get some "Canada weather". I was, too. Isn't it pretty?

We took them on a tour of Phillip's campus, Memorial University (MUN). And through the Munnels. (Underground walkways. Dragging through cold, wet weather can get old after awhile.)

We took them to the Johnson Geo Centre, where we saw Dennis (he runs the building there) and to the top of Signal Hill for a brief and very windy view of the city.

We took them to the Duke of Duckworth for lunch and had an authentic Newfoundland Pub Lunch served by an authentically hungover waitress! (That information was volunteered by our server. I did not make it up.)

After all the coming and going, we all decided that Sunday, we would do what we do best and most often, which is play games. P. brought Puerto Rico (the game, not the country) in the hopes that they would come up for a visit, so we spent the day at their cottage watching Carol absolutely smear us.

Poor lonely Pootie.
I had an ulterior motive for wanting to be there on Sunday afternoon. The Portugal Cove Christmas Parade was coming right by their front door! How convenient is that?

After Carol ground us into the Puerto Rican sand, we bundled up and went outside for the parade. I love parades!

It had lots of kids from Beachy Cove Elementary wearing Santa hats and having a great time.

It had fire trucks and beauty queens and clowns. I'd like to mention here to anyone from Portugal Cove reading this - if you want to run with the rednecks down South, you really need to up your game. Blare those sirens and honk the horns like they do at the Carolina Beach Christmas Parade! It's about scaring small children and deafening the people watching, y'all. And shooting guns and setting things on fire. Sometimes.

And woolly snowmen and Bigfoot elves and elves who apparently went shopping.

And baby beauty queens and dogs in tutus (who probably shouldn't speak to their people anymore for humiliating them like that) and more clowns. So that I could have nightmares. I really hate clowns. They give me the creeps. But these were pretty nice.

And our hero, the road clearer-offer! Snowplow. Whatever. One of the many pieces of large equipment that keep the ice and snow off the roads so we can drive to the Wal-Marks.

And Mummers with Ugly Sticks. Many people have tried to explain this to me, but I'm still not really clear on the concept. It's something between Trick-or-Treating and party crashing, and they wear pieces of cloth draped over their faces so no one knows who they are. Which honestly kind of freaked me out until someone explained it, because some of them look like KKK members and that's uncool. And they carry ugly sticks, which have stuff that makes noise. Some of them appear to actually be musical instruments, like the ones in Emmet Otter's jug band.

I'm trying to understand the strange customs of these jolly, dishcloth-wearing people.

One of them danced with Carol. They looked like they were having a lot of fun. And so were we!

Carol and David seemed to enjoy their trip quite a lot.  We're so glad they made the trip so we could share some of the great sights of Newfoundland. Mummers included.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: Signal Hill

A couple (or more) weeks ago, we went up to Signal Hill. I know, I'm behind. It's on one of the bluffs at the entrance to St. John's harbor. The city is pretty well protected from bombardment and we'll have the advantage of a good lookout and a great vantage point for firing missiles or throwing rocks at approaching enemy vessels. Which isn't much needed these days, thank goodness. Now it's just a really cool place to visit with a boss view of St. John's.

It's a steep walk up a sidewalk, then has a lot of paths and beautiful scenery. There were quite a few fitness freaks out getting their run on. We did not. We walked.

Cabot Tower is at the top. I'm not going to go into the whole history of Signal Hill, because you can read Wikipedia as well as I can, but the Tower was used for Marconi's wireless station until it was moved to the airport. From what I understand. And if that's wrong, I'm sure my husband the historian or one of his colleagues will correct me. The first transatlantic wireless signal was received on Signal Hill by Marconi in 1901. But not at Cabot Tower.

Back to the view.


You can see Cape Spear from here, of course. But I didn't get a very good shot of that. It was hazy offshore.

Wikipedia mentions "Due to high winds in winter (which can reach up to 110 km/h (68 miles per hour), it is generally preferred to visit Signal Hill in the warmer months of the year."

It wasn't that bad.

We wandered around some getting our hair tossed about

and then...

And THEN...


(Cue Tchaikovsky's Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet)

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Newfoundland Dog! (Newfie). I absolutely love these guys. They supposedly went into the Bernese Mountain Dog breed. There are a lot of similarities, especially in the size and the coat. And the shedding. Newfies heads are a little bigger and they have looser flews, so they slobber more than Berners. Unless you're standing over Dinky with a piece of cheese. Then flews don't matter, there will be a puddle of drool.  The temperament is very similar. They're laid back, lazy, and affectionate. This guy isn't the first Newfie I've seen, but he was magnificent. And very sweet. And drawing a crowd.

I love big dogs. Can you tell?

I was thrilled to finally get to see a Newfie here. His name was Scupper or Scow or some other boat name that I'm ashamed to have forgotten, because I will forget a person's name three seconds after they've said it, but I almost never forget a dog's name. Soundings? Skipper? Skalawag? Simon? I can't remember. Rats.

But he made me miss this lunkhead.

It was worth it for the view up there, though. It was wonderful.

The view of St. John's was good, too.