Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | October 10, 2011

A Whirlwind Alberta Adventure: Day Four

I got a late start on yesterday’s entry – these things happen when you don’t go to bed before 3 o’clock in the morning – and got flack for it.  So to the uncle who teased me for skipping a day because he’d checked before I’d uploaded – this one is not only in good time, but before I’ve even had a coffee.  If you are stumbling onto this, you can therefore blame him for any incoherencies.

I managed to make check out time yesterday, but with just two minutes to spare.  Which is why I forgot to mention that I think I was a bus ride hero on our too long trek back into Edmonton.  I had toilet paper tucked in my purse that turned out helpful to the gal who needed to use the tiny little bathroom in the back, and I had gum enough for the half of the crowd who wanted some that was not Nicorette.  I guess some of the guys thought it would be funny to pass it off as something minty fresh.

Anyway, back to yesterday.   After I checked out, I loaded up the car and programmed my GPS for Wetaskiwin, which is where my grandparents live.  Now I enjoy having a GPS because I have zero sense of direction and Edmonton is a really big city.  But GPS are not flawless, and I think they could really use an extra button.  That button should say “ROAD CLOSED”.  That way, when it tells you to go down a road that is closed and you pass it, it doesn’t turn you around to try to go back down it and you aren’t losing twenty minutes trying to guess which road will get it to take you to an actual alternate route.  I did manage, but it did end up taking me on two more roundabouts.  From zero to three in just a few days. Any more and I might start getting comfortable!

Once I hit the highway near Leduc I decided I might as well shut the GPS off.  I have done the trip to Wetaskiwin so many times, I find the drive pretty painless (even though one of my aunts did tease me because once, while driving out  of the city to Wetaskiwin, I realised I’d only ever driven between Camrose and Edmonton, so had to drop in on friends there for the evening because I only knew how to get back to Wetaskiwin that way).  I visited with my grandparents and those relatives who’d already arrived or weren’t out and about for a while.  I got there just before 1:30 p.m. thanks to my GPS double-back, and dinner was to be served at 4 o’clock, so everyone began to trickle in between 2 and 3 o’clock.

So here’s the thing about my family – we are a rather large group. My grandparents wanted a big family, and so had as many kids as they could and then adopted more. My youngest aunt is thirteen years my junior, for example.  So even though not all the aunts and uncles and cousins ever make it on a given year (case and point – my parents and brother and sister-in-law were a handful of those on the “sorry!” list) we were a good 32 people to dinner.  It’s great because I get to see everyone at once, but if you are looking for a quiet Thanksgiving, our family is not the one to join.  However, if you love the hustle and bustle of 30-40 excited, happy people (and a boat load of more good food than even our crowd can consume), ours is your kind of party. I am more of the quiet type in general, but I still love our family Thanksgiving. It helps that I don’t usually stay the night; it gives me time to recharge after running down my social batteries.  Especially since this time I’d been social three days in a row!

So while dinner cooked on and in the stove (Grandma cooks and carved the turkey in advance because there’s no way we have enough stove room for all our food), I got to witness the spatial relations expertise of one of my uncles as tables were arranged. Cloths were laid and garlands put out, and then Grandma set our nameplates so we’d mix things up.  I skipped lunch to save room for dinner, and it couldn’t come soon enough.  At four o’clock, my aunt called for the three diabetics to test their blood sugar levels so we could get in gear, and then it was food time.  And between my Grandma and the above-mentioned teasing uncle who really should consider becoming a chef, it was an amazing spread. There was turkey, cooked to juicy perfection.  Cranberry sauce.  Brussel sprouts (which half my family, including me, adores, while the other half not so much).  Mashed potatoes.  Sweet potatoes.  Two kinds of stuffing – Grandma’s traditional stuffing, and a wild-rice with cranberries my uncle made.  A rootbeer glazed ham, also courtesy of my uncle. Jello salad (a blend of jello and dream whip, this year pink and not orange).  I may even have missed a few dishes because my plate was so stuffed.  After I was equally stuffed, we broke up the dinner for a while so we could get a second wind for dessert.  I headed out to the yard to visit with some cousins while some of the younger second cousins ran about in the yard.  After about a good hour, one of my cousins noted that what looked to be a crowd was forming inside the kitchen, so we mosied back in because it was clearly time for dessert.

Now our family doesn’t do food halfway, and dessert is no different.  This year, between my Grandma and my uncle, they outdid themselves. There was pumpkin pie and carrot pie (which is similar to pumpkin – my aunt doesn’t like pumpkin but likes carrot; I’m with her on the pumpkin and on the fence about the carrot).  There was apple pie. There was lemon merigue pie.  These were my grandma’s contributions. As for my uncle’s, there was a key lime pie. I think there was a cherry pie. New York cherry cheesecake.  And my uncle also invented a pumpkin cheesecake with a maple pecan glaze.  Yes, all these desserts were homemade, and I’m sure they were all amazing, but I could only find room for tiny slivers of three.  The lemon meringue, the key lime, and the pumpkin cheese cake.  All divine.  I did have to share mine with my cousin’s son, who I sat next too, not because he made me, but because he was so very adorable and I knew I’d struggle to eat all three even though my aunt did her best to make my small slices actually small.

After dessert, we visited some more, and I showed my grandpa, at his request, my “pretend car”.  By 7 o’clock, though, it was dark and I was starting to feel the lack of sleep, so I said my goodbyes and took about fifteen minutes to give out the hugs, then hopped in the Bumblebee and headed to Camrose (which I don’t need GPS for at all).  I am staying with two close friend from my days at Augustana University, and so we did get some visiting in before bed.  I’m getting a little weary on the initials things, so I’ll ask them today what they’d like to be called in the blog, because they are sure to feature when I write about today’s upcoming adventure:  I’m taking in a football game.

So before I sign off, for posterity’s sake, I should probably admit that I know almost nothing about football. I’ve maybe seen all of five minutes at a time, and never a whole game. But the point of my starting a blog was to write about adventures, and so I decided I would do my best to try new things when the opportunity arose.  And a football game is definitely a new thing.

So here’s what I know before the game:

-There are eight teams in the CFL: the BC Lions, the Winnipeg Bluebombers, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Edmonton Eskimos, the Hamilton TigerCats, the Montreal Alouettes, the Toronto Argonauts, and the Calgary Stampeders.

-Today, we are watching the Eskimos adn the Roughriders.  Both wear variations of green, so I can wear a green sweater and pass for a fan of either.

-Our field is bigger than the American field, and we only get three downs to score.  Canadians are tough!

-There are quarterbacks and full backs. I don’t know what they do. Throw the ball?  Tackle people?

-There’s a kicker.  Apparently, he doesn’t just kick to get extra points.  He also kicks when the other team gets the ball or something. One of my uncles tried to explain yesterday, but clearly it didn’t stick.

-Since I’m pretty sure I’m not driving, I get to have a beer!

That’s pretty much it.  Let’s see how it changes after today!

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