The Return of the Winnipeg Jets

It was just a year ago that I was writing a blog post about the die-hard Jets fans that remained in Winnipeg despite the team leaving over 15 years ago. It turns out their persistence and passion has brought the beloved Jets back home, to the heart of the continent.

It’s an amazing time to be in Winnipeg. Last week CBC hosted a “Welcome Back” party at The Forks, which brought fans from all over the province to the big city. I was told of a family that made the trip all the way from Flin Flon.  Rumour has it that over 20,000 people were in attendance. The Molson Hockey House was set up (was I back in Vancouver during the Olympics?) and street hockey games were being played while 3 Days Grace and Bachman and Turner took the stage. Throughout the city, horns were honking, faces were painted, and car flags were waving. You’d think the Jets had just won the Stanley Cup.  It made it very clear that if the Jets were to make the playoffs this season, the city would completely shut down with the exception of bars and of course, The Forks.

The Jets played their first game of the regular season against Montreal last night at the MTS Centre, the home of the Jets. Again, the atmosphere and energy were nothing short of a playoff game. Almost every fan was dressed up in Jets gear with signs reading “Stay Jets Stay” and “Welcome home”. Within the first minute of the game, over 15,000 fans were chanting “Car-ey” to throw off the Habs netminder. I, myself, didn’t make it to the game (these tickets were harder to get than Canucks playoff tickets last season!) or even downtown but apparently close to 15% of the city did. And when the buzzer sounded at the end of the third period, with the scoreboard reading “MTL – 5 WPG – 1″, the crowd stood and cheered.

I believe it’s safe to say, with the enthusiasm and pride shown by this city, that the return of the Jets has been long overdue. I may be a Canucks fan but I’m thrilled for this city. In a time when much of the national media is focusing on the violence and crime in Winnipeg, it’s nice for the city to have something to cheer for. Go Jets Go.

Posted in One Great City | 4 Comments

Winnipeg O’ My Heart

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a fellow blogger. Not just any blogger, but a gal who blogs about her move from Vancouver to Winnipeg. Sound familiar? Apparently there are lots of us in the ‘Peg and I have to say, it’s nice to have people sharing a similar experience.

She wanted to interview me about my transition, of course leading with the “why did you move” question. So here it is! And her wonderful, entertaining, informative blog.

Winnipeg O’ My Heart

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A Canucks fan in Winnipeg

[If you are a Canucks fan in Winnipeg, join the Facebook group, "Canucks Fans in Winnipeg"]

We all know I’ve had many ups and downs during this transition to Winnipeg. But I have to say, nothing has been harder than watching my Canucks forge through the playoffs, on route to perhaps their first Stanley Cup victory, from my couch in Winnipeg.

I was back in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago and was lucky enough to attend two playoff games, one in each of the first two rounds. Do you all remember that nasty Game 5 against Chicago? The game where the Canucks could have swept the series but instead got spanked 5-0? Ya, well, I was there. And then a loss to Nashville, one of only 3 losses in the playoffs for the Canucks on home ice. Apparently I was bad luck. In fact, I think my family and friends were almost relieved to see me board my plane back to Winnipeg, thinking the Canucks may actually be able to win again. And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.

After today’s victory against the Sharks, it became very real to me that the Canucks were only one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals. Unbelievable. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this experience and now I’ll have to participate from Winnipeg. This does put a little damper on the whole thing for me. I know what Vancouver is capable of when they have something to cheer for. Example #1 – The 2010 Olympics Games. Example #2 – Round 1 of these playoffs. When I was in Vancouver, the Canucks beat Chicago, their nemesis, in overtime of Game 7. A game that will go down in history. I watched the game with friends at a bar downtown. Everyone stood and sang the anthem at the top of their lungs, then jumped onto tables when Burrows scored that legendary goal. Then, along with the rest of the city, poured onto Granville Street to celebrate. It was an amazing moment to say the least. Being there is an experience like no other. You can actually feel the energy of a city and it’s millions of people.

So don’t get me wrong, even though any other year for the past 20 some odd years would have been a more convenient year for me, I do hope more than anything that the Canucks win the Stanley Cup this year. It just may mean I break the bank and jump on a plane back to Van to be there. It’s quite possibly a once in a lifetime experience. Let’s be honest, winning the Cup hasn’t happened in 40 years for this team, and if I have to wait another 40 years I’ll be 70. I don’t think The Roxy will let me in for the party.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We still have to finish off the Sharks. So here’s a call out to all Canucks fans in Winnipeg – where are we watching Game 5?!

 

Posted in Just life | 2 Comments

Yoga, Burritos, and Belonging

I know what you are thinking. Burritos and yoga? That’s a bit dangerous, isn’t it? Well, it’s kinda like that old wives’ tale – “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, have no fear”. In other words, order matters. But they’ve also made Tuesdays my favourite day of the week. Here’s why (the long version):

I’d have to say that one of the biggest challenges to moving to a new city is establishing a sense of belonging. It’s perhaps something that we take for granted when we live in the same place for our entire lives. You have your community – your family, your friends, your colleagues. You belong to them just as much as they belong to you. And when you move away? The community goes on, the original version minus you. But what about you? Now where do you belong?

This sense of belonging, or lack thereof, is a feeling that comes and goes living in my new world in Winnipeg. It has its moments of provoking heartache and it’s these times that I wish more than anything to have my community surrounding me again. But of course, my community is cozy under an umbrella in Vancouver, so then what?

A couple of years ago, I discovered Moksha Yoga in Vancouver and although I was a sporadic “yogi”, I was always impressed with the practice, the philosophy, and the people. So when my community cravings hit in Winnipeg, I found my way to a local Moksha studio, specifically the location on Donald Street.

I’m definitely not what you would call a yoga person. I can only touch my toes on a “good day” and my “Downward Dog” looks more like a dying goat (and sounds like it sometimes too). But Moksha is about so much more than your strength, your flexibility and even enlightenment. It’s about a sense of community, in the studio and beyond, and living your practice beyond the mat.

Moksha Yoga is rooted in Seven Pillars:

  1. Be Healthy – We work to support lifelong health for the body and mind
  2. Be Accessible – We endeavor to be accessible in our language, postures, and systems
  3. Live Green – We live to protect and serve the natural world
  4. Sangha Support – We believe in the power of community
  5. Outreach – We use our creativity and effort to help others
  6. Live to Learn – We commit to jnana yoga, continued learning
  7. Be Peace – We offer the benefit of our practice to the benefit of all beings everywhere

Imagine if everyone lived their lives in these seven pillars.

Throughout the week, the Moksha studios also put on Karma classes. These classes are by donation with the proceeds going to a new local charity each month.

So I jumped on the yoga train with weekly classes and got involved in the Energy Exchange Program, which is exactly what it sounds like. You spend a shift doing various “chores” at the studio and receive yoga in return. So that’s how I spend my Tuesday afternoons. And, while being on a temporary leave from yoga due to vertigo, it has allowed me to continue being a part of this very special community. And also how “Burrito Tuesdays” came to be.

Tuesday afternoons at Moksha are special. The gals at the studio that day (and everyday) are all amazing – we share stories, laughs, sometimes cries, ridiculous moments, but best of all, burritos. It’s tradition now. We road trip about 5 blocks to Burrito Del Rio, order tasty burritos (Clancy’s without corn), chat with the peeps behind the counter, head back to the studio (and realize we’ve left something behind like a lime pop or one of JR’s gloves), and dive into burrito bliss. But not so fast. There’s a science to eating one of these burritos. I have to say, Clancy is an unbelievable yoga teacher, but you should really attend one of her burrito eating classes. Changed my life. After the burritos have been devoured (usually in silence to respect the burrito), there’s often a few minutes of stretching out on the couches motionless, waiting for the burrito to settle into its new home deep in our bellies. And before I conclude my Ode to Burrito, I have to give a shout out to the chipotle sauce – by far one of the best things I’ve ever tasted and long to drink it by the gallon.

So thank you to the folks at Burrito Del Rio for doing what you do and to the amazing people at Moksha for helping me create my new community in Winnipeg.

Posted in One Great City, The deeper stuff | 8 Comments

2011 Winter Olympics Games…Winnipeg-style

First of, I’d like to apologize for my looooong, unexplained absence from blog-land. I could make up an elaborate story about how I’ve been stuck in a snow-bank, feeding on nothing but scraps of garbage and keeping myself warm by blowing on myself, but I would be lying. The real reason is because I’ve been participating in the 2011 Winnipeg Winter Olympic Games!

For those who are unfamiliar with this cut-throat, high-caliber event, the Winnipeg Winter Olympics are held annually in the Capital of Manitoba. The competition runs from November to…well…the closing ceremonies typically do not happen until April…or May…ish? There are numerous events that take place throughout the 6 month period. A few of these events are outlined below:

The Snowplow Shuffle:

This event takes place for the entire 6 month period of the Olympics. Participants are equipped with nothing but a small sedan, mediocre winter tires, and an double-double from Tim Horton’s. The object of the event is to travel from Point A to Point B behind a caravan of snow-removal trucks. Competitors are known to play a lot of “Frogger” in the off-season to train for this event.

  • Scoring: Fastest time wins.
  • Disqualification: Making contact with a snowplow; driving on the shoulder; participant road rage.

Car Colour-tastrophy:

In this event, participants are positioned at a main intersection in Winnipeg. They are asked to name the actual colour of the first fifty cars that pass in front of them. Any car that has just passed through a car wash to remove the layers of sand and salt are not counted.

  • Scoring: 1 point/correct answer. Most points wins.
  • Disqualification: You cause an accident or get in the middle of one.

100 Meter Dash-For-Your-Life:

Probably the event drawing the most spectators, the 100 Meter Dash-For-Your-Life takes place at the windiest intersection in Canada, Portage and Main. Although cross-walks have been removed and replaced with underground walkways for the safety of pedestrians, the goal of this event is for participants to safely cross the street, above ground. Weather conditions are absolutely imperative for the proper execution of this event and wind speeds must be no less than 80 km/hr. Gusts > 100 km/hr are preferred.

  • Scoring: Based on the time taken to cross the street against the wind.
  • Disqualification: You end up in the middle of the intersection or in Ontario.

Pothole Projectile:

This event takes place towards the end of the Olympics, when the city undergoes periods of warm temperatures quickly followed by cold snaps. This see-sawing of the temperature creates perfect road conditions with the development of automobile-sized potholes. The object of the event is to, without warning, drive into one of these potholes and project your car into the air as far and high as possible.

  • Scoring: Points are awarded based on the distance from the pothole to the point where your back tires reconnect with the ground.
  • Disqualification: Jumping into your neighbours lane; loss of vehicle in pothole (see image below)

Snowdrift Surprise:

This is the final event, taking place towards the end of the Olympics typically symbolizing the end of the competition. In this timed event, participants are given a checklist of items that they must recover from melting snowdrifts. Some items on the list include: a bicycle, children’s toys, a family pet, someones dignity, 75 plastic Walmart bags, and Justin Bieber (we can only hope).

  • Scoring: 1 point for each item recovered. If Justin Bieber is recovered – 1 trillion points.
  • Disqualification: Discovery of a dead body (steer clear of known “drop zones”).

Those are just a few of the many events happening here, in the hotbed for athletics, at the 2011 Winter Olympics Games. Other events include: the Salt-and-sandcastle Expo, Frostbite Fiasco and Garbage-Free Tree Hunt.

If you wish to become a participant in these events, all it takes is a trip to Winnipeg. And there are no winners…I assure you.

Posted in One Great City | 5 Comments

Only in Winnipeg…Drive-Thru Edition

Only in Winnipeg do…

a) Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s drive-thru line-ups cause traffic jams with the cars on the main road.

b) you have to open your door to place an order because your car window is frozen shut.

Posted in Only in Winnipeg... | 1 Comment

A Winnipeg Birthday

In my 29 years on this planet, I had never spent a birthday away from Vancouver. So my 29th birthday was the first of its kind. Away from my home, my family, and my friends. Normally when October hits, excitement starts to build inside me. I grew up in a family that always made a big deal about birthdays so I think it became ingrained in me. The excitement was still there this year but it was surrounded by reservations. So clearly just the date October 19th wasn’t what held meaning for me. So what is it that I Iove about birthdays?

To me, birthdays aren’t about turning a year older (with the exception of when I became legal of course). And I’ll have to re-read this many times as I get older I’m sure. Birthdays definitely aren’t about presents or even cake and ice cream. All those things happened on my birthday this year (and I am very grateful for them, don’t get me wrong) but of course, something was missing. I love my birthday because it’s a day when I get to connect with all the people who I love in my life. Phone calls from distant friends and relatives, cards in the mail, going out with friends, dinner with my family – those are my favourite parts.

But I have to say, people went out of their way this year to make my first birthday away from home special. My day started with coffee in bed and spending the morning with my man. We ate at our favourite brunch place in Winnipeg then came home to flowers and cookies at our doorstep. My new work mates took me out for an amazing teppanyaki dinner where I got to drink out of Buddha’s belly (don’t ask) and catch raw eggs being thrown at my by the chef. We then went to a sports bar to watch the Canucks lose terribly, which I think happens on my birthday every year. We’ll chalk it up to Luongo having “bad Octobers”, right? But perhaps the highlight of my evening was when I received a text message with a photo attached – it was a picture of 3 of my best girlfriends sitting at one of our favourite restaurants in Vancouver with an 8×10 photo of me sitting with them. They had taken “me” out for a birthday dinner. And when they called to sing me happy birthday, I burst into tears. I missed them so much in that moment and was so grateful to have such thoughtful friends. Although, they informed me later that they left “me” at the restaurant. I’m gonna say it’s because I was having such a good time as opposed to them forgetting me there.

So thank you to Caelin and all my family and friends for making my first birthday away from home so wonderful. Bring on 30.

Posted in Just life | 1 Comment

“Friendly Manitoba”

It’s official. I’m a Manitoban. If you look closely, you can see my block heater cord.

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My first Winnipeg concert

I know what you are thinking. Rock bands go to Winnipeg? You bet! Quite a few actually. But this was not just any band. This was my favourite band so of course, I was there (I’d like to say front and centre but those tickets were expensive).

I discovered Broken Social Scene years ago and this was my third time seeing them live.  Every time I see them perform, I fall in love with them a little bit more. For those of you who aren’t familiar with BSS, they are a Canadian band that got together in 1999 and are some of the most talented musicians I have ever heard. At one point last night, they had 11 musicians on stage playing instruments ranging from guitars to trumpets to saxophones and even a banjo. The have such a full, melodic sound that has given me goosebumps on numerous occasions.

They played for 2 hours at the Burton Cummings Theatre and even skipped the part where the band leaves the stage before the encore so they could fit more music in. I love them for this. For those who are familiar with the band (and probably only my brother will read this part), here is an incomplete play list…and not in this order: World Sick, Texico Bitches, Forced to Love, Sweetest Kill, Lover’s Spit, Anthems, Shoreline, Hotel, Superconnected, Fire Eye’d Boy, Major Label Debut, KC Accidental, Stars and Sons, and Looks Just Like the Sun, plus many more.

It appears that BSS quite likes Winnipeg. They were having a lot of fun with the crowd, making many comments about the city of Winnipeg (although I admit I was sensing a sarcastic undertone to many of these comments). They spent the day before the show hanging out around the town and commented, “You’ve got a nice 3 block radius here in Winnipeg. As for the rest of it, I can’t speak”. And people cheered. They even dedicated a song to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, which also received many cheers.

Part way through the show, Kevin, the front man, told a little story about their last experience in Winnipeg. Apparently before the show even began, a fan stole a pedal right off the stage. When the band took the stage, Kevin was outraged and apparently a few of the band members took turns telling the audience how “upset” they were. The show went on…minus one pedal. Turns out the guilt of the thief got the better of them and they mailed the pedal back to the band with an apology letter. And BSS forgave them. So, like car theft, I am learning that when things get stolen in Winnipeg, most often they are returned. What a nice city.

So I loved the show. But, I have two complaints…I mean…observations. And all I can say is that these two “observations” have rarely happened at shows I’ve attended in Vancouver. So maybe concert etiquette differs between cities? Has anyone else experienced this in other cities? I will phrase these as requests to future concert goers.

Request #1 – Please do not get up from your seats 18 thousand times during a show for absolutely no reason. You can’t possibly have to go to the bathroom that many times and you’re not coming back with beer so you have no good reason. Sit down and be considerate of the people around you.

#2 – Please do not talk about your “skin rash” during a ballad. Or any chatter during any song for that matter. Ballads are typically quieter and people can hear you (in this case, BSS made a comment about an apparent skin rash conversation in the front row but were probably just disgusted with the loud chit-chat in general).

But not to leave things on a negative note, it was a great night. There was a moment between the opener and BSS that I looked around at all the people chatting. Everyone seemed to know each other. I couldn’t help but think that I was back at a theatre like the Orpheum in Vancouver and would walk out onto Granville Street after the show. I almost expected that I would see someone I know. At this point in my thought process, I glanced over at Caelin and said, “So, Roxy after the show?”. I supposed old habits die-hard.

And now, the song that started it all for me. And this was the first time I had heard it live. Enjoy.

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Only in Winnipeg…

…can you mistake winter clothing left on the side of the road as roadkill.

Posted in Only in Winnipeg... | 3 Comments