Archive for February, 2008

More pictures – Beavers, Cubs and Scouts this time

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Let us take a little break from the wall-to-wall skating coverage here and show Luke what awaits him when he gets back home. There is pack of very keen Cubs, Scouts and Beavers who are looking forward to adding him to their number. These pictures are actually a few weeks old now and our troop has grown by four more since these were taken.

Let’s start off with our Beavers. This is Scouts Canada’s program for five to seven year olds.


And here is the Fort Smith Wolf Cub Pack, the program for eight to ten year olds.


And finally, here are our Scouts, who range from 11 to 14 years old.


As I noted, we have since enlarged our group. We have a new scout, a new cub and two new Beavers. The troop has gotten a lot of press attention lately, and I expect our memeebership will be growing even more now that skating has ended for the year. Anyway, my son Ian wanted me to the post these pictures for everyone to see, expecially Luke. Enjoy!

Photo time!

Monday, February 25th, 2008

All right, folks. Here is my first foray in posting photos on this blog. I see that Vi has bravely led the way, so I figure if I can’t do it she deserves to make fun of me until the end of time. And if she doesn’t, I am sure Rick will. Anyway, here it goes.

These pics are from the Fort Smith Figure Skating Club Carnival, which took place February 23 and 24, and was a production of “Mary Poppins” this year. You have already heard a couple of viewpoints on the show, so let’s get to some images. For those non-Fort Smith friends who are wondering why this is getting such attention, I should explain the signficance of the carnival to the James Family. Alex and Luke are both regular (and keen) particpants in the show, as is Claudette as part of the Fort Smith Fury hockey club, which does a humourous little number each year. Rick is the behind-the-scenes-guy, building props, painting scenery and carrying out other elements of production design. With that quick explanation, let’s look at some pics. Apologies for quality beforehand.

At the start of the show we had the singing of O Canada and the colour guard. On day two it was Josh, David and Ian.


Here we have the full cast of the show in front of the backdrop.


In this photo, the main cast is about to do their bow at the end of the second show.


Here is, right to left, Carolyn Gill, as Mary Poppins, Jillaine Cummings as Mr. Banks, Larissa Korol as Mrs. Banks and Kathleen Gill as Jane Banks.


Here is a close up of the farm animals, with (shameless paternal plug warning!) my Gracie-girl front and centre.


Here is Kathleen leading a very tired Gracie off the ice. It was long weekend for a four-year old, but she held up well right until the end.


And now, the pic you have been waiting for: the incomparable Fort Smith Fury, playing the bankers from “Mary Poppins.”


And that’s it! My camera didn’t allow me to get any good action shots, but once I get some I will post those as well.

Redundant Skating News or “Why can’t I ever post faster than Ann?”

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I see that Speedy McKeizer has already been on line to give you an update on the skating carnival production of “Mary Poppins.”. Yes, all went very well indeed. Michelle and Carolyn were great as Bert and Mary, and Kathleen and Megan Walsh were a very adorable Jane and Michael Banks.

Gracie was part of the farm animals group, which you may remember from the animated sequence of the film. She played one of three little pigs. As a group they were short on skill but long on extreme cuteness, which ultimately carried the day. The crowd loved them.

Because one of the parents who was in charge of the colour guard forgot to contact the RCMP, my Cubs and Scouts were asked to step in to hold the flags during the opening ceremonies and national anthem. Matthew, David and Josh Bird and Ian did their duty quite well, and they enjoyed showing off their uniforms in front of the whole town.

The backdrop looked great (we had a super crew working on it – lots of volunteers) but thank heavens the props were kept to a minimum. I was on prop duty and I couldn’t have done them without Rick.

Because of the Arctic Winter Games, we had a month less time to do the carnival this year. We also lost a week of practices because the cold was so extreme the arena was shut down. Yet looking at the final product, you would never had known it. Everything went really well.

Pictures will follow shortly.

… and yet another successful Carnival year!!

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Although you are out and about in the middle of Africa checking out the wildlife; we have just completed yet another skating carnival year.

Mary Poppins was an enlightening skating event that was surprisingly easy to pull together in such a short time frame. The props were light and the outfits were easy (some thanks to the Internet and Ebay!). The back drop was the BIG winner (thanks to Mr. TimmyG and friends) and made you think you were literally stepping into a chalk drawing.

Clean up was … none other than QUICK and the whole lot of us were out of the arena by 5:30 pm! (I think a record yet do date!!)

Now, it is one week left of figure skating (test dates) and we can say, “that’s a wrap” for yet another year. Hockey on the other hand will continue to the bitter end! <evil grin> or until we are no longer allowed to physically skate on the ice for the season!

The temperatures were CRAZY warm this weekend causing the abnormal thawing of the arena ceiling (as what happens during our regular scheduled carnival in the March months) .. but only in February. I think we say the highs of minus 3 this weekend! *sweeeeeeeeeeeeet* Yes, a perfect weekend for snow machining … IF we weren’t involved with carnival.

The Fury ladies are gearing up for the Hazardous Hockey weekend in Hay River! We have a teams of 14 skaters and one goalie heading over to have some fun. This year HR wanted to do a split two tier system because of the number of teams and skating levels, however I am not sure if this will come together as they hoped. We have put in for the “Level B” section as opposed to the “Level A”. (We just want to play and have fun!!!) *s*

It looks like we will be doing the “drive” down to Edmonton to go “grad dress shopping” *groan*. However, it is needed (I suppose). I did try the “buy a grad dress on Ebay” but I just couldn’t see one coming from China … looking like the picture it was portraying!!! (and ensuring it would fit properly). So, the Keizer Klan will be cruising in the van in the next 2 weeks. We are hoping to stop by and see the Mawdsley family while we are there. Apparently Alice will be moving over to Glen Rose so she can do her daily physiotherapy to help her get stronger and stronger.

Oh ?! (listening for sounds in the back ground …) … the washer has finally stopped. I best send this and put another load in so we can have clean clothes for this coming work week.

Hugs to everyone and I hope the flu (or whatever got to Alex and Luke) didn’t stick around too long. Keep healthy and stay strong.


Ann (The Good) *smile*

One week to Skating Carnival!!

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Well, it is crunch time up here! Costumes are madly being sewn and put together and the back drop was created (by Mr. Timmy G and friends) on Saturday. I wasn’t there but everyone tells me it is spectacular!

The theme this year is Mary Poppins. Michelle will be playing “Bert” (yes .. another male character!) This is her last Carnival … and it comes as a bitter – sweet event. It is hard to believe that she has been in this club for 13 years! (that is 13 years worth of costumes!!!) I should sell them on Ebay! *L*

The Kearly’s house good bye party on Saturday night was a blast! The “band” was back together and the good tunes were being sung by one and all! (Ask Tim!! <grin>)

Well Johnathon comes back from winter camp tomorrow and I am curious to see how he fared! The temps were in the minus 40’s (that is including wind chill) at the beginning of the week. Good news we have warmed up to the minus 20’s and 30’s during daytime now. His ride home should be better than it was going there!

I best get going … I find I ramble on and on on this blog “thingie” *LOL* <gotcha Rick on that one> I just had to use the word thingie at least ONCE!

hugs to everyone!

from me Ann (THE GOOD) 🙂


Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Pete misses his family very much. This morning Luke said “Hi” to him on the phone and Pete’s ears really perked up when he heard Luke’s voice. Uncle Dennis and Auntie Debbie bought Pete this Christmas hat and collar as well as his very own Advent Calendar.

pete-xmas.jpg advent.JPG pete.JPG


Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Hey James’

Thank you for doing a phenomenal job at keeping us up to date on your travels.. I hope I can do half as well! Yup, my day is coming soon.. 3 weeks and two sleeps until I leave Smith and 32 days until I start my grand adventure! Dixie and Larry are booked and I think I may have another friend convinced to meet me somewhere along the way.

My only update for you is it is damn cold here…. damn cold!

I wish you safe travels for the rest of your trip. Keep keeping us informed!

Shari O

Hey :)

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Well guess you have only been gone now for a few months so figured I should register and write a note. Thanks for calling this morning, whis we could of chatted for longer. Will look into getting skype fixed or authorized or whatever… So school is going well, 1 week left, with exams everyday. Pretty interesting. Level 2 will be sometime before September, and hopefully level 3 will be sometime this year as well.

Otherwise we are all good. Been doing some skiing and Maddie is loving it.

Take it easy at the beach – don’t get a kink in your neck eh 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you in a few months. Love to all, Jeff

ahem … “tap-tap-tap” .. is this mic on?!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Well hello James family! Look what that Mr. Timmy G. did, he got me to use “The Friends Blog”. Wow, I must say, it looks pretty clean and spiffy in here (*turning head in all directions to check out the new space*)

I have been busy lately with travels to HR for Territorial skating AND getting our Johnny K ready for winter camp. Nothing like riding sleds and camping out in the snow with wind chills of minus 34 and lower! Brrr!. He is gone for a week up to Piers Lake. It took three people and many maps later to show me where that is! (basically … not too far north from our Germaine Lake!).

He is out there with Eileen Beaver, Roger Vail, a volunteer by the name of Peter and a pile of maniac PWK students from Grade 10, 11 and 12. Michelle did not go on this one because it over lapped with skating.

Hey!! Did you hear the news? Harv and Shirley (Melanie’s parents … Dan’s in-laws) .. who moved to High Level last summer …. WEllllll, they are moving to Cold Lake, Alberta very soon. 🙁

We are all going to miss them very much. It was nothing for them to hop, skip and jump up to Smith for the weekend .. or for us to stay over night at their place in High Level on our way down to GP or Edm. Now, they will be moving. Dan is having a big shin-dig this Saturday night at their house and Harv and Shirley will be there. Lots of food, music and drink with many friends. I think it will be a great time (as usual).

If you are back early enough … we will have ONE HELL OF A GRAND TIME! I will keep it a secret in case you can make it back. *L*

It is Joanne’s birthday soon too. We are supposed to be celebrating her big day soon. I have a gift I think she will TRULY enjoy. (I can’t say any more than that .. because she may be reading this Blog from her house! *L*)

Well, I am rambling so that is my cue to exit … stage left.

Hang tight, enjoy the sights and sounds of everything and enjoy your new Tilley tailored shorts with the secret pocket! (pretty cheap for $17 bucks!) That is a GREAT score!

hugs to everyone

Ann (Mike is in Ottawa this week … but returns soon)

News Canadian Travellers can Use! II

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Hi guys – it has been a crazy time around here lately. Between skating carnivals, skating territorials, cubs, Aurora College Week and so on, there hasn’t been much downtime.

Let me first mention that we waded through all your pictures, at last. They are absolutely gorgeous! The Red Fort and the Taj Mahal were our favourites, and the kids especially were very taken with them (and the elephants – you’ve turned our kids into elephant junkies!). Some of the urban shots look depressingly crowded and not terribly clean. I can see North Americans having to deal with the “ewww” factor every now and then. We loved the shot of Rick and Luke and the snake charmer. I had to explain to the kids what was going on, and then we had to endure Gracie practicing her snake charming on the Chinese flute you guys sent back home. Ian also loved the pictures of Luke getting smooched by those two Indian women. Luke’s expression really cracked him up.

We can see that Alex is getting a lot of mileage out of that underwater camera of hers. To look at the pictures, you’d think you guys have become semi-aquatic.

Now, on to the local news.

Roy Scott is leaving Fort Smith to take a new job working for the Town of Peace River. He is leaving for a six-month assignment, but he has the option of taking the job full-time or returning to his job in Fort Smith. (Pretty sweet arrangement if you can get, really.) Louise and Brittany are staying in Smith for now, but will move if the job becomes permanent.

Skating territorials just took place in Hay River. Our kids did fairly well this time around. Michelle took a bronze in creative, and Megan Walsh won a couple of golds. Kathleen Gill took home a couple of medals, and got invited to attend the STARskate Program after placing second in the STARskate event. She will attend the program in Rocky Mountain House at the end of March. According to Ann who attended the event, our kids did very well, and YK did not dominate as they have in years past.

I am working on getting Ann up and running on the firends blog. In fact, I am on the phone with her right now, and she says “Hello!” I will give her a brief wokrshop on it and she will have no excuse to not blog in the near future.

If you are keeping up with Alice’s care page, you will know that she wrote the words “Thank you.” a couple of days ago. This represents the first communication from her and a real sign that her cognitiive abilities may well fully recover. Everyone is hopeful for her. The town has gone crazy with fundraisng for the Mawdsleys. in addition to the usual bake sales, there has been a “Swim for Alice”, a “Ski for Alice” and all the ticket money from this year’s skating carnival is being donated to them. Phyllis actually just arrived in town yesterday for the first time since the accident to take care of some housekeeping things at work and home. She had a chat with Joanne, and said how overwhelmed the family is by the town’s support. She and Bill are using up all of their sick leave and will be off until June. Beyond that, they haven’t made any concrete plans.

It is Joanne’s birthday next week, so I am hosting a dinner for her this Saturday night at our place. Just the usual gang (minus you guys!). The Keizers, Kearlys and Chris Dewolf are coming so it will be a nice little group. If you can phone during that time you can talk to the gang and wish her a Happy Birthday. Everyone is due to be here by five o’clock our time. God knows when that is wherever you are now. (Somewhere in Tanzania, I think.) If you want and are able to, we can do a chat on Skype. Let me know in the comments what your Internet situation is.

More charges have been laid against Emra Bulatci, the man accused of killing the young Mountie in Hay River. In addition to the first degree murder charge, he also faces three counts of obstruction of justice. Apparently, the guy found it impossible to get a lawyer in the NWT as no one wanted to defend him. Some lawyer from Alberta was finally retained to represent him. This guy is going away for a long time.

And that is about it from the home front. Let’s take a little look at the national scene.

There was the stink of a federal election in the air, but it seems to have passed now that Harper and Dion are making compromising noises on the Afghanistan mission thing. Frankl,y I have been parying for an election. The chance to get little George Bush out of 22 Sussex can’t come soon enough. Everyone seems to have backed away from the precipice for now, but the situation remains fluid.

In other shocking news, Canada is cold in the winter!

Albertans are heading to the polls, and the Tories are expected to lose a few seats to voters shfiting both to the right and to the left. Calgary – of all places! – seems poised for a breakthrough by the Liberals, while the NDP have their eye on a couple of Edmonton seats. The right wing Wildrose Alliance Party is expected to nab a few rural seats from the Tories, but the Big Blue Machine is sitll expected to hold on to power. If these projected losses come through though, I can’t See Ed Stelmach staying as Premier for very long. Here is a link to a good Alberta election news page.

And out in the rest of the world…

Everyone wants to buy Yahoo! Microsoft’s initial bid of $44 billion was rejected by Yahoo! They are now in talks with News Corp. (owners of Fox News, 20th Century Fox, the New York Post, Wall Street journal, etc. – a truly evil right wing corporation) to create soem sort of partnership that would protect them from being bought by Microsoft (a slightly less right wing truly evil corporation). Yeah, yeah, billions here, billions there, but how will it affect my download time?

In the United States, all signs are that Americans will elect their first African-American president in November. Barack Obama is on his way to beating Clinton for the nomination, but she is not giving up easily. Insane war monkey John McCain has already wrapped up the Republican nomination, but nobody cares because the Reps are going to get their backsides handed to them in this election. And rightly so after the lawless disgrace known as the Bush regime.

And that’s it for this edition, gang! As always, I will try to be more diligent with my posts, but some of us aren’t on permanent vacation (he says enviously). Take care, enjoy the sights in Africa, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Hi Luke and Alex, from Ian and Gracie

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Hi guys – Another note from Gracie first:

Hi Alex and Luke – I got my hair cut short. I went to my new dance class yesterday. It was fun. We go to the rec centre and Karen [Zaiden] is my teacher.

My friends Neva and Eleanor came over to play with me yesterday. We had to play inside because it is still cold. It has been too cold to go skating at the arena. The arena is closed [was closed last week – Tim].

There was a chicken in the tree in our yard last week. I was very close to it.

I miss you very much.

Love Gracie

And here’s a quick note from Ian:

Hi Luke and Alex:

I hope you are having a great time on your trip. I saw some of the pictures of you in the temples and the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. I like the picture with you holding the Taj Mahal in your hand. India looks very neat. I wish I could see it with you. It looks hot, but here it is cold.

I am really playing Lego a lot these days because it is so cold outside. In the Lego magazine I saw an Indiana Jones Lego set. It’s the boulder scene from the first movie. There are other sets too. It was really cool.

I am having lots of fun at school I just did a project on Scotland, and now I have to do one on my favourite fairy tale. I am doing a diorama on Jack and the Beanstalk. I am making it out of this stuff called model magic. It’s kind of like clay. We are playing soccer in gym now. I am on the Green Team.

We couldn’t go to cubs last week because my dad got stuck trying to drive to the armoury parking lot [About a foot of snow! Took me an hour to get the Suzuki out. – Tim]. My dad says we have to find a new place for cubs to meet. He is trying to find a place.

I miss you very much.

Love, Ian.