Seasons of Change

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playing golf in North Dakota earlier this month

Its hard to believe, but the snow is actually almost all gone.

There is still a few feet remaining up high in the mountains surrounding us in Montana but the incredible piles that were stacked around our home to make their own makeshift mountain range have melted.

 

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stacked snow in March

We left Montana with 3 feet of snow for a reprieve and time together in Bismarck. Alistair and the 3 cats took off early one morning and I followed with Cleo that afternoon after giving a fun interview with Indie Review (search Tanya Fyfe on YouTube) to promote my book, Secrets Abound in Missing Lake.

I chose to promote last year’s publication instead of writing this past winter because I wanted to learn the process and see what some marketing could do. I’m glad I didn’t try writing because the amount of plowing and snow removal didn’t allow for much creativity and I think my writing would have been frustrating.

 

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This wouldn’t have made for a very relaxing writer’s corner.

With huge fans and dehumidifiers whizzing 24/7 and strangers and their machines traipsing through the house and us living in the guest room since February, I haven’t felt much like creating this spring. So it was a good call to choose to market.

And through the marketing I have learned a lot and I got my book out to a lot of different people and I’m getting close to wrapping up my first Book Blog tour! Blog sites like Rockin’ Book Reviews, Community bookstop, Ashley’s Bookshelf, My Reading Journeys and Bound 2 Escape signed on to “host” a stop on the tour.

Its a lot like a band going on tour, making stops in a variety of cities and performing. Only on this tour the cities are virtual and the bloggers review my book. Some also provided excerpts and its been great fun seeing what people think about my book and my writing style!

 

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Wendy & I in Watford City

While in North Dakota, I spent a day with my good friend, Wendy Ruud and we had a book event in Watford City, where we had first met in 1994. Book sales were decent, especially since I sold to some people who had no idea who either of us were.

And then I got notice that my book actually won an award! My first book award! Secrets Abound won Distinguished Favorite for teen fiction in the Independent Press Awards! It didn’t come with prize money but it did come with stickers for my books, which is the next-best thing.

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North Dakota didn’t have any snow at all when I arrived towards the end of April. Our horses got to enjoy the first bits of grass peeking through and they had mostly shed their winter coats.

As always, they remembered their ‘Mum’ and came right up to greet me whenever I would be out with them. Especially the few who have spent most of the past 10 years in Montana full time with me, like Zeus and Frankie.

 

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Zeus & Frankie! My boys!

The herd dynamics had changed, though, which Alistair had warned me about over the winter. Our oldest Arabian broodmare, Susie (RJA Misty Bey), who had been Boss Mare for over a decade had begun to lose weight along with her position at the top.

Horses are herd animals and they have unique dynamics within each herd. Our group has been together for all of their lives, save for Katie and Jake, and their established rankings never changed.

Until Susie started to lag behind and be “told off” by the younger horses who are allowed to the  best grass or the best hay whenever they choose.

 

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More of the herd: Penner, Fumie and Cassie up front.

I watched Shilo and Zeus both toss their heads at thin Susie and knew she had become the lowest horse on the Fyfe totem pole. When older horses begin to lose weight it can pick up speed like a freight train and that was also happening with our 28 year-old matriarch.

It was, sadly, Time.

And just like that, we are down to 10 horses.

Along with 3 cats.

And 1 dog.

 

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Back in the day. (Susie’s daughter, Cocoa & her foal, Spyder are on the far left!)

Its a far cry from our heyday as Pair O’Docs Paints when this time of year had us up through the night waiting for foals to be born.

Its a far cry from hikes in the forest with 4 rambunctious canine companions and one hilarious blind little train wreck with a hare lip and a heart murmur waiting for us at home.

 

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Our own little dog pack.

And its an unrecognizably far cry from having a pride of cats line up for soft food in the kitchen every night.

 

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Back in Bismarck a long, long time ago. Sport and Cooper aren’t even shown here!

We’ve been so lucky to have met and shared the journey with so many interesting spirits of so many species and its helped shape us even if the changes that occur when these spirits leave us are sad.

But that’s life, right?

While the seasons are changing before our eyes right now it makes me think about the seasons within our own lives. And how they change, whether we’re in charge of it or not.

 

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Hoo boy.

After 3 weeks in North Dakota we returned to a snow-less yard around our Montana home. We could finally see the extent of the damage to the deck out back. Our insurance adjuster and the head guy from the restoration company joined us on a walk-about as we chatted about the roof, the lawn, the deck and the interior walls that need to get rebuilt.

More changes ahead, apparently.

Thankfully our creek behaved itself during the incredible melt but the community of Seeley Lake had some flooding thanks to high, fast-moving waters.

 

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Our creek next to our house a couple of weeks ago.

My home town of Grand Forks, BC, where I’ve taken you through this blog in the past, has not fared so well with the melt this year.

Sadly, heart-wrenchingly, the town has flooded like never before and dozens of homes will have to be destroyed. I’ve watched posts and news clips over the past couple of weeks as people wade, thigh-deep, in brown, murky waters to recover items from their homes.

People float along the streets in kayaks and row boats.

People have spent hours filling and distributing sandbags in a very Canadian effort to try to protect homes and businesses from the force of the swollen rivers that converge there.

The Canadian military got there yesterday to help with the disaster.

 

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My old high school in Grand Forks… closed last week because of the community’s disaster.

Things are going to change in Grand Forks, and it will take a long time for things to be considered normal again. My family is high and dry where they live but I have friends who are living in makeshift accommodations and my heart goes out to them.

I’ll share only a couple of photos that aren’t mine… I find they tell the story just as well without words.

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Spring is here, complete with her massive snow melt, her green grass, her hundreds of calves along lonely highway 200, her golf courses opening up and her friend, Winter’s insurance claim on our house.

I’m approaching a new season in my own life as well and, just like every change, it can be frightening. Change does build character (I must have it in droves!) and as nervous as I am I’m also excited. I’m not sure if this will be a full seasonal change for me or not. I’m really not sure how we’ll make this particular change work but I’m eager to try.

I didn’t just plow and shovel snow and market my book this winter. I made a point to do some personal growth and I took a course and learned a lot. I have a job to begin but the details are fuzzy so I’ll leave them blank.

For now.

 

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Along highway 200 2 weeks ago.

I’m not quite like the seasons, though. Winter shed its snowy coat and becomes something new altogether.

I’m not changing that much. I’m still me.

The Alistair-loving, figure skating, veterinarian, author (award winning!), golf-loving, bling-slinging, blogging, wine-drinking, crazy cat lady who is as Canadian as she is American.

Stay tuned, though, to find out just what else I can be!

 

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hubby-loving golfer

 

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I doubt this will change much

 

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Play it as it lies! (ND earlier this month)

 

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Someone got rid of her own winter coat this week and wanted me to share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its Olympic Week!!!

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The Olympics!!!

Its here! Its here! Amidst international tensions and frustrations and with all the drama required for the heralded sporting event that occurs every 4 years, South Korea will be welcoming the world this week for the twenty-third Olympic Winter Games!

While I’m particularly glued to the figure skating events, I absolutely love watching all of it. I love seeing the skiers fly down the slippery mountains at break-neck speeds; I get a huge kick out the high-flying snowboarders whose first gold medal hero was Ross Rebagliati from Canada; I shake my head at the sheer insanity of laying on a board on your back as the lugers do their thing in that tiny tube; and curling and hockey both have a poutine-fed grip on my heart.

 

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We thought about making an Olympic push… note, this photo and the very last one are mine. All of the other photos are not my photos.

But it is the figure skating that will have me with tears streaming down my face as I watch. They’re tears of joy and happiness and they come from an athletic and artistic part of me.

The Games officially start on Friday, the 9th with the opening ceremony that night. NBC once again has broadcasting dibs and they tend to do a great job. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Wier are former top-tier American skaters who handle a lot of the commentary and I find them to be hilarious (I can’t wait to see Johnny’s outfits!) and also pretty accurate in the things they talk about.

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Alina Zagitova en route to the European gold medal

Predictions? I have a few thoughts, but remember, ice is slippery. Irina Slutskaya coined that phrase years ago and she’s absolutely right.

In the ladies event, while everyone assumed Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva would win because that’s all she does, her country-mate might have something to say about that. Skating her long program to one of this year’s several Swan Lakes, 15 year-old Alina Zagitova has the arsenal and the grit to win it all.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of her style yet because she’s only 15. Evgenia is a bit of an artist and skates with more maturity at all of 18. They both have the ability to stand on the top step of the podium when the last event of the figure skating competition ends Feb.22nd.

 

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Carolina Kostner

Speaking of skating with maturity, the one pure artist in the field also has a chance to once again win an Olympic medal. Italy’s Carolina Kostner (Caro to her fans) skates with joy, passion, style and finesse. Oh, and she can jump, too. She can also rock a sparkly green unitard with flesh-tone cutouts like pretty much nobody I know. She will turn 31 on Feb.8th, and she was an innocent young Italian flag-bearer back in Torino.

 

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Kaetlyn Osmond!

Who do I want on the podium? Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond and not because she’s from the Great White North. It has more to do with her coach, Ravi, who was one of my great skating friends growing up. Kaetlyn lost her Canadian crown last month and I’m hoping its put some fire underneath her. She usually has a solid short program but she needs to bring 2 clean routines to the rink in order to beat clean Russians. She won silver at World’s last year behind Medvedeva so she’s no stranger to success.

 

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Kaetlyn & Ravi at the Olympics in Sochi 4 years ago

I’m not ruling out our new US national champ, Bradie Tennell because she has the goods, too, but isn’t well-known on the international scene and that counts somewhat in figure skating although the Olympics is known for once-in-a-lifetime performances from American skaters. (Sarah Hughes, Paul Wylie, Tara Lipinski…)

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USA’s Bradie Tennell

The men’s game was supposed to be a contest between Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno but Hanyu has been sidelined with an injury for a lot of the season. He didn’t even compete at Japanese nationals or the recent Four Continents and there is a bit of a buzz he won’t be 100%. Uno is coming off a 2nd-place finish at Four Continents and he can be a bit of a poopy-pants when he doesn’t win.

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Shoma Uno, Four Continents a couple of weeks ago

His skating is sublime, though, and the little guy can jump. China’s Boyang Jin is the guy who beat him at Four Continents and he’s a quad-machine himself. He doesn’t have the style or maturity of many other competitors but if it comes down to a jump-off he could be up there.

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Spanish heartthrob, Javier Fernandez

If we’re talking less jumps and more quality skating then Javi Fernandez, shown here after winning his 5th European title last year (he won his 6th last month), has to be part of the discussion. He trains with Hanyu at Brian Orser’s barn up in Canada and his Charlie Chaplin routine is a lot of fun when he nails the jumps.

The Russians have a couple of guys who could contend and Adam Rippon will hopefully be entertaining despite not having a reliable quad (he’ll have plenty of media time, I’m sure, given the fact he’s the first openly gay US skater to compete at the Olympics) and Canada’s Patrick Chan is a master of gliding and fancy footwork. (P Chiddy is also training in Edmonton with my friend, Ravi now, too!)

But the one everyone will be gunning for is the young American, Nathan Chen. I’ve talked about him here and how he is the quad master. He is insane with his amazing technique and he’s artistic, too! The sky is the limit for the US Champion and while I’m not sure we need to see 5 quads in one routine or that young men’s backs and knees are going to hold up to that kind of stress, Chen is going to make this one interesting competition (especially now that he’s ditched his terrible duds and has suited up in some snazzy Vera Wang!)

 

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Nathan Chen at US Nationals

The pairs event has some drama and we aren’t even in PyeongChang yet. The IOC has banned Russia from sending a contingent of athletes, which sucks big time because Russians are usually dominant in many winter sports and they make it exciting. In Sochi they pulled off an elaborate doping scandal (they switched out the vials of pee) and the IOC is holding them accountable to it (glad some governing parties have the balls to do that.)

Medvedeva gets to go, though, as do other petitioned athletes but they will not have the Russian anthem played if they medal and they won’t do the ceremonies under the Russian Flag. For whatever reason, Russian pair skater, Ksenia Stolbova, who won silver in Sochi with partner, Fedor Klimov, is banned. She wasn’t named in the doping scandal but she’s still not allowed to go. They’ve had a rough couple of seasons and they weren’t on my hot list but it still stinks to have that taken away from her.

 

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Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres at Europeans last month

I think if France’s James & Cipres skate clean they could medal. The judges want to give them medals and we all want to watch them skate (seen their Sounds of Silence routine? **shudders**) but they have to be solid. China’s pairs teams are always top notch and with Cong and Han being reigning World champs it would be cool if they won. (Mostly because they are both super short and it would make for a cute podium picture if they were on top and the guys on either side would be way taller.)

 

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Tiny but tough!

Canada’s Duhamel & Radford will be heartstring favorites and I think the American hubby-wife Knierems could be media darlings but the event belongs to Russians Tarasova and Morozov who, with their La La Land routine, have won everything they’ve entered this year. While I can’t fathom that hideous polka-dotted outfit on the top step, they are lovely, talented skaters who are fun to watch.

 

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Evgenia Tarasova & Vladamir Morozov. And polka dots.

I’m not emotionally ready to talk Ice Dance just yet. I know Alistair will be shaking his head at me when we’re watching Tessa & Scott and I’m crying away. Their ethereal training-mates, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron have the World record in points as of Europeans last month and I fear that they could win the title. Tessa & Scott have 2 fabulous routines and there is this thing about them when they skate- you can’t take your eyes off of them and they are so sexy and cool you want to be just like them. There are the twizzling Shib Sibs, too, and their Coldplay long program is outstanding and you can’t rule out Russians Bobrova & Soloviev.

(Tessa & Scott are carrying the Canadian flag in the opening ceremonies, too… more tears!)

The short dance is the Rhumba, remember, so everyone has to do a section of that set pattern dance while mixing in Latin dance moves and low cut tops for the men. Ice Dancers are generally the Beautiful People anyhow and this short dance and several top couples have the ability to make you blush while watching (while grinning madly at the same time.)

So I’ll save the Ice Dance for the Olympics.

 

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Papadakis & Cizeron… they are pretty incredible.

Team events start with the men’s short, then pairs, ice dancers and the ladies all happening next weekend. Its a fun, slightly more relaxed event where everyone cheers each other on in the Kiss & Cry area. The solo events start on the 13th with the pairs short and their long the next day. They are followed by the men, the ice dancers and, finally, wrapping up yet another Olympic experience will be the ladies.

I cheer for all the countries and all the athletes. I want to see them all bring it and have their special Olympic moments. I love talking skating so feel free to share your thoughts and comments or hook up with me on Facebook because I’ll certainly be posting there during the Games.

5 days to go! Bring on the XXIII Winter Olympic Games!

 

Sochi Olympics Figure Skating

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir

 

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Evgenia Medvedeva

 

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I’ve always enjoyed Italian ice dancers Anna Capalini & Luca Lanotte

 

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A toast to the Olympics. Ravi’s and my late coach, Dr.Helmut May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Grand Prix Begin!

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One of America’s Ice Princess, Ashley Wagner (not my photo)

Its that time of year when figure skating fans start to get a bit nutty. We are anxious to see the new routines of our favorite skaters and equally curious about who has done what over the summer months.

The Grand Prix series brings together top skaters from all International Skating Union (ISU) countries in a showcasing format of limited-entry competitions. Skaters earn the right to compete at these events (and the right to try and earn some much-needed prize money) based on how they fared internationally the year prior.

We begin the 2016-17 season tonight in Hoffman Estates, Illinois with Skate America. And so begins this year’s rivalry between our own Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold.

 

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The current US Ladies Champion, Gracie Gold! (not my photo)

While Gracie’s talent is incredible and her jumps are gorgeous she has some in the skating community holding their breath when she leaps from solid ground. Er, solid ice.

A lack of consistency knocked her off the top of the podium at this spring’s World Championship. Sitting in 1st place after the short program she faltered on a night when the other women brought the house down, including Ashley. Gracie ended up apologizing to the nation with tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat when she placed 4th.

Ashley and Gracie met up early in October at the Japan Open, an early-season event where professional athletes can compete against the amateurs. Ashley earned some of her highest points ever and skated lights-out after telling reporters that she had worked her butt off this summer to gain consistency and strength.

 

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Determined, strong and confidant Ashley Wagner. (not my photo)

Ashley Wagner is no stranger to the media. She is often out-spoken (at times annoyingly so) but she backed her words up earning the silver medal at Worlds last spring and is starting to look like she wants to kick some ass.

She is a military brat and most people would agree she doesn’t have the talent that oozes out of Gracie Gold. She has been criticized for being stiff at times and she often has point deductions for under-rotating her jumps. Her triple-triple combination (a necessity for the top women these days) usually is a hair short and hasn’t been consistent.

But maybe her hard work this summer and her commitment to pushing through to the next Olympics as well as her taste of silver medal glory at World’s will keep her hungry enough to bring the best Ashley Wagner to every competition.

 

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Another gorgeous dress from the Sochi Olympics for Ashley (not my photo)

I like that she’s gone back to her darker hair coloring this season. It is more her and more real and that’s what the judges need to see.

And hopefully we will see Gracie share in some of the limelight this year. I just feel that her heart was crushed at World’s and she felt like she let the country, her coaches, her family and herself down.

 

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Gracie having some fun (not my photo).

We don’t get to see her bubbly, playful side as much anymore and practice reports from Illinois reflect that. “Straight face” and “poker face” are what I have read although she apparently had a decent short program practice today.

I used to always tell my skaters that if they weren’t enjoying themselves out on the ice the audience and the judges could tell. Nobody enjoys watching a skater have a complete meltdown as they achieve human-Zamboni status during a bad skate (a la Carolina Kostner a few World’s ago… oh, man, that was rough).

 

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The impeccably dressed Carolina Kostner, Caro to her fans, NOT wiping out (not my photo).

 

(As an aside, I love 29 year-old Carolina, who is returning to the party this year after a ridiculous ban forced upon her because of actions and choices a former boyfriend made involving performance-enhancing substances. We are the lucky ones to be able to watch this gifted, amazingly styled, musical, mesmerizing skater yet again!)

 

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Yay! Caro’s coming back this season! (not my photo, this was at Sochi in 2014 where she earned the bronze medal).

I’m hoping to see Gracie have some fun again because when she is on her game its like watching her put on a jumping clinic. She floats effortlessly around the ice in shimmering Swarovski crystals, leaping into her triples with a lightness and grace that defy her height. I want to see happy Gracie tonight because that will bring the US crowd to their feet. Gracie took almost a full month off her training this summer (unheard of in the skating world) and we are all hoping it recharged her desire batteries.

But this isn’t a 2-horse race this weekend. There are some other tough competitors sharing the shiny, slippery surface with the Americans.

 

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Japan’s Mao Asada… another tough, well-established cookie! (not my photo)

The balletic, triple-axel-wielding Mao Asada is in Illinois and although she hasn’t performed her full arsenal in the early season, practice reports are looking good so far. Of course, its all about what happens that night, under the lights and pressure, with television cameras at every corner of the rink, the coaches lined up along the boards and an arena full of knowledgeable fans who want to see every single skater bring it.

Mao is older than many of the others but with age comes a maturity to her skating that I absolutely love. A confidence that women achieve only with age. The knowledge of our own bodies and how to hold ourselves shows strongly in this petite performer and much of what Mao puts out there is more of a show than a competition.

 

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Incredible Mao Asada. (not my photo).

She also has some of the most beautiful dresses I’ve seen on the ice and I can’t wait to see her programs this season.

Another skater to pay attention to is the young upstart from Canada, Gabby Daleman.

 

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Canada’s Daleman! (not my photo)

Daleman has been on the international scene for a couple of years and while she has enjoyed podium love in Canada I get the feeling she is ready for a real breakthrough. She’s tough, polished, stunning and fast. I love her speed and it allows her jumps to soar.

Canada needs their women to join every other discipline on the World stage. Pairs, men and ice dance all have Canadian global champs but its been a generation since we have had women at the top.

 

Olympics: Figure Skating-Team Ladies Short Program

Canada’s former champion, Katelyn Osmond (not my photo).

We thought we had the next big deal in Katelyn Osmond from the Maritimes (training now in Edmonton) but bizarre injuries plagued her for the last 2 seasons. This did allow Gabby to gain some confidence, though, which is why she has earned spots in this year’s Grand Prix.

 

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Gabrielle Daleman thanking the crowd. (not my photo).

And we can’t count out the experience of Japan’s Kanako Murakami. Kanako suffered the fate of rising to the top of her game in a country that was full of rising stars. Fumie Suguri, Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, and Miki Ando were tremendous skaters when Kanako was trying to claim her stake among Japan’s skating elite.

 

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Kanako Murikami of Japan (not my photo).

She can be a bit stiff with her skating but she definitely skates from the heart. Unfortunately, she is one of those skaters who “wraps” their freeleg while in the air during jumps. Its a technique that some skaters just naturally have but it can lead to slower rotations and its just plain unsightly.

The unsightly quality is a big deal in our International Judging System where the base points for a jump can be added to or subtracted from based on the Grade of Execution. If not a negative GoE, it certainly doesn’t gain positives.

 

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While she has worked on her wrap over the years its still there. Note- faces always look funny in jumps & spins. (not my photo)

But you can’t argue with the fact she is still committed to the sport and there is something to be said about experience.

The ladies short program will air on Ice Network (www.icenetwork.com) tonight if you have a membership. NBC will also show some of the event this weekend.

The ice dance event will be ground-breaking in that the short dance is combining the Blues set pattern dance with a hip-hop section. I have seen some of the programs and its going to be a blast. I won’t detail the event just yet but know that I’m hoping the American siblings, Maia and Alex Shibutani are on their game.

 

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Maia and Alex Shibutani. LOVE them! (not my photo).

 

The Shibutanis (Shib-Shibs to their fans) became cult favorites last year when they skated to Coldplay. No, wait, they made art to Coldplay. I just got shivers thinking about their routine from last year that earned them the World silver medal.

This year they are combining Sinatra and Jay-z. Yeah, that’s right. Remix that, Baby! I’m curious to see what the judges think. Figure skating judges have been known to be stuffy old farts wrapped in wool coats and fur hats who glare at skaters and drop marks when new boundaries are pushed. Just think of how long it took Canadians, Shae-Lyn Bourne & Victor Krantz to break through ice dance barriers long established by European skaters.

But they did and it paved the way for creative performers like the Shibutanis and it has moved ice dance into a new era.

Reports from Illinois say Maia’s outfit for this routine is as amazing as their skating skills and the routine are. I can’t wait.

 

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The Shibutanis with iconic coach, Marina Zoueva after their silver-medal winning performance at World’s in Boston earlier this year.

I love this time of year.

I love the Grand Prix of figure skating.

I hope you’ll be able to see some of the skating this weekend and feel free to share your comments or ask questions. Figure skating is my first language and I remain fluent in it. Next up on the circuit is Skate Canada in Missisauga, Ontario next weekend. I shall keep you all posted.

 

 

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Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloveev of Russia are back on the scene at Skate America this weekend (not my photo).

 

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Also competing in ice dance are the Americans, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (obviously not my photo).

 

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Hoping to see happy Gracie after this weekend! (not my photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Still Me. Still Canadian.

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Its not Canada Day today nor is it any holiday my home land has deemed important enough to mark on my wall calendars. Its not the anniversary of my US naturalization and I’m not feeling nostalgic for poutine, maple syrup or Canadian Content.

I can get most of the things I identify with being Canadian right here in the United States. Most things.

I can’t get The Hip.

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My Canadian peeps know I’m talking about the Tragically Hip, our uber cool, exclusively Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario. Canadians will also know why today is a gut-wrenchingly special day and that people from the Yukon to Newfoundland will be tuning in to the most poignant concert in our country’s history.

Tonight is the very last night of the very last tour of our iconic band.

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The Tragically Hip. Not my photo.

 

The lead singer, Gord Downie announced this year that he had terminal brain cancer.

Their gift to the only country they’ve ever cared about was a final tour from coast to coast that began in Vancouver this summer. Several of my friends and family have been to the concerts and they all said it was a jubilant, festive celebration despite the gloom and doom of the knowledge we are losing The Hip.

That Gord still wore some crazy assed outfits and still gyrated and moved in a manner that would make Michael Stype of R.E.M. proud and that he could still belt out some massive poetry put to music.

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Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. Not my photo.

Maybe one reason us Canadians are fiercely protective of Gord and The Hip is because they were ours. They never became mainstream outside of Canada and they never tried to “make it”  globally.

They have a guitar-rich sound with real drums that back up Gord’s distinctive voice. They never changed and despite not becoming huge in Europe or the US they have sold more albums in Canada than any other Canadian band. They sound as good at a backyard BBQ as they do in a small pub, live or through the speakers.

Every Canadian who enjoys The Hip has a favorite song.

I’m all about Ahead by a Century. I like Cordelia, Little Bones and Fiddler’s Green, too, but Ahead by a Century is definitely my favorite. I get it. Like many of their songs you know it within seconds of the first few sounds you hear from the radio or your cd player or now your iPad.

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Classics. Particularly Road Apples.

When we drove up to Saskatchewan last summer for my 10 year veterinary school reunion and turned on CBC radio the first song we heard was by the Tragically Hip. I remember asking Alistair, “How Canadian is that?”

And yet not all Canadians share the love. Alistair would be hard pressed to name a song and he has a wealth of musical knowledge including Canadian artists. Neither of us are huge Leonard Cohen fans, for that matter but we aren’t talking Lenny right now.

So tonight, thanks to CBC radio, even if folks aren’t in Kingston to share the final live performance of the Tragically Hip we can all watch it live, even in the US. (www.cbcmusic.ca)

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Their final tour this summer…

I feel a tad nostalgic writing about an iconic band I saw once years ago.

No, check that.

I feel old.

It has a bit to do with the Golden Girls theme of my last blog and watching my animal companions over the past 2 years age before my eyes.

I look in the mirror and sometimes I’m not sure about the gal looking back at me. Why is there more grey hair than before? Why is there less hair?

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thankful the flash hid a bunch of the grey!

The gal in the mirror has a ton of laugh-lines around her eyes and mouth.

I can attest to having laughed a lot over my 43 years on the planet. Its one thing I enjoy doing, both making others laugh and busting a gut myself.

And while my hair is thinning my ass certainly isn’t. What’s with that? I’m not complaining about my size but it has become a heck of a lot harder to just drop 5 pounds whenever I wanted. (Its the figure skater in me. Puberty in spandex, remember?)

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More laugh lines proudly being made!

And what’s with the tears? This getting older business and perhaps a certain (gasp) maturity that has come along with it also opened up the flood gates. For me to cry watching Olympic athletes perform to the best of their ability and then win a medal for their country is nothing new but dog food commercials? Insurance commercials? Facebook posts that have nothing to do with animals? Who the Hell am I?

I know I’m still me because I can still laugh at myself while the tears are streaming down. And while too much Kona coffee gives me a bit of heartburn (WHAT THE HELL? I used to drink coffee all freaking day and into the night!), I still love my fun meals and red wine.

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Riding around in Norman this year!

And Alistair still seems to love me even after hanging around with me for 22 years.

I am choosing to look at this as a personal evolution rather than me actually changing. I’m shaped by individuals and events that have been a part of my world all these years. I’ve been influenced by news, books, music, sporting events and movies that have all gone through as many eras as the fashion industry has.

But I’m still me.

I’ll continue to listen to music and let it play as the soundtrack to my life in the back of my head while I work on my golf game and my obsession with make-up and bling. I’ll crack jokes and sometimes say them out loud and hopefully it will be an appropriate time to do so.

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2 of the Golden Girls, Phillipa & I a few nights ago.

And I’ll probably cry tonight watching the Olympics and the Tragically Hip concert livestream on my iPad while sipping some wine (cabernet or merlot… which is more appropriate?) and playing with the ferrets with little Loki cuddling up on the couch as she always does every single evening.

I’ll still be the honest, happy, dorky, somewhat naïve, tree-hugging, laughing skater-wife-stepmom-petmom-veterinarian-bookworm-writer I’ve always been. Just with more grey hair. And a bit more girth.

Maybe a dose of maturity isn’t so bad after all. As long as I’ve got waterproof mascara I should be okay.

To quote Gord Downie, “Its been a long time coming. Well worth the wait.”

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Aw, Gord. Fight the brave fight, man.

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Getting ready to film one of Luigi’s videos this spring… because ferrets with accents is just what I do.

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’nuff said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Years a Vet

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Drs. Teresa and Tan… what could be seen as Trouble Brewing…

In 2005, up in Saskatoon, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine hurled 70-odd young, (well, mostly young), unsuspecting newbie veterinary graduates out into the real world to do what we were born to do.

To heal.

To care.

To be the voice of the innocent animals who can’t speak for themselves.

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Drs. Tan & Lina… mere babies back then! (2005)

In those 10 years the family of 70-odd moved around, worked, married, worked some more, built clinics. bought into practices, kept working, had kids, traveled, worked to pay for the travel, had more kids, took up golf, got a few grey hairs, closed or changed practices, worked some more and yet somehow managed to stay in touch.

Or stayed in touch with enough people that we were able to put together a 10 -year reunion back up in Saskatoon last weekend that was really well-attended.

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The Class of 2005 who made the banquet! We clean up rather nicely!

Alistair and I made a vacation out of it.

We always liked the city of Saskatoon but never got to relax and truly experience both the journey up there and the city in the summer.

So we took our time and had an adventure.

It was fun being back in Canada together.

Where everything is SO Canadian.

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Oh, Canada!

The first Canadianism was at a cute café in Estevan, Saskatchewan where we stopped for a fabulous lunch.

Alistair ordered fries with his clubhouse and out they came smothered in gravy.

Canada, eh?

If you have never chewed a slightly damp and yet still-crisp French Fry that is coated in thick, beefy, warm, cling-to-your-fork-and-GI-tract gravy then you have missed out on one of life’s greatest guilty pleasures.

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No photo of the fries & gravy. So, a pic of the new rest area between Montana & North Dakota! This is a big deal for a guy who drives this route every 2 weeks!

The next Canadianism occurred when I turned the radio on to see if we could get some CBC.

The first thing we heard was the unmistakable sound of The Tragically Hip which made me burst out laughing.

You either get that or you don’t.

Canadians are fiercely protective of our particular brand of hip sounds, whether they are traditionally, Maritime-influenced, sung in French, socially or environmentally charged or just really witty.

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Can-Con

And then there is the politeness about everything.

I hadn’t realized that I’ve missed that but I did.

Although, it can border along the lines of downright silly…

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Downtown Saskatoon hotel parking lot

And, boy, when those Canadians really want to make their point they don’t hold back on the harsh language and stern warnings…

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Whoa, Canadian people, back off with the harsh language- I get it!

(It would have been more Canadian if the sign had actually read: “We’re sorry, but there’s positively, absolutely no parking.”)

Enjoying the Canadian in Canada was part of our plan for this adventure.

We ate out at some of our favorite old restaurants that Canadian cities really know how to run.

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Flanagan’s steakhouse in the historic Hotel Senator in downtown Saskatoon

Its the combination of beautiful surroundings, a tableside prepared Caesar salad pour deux, Canadian wines on the wine list (the Velvet Devil is NOT Canadian, our Canadian choice was out of stock… how Canadian…), impeccable (polite) service, and wonderfully presented food.

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I’ve got to work on my vegetable presentation at home; this was as delicious as it looked!

The Hotel Senator was one of those places Alistair and I or Fritzie and I would go to get away from the never ending cold and snow during our winters in Saskatoon 10 years ago.

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The historic Hotel Senator, as beautiful as ever with classic décor and killer chandeliers. Cheers!

I’m so glad we went back.

For kicks I organized my first ever golf tournament for the reunion-ers and we had a blast.

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Getting ready to start the tournament… a parade of unsuspecting golf carts and somewhat wary golfer-veterinarians, spouses & family members

4 foursomes made their way through Holiday Park’s 9-hole Executive course with laughs, a refreshing beverage thanks to the bar cart and varying versions on how to hit a golf ball.

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The Pinels… taking this golf thing SO seriously 😉

We had a few first-timers and none of them gave up!

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The all-female foursome! Drs. Carla, Lina, Jenny & Carol

Our foursome led the troupe onto the fairway… or way over the greens… into the hedges… onto the neighboring fairway… and, SPLOOSH… into the ponds.

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Fab foursome of the Pinels & the Fyfes.

We encouraged playing golf Fyfe Style, which, if you have followed my blog for long, is typically a stress-free way to play the game.

You can keep score if you want but you don’t always have to count the shot.

Even if you swing and miss!

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Drs. Boyd & Kubik… the partnering of a lifetime

Especially if you swing and miss.

The Wrights made it a family affair with their niece and oldest son on board and Ken and Natalie are still married after the 9 holes!

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Kenny, think long and hard about what you’re going to suggest to Nat…

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Kolbee, Jackson, Ken & Nat after their round

We had a great collection of prizes thanks to Royal Canin and the veterinary college. Prizes went out for “putting up with Ken” or “best team name.”

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Best team names went to both pairings in this bunch with Drs. Leanne, Pat, Sandy & Andrew.. Muffin and Stryker, I believe???

It was just another chance for a group of us to smile and laugh and catch up on one another’s lives while enjoying fresh air and a fun ride in a golf cart.

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WCVM Class of 2005 Golf Tournament players (minus the Pinels… baby to feed at the hotel!)

That night was our banquet, which I helped organize this winter with Allison. There were challenges with me living in Montana & her up in Saskatchewan and the fact we couldn’t find a few people until we got really intrusive online.

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Head honchos of the reunion at the end of the night, still smiling! We did it!

But it went off mostly without a hitch (sorry about the vegetarian meals, Jenny & Becky!) and I saw smiles on my classmates’ faces most of the weekend.

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There was lots of this…

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plenty of this…

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and this…

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and tons of this.

So we reunion-ated all night and I learned I’m not the only one not practicing but I am one of the only ones without small children hovering at my ankles or being pushed in a stroller.

And everyone looks basically the same, give or take one of those grey hairs I mentioned earlier.

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The Times Of Our Lives newspaper crew… reunited and it feels so good! Drs.Cory, me, Pat & Nathan… my boys… all growed up!

And while some special friends couldn’t make it I loved seeing everyone who did, even if I didn’t get to visit with each person as long as I had wanted.

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Lots more of this…

I booked the gazebo at the zoo for Sunday for more socializing but on a low-key, family level. It was a time for the kids to get out and run around, even though it was raining.

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What the Sunday visit was all about at the rainy zoo

What a change for me, one of the oldest people in our class, who was helping raise teenagers when we were in vet school, to see my exceptional classmates as parents.

It was a warm and fuzzy few days in that regard.

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Dr.Candace and 2 of her Lowe-boys. Brilliant idea, whoever brought the soccer ball, even in the rain!

Like all good things, the reunion and our adventure with Canadianisms had to end but I was happy to return to Bismarck and now Montana.

Its my home and my world now, which is a far cry from 10 years ago.

And I got to help former clients and their old companion who had to make a journey across the Rainbow Bridge my first day home- in a way reminding me of my skills and training that I just celebrated last weekend.

I am also reminded (and humbled) by what I told my classmates at our grad ceremony 10 years ago when I once again had the microphone- that I was so honored to call all of them my colleagues but that I was more lucky to call them my friends.

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Nothing had changed in 10 years- Drs.Candace, Leanne, me and Becky (who flew in all the way from Nova Scotia to join us!)

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It was great that Alain & several of the Back-Row-Boys were able to join us (with his partner, Jenny and Carolyn)

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Golfers by day, vixens by night! Carol, Lina & Jenny

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Jess and I at the drizzly gazebo

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Carol got a kick out of my golf “buddies” (getting a smooch from Muldy-cat) and my national pride skort!

(Thanks to Alistair for taking our pics, trying his best to remember everyone’s names, being a voice of reason when I planned all of this, getting us there & back and for golfing our way back home… more on that next time…) xo