We are back from our trip to Alberta working like crazy to get caught up with life and work before the kids fly in. The photo above was taken today in downtown Comox - one of the largest Holly trees I've ever seen, absolutely beautiful with its bright red berries .
My hummingbirds are fine, they must be a tougher variety because there are quite a lot around town who have stuck out the cold snowy weather. Mom said they made special announcements on TV and radio to ensure that people put feeders out if they don't already have them and to bring them in at night so they don't freeze. Mom took care of both her birds and ours while we were gone so I didn't have to worry about them. It was touch and go as to whether I would make it to Edmonton on my flight out as another storm dropped 6 inches of snow that morning and I had to shovel out our driveway just to go to the airport. All flights had been cancelled right up until my mid-afternoon flight as they had a heck of a time getting all the snow off the runway. After we left town another foot of snow dropped. Thankfully, Mom experienced no power outages and our neighbors kindly shoveled our driveway otherwise she would have been snowed in. We are having very odd weather, it was minus 8 here this morning, but beautiful and sunny. It won't be getting any colder and it should be like this for a couple of days. The snow is likely going to stick around for a few weeks but tis the season so we will not complain and enjoy it as it is so much more bearable than the prairies. It has never been so cold or snowed so much here since we moved so I guess we have been spoiled.
Alberta, on the other hand was terribly cold. It looks pretty nice in the shots below but it was -22 degrees celcius with a 20km per hour wind that made the wind chill factor -37 degrees. That can freeze your face in a couple of minutes. I spent the whole trip running in and out of the vehicle with my head wrapped like a mummy so I could breathe. I don't miss that wickedly cold weather at all and we were ever so thankful to land back on our beautiful, albeit temporarily snowy island.
The picture above was taken in Alberta while driving by one of my favorite National Parks, Elk Island. Thousands of wild buffalo roam here. Seven years ago my father-in-law was dying of cancer in a rural hospital and the fastest way from our house to the hospital was through this park so we bought an annual pass so we could use the short-cut. I still remember driving in pitch black through the park and coming up on dozens of buffalo all over the road (dirt road goes right through their pasture land). It was December and very similar weather. Their eyes glowed from the truck lights and it was so cold you could see their breath. We were nervous but crept along at 5 km an hour and they slowly parted like water to let us through. Such beautiful creatures but unfortunately they were hiding in the bush on this day as it was likely a lot warmer there out of the wind.
We did all our family visits with the usual assortment of family drama and politics (doesn't every family have that) and are happy to be back home. We picked up a very nasty rock chip along the way (below) when a trucker passed us. As we were in a rental vehicle Alamo is trying to determine if they can fill it or have to replace it. If they have to replace it we will be on the hook for $200 which is our rental vehicle coverage deductible (through our own car insurance). I will find out in a couple of weeks as it had to go to the glass repair shop to be determined. I expect to pay the $200 due to the size of it but maybe we will get lucky. If they can fill it it will be no charge.
My Mother-in-law who has alzheimers was moved to a smaller facility in her home town which has nursing care a week ago and she is having a tough time adjusting. We saw her twice and the first day she was having a really bad day and she communicated with us very little. She did recognize hubby as called him by name but none of the rest of us. The second day we came and she had a big bloody spot on her forehead as had managed to tip her wheelchair over the night before. It was a bit of a shock but when dementia patients are determined to cause a ruckus, they will cause a ruckus. The staff who work in this facility are some of the kindest caring people you would ever meet and I do not blame them. There is only so much they can do. Oddly, after such a rough night she seemed much better the next day, ate a meal while we were there and I actually think she knew who I was as she kept saying that she loved us and that we lived in BC. It was good to see her but a very tough visit for me as I have not seen her for a long time and no matter how much hubby had warned me I was not quite prepared for how much she has declined.
Buddy was extremely glad to see us when we got home although he had a fabulous time with my Mother who plays with him a lot when she takes care of him. He is such an affectionate dog and has hardly left my side since we got home giving me the evil eye every time I have to run out to the store or the bank.
We are trying to wind things down with the business to take some time off as were hoping to be on holidays starting on Monday but it is looking more like we will be working right up until the kids get here. It is tough to complain when business is good, but we are both tired and need a break. All my preparations are done except some cookie making this weekend, primarily for myself. I happen to love cut out sugar cookies and Christmas isn't the same without them so they will get made. I will also buy a fruit cake to split with Mom as we are a fruit cake loving family. I've never made one, maybe next year.
Tomorrow is the day of the month that we pay ourselves and it is so nice that our entire trip and all the expenses from December had been saved for all year so there are no credit card hangovers for us. I am looking forward to tucking some more money away for our Spring trip to Greece and sorting out our 2017 budget. Even better, in January we get raises so even more money can be tucked away for traveling. We have decided that after our trip to Greece we will take one or two kids at a time to a European destination. My second oldest stepson will go on the first trip - Italy in 2018. Yes, we have to plan way ahead for these things but that way we can make them happen. It is costly but definitely worth it and something we have wanted to do for a long time. We are choosing the destination and paying for flight, hotel and meals and they must have sufficient spending money and be able to get the time off in advance.
That is all I've got for this week - stay warm everyone!