Monday, September 10, 2012

Summer In Winnepeg 2012
Another greeting from Winnipeg. Mom and I are doing well and enjoying summer which has arrived and it has been delightful. We have plenty of sunshine with a few cloudy days and a little rain. I can tell I'm getting used to Canada because I now blurt the current temperature in Celsius. Today was 28 and after several days of 30 degrees. Just as a reminder 10 C is 50 F, 20 C is 68 F and 30 C is 86 F. The easy way is to double the Celsius and add 30 degrees, it's close enough.
I have a bunch of random things to tell you about in no particular order, so here we go. I have been to Mc Donald's several times and have looked over the menu and discovered that in Canada there is no dollar menu as there is in the US. The cheapest thing to eat was $2.89 and that's before the tax. Mom and I  were at Home Depot so she could order blinds for a missionary apartment. I waited in the car and noticed a Sysco semi truck and trailer parked near the entrance and decided to take a picture to send to someone at forestry as a joke. I took said picture and about 10 minutes later the driver came over and asked me if I needed help. I told him I was fine but he asked me again and I began to get a bit nervous. After dancing around a bit he said he was worried that I might have a complaint and took the picture to send to his company. I told him why I took the picture and that we were missionaries and meant him no harm. Then he told me that the week before some 65 year old woman didn't like where his truck was parked and threatened to break both his legs if he didn't move the truck. We visited a bit and parted ways. On another visit to the same store we were at the help center getting the aforementioned blinds when I noticed a sign behind the counter. It had a list of all the employees at that store that spoke a language other than English. Here is the list; Punjabi (Indian), Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Polish, Togalog (Philippines), Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Bemba (off the coast of Africa), Vancula? The color of their skin is as varied  as the languages. Any poster you see in Canada showing people working has a mixture of men and women of all ethnic backgrounds. Truly a melting pot.

Listening to the radio one day I learned that there are 230 elementary schools in Winnipeg. The city is considering placing a speed limit and accompanying signs near these schools. The cost would be one million dollars and do to budget constraints it would take about five years. As near as I can tell there is no slow down required (just the regular speed limit) although many schools have crossing guards to help kids crossing the street. Jr. High and High Schools were not considered because of the costs. The average speed in town is either 50 KPH or about 31 MPH or 60 KPH or about 38 MPH. Higher speeds are allowed on some main routes and average between 70 and 80 KPH. or 45 to 50 MPH. That seems pretty slow but once you get used to it it's OK. I may have previously mentioned "photo cop" tickets. A missionary in Regina got a ticket for $300.00 for running a red light and our just released mission president got one on his last day here for $304.00 for going 70 K in a 50 K zone. If you appear in court the judge might reduce it a bit but you will pay, no soft hearts here. Mom and I try to be very careful.

The Canadian professional football season is under way. It runs from June through November. If you are not familiar there are several differences. The field is 110 yards long and much wider than a US field. They have 12 players on the field and it appears the extra man is in the backfield on offense. Instead of 4 downs to gain 10 yard they only get 3. So kicking the ball back and forth for field position is a big part of the game. I am sure I have not caught all the nuances of the game for you but I tried. The names are of course different; Hamilton Tigre Cats, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, BC Lyons, Calgary Stampeders, Montreal Allouetts etc. There are only eight teams so they play each other several times per season before there playoffs begin. The ultimate for them is the Gray Cup which is akin to our Super Bowl. An unrelated tidbit, there are 410 registered taxi's in Winnipeg all driven by people from a wide variety of cultures. Duffy's and Uni-City are the most prevalent. Both companies drive Toyota Prius which have big strobe lights on top of their cabs with a large sign stating if the light is flashing call 911. Must have frequent robberies eh?

About a week ago the province of Saskatchewan had a huge thunder and lightning storm causing power outages to several cities. The missionaries in Prince Albert were without electricity for about 48 hours and with high summer temps they and other lost food in the fridge or had to toss it for safety reasons. Even though they were given a suggested list of food and other things to have on hand they didn't have much so they got permission to go down to Regina and stay with the missionaries and work there for a couple of days. With no power no purchases could be made since all the cash registers operate on electricity. PA is about 35,000 people. A tornado touched down near Moose Jaw but fortunately it was in farm country with no damage to homes or people. Saskatchewan has had multiple violent storms this summer while in Winnipeg we have been by passed except for a few minor thunder storms. We get the news from Minnesota (Fargo and St. Paul) and they have severe thunder storm and tornado warnings quite often. A huge storm dumped 9 inches of rain in about a 24 hour period causing epic flooding and property destruction in a small town south of St. Paul.
We have a balcony garden which includes 3 tomatoes plants and 2 small pots with green onions. The plants like the hot humid weather and are growing quite nicely. Hopefully tomatoes by the first of August. We decided against corn, green beans and squash because we couldn't get a roto-tiller to the third floor.
A couple of names caught my eye, Elijah Bigwolf was a newly baptized fellow and Joanne Smallbones is affiliated with police and signed a "photo cop" ticket that one of our missionaries received a few years ago. I suspect both are native.
July 1st was Canada Day. It is similar in importance to our July 4th celebration. The whole city shut down, absolutely nothing open. Everyone goes on Holiday, the streets and parking lots were empty. I have no idea where the people were. Too bad it was on Sunday because there were some things that might have been fun to see. The Canadian Air Force band played at Assiniboine Park and there was native dancing and cultural events in the city. Also a big fireworks display near our place but we live on the wrong side of the building to see it. It was great fun to listen to it though.
Mom and I discovered ice cream is expensive in Winnipeg. One day we walked to the park and decided to stop for a cone. It took most of a $10.00 bill for two hard ice cream cones. So a few weeks later we decided to try again but this time at Dairy Queen. Two medium dipped cones almost eight bucks. After sticker shock we decided the ice cream was actually pretty good, but we will have to pace ourselves eh?
A few weeks ago Mom and I went to a place called Fort Whyte Alive. It's a reclaimed clay mine encompassing a square mile that was donated to the city 45 years ago. Everything has been cleaned up, replanted and is open to the public for a reasonable fee. It's a place you can spend the day looking at song birds, ducks, geese and buffalo. Plenty of trails to hike and several indoor attractions with a ground hog colony and lots of taxidermied critters; elk, deer, cougar, eagles, badgers, wolverines etc. We had a great time being out in the fresh air and sun.
Today we went back to "the forks". We decided to take a half hour boat ride (not a three hour cruise) on the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. The Assiniboine flows from the upper NW corner of Saskatchewan so it drains a huge area of land and with all the snow melt and thunder storms it is quite high and muddy. The boat we went on was a pontoon affair with plenty of room and seemed very stable. You may remember how much I like getting in the water. I knew exactly where my life jacket was. We could see lots of the city from the river and it was fun to go under all the bridges. One bridge had colored horizontal strips painted in different colors on the bridge abutments to show the high water of various years. I was amazed how much water a river could carry in big flood years. In 1998, if the river had been just several inches higher, 60 percent of Winnipeg would have been flooded. It's flat here. As our past Mission President said it's so flat here you can stand on a tuna fish can and see a train coming for two days.
After the boat ride we went into the area with all the shops. After going up to a viewing area we  spent some time looking around. Mom went to the wash room and I took a few pictures when a shop keeper asked if I was a tourist. I said no, and then a short game of 20 questions to get to the fact that we were missionaries serving in Winnipeg. Carol (her name) asked which church and I told her, then she pulls out a Book of Mormon from under the counter. Someone gave it to her but she has not read it yet. Carol seemed real confused about most things religious so Mom spent some time trying to help her. Carol is looking but afraid to make commitments to any church for fear of making a "mistake". Mom told her if she would read, study and pray she could know for herself. We left her with our phone number and how to get to Hopefully she will check it out and read in the Book of Mormon.
That's all my tidbits for now. I love you all. Hope you are all enjoying your summer. Give all the grandkids a hug and love from Grandma and Grandpa. Love Dad.

Duffie's Taxi

McDonald's, Canadian style

Sister Basting and her Filipino friends

Office missionaries and assistants