Thursday, June 28, 2012

My visit to Edmonton - ***revised posting!

I left Toronto with Sunita on the night of my convocation to attend a two and a half day workshop in Edmonton on sustainability and curriculum design. The workshop was a very good learning and networking opportunity for all who attended. But the best part of the whole experience was seeing Izzy and Ronin who didn't know I was going. We arrived very late Monday night and the next morning I woke up early (still on Toronto time) and went upstairs. I stood at the foot of the stairs and whistled my signature family whistle. Izzy was in bed with Sunita still sleeping but when she heard the whistle, she stirred as if asking herself if she was dreaming (I got this from Sunita). She snuggled back into sleep and I waited for a bit and whistled again. Sunita said she sat right up and bolted out of the bed in less than a few seconds. In no time she was down the stairs hugging me in a nice long hug.

We then went upstairs and woke Ronin. He was still sleeping so I lifted up the cover of his fort (he sleeps in the lower part of his bunk bed and has a blanket spread on the side to make it look like a fort) and snuggled next to him. He lifted up his hands and hugged me but I think he thought he was dreaming. I kissed him up and he got up still obviously disoriented and unsure if it was me. He went over to his mom's room and asked "Is that Nani?" When he was sure he was not dreaming, he ran back and gave me the biggest hug.

After my conference, Sunita and I went to get some flowers for her yard. She had a few planters that needed flowers so we bought some and brought them home. I positioned them in the planters to see how they would look before planting them. Ronin came over and asked: Nani are you planting those flowers?” When I said yes, he looked at me in kind of an awestruck way and said: You are totally awesome!” Izzy concurred with this: “You are a really good gardener!” How is that for a grandson and granddaughter who think I am awesome because I can plant flowers? After the flowers, we went off to the backyard and planted some strawberry bushes that I bought for them. Ronin hosed them down creating a small tributary by the time he was done. Then Izzy watered all the plants with some fertilizer water that I made.

I forgot to mention that when I was at the store, I bought a lawn ornament of five puppies. I was so excited to bring it home. At once Ronin looked at it and said: What does it do? I said they look cute. His next question: Do they bawk (that’s bark in Roninspeak)? When I said no they were only ornaments, he was not impressed. I think my awesome status got a beating at that moment. Anyway I told them they could put it in front of their tree house that their awesome neighbour build for them. Here is the Dr Seuss-like crooked tree house. Thanks Rob. Totally awesome!

By the time I was ready to leave Edmonton, Ronin was not a happy person. His voice had a tremble in it as he looked at me and said: Nani, I don’t want you to leave. I told him that he’d be in Winnipeg in the summer but that was not going over well. I told him to think of all the things he’ll be doing when he comes and he promptly fell asleep. I left Edmonton with a smile on my face that in short time, they ‘ll be here. And the best part? We’ll have them all to ourselves while Sunita and Mike are in New York and Turks and Caicos. Yeah!


*** This revision is for Sub

Sub scolded me for forgetting to add my time with her in Edmonton so I am now duly scolded. Wellll, Sub and I challenged the ravine walk one day while I was there and although it is a good 40-50 minute cardio workout (one short but steep hill and one lonnnnggg but not so steep one), it was nice and refreshing to walk in the woods with my baby. I wish we had walking trails like that in Winnipeg but alas, we do not. Of course, after the walk and for days after, Sub had shin splints so I am thinking that she may not have enjoyed the actual walk as much as she enjoyed spending time with her favourite mother! TTFN


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My convocation on June 11

Now for the convocation event. I can now admit that I had many moments after submitting my dissertation to the Faculty of Graduate Studies that I still had work to do. I received an invitation to RSVP to the ceremony which was held on June 11th.

I did that and realized that I missed the deadline date of April 28th for taking graduation pictures so they could be included in the composite of all the grads. I called the studio in Toronto and they said that it was unfortunate. I said that I was going to be in Toronto a week later so they suggested that I could still get the pictures done - only they would not be included in the wall of fame. The person I spoke to asked what degree I was getting and when I told him, he said that for all the hard work I must have done, he would make an exception and wait for my pictures. So when I went to Toronto for Auntie Goomtie's 90th birthday celebrations, I had them taken.

The photographer robed in a fire engine red robe which fitted like a huge sack. I guess it's a "one size fit all" robe but at least it was a colour I liked. He took several pictures with and without props like flowers, a book and a rolled up diploma.

Then he brought out the most ridiculous hat for me to wear (as seen below)! I felt like I was in some Harry Potter movie but did not have the invisible cape where no one could see me!

Anyway, the day of the event, I arrived at the university without my sheet of paper with my name to say that I was graduating. The unfriendly greeter said that I would not be allowed into the event without my letter. I must have looked pretty crestfallen because she followed it up with another question: What degree are you receiving?" I told her that it was my doctorate and immediately as I said that, her demeanour changed and she got a big smile on her face as she gave me directions. Then she decided that I might have difficulty with her directions so she escorted me to the room in a maze of turns and twists. When I arrived, she offered to hang up my jacket and get me a cup of coffee and something to eat. This was royal treatment so it almost made the "jester" hat bearable.

The grad went off without a hitch and then it was a grand reception after (picture below). All the visions that I had that they would forget to call my name did not happen.

Here is the link to the video which was streamed live. My grad ceremony # 3 Select ceremony # 3. Happy viewing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Phew! What a busy few weeks!

SO! Lots has happened in the last few weeks that I have barely had time to sleep, let alone write. I have been feeling rather guilty for not writing,t hen I consoled myself that no one probably reads the blog. Just when I got comfortable with that thought, I had two emails asking what happened. So here I am, trying to cram a month's worth of events into one post.

Work: It has been an incredibly busy two months with trying to wrap up projects before instructors and other staff go on vacation starting in June. I've also attended a number of workshops as well as delivered a few. I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Edmonton on Sustainability and Curriculum Design. It was two and a half very long days of very intensive work but it was great to meet people who are doing good work in trying to embed sustainability into their courses. I was very impressed with what the University of Alberta is doing with their sustainability initiatives. You can see how wealthy they are because the university has its own utility company! Never heard of that. Usually universities are always broke and looking for money.

Mom: I mentioned that Mom is now in a retirement apartment and I think she is settling in quite nicely. I'm judging from the her complaints that have gotten so infrequent as to almost be gone. I went to have happy hour with her which is usually on Fridays from 3:30-3:4:30pm. They have a bar which serves wine and liquor for $2.50/drink. If I was a drinker, that would be a good deal. They also have entertainment for the hour. She came over on Saturday and I asked her if she wanted to go strawberry picking with me yesterday and she declined because she didn't want to miss her exercise classes! I think the real reason was that she was going over to Karran's with Sophie and Darwin.
My Toronto trip (for convocation): That was on June 11. We left on Friday and met Sunita in Toronto and then drove directly out to Niagara Falls. We walked for about 3 hours - to the falls, down the Niagara Parkway and then through the town and back to the hotel. It was as spectacular as it was the first time I saw it it 1970.

Niagara Horsehoe Falls

Maid of the Mist

Horseshoe Falls

That evening, we drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake and had dinner at a wonderful Greek restaurant called Yanni's. The food was so tasty and the back courtyard so perfect that if I closed my eyes, I could convince myself that I was back in Santorini. Then it was off to the theatre where I had bought tickets previously for a musical called Ragtime. When I went to pick up the tickets, the attendant asked my name and I told her. She pulled out the tickets and said, "Here you go Dr. Sukhan." I was tempted to look behind me to see who she was talking to but she was looking straight at me. What a weird feeling to be called Dr. Hmmm, first time someone has called me that in a kind of official capacity.

We left on Saturday for Toronto to do the touristy thing of walking from the Rogers Centre (previously the Skydome) to the Kensington Market - twice in one day! The CN Tower was right next door to the hotel where we were staying at the Rogers Centre but after seeing the line and seeing the price for a short walk around the top, we decided that we would strike that off our list of things to do. Kensington Market was nice - at Chinatown and very busy!
CN Tower

Kensington Market

View of Chinatown
The next day we checked out of that hotel and like three hobos, we went to the St Lawrence Market. We saw tons of people with their dogs and thought that the market must be a dog-friendly market.  We soon realized that there was no market that day but a dog convention. There was every breed of dog you could think of. We wanted to eat a late breakfast but after attempting two restaurants that were located right at the event, we decided that eating lunch with the distinctly heavy smell of wet dog fur was not pleasing to the palate. We found a nice shwarma restaurant a safe distance away and enjoyed a wonderful sidewalk lunch.

After that it was off to the Annex district and low and behold - there was a street festival that day with lots of free entertainment and activities and dozens of vendors selling everything from handmade jewellry to roasted and buttered corn. All we wanted that day though was to find a nice shady place from the blistering sun. We found a nice reprieve on the steps of a church which we felt must have been conveniently placed there just for us.

We left there and checked into our third hotel in as many days. That one was in North York close to the university. We decided that it was much better to be in that location on Sunday than try to leave downtown in rush hour traffic on Monday morning to be at the university for 9am. We went out for dinner at a really nice Thai restaurant on Jane street and went for another evening walk - as if we had not walked enough already for the three days. Time to settle in to bed for a good night's sleep and be ready for my grad. That's the next post.