Mini-golf and sandals

Saturday started with the hope of going out to Elbow Falls to try and do some hiking. Notice that I used the word “hope”. Hope turned to not, with the realization that the weather wasn’t likely to cooperate with us.

We slept in a bit.

After packing in some breakfast, Alex and I went out to do something fun. Specifically, mini-golf at the Golf Centre at Harvest Hills. This appears to be a relatively new construction, or at least the mini-golf course is — the driving range might have been there a while already (I honestly can’t remember).

The course is a little more playful than most, but lacks some of the really wacky aspects that some mini-golf courses have. (I say “lacks” because, in all honestly, the really bizarre courses are often the most fun.) The course was still damp from previous rainfalls, which provided a few interesting obstacles — namely, wet feet and a bit of slopping when the balls hit a wet patch.

Most of the holes weren’t a particular challenge, but that didn’t stop either of us from hitting some bad shots. We redid two holes, partly because the holes were fun and partly to improve our abysmal scores. (There was also no-one behind us.) In the end, Alex beat me, although I’m not sure by how much. We kept score, but not really…

I realized after a couple of holes that Alex could probably whip my keister in mini-golf, if given half the chance. However, a competitive streak in me was coming out — a bit of a sour one, at that. (I’m usually self-deprecating, but it’s a fine line from making fun of your lack of skill, to appearing to be a sore loser.) While she mentioned nothing, and I didn’t ask if she had noticed and started to play differently as a result, I felt it wise to smarten up a bit.

Putting over, we decided to give the driving a chance. While I had a few really good hits, I was woefully out of practice. I hooked a lot too, seemingly drawn to a parked cherry picker off to the left. I cleared a few over the extra-tall fence. The grips made mince meat of my left palm — not sure if my grip was off or if its affirmation that I need a glove on that hand. Either way, I need more practice.

The experience on the rather damp mini-golf course made me finally decide that I had to get new sandals. (That, and Alex’s hinting that the smell could be construed as a biological weapon under some treaties.) Lest you think that I’m being extravagant with my footwear, you need to understand something first…

I loved my sandals. They were Teva Univerals, purchased from Europe Bound on Front Street in Toronto seven years ago. Seven years I wore them. I wore those sandals as much as I could. When I lived in Vancouver, I had thought about replacing them — they were getting a little worn (and that was only after about three-ish years). I didn’t put much effort into it, though, and let it slide … for over four more years. As of Saturday morning, the insole was reduced to the glue used to hold the insole to the rest of the sandal with the remaining insole cracked and splitting, the velcro barely held, the sole was worn through to the straps and foam rubber insides, and the aforementioned smell was … well, let’s just be glad that you can’t smell things through the Internet.

For the record, I’ve been actively looking since sandal weather finally hit Calgary this year (took a while longer than usual). Problem: finding sandals that I a) liked, and b) fit. What I wanted was another pair of Teva Universals. Problem? Nary a place in Alberta seems to sell them! I hunted through every store I could find. Nothing. Nada. The closest I came was a pair of the women’s version at Abominable Sports in Banff (Bamf!). But no men’s. Anywhere.

It came to pass that we went to Sunridge, where there was rumoured to be leather Tevas. Sadly, I was thwarted yet again. However, in the midst of my disappointment, came across a pair of Clarks. Well, my feet haven’t been so happy. I feel a certain amount of sadness for putting my beloved Tevas to one side, but for the sheer joy of walking in sandals without the squishing, flapping of unbound straps, or the near-unbearable stench, there can be little argument that I’ve done well.

Just to make sure the sandals were right, we walked around the mall a bit. The walk was good to break in the feet. Even when we stood in the Sanrio store for about 45 minutes while Alex had a serious relapse to her childhood (not that I’m complaining — I’ve had similar problems). It’s safe to say that should we end up with kids, we will have a Hello Kitty room somewhere in the house.

The big debate will be who gets to spend time in the room — the children, or mom.

We left the mall into the dark clouds of a passed storm. I had thought I’d heard rain while we were inside, but it was hard to tell. The wet ground, however, was a bit of a give-away.

A note on that rain, incidentally. There are a lot of people who wonder if we’ve somehow been transported to the West Coast. The weather here is more typical of Vancouver, not the fringe of the prairies. It’s quite odd, and annoying for some. We haven’t had the really warm weather normally associated with this time of year. Instead, we’ve had rain almost every day (even if just a sprinkle) for a month! We should be entering our dry season, seeing brown grasses, not witnessing torrential downpours every few days.

While Alex went off for tea with her friend Erin, I set about the task of making dinner. It took me longer than planned (owing to a minor issue in preparation), which was just in time for Alex to arrive and start making cupcakes. (We went to my relatives’ home Sunday night, and we were bringing dessert. But more on that in a minute.)

Betty Crocker? Ha! Safeway brand? Puh-leaze! Alex made ’em from scratch. Including the icing! (And darn tasty, too, I might add!) I got to be the official taste-tester. I need to do more baking to get the feel for it. I can handle sauces, entrees, soups, stews, barbecues, even a few desserts. Ask me to bake a cake and I’ll give you a blank stare. Wouldn’t even know where to start. Not a one. One day, though. One day.

Sunday we tried to get up early again. The weather, yet again, conspired against us. In lieu of a picnic and hike at Elbow Falls, we opted for a hike at Fish Creek Park and a picnic at Starbucks (or other widely-available similarly-branded store selling things not particularly good for one’s dietary needs).

Finding the entrance to the section of park we wanted to go into wasn’t easy. The signs are, well, mostly non-existant. On the bright side, we explored some of the newer subdivisions in the south-west corner of the city. Yet more reasons why I don’t think I’d ever want to live that far out. (As Alex so eloquently put it, anything with five digits on the house number is too far away.) It feels like suburban hell out there.

When we finally found the park, we saw signs that bears had also apparently found the park. We never saw any, except on the signs the City of Calgary Parks Department had left up to let park patrons be aware. Considering that we covered a good portion of the park west of MacLeod Trail, it might be safe to assume that the bear(s) prefered to either stay hidden, or leave altogether.

Damp (due to continued precipitation in various strengths and quantities) and hungry, we headed over to South Centre Mall for a quick repast (careful to keep it light for the upcoming family dinner that night). Yogen Fruz. Not the most substantial of snacks, but a load healthier than the bulk of the crap for sale in the food court. We wandered the mall, eating our small frozen vanilla yogurt mixed with fruit, seeing what there was to see.

We stopped in a few stores, but the only one of real consequence was the Charm Diamond Centre, where we looked at rings.

Whoo… I can see the wide-eyed stares of disbelief and panic from here!

Relax, we’re not engaged and we’re not getting married any time soon. We went to look. No other reason (for now) than to view a piece of jewellry. In fact, it was a specific style that Alex had seen before that drew us in there. They didn’t have it available, though, so I don’t really know what it looks like (hence, cannot describe it to you). There was an illuminated poster, but the colours were rather washed out.

With that, it was time to head up to Mike and Brenda’s for dinner. The first meeting of the family is always a bit nerve-wracking, no matter how many times you’ve done it before or how confident you think you are. Families are always different. My turn will come later this summer.

It was a night of digging. Some digging was about Alex (though not too deeply) and some digs were at each other. Uncle Mike, unfortunately, caught a few too many (some from me, and I went a little too deep on a couple — sorry, Mike) when the subject of the missing cupboard doors came up. They’ve been off so long that I don’t even notice the lack of them anymore.

Dinner was wonderful — crab cake appetizers, roast beef, freshly roasted BC potatoes, two kinds of salads, and the weirdest bread I’d ever had. Of course, we had cupcakes for dessert. All the ones we brought were eaten. Three by Jen, alone! (Needless to say, Alex is welcome back.)

So yes, if you’re wondering, things are going exceptionally well for us. I can’t imagine them going any better. They will, of course, but I can’t imagine what that’ll be like. I haven’t been this happy in a relationship … well, ever, really. They say that the person you’re best with is the person who is like your best friend. And that was exactly the premise that had sent me in search of a partner in the first place.

Funny how life works sometimes, ain’t it?