Is it game? Or match? Or maybe meet? I have no idea. It was Fan Appreciation Night at Rexall Place, which is where the Edmonton Oilers play their home games. It is games, I think. We did not see them. We watched a WHL junior game. The Oil Kings versus the Rebels, who are from Red Deer. Both teams are just about dead last in their division and when we left, after the second period (it’s period, right?) because Katy was getting tired and it was late, the Oil Kings were winning 4 to 1. That’s goals. I do know that. But not much more.


My husband, Rob, has played hockey nearly all his life, and my late husband, Will, was nearly as interested in hockey as he was in NFL football, but even with their combined instruction so far – I still can’t make heads or tails of the game. Why is some body slamming against the wall (or is it boards?) okay and other times it elicits a time-out (that’s a penalty and you sit in a box for it)? I don’t know and neither does anyone else because when I ask, I get the “it all depends” speech, which leaves me as unenlightened as ever. 


Katy thoroughly enjoyed herself. She got to have popcorn and a Coke. She is almost never allowed pop (it’s pop up here not soda) and that in itself is noteworthy. There was plenty of extraneous activity to keep even the marginally interested spectator engaged. Things like the usual t-shirt giveaway every 10 minutes or so, and some blond toothy twenty-something who kept popping up on the big screen above the ice to yammer at the crowd about prizes and giveaways and contests whenever eager young people in the employ of the arena were not hurling things at the spectators. I asked Rob if he recognized the young man. Was he a local celebrity? TV or radio? Only to be reminded by my husband that we don’t watch TV. Right. Hard to keep up on the local talking heads when you listen to XM exclusively and read the newspaper to find things out about the world – mostly beyond Alberta because if you only watched the local TV stations for news, you might wonder if the rest of the world had been destroyed in some geological disaster or nuclear accident that we didn’t hear about here because, well, it didn’t happen in Alberta.


Unlike the last hockey….thing….I attended with Will about eight or nine years ago this one flew by, but mainly because I was sitting next to Katy. She had many questions about the goings on. Most of them I couldn’t answer with any degree of accuracy, but she appeared to be fine with that. She was very concerned about the officials’ safety and well being.  Probably something to do with their decided lack of protective gear. She also seemed a bit worried about the players who jumped over the wall onto the ice instead of using the door.  She wondered about the coaches and decided that she didn’t want to be a hockey player herself because I mistakenly referred to the intermissions between periods, as “time-outs” and she didn’t like to be timed out.


As we were leaving, I became aware that my boots were glued to the floor by some congealed liquid. Pop, no doubt but aside from this, the arena was remarkably clean. Even the washroom. If you know me, you know that I have an aversion to public washrooms due to their general state of disgustingness. The washrooms at Rexall Place have that worn out look that much of Canada’s public areas do but it was clean. There was even a washroom attendant to mop up the sink area which, if you watch Oprah at all, you know is just a cesspool of germs that makes sitting on the toilet seat about the cleanest thing a person can do in a washroom.


Katy acquired an Oil Kings flag in the gift shop on the way out and wheedled unsuccessfully for a jersey (I would have liked a t-shirt myself), and we emerged from the arena to find it was still snowing as hard as it had been when we arrived. Winter is cruel. Parking lots and sidewalks have been snow free and dry since early in the week and spring threatened. And so, it follows that snow must fall. It is only mid-March and this is Canada – as I am reminded often when I read about the warming and melting back in Iowa.


Katy is excited about her next hockey game. She has a flag to wave now and knows that if she wants something free thrown at her, she must stand up and wave or dance for the webcam like the little boy that the perky talking head spoke to at one point in his give-away madness. The boy looked about eight or nine and would dance suggestively on demand much to the delight of the crowd. Rob remarked that the kid would be much in demand by the ladies someday, provided that he was playing on that team.


I think a hockey game here and there would make a nice family outing. Like hiking  and camping, it is a Canadian thing to do and we are fast forgetting our American ways in favor of our new home.



I have been skating with an old pair of men’s figure skates I bought eleven years ago on sale at Target. I got them on a whim but ended up using them quite a bit those first two winters. There was an outdoor rink by the public library which was a 5 minute drive from where I was living. I used to head over there in the late afternoon when I got home from school and skate for an hour or so nearly everyday – especially that first winter. I skated by myself. I didn’t really know anyone who was interested in circling a frozen pond as the daylight hours dwindled away. I was at the point in my single life that I did pretty much whatever I felt inclined to and that meant that I very often was on my own, but I was used to it.

We started skating here as a family thing and because I thought it would be a nice skill for Katy to have. A child can’t possibly develop a healthy active lifestyle if it isn’t modeled for them and they can’t have favorite physical activities if they aren’t given a few to chose from at least. But the black skates just didn’t feel as right on my feet now that I am older and they are flatter from years more of running and wider, and tad bit longer, from childbearing, so Rob suggested that we get me a pair of hockey skates when they went on sale at Canadian Tire recently. I admit that I have been tempted by hockey style skates in the past. They look more comfortable. I have very flat feet. So flat that I avoid wearing anything but runners and hikers whenever I can. I don’t do sandals or flip-flops. Dress shoes of any kind are torture. Hockey skates are wider and have a large toe box than even male figure skates and they don’t constrict the ankle as high up, and I felt very comfortable in them from the first moment in the store.

On the ice, hockey skates are another matter. It feels for the first few moments as though you have never skated before because the figure skates have a longer blade that forces you to be more aware of where your foot is just to avoid catching one end or the other and face-planting on the ice. And they are fast. It’s like being freed from invisible restraints. Movement is so unrestricted by comparison. I felt at times as though I was barely skimming the ice surface which in fact I was technically as Rob tells me that when skating we are really not gliding on the ice at all but on the water that is melting beneath the skate’s blade.

The skating season lasts until April sometime and we may be gone by then, but I think the skates may make the cut for items that travel back to the states.