Bannock goes to camp

I’ve been back in Bangkok for almost 2 weeks now, but I hope you’ll humour me by reading one last post about Canada: I have some pictures of a miniature horse that I’ve been dying to share. After spending a few weeks in Calgary and Edmonton, I decided it was time to introduce Bannock to the joys of summer camp. My family has been volunteering at Pioneer Ranch Camp for a few generations,* and I usually get lured in at some point during the summer months. Plus, Bannock’s Auntie Sarah was directing camp, and she clearly needed our support. I never offer much in the way of practical support, but MAN am I good at planting myself on a couch and offering a little of the moral variety.

Meet Sarah. If you read my previous post, you may have wondered if every member of my family is overpoweringly unphotogenic. You would be correct, with one notable exception: Sarah somehow managed to absorb (by osmosis, or some other dirty trick) our entire family’s portion of photogenicness, leaving utter ruin in her wake. Here is an example:


Both of us giving the camera a little “attitude,” with mixed results

For an additional comparison, here is the woman who gave birth to Sarah:


I rest my case.

Bannock and I made ourselves useful at camp by helping to create a spa night for campers who had just returned from their multi-day outtrips (here I am using “spa” in the loosest sense of the word). I decided that mud masks were a necessary spa activity, so I had a bunch of mud dredged from the nasty/mucky/silt-y lake. When the campers asked me where the mud was from, I told them “it’s locally sourced and organic.” Apparently 11 year olds dig buzzwords, because this seemed to satisfy them.


The very essence of purity


Sarah applying pure organicness to an unsuspecting camper. The tarp just adds that certain somethin’ extra

After multiple requests, I finally visited the spa’s hair-braiding station, where a ten-year old camper eagerly manhandled my tresses. She asked me which style I wanted, and I told her to surprise me.


The only surprise is that I’m still awake after my 10 hour styling session

After the rigours of spa night, I decided that Bannock needed a break, so we went off to find Percy the Miniature Horse. I’ve seen some small horses in my day, but I think Percy might win the prize. I like all animals, but I have an almost magnetic attraction to anything resembling dogs (or crocodiles), so Percy had no hope of escape.


Although he gave it his best shot

We had to carefully plot our approach:


Camouflaging ourselves behind a clump of daisies…


Spotting our quarry


My slouchy posture is carefully calculated to make me appear less threatening


In Thailand, it would never be acceptable to greet someone by touching their head, but fortunately, Percy is unaware of Thai customs


Uh… if you’re trying to meet Bannock, you’re aiming about 6 inches too low


Showing Percy who’s BOSS


for all of 5 seconds


Why do my relationships with miniature horses never seem to work out?

Bannock and I also spent time transporting campers, filling water balloons, and playing the role of a pre-pregnant Virgin Mary in a skit. Not quite sure how we were chosen for this last one, but some questions are best left unasked. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Calgary to prepare for another long flight to Bangkok. It’s good to be back in Asia, but there’s definitely a part of me that’s still roaming the Canadian pastures with Percy the Miniature Horse.


Good-bye camp. Good-bye Canada.

* Friends still remind me that my grandfather’s “prayer for the meal” at my wedding reception somehow morphed into a “soliloquy on the history/joys of camp.” Not sure where that came from, but it was memorable.

Todd doing toddly stuff

T-bone and I are still separated by *sniff* the Pacific Ocean, so we chatted on the phone last night. Our conversation went something like this:

Todd: “My Dearest Love, you know that I support your blogging habit. However, I have always secretly felt very hurt that you do not feature more photos of me in your posts.”

Me: “My One and Only Angel, thank-you for sharing your true feelings with me. I would be happy to rectify this situation.”


“She left me out of her blog. Again. I can’t take it.”

Or something like that. This conversation must have been fabricated divinely inspired, because I have a few photos of Todd’s trip to Canada that I have been wanting to share. There’s nothing I like more than a blog post with three sections – it just seems so … complete – so here are three typical toddly activities.

1. Todd really enjoys doing strange and/or risky stuff, and life with my family provides endless opportunities for this. Arguably, marrying into my family was the single most strange and risky thing that Todd has ever done in his life. As for my family, they still can’t believe their good luck that someone as normal as Todd willingly joined the clan.


The Vooys men meet Todd:
“Ooh. What is it?” “I think it’s a man.” “Don’t let him get away!”

During this visit, Poppity Pops was particularly excited to share his latest hobby with his strapping (relatively) young son-in-law: scything the grass in the green belt behind my parents’ house. The city was just takin’ too darned long to mow it, so Poppity Pops took matters into his own hands.


Hmmm…. this photo gives me the creeps but I can’t figure out why…

Good thing Todd comes from Strong Mennonite Stock, because there was a serious amount of grass that needed attention, and Poppity Pops was relentless.


Just ten more acres, T-bone.

Strangely enough, scythes do not include baskets that catch the clippings, so while Todd scythed, Poppity Pops scooped up the clippings with his bare hands, and hucked them in a nearby field. Teamwork at its finest.


Todd finally snaps: “I married your daughter! Isn’t that enough?!”

After the scything endeavour, my mother gave Todd a haircut as a reward. Todd couldn’t bear to be separated from his favourite nephew, Ezekiel The Prophet Dog, so my parents groomed them together:


The family resemblance is really quite striking

2. Todd really enjoys channelling his voyageur side wherever he finds himself. Due to the insane flooding in the Calgary area, we weren’t able to get out on the river during this trip, but Todd comforted himself with the next best option: gunnel wars. This nifty game has three steps. First up, enjoy a Canadian beer that doesn’t taste like warm canal water.


This ain’t no Chang.

Second: find yerself a life jacket that allows you to be both safe AND stylish:



And finally, intimidate your opponent with your sheer animal prowess:


May the studliest life jacket win!

3. This last activity is pretty self-explanatory. Eating schtuff is perhaps the most important toddly activity of them all, and the man does it with panache and extreme joy.


Well, T-bone, I hope that you find this photo essay of yourself to be adequate, but if you are still unsatisfied, have no fear: I promise that as soon as I step off the plane in Bangkok, I will document your every waking move with my camera and you will never have to feel left out of this blog ever again.