Friday 27 September 2013

Globetrotting Puppets

So...about the project we’ve been working on.....

Rocky and Chloé from our play "Oh! Canada"

Back in 2011 when we took our offshore training with Mahina Tiare III  (  one of the goals was to always try to have a positive impact upon the places we visited and the people we met. Often crew would be encouraged to bring medical and/or school supplies.

 This got me thinking : What gift could we bring to the places we go ?  What is OUR area of expertise ? Um, well...I am pretty good at making a puppet come to life ?  And....Come to think of it.....Meg is pretty good at story telling ! If we could combine HER creativity and MY immaturity we might just be able to do wonders !!!

We started off by going to look at an old favorite puppet factory online ( to see if any of their characters would jump up at us, looking for Canadian ambassadors.

So, this guy immediately made an impression
                  (Love his belly button...)


We named this one Rocky

Then we found out that they were all out of this radical raccoon, and we quickly fell in love with an awesome  grizzly who even comes complete with a hump on his back and giant paws. The only way he could have been any more realistic would of been if he had a couple of australian campers in his jaws...Oh right...this is supposed to be a kid friendly show...

We found our Chloé

Next we found a beautiful girl puppet and we felt she was the PERFECT addition to the cast.
Finding names for our new friends was pretty simple. It was clear to us from the beginning that our goofy grizzly just HAD to be named Rocky and that our girl, well she just looks like a Chloé doesn’t she! 
Next we had to make these guys look a little more.. Canadian eh ? We thought of putting a Molson’s Canadian Beer in Rocky’s hands, or a “ I ♥ Justin Trudeau” Tank Top on Chloe, but again we have to remind ourselves that this is for kids, right. So we went for the painfully obvious Canadian stereotypes; Hockey and Toques.

Now; You may find this hard to believe but when you go shopping for clothe and you casually tell the person behind the counter that; “these are for my puppets”, you get a few raised eyebrows, but then when you take them out of your bag and let the puppets do the explaining to the salesperson, and it ALL works out in the end. No one called security on us or anything !

   It turns out that Chloé’s feet are a kids size 10 !


I think that the guy at the jersey store especially got a kick out of the whole thing...
What ??!!!  30 Bucks for a mini Habs jersey ??!!! Well, on the bright side, Rocky won’t be outgrowing it anytime soon.

The final look for Chloé
And for Rocky

We are currently working on the script. This will not be completed for a while, as we are quite busy preparing our trip in other ways, but Meg and I sat down one evening and did a quick brainstorming. We had loads of fun bouncing ideas off each other, this is what we’ve come up with: 
Chloé; A sporty, Smart Young Canadian Girl from Aboriginal Descent. She’s bilingual (of course) and has been traveling on board a sailboat with her family for the last five years.
Rocky : A Goofy-Patriotic-Hockey-Loving Grizzly Bear, who is obsessed with Maple Syrup and who is known to spontaneously start singing “Oh Canada!” when ever someone mentions Canada.
Opening scene: 
Chloé is sitting on deck, binoculars in hand, when she suddenly sees a very peculiar sight: An Ice float drifting in the distance, carrying a bear, who is wearing a hockey jersey and frantically waving for help.
Our opening scene.
We later find out that Rocky was stranded on this ice float when he was visiting his cousin ‘Inukshuk’ the polar bear in the Arctic.

The story continues with the new friends reminiscing about all that they love about Canada...friendly banter ensues, yada yada...

What we really hope to achieve with this project is to find a way to build positive relationships with the communities we visit. We figure that kids, no matter where they’re from, love puppets and love to hear about other  countries. We hope to bring them a new outlook on the world, a chance to ask questions and maybe a few laughs too, by visiting their schools. Oh, and it might just fit in nicely in Meg’s school goals too AND it takes care of my puppet addiction.

Before signing off I have to give a shout out to the ‘Minister of Canadian Heritage’s’ office in Ottawa.I wrote to those lovely ladies today and they said that they would gladly help us out with a big bag full of Canadian pins to hand out on our visits to school and such, so nice !  THANK YOU!  Gee, I wonder how much that big bags of pins weighs.

Thursday 12 September 2013


The countdown is on 

Busy.....being a landlubber.

I have been told recently that the point of having a blog is to keep adding new material on a regular basis so I must apologize to you on the small chance that you were eagerly waiting for some news, we have been busy here on land.

It has been go-go-go since we have come back to Calgary after a much needed visit with friends and family out East this summer. We tried to see as many people as we could while there...sadly we missed a few, but crammed in as much quality time with as many people as we could while there. Since our return to cowtown it seems that our days are filled with so many things to do! The countdown is definately on ! It looks like March 21st is the day we will use our one-way tickets.

This may seem like a long time, but when I break it down into ALL the things we have to do before we go, it propels me into a frenzy of packing and list making....

When he is not busy flying solo across Canada :)  Mark has been spending alot of time settling the estate, selling off his mom's house and land and getting our house ready for renting. (This means all those little home improvements we have been putting off for so many years -paint, carpet, deck, doors.... are finally getting done). He also spoke to his boss last month and made a formal request for some time off (phew). He is also overseeing the final preparations needed for Amelie, ordering parts and materials  for her maintenance and upgrades. In November he is looking forward to going back to St Lucia for a "Guys Only" trip which will include getting the boat back in the water and some trecking around the local islands. I am not sure if he has warned the boys that each of them will be bringing one extra bag with them when they come down......

Meg doing her open water training in Bequia

Other than starting grade 6 and her usual swimming, choir and drama (classes!), Meghan is busy with completing her online PADI diving course (theory). She had taken her "introduction to diving" while in Bequia last spring and it seems she shares her dad's enthusiasm for the sport, so this is the next step. It is alot of work
 (2 hours/week) and she is doing very well !

 Matthew has been actively busy achieving puberty, and he is doing an excellent job at that, consequently keeping us all a little bit busier ! He gets an "A" in Escape Artistry as we have had to resort to using our "Amber Alert" Locating GPS Device more often these last few weeks ! Everything is bigger and louder these days as Matthew grows more and more into himself and seeks indepence, but he never ceases to amaze me as he emerges from childhood into this beautiful young man he is becoming.

And the "great culling" we started in the spring continues as we attempt to sell/give away/throw out more and more things, including our beloved "OrionSky" in August. This little sailboat had been an excellent- albeit at times ruthless and unpredictable-teacher to me; teaching me be to be more self assured sailing on my own, as well as how to get out of all sorts of adrenaline enducing predicaments! I have had many beautiful and  memorable moments with her and she will be missed ! Since we still have alot of things that need to find a new home, we have decided to organise  an "Everything-Must-Go-Give-Away-Weekend" for our friends and collegues in Calgary (Stay tuned for announcements in February gang). We hope that this will take care of most of the material stuff we will still have by then.

Matthew's squish machine

So what else do I do with my time ? Other than making endless lists, exhausting inventories  and breaking down schedules into elaborate time lines; I recently dove into school preparation for the kids by revisiting Alberta Education Programs of Studies for grade 7-9 (my old stomping ground) and also by setting goals for Matthew. I have been enjoying getting back into this and gathering material....especially the science and math stuff (if anyone can figure out how I can succesfully pack a compound microscope and some test tubes into our luggage-and convince Mark that these are needed-I would appreciate the input). Luckily Matthew's program material is mostly easy to pack (well except for his "squish machine"....which will sadly not make the cut).

In my spare time I have also been ordering all sorts of gadgets from WestMarine and MEC stores, gathering the necessities for the emergency "ditch bags" (the evacuation bags we hope to never use)  and making a "general operations manual" for the boat.

This month I will also be focussing on some more medic training with a friend who is a paramedic here in town and in November I will be taking a "Survival-At Sea" course through our Blue Water Association. I must say that I am looking forward to getting into THAT life raft !

Soon I will be practicing in one of these

There is one more special project I am working on but I will tell you all about it in the next blog.
 I am quite excited to share this with you soon. Can't give it all away in one day !

So, for now, this is how we are staying BUSY. I have to say that not having a TV helps alot!  I get my kicks monitoring the "National Hurricane Center" online instead. It is quite a disconcerting hobby at this time of year as tropical storm systems seem to be popping out like gum balls out of a machine. I have been keeping an eye on Hurricane Humberto, he is on his way and he looks like he is one angry hombre

The sun is rising now and the kids need to go to school, so I will sign off  but
I promise that I will try to keep this blog new and fresh at least once a month until we leave and then after that, hopefully more often !