Friday, December 31, 2010

The Christmas Wrap-Up


I went back to Saskatchewan for Christmas. There were gifts . . . .
I repainted my mom's bathroom cabinet. (My niece helped.)


Two of my sisters bought new netbooks (which I configured).

I hung out with family . . . .
And the dog. (I'm her favourite auntie - but even I can't take her goose away from her.)


And, of course, games (some of which we remembered the rules to).

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In the past week, I've made three trips to Home Depot and three trips to Bulk Barn.

Project #1 was finishing the steps. You may recall that I started them back in the beginning of November. Yes, they're finally done. (Well, OK, I still need to paint the trim, but for all intents and purposes, they're done.)


Project #2 was Christmas gifts for my coworkers. (Also, chocolate sushi for our potluck tomorrow - two of the trips were sushi-related.) I made two different types of soup mixes. The total cost was around $20 for 7 jars of soup (including the cost of the jars).


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas shopping

On Saturday, I went to Montreal to go Christmas shopping. This was the trip that was postponed due to illness last week. Wanda and one of her friends went with me.

We walked through the underground malls downtown. We went to Old Montreal and looked through stores there.

I bought lunch ... and a mid-afternoon soft drink.

Yes, that would be a massive failure.

Wednesdays are my free night - I go to the gym, but only to use the machines, so I can do that any time.

I decided to go to the mall first, and then to go to the gym on my way home. I knew pretty much what I wanted to look at, so I figured I'd be done shopping and the gym and be home by 6:30.

I went to Carlingwood (because I have a credit at Sears I wanted to use). I walked through the mall. I went to Sears and actually bought stuff. I walked through the mall again (and bought more).

I looked at my watch. It was 6:30.

I didn't go to the gym.

(But I'm two books away from being done my shopping.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Make up your own joke here

There is a possibility that I will be going out of town tomorrow, so I decided that I should check the oil in my car today.

In theory, this would be a good thing to do before I go to work, because it's light then and dark when I leave work, but in practice I'm always too late.

Luckily, I park in a parking garage at work. Obviously, the solution is to check the oil after work before going out into the dark, right?

After work, I walked to the car. I put my laptop bag in the trunk. I unlocked the car. I popped the hood.

And ... I couldn't find the dipstick.

Admittedly, it's been a while since I checked the oil.

I stood there for a minute looking foolish, then closed the hood and climbed into the car. I opened the glove compartment and found the owner's manual. I flipped through it and found the diagram of the engine compartment.

I located the dipstick on the drawing, then popped the hood, looked underneath it and ... still couldn't see it.

Fine.

I closed the hood, went back into the car, put everything back in the glove compartment, and started the car.

When I got to the exit, I reached for my badge (which is also my parking pass). It wasn't there.

I looked frantically for it. It was nowhere to be found.

I was blocking the exit, so I pulled over into a parking spot and stopped the car. I checked my jacket pockets, then tossed my jacket in the back seat. I checked the floor of the back seat.

No badge.

I pulled everything out of the area where I normally keep my badge.

No badge.

I pulled everything out of the glove compartment.

No badge.

I reached under the front seat.

No badge.

I opened the trunk.

No badge.

Finally, I got back in the car and drove back to where I'd parked. There was no tell-tale white plastic rectangle on the ground.

I stopped the car and went to get out to go report my badge missing, and ... there on the floor of the front seat was my badge.

That's why it took me a half an hour to leave work today.

And I still haven't checked my oil.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 30

Well, this is it - the last of my daily posts for November.

I did not accomplish everything I thought I would - the steps are not done, the Montreal trip didn't happen - but I did manage to post every day. It's a small victory, but I'll take it.

I actually went to work today and survived the entire day. After that, I went to Sparks

Now? I'm completely exhausted. I'm off to get some sleep. Tomorrow is a new day month.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Yes, I vaguely remember when I titled posts

It's Wanda's birthday today. She's had a cold a day or two longer than I have, and she's finally on the mend (although not 100%).

I had originally thought we'd go out for dinner, but neither of us was up to it, so we ordered in. Hey, as long as I don't have to cook ....

I had worked from home (again - hopefully tomorrow I will be back at work), so I ordered as soon as I was done.

The food was tasty, and I'm still awake even though it's after 9 p.m.

I'll consider this a win.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today, I discovered that my niece knows the words to Green Is The Colour. Yes, it's Grey Cup again, a repeat of last year.

I'm writing this before it's over - I fully expect to be asleep before it ends.

My cold has gotten worse, which does not bode well for work tomorrow. I have no energy today, and I feel OK as long as I'm lying down.

Needless to say, I haven't accomplished much today except playing Sims 2 for the DS. I haven't made any progress from where I was last time I played it a year or two ago, but I did play it long enough to wear out the battery.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I was supposed to be Christmas shopping in Montreal today. I am not - both Wanda and I have colds, so we stayed home.

I even skipped boxing - it was hard to decide, but I had already resigned myself to missing today's class, and it was snowing, and I was coughing a bit, and so I didn't go.

I didn't do much - I mixed up some cookies which, now that I think of it, are still chilling. I also put up the Christmas tree. (I didn't decorate it, but it's up.)

I'm at that annoying stage of the cold where I'm not 100% sick, but I'm not 100% well. I wish I'd just get sick so that I can get it over with (preferably before Monday).

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Mystery Project of Mystery

I finished the mystery project of mystery last night. You can see the result above.

They are belly dance pants for Wanda. I made them for her birthday on Monday, but I couldn't stand the suspense, so I made her open them today.

It's a stretchy, textured material with three ruffles at the bottom.

They're heavy, so I hope they stay on while she's dancing.

I started with a pattern for pajamas, then added three ruffles on each leg. After she finally found out and tried them on, I had to make some adjustments around the waist and hips, but only minor ones.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today, I am thankful that it's American Thanksgiving.

True, I didn't get the day off, but work was much quieter than usual, because most of the issues I deal with come from the US.

I worked from home (in an effort to avoid spreading my cold/get 30 minutes more sleep), and I managed to get caught up on a lot of things that had been sitting for a while.

In fact, I only have 3 unread e-mails at work, and none at home.

Yes, it's shocking.

Tomorrow will be quiet, too, and I suspect I will be working from home again (because I've never gotten over a cold in 2 days). If only I could convince the guy who stocks the kitchen at work to make home deliveries so I didn't have to go to the grocery store ....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I woke up with a sore throat this morning.

Actually, it might be more accurate to say that I woke up because of a sore throat.

Nevertheless, I got up and went to the gym. It got a little better, and I had hope that maybe it wouldn't be too bad.

Got home, showered, ate breakfast, went to work, had many cups of tea - still doing OK.

In fact, it wasn't too bad until about 4, when I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.

And that's why I went to sleep at 8:20.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Emergency Preparedness

My Sparks are working on their Emergency Preparedness challenge, so we've been talking a lot about the different types of emergencies that can happen. We've talked about earthquakes, floods, fires, and ice storms.

We've talked about how to take care of pets in an emergency and what you should have at home in case of emergency. Next week, everyone is bringing a doll so we can practice first aid.

This week, though, we talked about volcanoes. Everyone knew that a volcano was a mountain with a hole in it (thank you, dinosaur cartoons), and that when volcanoes erupt, lava comes out.

This is the kind of emergency where you need to get away (like floods and fire), rather than the type where you need to be prepared but getting away isn't practical (like an ice storm or earthquake).

Volcanoes are fun to talk about because, well, they don't happen here, so it's not something we really have to worry about. (I heard a theory once that young kids like dinosaurs because they're big and scary ... and dead. Volcanoes are similar - fun to scare ourselves with, but not really a big concern in Ottawa.)

They're also fun because of the easiest science experiment ever. I put a bud vase in a pan and built a paper mache volcano around it, then filled the vase 1/4 full of baking soda. At Sparks, we passed around vinegar (so that we could all smell it), then poured it into the vase.

After it finished erupting, I did it again. And again.

And again.

They were fascinated. I only stopped when it started getting too hard to keep fingers out of the lava. Apparently, they like vinegar.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ugh

I woke up to freezing rain this morning.

Luckily for me, Wanda had scraped the car windows and put salt on the steps. I worked at 10 today, so I went to the gym for 7. The roads weren't bad, but my sidewalk had me slipping and sliding all the way to the car.

The nice part about going to the gym first thing in the morning is that most of the class is over before I really wake up - and let's face it, there's no need to be alert for 5 minutes of squats.

A few weeks ago, I was working the later shift on Thursdays and Fridays, so I went to the 7 a.m. class at a different gym location. That class was crowded - I had to make sure to get there early enough to get a spot. This class had quite a few people, but it wasn't nearly as crowded.

I work the early shift tomorrow, but I'm back on the later shift on Wednesday, so I'll be at the 7 a.m. class again - still hoping to stay asleep until the bicep track is done. Man, I hate biceps.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Motivation

Somehow, I lost my motivation overnight. However, I persevered, and managed to continue on yesterday's projects.

Sadly, nothing is totally done, but I made some good progress. Now that I've picked a direction for the steps in the kitchen, I took the tile off the second step and started removing the adhesive. It went faster than the first one (in part because I knew what I was doing), but it's not ready for staining yet.

I made a volcano for Sparks on Tuesday using a bud vase and construction paper, then paper mache-ed the outside.

The mystery project of mystery continues, and is going well (but slowly).

If only the weekend were five or six days long ....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Today was a busy day. I went to Rona, trying to figure out what to do with the step I partially demolished two weeks ago. I now have a plan, so I started working on it again.

In another burst of motivation, I cut out the pieces for some shorts I told Wanda I'd make her for belly dance. I didn't sew them, but it's a start (and it's the part I most hate to do).

And then my motivation was totally derailed by a phone conversation with a friend I haven't talked to in a few months - not because of the contents of the conversation, but because it literally lasted hours.

Here's hoping the motivation is back again tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

For the last few months, I've been doing the weekly grocery shopping after work on Fridays. It's usually a little less busy than on Saturday, and also, it's one less reason to have to leave the house on Saturday it frees up Saturday for more fun activities. Like not leaving the house.

Today I decided to do something far more exciting. Instead of merely going to the grocery store, I went to Bulk Barn, a mystery store at which I bought pieces of two non-Christmas gifts, Dollarama, and then the grocery store.

I bought exciting things like dog treats and soap. I checked out potential gifts for my niece & my cousin's kids. I bought mysterious things I can't talk about on the internet. It was way more exciting than it should have been.

I should probably get out more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Halloween, Wanda broke her toe when she ran into the coffee table.

She did a good job of it, too - her foot is still bruised. She has been to the doctor, but, well, there's not much you can do for a broken toe except keep it still.

Two days later, I accidentally set the alarm when I went to work, which gave her the opportunity to run through the house to turn it off. She wasn't terribly happy with me. I was just confused - I haven't set the alarm in 2 years, where did that reflex come from?

The whining has gradually stopped (although she still refers to the coffee table as her nemesis), but when I dropped her off for her allergy shot this morning and offered to let her walk a (long) block, she did not seem too thrilled about the idea.

Because I'm a wonderful person, I let her out at the lights instead.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crossing things off

When I worked at the big high tech company, I had to wear a badge at work. It was on a cord that went around my neck. If I was going over to someone else's desk to ask them a question about something, I would jot down anything I needed to remember on a sticky note, put the sticky note on the back of my badge, and walk over.

This is the beauty of sticky notes - if you get the small ones, they will fit anywhere.

For example, I mentioned at one point that I had made a to-do list. It's a physical list on a sticky note, which currently resides on the back of my cell phone.

It's quite effective, which is why there's only one item remaining to be done.

Looks like I need to make a bigger to-do list.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stupid poetic justice

Yesterday, I talked about how it was easier to come up with ideas when I post every day.

Today, I have nothing to talk about.

I mean, I could talk about how annoying it is that it takes 24 hours for the pharmacy to get a refill ready if you call it in but only 20 minutes if you go in, or about how I haven't started my Christmas shopping, or about how warm the weather in Ottawa has been, but let's face it, those are boring.

Any suggestions for tomorrow?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reconnecting

I got an e-mail this morning from a friend I haven't talked to in years. Probably 10 or 11 years, actually.

I find the difference between what you talk about with someone you see every day and what you talk about with someone you talk to every couple of years decade interesting.

People you see every day know the big things, so you talk about the little things. You know, things like:
  • I finally found Kraft Dinner at the grocery store. For some reason, it was in the ethnic food aisle, or
  • Guess who's in the boxing class after mine?, or
  • I recently realized that when I shower at the gym, I put my shoes on before my shirt. That's weird, isn't it?
On the other hand, when you haven't seen someone in years, you say things like:
  • Oh yeah, I got laid off from the rapidly shrinking telecom company in 2007 or
  • Are you still into skiing? I bet you're hoping for a lot of snow this year, or
  • What got you interested in widget collecting?
When you don't talk with someone often, there's pressure to make the conversation count - after all, you don't want to have an hour long conversation with someone you haven't seen in five years and come out of it only knowing that they got new cell phone.

This blog is the same kind of thing. When I post once or twice a week, it's hard to think of what to write about. When I post every day, that's not a problem.

It seems that every year I have to learn that the best way to do something is simply to start doing it. This is yet another example.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Elmo

I have a fish.

Yes, just one.

He's a betta fish, and he lives in a glass jar with a peace lily at the top. I got the first one back in 2001, just before Christmas. The thing is, fish don't live that long - at least not in small glass containers - so I got another one, and another one, and ... well, I forget exactly how many. At first, I changed names with each fish, but eventually it was easier to just call them all Elmo.

The current Elmo has lived a long time. About a year ago, he started doing odd things (like swimming on his side, which isn't really normal for a fish). He did it many times and I thought the end was near, but then he just stopped doing it.

Today, he's still happily swimming around, hiding in the plant roots and trying to avoid being taken out so that I can clean the bowl.

He might be the last Elmo. It seems like a boring life (even for a fish), and it might be better to stop buying fish so that they can live out their lives in their natural habitats, instead of in a fish bowl.

Luckily, I don't have to make a decision about that unless Elmo starts swimming on his side again. Or his back - that's even worse.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

At the movies

I went to see Morning Glory today.

For those of you who are counting, that's two non-cartoon movies in a row. That has to be a record - recently it seems like I only go to cartoons.

Morning Glory is the movie about a morning news show, with Harrison Ford as one of the anchors. It's a pretty light movie - nothing too serious or life changing - but enjoyable.

Interestingly, I don't remember seeing that many people at the movies in, well, ages. There were lots of people in the lobby, and the theatre ended up almost full. (I had to sit beside someone I don't even know.) Lately, it seems that theatres are at most half full.

Of course, maybe that's just the cartoons.

Friday, November 12, 2010

You know she's out of ideas when she's talking about garbage

It's garbage day today.

I don't mind taking the garbage out, but I'm not a fan of bringing the empty garbage can - and recycle bin, and green bin, and yard waste garbage can - back in.

For those of you who don't live in Ottawa, the green bin is for compostable items - food, food wrappers, wax drink cups, etc. The bins are heavy and have latches to make them wildlife proof.

Sadly, no one told the wildlife. Lately, it's not unusual to go outside and see the green bin tipped over and open.

We have two types of recycle bins - the blue box for cans, glass, and plastic, and the black box for paper. Pick up of recycling alternates - one week it's the blue box, the next week it's the black box.

Yard waste is just that - leaves, grass, branches, etc. You can buy big paper bags for yard waste, but I have a big garbage can that I usually use instead - it's more solid, has wheels, and doesn't require me to go to the store. If it's full (i.e. if my mom is in town), I occasionally use bags, but usually it's just the garbage can.

Most of the time, everything goes like clockwork - the garbage is picked up on schedule, and ends up in the trucks.

The last few weeks have been ... less good. Less garbage seems to be making it into the truck, and tonight the yard waste didn't get picked up until 6:30.

I heard the truck go by and knew I had to go get the garbage can in. I procrastinated a bit, but eventually I pulled on my gardening gloves, grabbed a grocery bag, and went out to pick up the garbage that had accumulated along the road. Once I had it bagged, I grabbed the yard waste can and dumped the garbage in the garbage can.

Let's hope it actually gets picked up next week.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Social Media For The Win

On Monday, I got an e-mail from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care for Ontario. They are launching a new website, and their social media team is contacting Ontario bloggers.

The website is here.

I looked at it, thought it was interesting but not terribly relevant to me right now. I have a doctor, I'm not waiting for tests or surgery, but it's good to know it's good to know that it's there.

Then today, there was a discussion about which emergency room had the shortest wait times, and I remembered the web page.

It was quite the coincidence - I mean, in my years of working, there have been two times when someone has gone to the emergency room, and one of them was four days after I got an e-mail telling me how to check wait times. (It wasn't anything life-threatening, by the way.)

Of course, I don't have the end of the story - the wait times on the web could have been way off. I guess Ill find out tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And My Diamond Shoes Are Too Tight

The poppy I bought yesterday disappeared off the planet overnight. (Luckily, I keep my poppies from years gone by above the sun-visor in the car. Why, what do you do with your poppy on November 12? Assuming you don't lose it before then, of course.)

My work laptop failed to shut down last night ... or this morning, for that matter. I had to power it off by holding down the power button. In retribution, it was slower than usual.

The lemon tea at work is almost out. That's right, I might have to drink different free tea tomorrow. And they were out of pears, so I had to settle for an apple. And the Perrier was warm.

My shirt has a spot on it, and I don't even know what I spilled. I mean, I'm sure I spilled something, but I can't identify it.

When I went to leave the gym, someone had stretched the phone cord across the hallway, so I had to duck under it.

Wanda burned the grilled cheese sandwich she made me for supper. Not as badly as it would have been if I had made it myself, but still.

A telemarketer called and tried to interest me in the Ottawa Citizen (which I finally succeeded in canceling not even a month ago).

Because the men and women of the Canadian Forces do what they do, these are the biggest problems I had to deal with today. Every day, they travel to places you and I wouldn't go if they paid us, working to make the world safer for all of us.

Some of my uncles fought in WWII. My cousin has done several tours with the army.

Unlike last year, I won't be at the war memorial tomorrow. Instead, I'll be at work.

And I'll remember.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Duck, Duck, Goose

We have a small group of Sparks this year - only 7 girls. There's a big gap between our youngest girls (who haven't turned 5 yet) and our older girls (who are a mature 6).

For example, tonight we played promise duck, duck, goose. It's kind of like regular duck, duck, goose, except that as the girls go around the circle, they say the words of the promise ("I promise to share and be a friend"). If they make a mistake ("I promise to share and be a monkey"), the person who was tapped when the wrong word was said runs.

Now, most groups I've worked with get the concept pretty quickly. They run around the circle and the first one back sits down.

Not this group. Once they are running, they are running. Two, three, or four times around the circle is perfectly normal.

Many of our other games don't work, either. We did a zombie relay on Halloween - they were too excited to walk like zombies. We did a jungle walk (where they walk around the room and act like different animals in different areas), it somehow completely deteriorated as girls got stuck in the various areas.

Still, they're having fun, and that's what's important.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Zzzzz

Somehow, the time change always makes me more tired - even when it actually results in an extra hour of sleep.

It was easier than usual to get ready for work today, but I'm paying for it now.

It didn't help that I scheduled a Sparks planning meeting for 7 but didn't get home from the gym until 6:53. It was a little more rushed than I would have liked.

I made a to-do list of all the things I've been procrastinating about (well, some of the things I'm procrastinating about - I'm sure there's more), but I'm too tired to do anything about it.

Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A step in time

It has been five years since my kitchen renovation. I haven't had any problems with the tile floor except in one spot - the two steps that lead out to the porch. It didn't take long for the first crack to appear there.

A month or so ago, another tile cracked.



Today I decided it was time to deal with it.

I have lots of leftover tile, so option one was to replace the broken tiles. The major drawback is, of course, that they could crack just as easily as these ones did. You see, the steps are wood and thus more prone to movement than the rest of the floor.

Option two is to go with wood steps. The drawback to this is that I probably would need to replace the wood - the steps that are there now are cracked.

I lifted the tiles from one step to evaluate the situation.

And ... still not sure. I'm leaning toward the wood option, but I'll need to do a bit more investigating first.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Boxing on Saturdays

I mentioned on Twitter a while ago that I'm boxing on Saturdays this session.

It's my own fault - I didn't sign up because I was waiting to find out if I'd get extended at work, and by the time I got extended, my usual Wednesday class was full.

It's nice to have Wednesday nights free, but it makes every Saturday feel busy.

The class at my level is offered at noon on Saturdays. Last time I boxed on Saturdays, my class was at one. Somehow, noon is a much easier time to deal with.

Boxing is pretty strenuous, and I really have to pay attention to what I eat and when I eat it. When class is at one, it's hard to decide whether to eat lunch at 10:30 or at 3. Neither works particularly well.

When I box at noon, though, it's an easy decision - I eat lunch afterward. Classes do sometimes run late, but I would expect I'll always be home by 2, which isn't ridiculously late for lunch on a weekend.

Also, since I'm home by 2 (at the latest), it doesn't feel like the entire day is gone. Somehow, getting home at 3 makes me feel like the afternoon is over and the weekend is speeding by.

Despite the fact that the Saturday class is working for me so far, I will hopefully go back to Wednesdays in January.

Assuming I sign up in time, of course.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gee, this looks familiar

I work in a high-rise building. There is one elevator from the underground parking structure to the lobby, and another one from the lobby up to the various office floors.

The parking structure is like most other ones - there is a level every half-floor as the ramps loop around. I usually park on the P2 level. Specifically, I park on P2 up a flight of stairs from the elevator on P2.

Yesterday and today, though, I didn't start work until 10, which meant that P2 was full.

Yesterday I parked on P4 - also up a flight of stairs from the elevator. Wen I left work, though, I had it in my head that I had parked on P3. I took the elevator down to P3, walked up the flight of stairs, and ... no car.

There is a stairwell that is the emergency exit from the parking shelter. Like the elevators, you can only get onto the stairwell from every half floor.

When I realized I had parked on P4, I walked down the stairs, took the stairs in the stairwell down to P4 and then took the stairs on P4 up to where I had parked.

This morning, I made a point of noticing that I parked on P3. When I left work, I took the elevator down to P3, walked up the flight of stairs, and ... no car.

I had parked on P3, but I had parked on the same level as the elevator. Again, I walked down the stairs (the same stairs as yesterday, incidentally) and looked around. There was my car, right where I had left it.

Luckily, next week I work the early shift, so I should be able to park on P2, but you don't hear from me, check the parking garage.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Flu shot

It's that time of year again. Last year, you may remember, was the H1N1 panic. People were lining up for hours to get vaccinated. High risk groups were able to go first, and by the time I was able to go I had the flu and couldn't go.

This year, it's back to normal, but it looks like some things were learned from last year. Most clinics in the city are first come, first served, but the one closest to me requires an appointment. I'm not really sure why this one is special, but it worked out nicely for me.

I made my appointment online on Monday. Tonight after work, I went to my appointment. I found a place to park and walked through the doors.

That's when I realized that the current City of Ottawa building used to be one of the offices for the big high-tech company I used to work for. I mean, I knew that at the time, but it has been a city building for years and I'd forgotten.

As soon as I saw the badge readers, it all came back to me. I don't remember ever being in that specific building when I worked for that company, but it felt the same as the other offices we built during the high-tech boom. The immunization clinic was in the cafeteria (with the required Tim Horton's).

The whole vaccination process was pretty straightforward - fill out the paperwork, wait a couple of minutes for a nurse, get the shot, wait 15 minutes, leave.

I usually get the flu shot the day before boxing, but this year it's two days before boxing.

Expect to hear a lot of whining on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Plumbing

Remember this?

I still haven't figured out where the water is coming from. Part of the problem is that it's now just occasional moisture, not the small puddles that were happening before.

However, I finally got around to making the small hole in the wall into a big hole in the wall.

Next time it happens, I'll be ready.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's day 2 (and I have nothing to say)

It's Tuesday, which means I had Sparks tonight. This time of year, I leave for our meeting in daylight and come home in the dark (even if I don't spend a half an hour chatting with one of my fellow leaders after the meeting, which I almost always do).

As I left, I noticed a stray Halloween decoration I'd miss when I brought them in on Sunday. Naturally, I forgot all about it by the time I got home and had to run outside with a flashlight when I remembered.

Luckily, I haven't finished putting away the decorations yet - the ones that were drying yesterday are still out.

The me who decorates next year is going to hate current me, because the stuff that is away is not away very neatly. It will be a hassle to deal with - and yet I don't care enough to fix it.

This is similar to how I will leave a bag of milk in the fridge with just a swallow of milk left in it - even though I know that I'm the one who will have to change the bag eventually.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The snow is mostly gone and the Halloween stuff is mostly away (except for a couple of things that weren't dry yet). The pumpkin is cooking on the stove, and it's time to face the fact that it is November.

I'm going to try to post once a day for November, in the interests of actually getting into the habit of posting regularly again. The biggest hurdle is almost past - I remembered to post on November 1!

I'm hoping that having to post something will encourage me to do things that I can then post about. I have a couple of ideas in mind, but make no promises.

Let's start in familiar territory - I did something new today. I gave away bags of popcorn for Halloween - specifically, Freaky Fruit popcorn. (I did not realize that it was candied popcorn until I was already home from the store, and we all know I'm too lazy to return it.) Today, I tried one of the remaining bags.

It was better than expected - kind of like popcorn dipped in Jolly Ranchers.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Halloween

Yesterday, I decorated the yard for Halloween. I put out the tombstones and spread dirt on the lawn to make a fresh grave with a hand coming out of it.

I put the gargoyle out, and the spider's web.

I completely freaked Wanda out with a hand dangling out of the mailbox.

Last night it snowed.

This is the first year since I've been in Ottawa that I remember having snow for Halloween. It was too wet for me to put my blacklight outside, so I put it in the front hall and kept the inside lights off.

The first kids showed up around 5:30, which earlier than usual. The last ones showed up a little before 8, I think.

There was one incident - one of my Halloween decorations walked off, which I'm not too thrilled about. Other than that, all was well. My (remaining) decorations are inside drying, so tomorrow they should be ready to go away.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Swamp Juice

Sadly, I have no good pictures of the punch I made for Sparks (and the pictures I do have all have kids in them), but here's what I did.

I started with this recipe.

I made the tapioca and coloured half green and half yellow. I couldn't find gummy fish, so I used gummy worms and gummy spiders.

Instead of the seltzer & lemonade, I used white cranberry juice. It was the right colour, it's reasonably healthy, and we only have six girls, so there wouldn't be tons left over.

I brought my punch bowl (which I rarely use) and poured the cranberry juice in. I added the tapioca and a handful of spiders and worms.

We played games and as we did, the spiders expanded. It was interesting to see how much bigger they got.

Over all, it was a hit.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My toe hurts.

It's been a while since I've updated, and that is not the most interesting thing that's happened, but I can't really concentrate on much, because my toe hurts.

No reason, it was fine and then it hurt. Hopefully it will suddenly be better soon.

It's Wednesday night, and I am not at boxing because I didn't sign up until after the Wednesday night class was full. That's right, I am boxing on Saturdays again.

It's kind of nice to have Wednesday night free (even though I'm home by 7 pretty much every other weeknight). I will regret it on Saturday, though.

This past weekend, I finally got around to researching the candidates for mayor and city councilor - just in time, because the election was Monday.

I worked from home Monday (and Tuesday, as it turns out) due to a car saga, and walked over to vote after work.

After I voted, I kept walking to Shoppers (to buy gummy worms and spiders for swamp punch for the Spark Halloween party) - I couldn't drive due to the aforementioned car saga. It took me about an hour and a half to get there and back (including voting time). On the way home, I took the bike path and met a lot of very friendly dogs.

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it, but my legs were a little sore today, so I went to the gym. My legs are now fine.

But my toe hurts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Problem solving

When Camille was here for Thanksgiving, I started noticing water problems in the bathroom.

First, I noticed the wall looked like it had been damp. I touched it, and my finger went through the gyprock.

Great.

By the time she left, there was a puddle of water on the floor by the bathtub every morning after I took a shower.

I knew that there was an access panel in the front hall closet, so I removed it.

I couldn't see any water.

I removed the bottom panel on the bathtub.

Again, totally dry.

One of my neighbours has a camera that can detect moisture behind walls, etc. as part of his business. He came over on Friday. He didn't have that camera, but he had a different camera that's on a flexible cord, so that you can run it up a wall through an access panel (for example).

We used that camera and ran the shower.

Nothing.

No water leaking, no puddle on the floor, no sign of trouble at all - except for the hole you see in the above picture. We removed the drywall, and that's the area that was damp. The 2x4 was damp as well - but only on that side, the other side was fine.

By Saturday morning, the 2x4 was damp.

I haven't seen a sign of water since then.

The good news is that it's not as big a problem as I thought it might be. The bad news is that if you can't find it, you can't fix it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend






My sister Camille is in town for Thanksgiving. She arrived on Thursday.

It has been a fun weekend - some shopping on Saturday (I bought nothing), Wanda's belly dance show on Saturday night, and Thanksgiving dinner with friends on Sunday.

(When I was a kid, we never had turkey. The first time we had turkey on Thanksgiving was when I was in high school. My grandmother was away - she had gone to Niagara Falls to visit her sister - and my grandfather said, "Well, we can have turkey even if she's not here", and he went and bought a turkey. I remember looking at my mom, both of us thinking, "Um, we never had turkey when she was here", but neither of us said anything. After that, we always had turkey on Thanksgiving.)

I got the critical yard work done - the garden is dug, the patio furniture fit in the shed (to my amazement), and the air conditioner is covered up and off.

I even turned on the heat this weekend (although it hasn't gone on much - it's still too warm).

I took today off - I usually work stat holidays, but I have company - and Camille and I went for a walk in Hog's Back park. It was a beautiful day - sunny, but with a hint of cool weather to come - and the leaves are changing. It was busier than usual, but it wasn't bad.

As you can see, the water was pretty rough. I'm guessing that is due to the record (or near record - I never did hear how that turned out) amount of rain we got in September.

It was a nice day, and a nice weekend. It's going to be hard to go back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taking a walk

This year, Ottawa had one of the rainiest Septembers ever recorded.

(It turns out that wearing shoes that have holes in the soles in the rain? Not such a good idea - unless you like wet socks.)

October has been nicer, though. In fact, as soon as the calendar changed, it got sunnier.

This turned out well, because tonight we took the Sparks on a hike in the greenbelt.

We had done this last year, and the girls who had been in our group last year were excited to do it again.

Taking 5 & 6 year-olds on a hike is pretty entertaining. Everything is new to them - fungus, pine cones, tall trees, fallen leaves.

We have a smaller group this year, and that totally changed the feel of the hike. It was a much better experience for the group.

We ended our hike at dusk, so just before we got out of the woods, it was starting to get dark - and yet some of them would have happy to do the hike again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Money, money, money

I hear a lot of people complaining about money (specifically, the lack of it), and yet they do things I would never do - like buy lunch every day or trade in a car that is less than 3 years old (and still has a car loan) for a new vehicle. (Admittedly, I used to buy lunch every day, but that was before the layoffs started at the big telecom company in 1998. I didn't get laid off, but I did start bringing my lunch.)

That made me wonder - what financial decisions do I make that seem like poor decisions?

The first big one is that I bought a house, on my own, when I was 28. (Well, actually, I started the process when I was 27.) Don't get me wrong, I love my house, but it would have been a lot cheaper to keep renting. My mortgage is more than my rent was, and that doesn't include property taxes, repairs and upkeep. Buying is a lot more expensive if you're only looking at it from a financial perspective.

Related to the house purchase is snow removal. I pay for a company to plow my driveway every time it snows. Yes, I could do it myself - in theory - but you have to remove snow when it snows (you can't wait until you have time) and doing it myself would have a negative effect on everything from getting to work on time to leisure activities.

Boxing is another one. I love boxing - it's good for me physically and mentally - but boxing for the year costs around the same as my gym membership for the year. The difference is that for that money, I can go to the gym as often as I want, but I can only box once. (For that matter, I don't need to go to the gym - but I do value it, so I'm willing to pay for it.)

There are little things too - I've mentioned my newspaper issues, but I could also save money on my phone bill. I could get rid of cable TV. Theoretically, I could get rid of my internet access (although that is unlikely to make it to the top of the list anytime soon).

Should I change any of those things? Well, I probably could check into making changes to my phone bill (and I should definitely cancel the newspaper), but hopefully I won't be in a financial position where I need to make changes to the others.

A new car every 3 - 5 years isn't my priority - but that doesn't mean that it's the wrong decision for other people. If you drive a lot or really dislike having to get your car repaired, maybe it's the right choice for you. The key is to spend your money on what you value. For me, a new car is lower priority than my other choices.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Road trip

A couple of months ago, Wanda and I started talking about going to Toronto for the weekend. Originally, we were talking about going the weekend after Labour Day, but that turned out to be the community corn roast weekend, so we decided to wait until this weekend.

Last week I started to think that Toronto was too far to go for no particular reason. We talked about Montreal instead (since it's a two-hour drive instead of five), but decided on Kingston (also two hours).

Everything was set until I hurt my ankle on Wednesday.

The annoying part is that I didn't even do anything - I just got up from my desk at work and walked towards the kitchen and thought "gee, my ankle hurts". Since I didn't do anything in particular, I went to boxing that night anyway.

By Thursday morning, it was clear that boxing was a mistake. (I figured that out when I had to hit the brakes and almost screamed from the pain.)

My ankle rapidly recovered, though, and although it's still a bit tender, we decided to go to Kingston yesterday.

It was a beautiful day for it - the sun was shining, but it wasn't super hot. We walked through the farmer's market and around the downtown area. We went down by the water. We wandered in and out of the different shops and stopped at the Mug and Truffle Chocolate Cafe.

And we went to Indigo, where I bought Wanda a Kobo electronic reader as a thank you for trimming the hedges this year.

She was ridiculously excited. When we got home, she plugged it in and immediately downloaded some books. When she came upstairs this morning, she had already finished her first book.

The only problem is that now I want one too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To the woman behind me

To the woman behind me at Preston and Carling at 4:40,

Look, you're busy.

I understand. We all are. I left the house at 7:30 this morning and won't be home until 9:30 tonight.

And when you passed me immediately after the light turned green and spent the next few blocks weaving in and out of traffic, I'm sure it was just because you were in such a big hurry to get to ... well, where ever you were going.

(It wasn't the Civic Hospital - you drove right past that.)

Don't worry, I wasn't at all laughing at you when you ended up behind me again at the lights in front of Westgate.

But ... I do have to say, if the car in front of you stopping at a red light causes you to wave your arms and beat the steering wheel like a two year old having a tantrum, you need a time out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Beautiful Fall Day

Yesterday was the annual community corn roast. It was a beautiful day for it - sunny with no rain. Since it has rained pretty much daily for the past week or two, that was a nice change.

I worked in the kitchen as usual. It was incredibly busy - we had a line from 5:30 - 7:30. The big problem was that we only had one barbecue (instead of the two we normally have). Still, everyone was understanding and eventually we caught up.

Before the corn roast, Wanda and I finished trimming the hedges. (Well, ok, she trimmed the hedges and I moved the ladder / cleaned up / laughed when she fell off the ladder.)

Unfortunately, in order to get the ladder in the right place to get one part of the hedges, I had to stand in an evergreen bush that I'm allergic to. And, of course, instead of coming inside to wash my legs immediately, I waited until we were done.

That's right, I have a rash up to my knees. I really should pull out those bushes. They're pretty, but it's really not worth it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Newspaper Problems

I've had the Ottawa Citizen delivered for years.

I've had the odd problem (paper delivered when it shouldn't have been, paper not delivered when it should have been, newspaper carrier walking across the lawn and knocking snow onto the walk) but for the most part, those problems have been easily resolved.

Lately, though, I'm having a different kind of problem.

You see, the paper is being delivered, I'm just not reading it - at least not until I have a formidable stack of 3 or 4 papers to read.

Part of the problem is that I read news online. That is mostly national/international news, though - there's not much specific to Ottawa. If I want to know what's going on in Ottawa, one of my major sources is the Ottawa paper.

Well, it would be, if I read the Ottawa paper.

I'm not sure what the solution is. Do I make more of an effort to seek out Ottawa news online and cancel the newspaper? Do I make more of an effort to read the paper every day?

I'm not sure, but I'd better figure it out, because this is a little ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sparkling clean

When my mom was here, my dishwasher broke.

(There should not be a gap there.)

It still cleaned fine, but the piece that connected the rack to the roller assembly broke.

For a few days, we just manually put the two pieces together to move the rack, but obviously this needed to stop, so we stopped using the dishwasher.

I googled it (is there any other approach?) and found Indestructible Parts. Those were exactly the parts I needed, and I liked the idea of replacing the broken hub with something a little more robust. I placed an order and was notified quickly that the order had shipped.

I waited.

And waited.

After a few days, I e-mailed them and asked about the package - I hadn't expected it to have arrived, but I had expected it to be at the post office, and USPS was still saying that they were expecting the package.

Amy replied to my e-mail. She contacted the postal service and confirmed that the type of shipping they used wasn't trackable, but that my parcel was in the mail. It should arrive in 8 - 10 business days. She asked me to let her know if it hadn't arrived by August 31, which, if I remember correctly, was 12 business days from the order.

Yesterday, I still hadn't received the package. I e-mailed her again, and she made plans to send me a new shipment.

Can anyone guess what was waiting for me when I got home today? Anyone?

That's right, the package with my new hubs.

I checked my e-mail and had a message from Amy saying she was looking into it and she would mail me a new set if she didn't have an answer by Friday. This was a reasonable response - and not just because my package arrived today.


I took the rack out of the dishwasher (after first figuring out how to take the rack out of the dishwasher) and removed the old hubs.

This is a poor picture, but the top hub is the replacement, the bottom hub is the original (unbroken) one - while I was at it, I replaced all four.

The dishwasher is now reassembled and ready for a load of dishes. Total time spent - half an hour, but that included looking for the right bit to remove the old hubs, figuring out how to remove the rack from the dishwasher, and the actual work.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Meet Ralph

I went to the Ex today.

It was a nice day for it - sunny, but not too hot. We got there around 4 and walked around. (OK, mini-donuts came before the walking started.) There were a couple buildings of exhibits (not many, actually). After we had our bearings, we decided to go on a few rides.

The first one was the Tilt-a-Whirl. It lived up to its name. I felt like my face was trying to fly off. I don't recall ever feeling like that before.

Next was the Starship 2000 (which was probably a more impressive name in, say, 1982). I'd never been on that before (I've been very sheltered). I'm glad I did it, but again, it felt like my face was trying to fly off.

The third and final ride was the Polar Express. It has nothing to do with the movie, just with flying around in circles backwards.

(Can you tell I don't like heights?)

The last thing we did was play one game.

Meet Ralph.

He was lonely. Luckily, I won the water gun game, so he got to come home with me. (I assume those extra flaps are to make it look like he has saggy skin, but it's possible he just has two sets of ears.)

I have no idea what I'm going to do with a foot-tall orange dog.

Now for a complete change of subject.

This year has been a good year for cucumbers. The problem is finding them before they're, well, this big:

It is thicker than my arm, and it's almost as long.

I'm lucky Wanda likes cucumbers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I had a dream

Not the kind of dream where the world lives in peace or everybody has clean water to drink.

No, I had the kind of dream where you wake up and wonder what your subconscious was thinking.

You see, I was at the grocery store. (I like to do that on occasion.) I had just started my shopping when Nathan Fillion came up to me. Now, I wasn't terribly shocked, because we knew each other (um, in the dream world, just to be clear). He was upset with me because I wasn't watching the season premiere of Castle, which was on at that very moment.

(Just for the record, I don't usually do my grocery shopping at 10 p.m. on Monday nights. I also don't watch TV then. I am usually asleep.)

I tried to explain that I had every intention of watching it, but that I was actually busy grocery shopping and thus would watch it later, so he pointed out the large TV in the back of the store that was playing the episode at that very moment.

I didn't want to watch it because I had missed the first ten minutes (also, I was still grocery shopping).

That's all I remember.

So, does this mean:
1) I watch too much TV
2) I spend too much time grocery shopping
3) Wipeout (which is the only show I've watched this summer, and only because Wanda watches it 3 feet from where I'm usually sitting) has broken my brain
4) My grocery store should invest in a big TV in case I realize I'm missing a show while I'm shopping
5) I should spend less time on twitter
6) I should re-watch Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog

Let me know in the comments.

(Oh, and to The Independent on Merivale - if you could tear out the giant TV and put the bakery section back, that would be great. I might need to buy bread one day.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

My problem with e-mail

Lately, I have a problem with e-mail.

Specifically, I'm good at reading e-mail. I'm just really, really bad at replying to e-mail. I'll read an e-mail, hit reply, and let it sit there for five or six days before I actually hit send.

Sometimes, I'll even mark the message unread so that I don't forget to reply to it, which means that I have unread e-mail in my inbox for days on end.

Browser windows are the same way - I'll open up a tab that requires action on my part (for example, a job I want to apply for) and ... it'll sit there for a week.

Maybe I need to start the anti-procrastination project up again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And THAT's why my garden is full of weeds

I hurt my elbow for the first time a few years ago and it pretty much got better on its own. Back in July (or June, I don't really remember), it started hurting again. For those of you keeping track at home, I have twisted my left ankle, hurt the arch of my right foot, injured both knees in separate incidents, and now it's my right ankle. Also, I broke my left wrist when I was a kid. (Only one of those injuries was because of boxing.)

During the two weeks I boxed this summer, it hurt to throw right hooks.

As anyone who has been around here for a while knows, I'll put up with a lot - until it interferes with boxing.

I started physio yesterday.

Everyone (my doctor, my BodyPump instructor, random passers-by) thought I had tennis elbow.

I don't.

Apparently, I hurt the fatty pad that cushions the arm bones and keeps them from rubbing together. This type of injury takes a long time to heal, and there's nothing I can do to help the process along except avoid things that hurt. Weeding the garden hurts - which breaks my heart, because I so love to pull weeds.

Physio did help - it was an almost immediate improvement - so I have two appointments booked for next week.

I also went to the eye doctor yesterday.

Expect to hear screams of pain from my supplemental health insurance company in about two weeks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where did the sun go?

This past week has been busy.

First of all, my guests left early on Wednesday and I went back to work. It was a big adjustment - I'd only been off for 3 days, but it was still hard to get back into the swing of things. Of course, I was tired, which didn't help.

I skipped the gym all week (which I will pay for when I go back to BodyPump tomorrow), but I did start getting back into my normal life.

The big news at work is that our shifts are gone. The late shift has been removed entirely, which leaves the day shift (8-4:30) and the mid-shift (10 - 6:30). Since 3 people prefer the day shift and 2 people prefer the mid-shift, the only time we'll need to change shifts is when someone is on vacation.

I'm one of the day shift people. I like the mid-shift, mostly because I can go to the gym before work instead of after, but when Sparks starts, I won't be able to work the mid-shift on Tuesdays, so I'm taking the day shift. That starts tomorrow.

Yesterday I went to Carlingwood Mall (because I needed cash and that was the closest bank machine). I walked through the entire mall and made an unplanned purchase from a kiosk in the centre of the mall - an $11.95 jar of honey. I have enough honey to last for years ... and years. The woman in the kiosk let me taste the different types, which was great, because I didn't really know what type of honey I preferred. The one I choose was the purple loose strife honey. Those plants may be devastating to wetlands, but they do make good honey.

It has been hot and humid, but not really sunny. Today was the exception - I woke up to thunderstorms. I had to use the dryer when I did my laundry today. I think this is the first time this summer.

The garden has gone crazy - it's really only tomatoes and cucumbers, but they are out of control. I gave some of the excess to friends last night and yet every day I discover more huge cucumbers and ripe tomatoes.

I hope all of you are enjoying your summer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hog's Back

Yesterday was the last day my mom & niece were here. It was a hot, humid day.

My niece did not want to go anywhere. It was too hot.

However, I'm not her meanest auntie for nothing. I dragged her off on a picnic at Hog's Back park.

Did you know there are waterfalls there?

Also, if you follow the path and then take another dirt path, you can find a quiet off-shoot of the river.

There are rocks you can walk on. You might fall in, but if you're wearing crocs, it's OK if they get wet.

It's really too bad I made her go on that picnic.

(And it was much cooler by the water.)



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wave Pool

Monday's excursion was one my niece had been looking forward to since before she got here. We went to the playground down the street in the morning, had lunch, and then went to the Kanata Wave Pool.

She loved it.

I had never been there before, but I had to admit that it was fun.

The waves would be on for 7 or 8 minutes, then off for 7 or 8 minutes. When the waves were about to start again, a buzzer would go off and all of the kids would yell and run deeper into the pool.

There is also a waterslide. That's when I discovered that my niece is scared of waterslides.

I was pretty sure that she'd love it once she had been down once, but she wouldn't give it a try. Around 2:30, I had had about enough. I told her that we were going to leave at 3 - but that if she went down the waterslide once, I'd let her stay an extra 15 minutes. (I'm mean like that.)

She was not interested. She played in the wave pool. She moved over to the kiddie pool. At three o'clock, I said, "OK, time to go".

She looked at me and said, "Don't you remember that you said if I went down the slide one time we could stay longer?" Up the stairs to the waterslide she went, Wanda in tow.

She didn't make it down the slide. She got to the front of the line, looked at the slide, and was too scared.

We stayed an extra 15 minutes anyway. (Trying is important, and bravery should be rewarded.)

Now she wants to move to Kanata. (Regina doesn't have a wave pool.)

Parliament Hill & River Cruise

We've been alternating days of activity with days that are a bit more quiet. Saturday was a quieter day.

Sunday, on the other hand, was busy.

We got up and went downtown. We got there around 9:40, which was perfect timing to get a good spot for the changing of the guard at 10. I left the group by the rope barricades and went and got tickets for the 10:30 tour of Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings.



We watched most of the changing of the guard, then left for our tour.




The tour took about an hour. We left and found a boat tour. It didn't start until 12:30, so we had about half an hour to wait down by the river.


The boat cruise took an hour and a half. After that, we walked to a restaurant for lunch. Just as we got there, it started to rain.

We ate our lunch, but it was still raining when we finished.

Wanda and Bella took the bus home (because Bella likes bus rides) and mom & I walked back to the car.

Everyone ended up getting a little wet, but that's how it goes sometimes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Parc Omega


My mom and my niece are in town.

I had a list of possible activities. Today we picked going to Parc Omega.

No one was in a big hurry this morning, so we didn't get going until around 10. We stopped at the grocery store on the way to pick up carrots to feed the animals, then were on our way.

We got there after 11. It has been a long time since I'd been there - I think the last time was 2001 - so I was surprised to see the lines of cars waiting to get in.

By the time we got in to the park, we were ready for lunch. We stopped at the store to have our picnic.


After lunch, I made sure all of the windows were only open a couple of inches and we started our drive through the park. (You only need to end up with a bison head in your car once before you learn how to avoid it.) We had two bags of carrots - one for the front seat and one for the back seat - and I had to warn my sister (who was in the back) not to feed her entire bag of carrots to the first five animals.

We saw various deer-like creatures and some boars (and baby boars).

Eventually, we got to the picnic area. At this area, there were wagon rides to take you to the farm. We got there at 1:01, and the wagon was waiting. There were tons of cars there - and no parking - so I told everyone to get out and get on the wagon. By the time I parked, the wagon had was on its way, so I had time to kill. I entertained myself by taking pictures.


I also got to pet a relatively tame deer. (The velvet antlers are softer than his coat.)
Before 2, the wagon was back.

We bought another bag of carrots (we were running low) and continued on our way. We saw more deer and some bison. They also have some predators (in large, fenced areas), and you mostly see them in the second half of the drive. We saw coyotes, bear, and arctic wolves.


Of course, it wasn't all predators.After a quick stop at the store to use the bathrooms, we went to our last stop - a walking trail near the exit. This walking trail allowed you to go on a wooden walkway over an area containing timber wolves.

As we continued along the walkway, we passed over another area with bears.


As we finished that trail, a bird show was starting. We got to see hawks, falcons, and a bald eagle.

After that, we got into the car to head home - 5 hours after we got there.

As I mentioned, I had been there before, but it has expanded a lot since I was there. Not only is there more to do, but there are a lot more people (which makes it slower when everyone is stopping to look at something interesting).

It was a fun day, but I vastly underestimated how long we'd be there. If I were going to go again, I would pack more food & beverages.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Because my mom wants to see a picture

I spent the afternoon with a couple of friends yesterday. Over the course of our travels, we ended up at Superstore.

Now, yesterday was the last day of July, which means that in the retail world, it's time to buy Halloween candy. I mean, I understand having school supplies out, but Halloween candy was going a bit too far.

In other words, the retail world considers summer over, which means that summer stuff is on sale. Specifically, they had a patio set on sale for $100.

I've been wanting a patio set, and had planned to buy one before the disaster that was May (when I broke my laptop, the desktop computer died, and the washing machine had to be replaced).

I wasn't driving, though, so I couldn't buy one at the time. We continued going about our day, and after I picked up my car, I went back to Superstore.

Now, this patio set consisted of 4 chairs (in 1 box), 1 table (in another box), and an umbrella (in a third box).

None of them fit nicely into a shopping cart, but I persevered. I got to the checkout, and discovered that I couldn't fit the cart through the opening.

Luckily for me, the cashier came out and copied down the code. Having succeeded in task 1 (load the boxes onto the cart) and task 2 (pay for the merchandise), I proceeded to the door.

Now, let me remind you that this was a grocery store on Saturday afternoon. It was late enough that it wasn't super crowded, but people lose their minds in grocery stores. They are utterly incapable of stopping beside whatever they're looking at - they have to stop two feet away and block the aisle while looking.

I made it to the car. I looked at the car. I looked at the boxes. I opened the trunk.

At that point, a Superstore employee came over and started helping. Maybe that should be "helping".

He had some good ideas, but there were some things he had problems with - like the concept that a round table cannot possibly be taking up every inch of a square box, so if we took it out of the box, it would take up less room.

Eventually, we got everything in the car (even if the chairs were tied in with an extension cord), and I started the slooow drive home.

When I got home, I scammed Wanda into helping me assemble the table and we set everything up on the patio.
(Yes, I know the patio needs weeding.)

So far, I love having it. I spent a couple of hours out there yesterday and another couple today. I'd probably be out there now if I didn't feel like I should be doing things inside.

I'm hoping that this summer's beautiful weather continues a bit longer so that I can get more use of of it this year.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Yup, another boxing post

This week is week three of the five-week summer boxing session.

I'm not taking the summer session, because two of those five weeks I'm on the late shift, which doesn't finish until 8 p.m.

This week I'm on mid-shift (finishing at 6:30), so I took advantage of the school's drop-in program. I made arrangements with the coach in advance, then showed up before class and paid the drop-in fee.

The summer session is different from the regular sessions in one important way - all classes are open to all levels. That means that a given class can have students from level 1 all the way up to level 6.

The last time I did a summer session I had just finished level one, and I remember two things about it:
- it was like a regular session, but with the easy classes taken out, and
- it was nice to see what happens in the other levels.

Now I'm in level 4, and it's a lot easier (because the regular classes get harder as you move up). Also, I've now done most of the levels, so it's not as interesting.

It was still fun, of course, and a good workout. I'm planning to drop in again next week, then it's a break until September.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Remembrance


When my dad died, I volunteered to make something for my niece to remember him by.

My mom gave me six of his shirts. They sat on my table for a couple of months. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with them, and I wasn't in a rush.

However, my mom and my niece are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, so it was time to make a decision.

I decided to go with a pillow idea. My mom & sister agreed that it was as good a direction as any.

The next decision was what pattern to use. The defining moment there was when I realized I had 3 plain shirts and 3 plaid shirts. Triangles it was.

I paired up each plaid shirt with a plain shirt and cut 4 triangles from each. Four triangles made one square, so I had 2 squares of each colour combination.

I joined the squares together and sewed them to a pillow case. Here's the finished product:


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Where I've been

It's been kind of quiet around here lately.

Part of that is that I've been much more social than usual lately. Last week I thought "Well, at least next week I won't be too social, I'm working 11:30 - 8. So far this week: went to the gym twice (including BodyCombat for the first time in 6 months - ouch!), went to the doctor, went out for breakfast with a friend, went for coffee with another friend, and had a 9:30 conference call. I've also: pulled some weeds, took the car in to get a headlight fixed, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, read a week's worth of accumulated newspapers, picked (and ate) the first tomato and the first 3 cucumbers from the garden, and iced my elbow at least once a day.

The other part is the fault of my friend Jennifer.

You see, last week she let me the first four Vampire Academy books, with the comment that they were better than Twilight.

That's kind of like being more nutritious than a Big Mac, so I didn't get too excited about them, but I brought the first one to work last week. The books are about living Vampires (Moroi), their half-human/half-vampire guardians, and dead vampires (strigoi) who are basically the bad guys. The first chapters were a little confusing.

On Monday, I got far enough into the book that I was hooked. I finished book one on Monday.

And book two on Tuesday.

And book three on Wednesday. (Can you see where this is going?)

I'm currently half way through book four. (What can I say? It's bigger than the others.)

On the way home, I stopped in at Chapters to buy book 5. I wasn't entirely sure where to look for it - they're young adult books, so that was going to be my first stop, but I wasn't sure that's where they'd be.

I still don't know - book 5 was on a table 3 feet inside the door.

(BTW Jennifer, if you don't have book 5, you can probably borrow it by Monday ... unless I suck Wanda into reading them too.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Everything's growing

The recent heat wave has done two things:
1) killed off the smaller plants in my garden
2)made the cucumbers and tomatoes grow like crazy. My tomato plants are up to my elbow. The cucumber leaves are big enough to hide a rabbit or two. (This is not hypothetical.)

Today I picked the first cucumber of the year. (It was really, really good.)

The tomatoes are growing as well, but something has been eating some of the green tomatoes. I'm not really sure what - mostly the wildlife leaves the tomatoes and cucumbers alone, although a local raccoon has been known to eat the only ear of corn and leave the cob on the back step (as an insult, I assume).

Sadly, this amazing growth has not been limited to the great outdoors. That's right, the fruit flies are back. This year they like the teakettle, the outside of the fruit fly trap, and the kitchen tap. (Note to fruit flies: none of those things are food.)

As a result, a "no dirty dishes of any type on the counter" rule has been instituted. (Yes, this includes a cutting board that has been used once.)

(Sadly, the fruit flies don't care - they seem to like plastic more than anything else.)

(How do I not have a fruit fly tag? I whine about them every year.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Trying new classes at the gym (so you don't have to)

Yesterday I had plans to meet friends in Kanata at 6:15.

Rather than come home first, I went to the gym. As I walked in, I was reminded that there was a demo class happening at 5:30.

This was a drum class. (Warning - that link opens up a web page with sound).

I decided to give it a try - I wouldn't be able to stay for the whole thing, but it looked better than the elliptical.

I wandered over to the exercise room, and ... only two people were there. (Well, three if you could the instructor).

We set up our exercise balls - the other student and I each had one in front of us and one behind us. She had one to her left and I had one to my right. That way we could each move left or right and still have a ball in front of us.

We started with technique - how to hold the drumsticks, how to shuffle, how to move left and right, etc.

About 15 minutes in, the instructor turned on the music and we tried it all together.

It was fun, although my drumsticks went flying once and I knocked over a couple of exercise balls. (I always forget how terribly uncoordinated I am until I try something new.)

I don't think I would want to do this very often - there was a reasonable amount of pivoting, and I've hurt my knees and ankles too often to make that entirely safe - but it was a nice change.

(And yes, I was late getting to Kanata.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Toy Story 3

Today was busier than I like my Saturdays to be.

In fact, this whole week has been remarkably busy - between BOLO and socializing and the gym and appointments (dentist, insurance, hair), it seems like it has been ages since I've had a chance to just sit. (This is inaccurate, of course. Most of last weekend involved not doing much.)

When Toy Story 3 came out, Wanda and I wanted to go see it. Tonight is the first time we were both free.

Before I saw it, I heard that it was good but everyone I know who saw it also said that they'd cried.

Now, I've been known to cry at cell phone commercials, so I was kind of expecting that I might have a similar issue.

The other thing I'd heard (from my niece) is that she liked the part with the potato head. That ... kind of puzzled me. Potato head has been in all of the movies - what could he do in this one that was so special?

Anyway, tonight we went to the theatre, bought our tickets, received our 3-D glasses, and took our seats.

The movie started, and I was ... kind of confused, at first. Eventually I figured out what was going on and started to get into the movie. (I should mention that it's a darker movie than the others - at one point, I compared it to a toy horror movie. Definitely scary for younger kids.)

Once the horror movie part was over, things started to resolve themselves. That's when we got to the crying.

Now, there have been a lot of movies were I might have been a little teary, but this one - I was crying for minutes. Tears running down my face, the whole works.

With, might I remind you, 3-D glasses over top of regular glasses. At that point, one or both of the glasses started fogging up.

It would have been funny to watch, let me tell you.

Luckily, they did some funny stuff over the credits, so I had time to compose myself.

(And the part with Mr. Potato Head was hilarious.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

BOLO

So last night was BOLO. This is the second (?) annual Blog Out Loud - dozens of Ottawa bloggers getting together to listen to volunteers read one (or more) of their entries.

I was pretty amazed at how many people showed up. Twenty-four people read, and I'd guess there were 60 or so people crowded into the room.

It was kind of like picking a link from someone's blogroll at random. Some entries I loved, some weren't my thing. I have a lot more blogs to check out soon, though.

I didn't stay through the whole thing - I needed to get the car home so Wanda could go to work, and I also needed to get some sleep so I could go to work today - but I enjoyed it (although it has been a long time since I've walked into a room where I didn't know anyone - man, that's hard to do).

I will say that everyone I talked to was very nice, and I wish I could remember more than two names. Alas, that's not how my brain works.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summertime

This weekend was perfect for camping.

We drove out to the campground on Friday night. We didn't go far - Rideau River provincial park is about 30 minutes from here. There were three of us + our gear in the car, and it was packed. I was driving, and I couldn't see the backseat passenger.

We got there around 6:45 and were unpacked and set up by about 7:15. We wandered around and explored a bit, but mostly just sat around the fire.

Saturday morning, we - you guessed it - sat around some more. When I'm at home, that's not something I do at all, but when I'm camping I'm content to just sit. After a while, it got pretty warm, but the dining tent provided enough shade that we were comfortable.

After lunch, we went to the beach for a while. The water seemed incredibly cold, but I think that was because of how hot the air was - once I was in the water, it was pleasant. I managed to drag myself out of the water before I got burnt to a crisp.

Later, another friend came out to join us for the rest of the day and we all had a good time chatting and playing games. We also made bush pies (like grilled cheese sandwiches, except with apple pie filling instead of cheese) in my new bush pie makers.

The weather was beautiful, and the bugs were kept to a minimum, although as usual I did get a mosquito bite right where the strap of my sandal sits.

It has been a few years since I've been camping, and I'd forgotten how much I need this type of weekend.