Friday, March 23, 2012

Ninety five

Today would have been my grandpa's 95th birthday.

He was the youngest boy in a family of 15. His parents immigrated from "the old country" before he was born. They had seven or eight kids before they immigrated. (My sister, the informal family historian, thinks the eighth child was born on the way.) By the time he was born, they had a homestead. He grew up there, and when he became an adult, he took over the farm.

He married my grandmother in 1939. They had a double wedding. At the time, you couldn't eat between the time you got up and the time you took communion at mass, so weddings were often held in the morning, but they couldn't afford to feed their guests both lunch and supper, so they waited and got married in the afternoon.

They had three children and sixteen grandchildren. My family lived in Regina (a 2 hour drive away), and we visited roughly every second weekend. When I was twelve, my parents bought an old house in the tiny town 1/2 a mile away from the farm, and we were there every summer as well. (The joke was that we doubled the population of the town when we went out for the weekend.)

He loved horses. When we'd look at old pictures, he didn't always recognize the people, but he knew the names of every horse. I was the oldest grandchild, and when I was about five, he bought a pony. (Her name was Blondie. She had three colts, and when I was twelve I fell off one of them, landed on a fence, and broke my arm.)

For years, they had a dog. They were farm dogs - bigger dogs who stayed outside and followed my grandpa around while he did chores. (I did the same thing, but I got to go in the house, too.) When I was probably around 8, the dog was Charlie. Charlie was part-collie, liked people, and when we climbed a tree, he climbed the tree with us. He could also climb the ladder into the hayloft.

Sometime after Charlie, they had Amos. I was probably around 13 at that point, and Amos was my dog. It used to drive my grandparents crazy, because when I was out there, he'd come to our house and live there. He'd never bark when someone drove into their yard, but he'd wake the entire town if someone drove by on a road that might eventually allow them to reach our house. I spent hours petting that dog, and I held his head while grandpa pulled out the quills from his latest tangle with a porcupine.

The farm was full of fascinating things - an old blacksmith shop, old farm equipment, dozens of places to explore. They had a ... thingy that you use to make rope out of twine (I feel like there should be a word for that), they had a butter churn, they had crow bars and air compressors, a drill press and vises. The basement contained shelves of books. I spent hours lying on the bed reading.

Grandpa always made sure we had snacks - Old Dutch chips or bugles, usually - and sometimes we'd get a whole bottle of pop to ourselves. He was also a big fan of stopping for soft ice cream when we were in town. I never objected.

On the farm, you do pretty much everything yourself, and I remember helping reshingle the barn roof and put siding on the garage. (I'm not sure I was actually any help in either situation.) We weren't allowed on the barn roof normally, so this was exciting. (Um, and if you're reading this, mom, we never went on the barn roof except that one time.)

We rode in the back of the truck and in the front-end loader on the tractor. I got to drive the garden tractor - which was exciting when I was eleven, but now just looks like a big scam to get me to mow the grass. They had some old bikes that we could ride. One of them was one of those bikes with the high handlebars, but the handlebars wouldn't stay up, so we had to lean over to ride it. We called it the jelly roll. (Looking back, I'm not sure why they didn't just weld it into position.)

When I was sixteen, grandpa let me drive his new truck. When I was pulling into the (also new) garage, I hit the side of the door. He had to go out and use a sledge hammer to get it back in line.

My grandma died in 1994. My grandpa was lost without her, and he died in 1997. It's weird, but I still dream about him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Things I Saw People Wearing Today

Things I Saw People Wearing Today:
  • Shorts
  • Tank tops
  • Flip flops
  • Sandals
  • Skirts
  • Tube tops

Things I saw people doing today:

  • Cycling
  • Sitting on the grass
  • Playing catch
  • Reading a book outside
  • Buying hot dogs from a sidewalk vendor
  • Eating on a patio

When the seasonally appropriate weather returns, there will be so much whining.

Monday, March 19, 2012


This weekend, I went over to a friend's house and tried the Wii Fit.

Long story short, I now have a Wii Fit. (Oddly, I don't actually have a Wii. Luckily, Wanda does.)

I'm enjoying it, although I wouldn't really consider it a workout. I mean, it's better than sitting on the couch, but I used it for a couple of hours this weekend and I never broke a sweat.

I also went for a long walk yesterday since it was so nice out.

Between the two, I'm so sore today. The muscles in my upper back are sore (Rythym Kung Fu), my forearms are sore (the marching one with the drums), and the muscles on the outside of both ankles are sore (that might be the walk).

Do you know what the problem with having two sore ankles is? That's right, it's hard to limp.

Tonight I tried the one where you're flying (Bird's Eye Bull's eye, I think).

I shudder to think how sore I'll be tomorrow.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The weekend

The main topic of conversation in Ottawa this weekend is the weather.

I think it was four years ago when we got a foot of snow on March 9. This year, it's March 18 and 23 C. It's beautiful. I hung my laundry out to dry (which reminds me that I should bring it back in), opened the windows (since it was warmer outside than in) and went for a walk in sandals, a tank top, and jeans rolled up to the knees.

It's a little strange to be wearing sandals and dodging snowbanks, but it is what it is.

Based on my walk, it's "take your Christmas lights down" day in Ottawa. Bikes, scooters, and ice cream are also popular.

The playground near my house has a new play structure, replacing the two that were there before. Apparently I'm out of the loop on local playgrounds, because that was a surprise to me.

All over the city, BBQs are being fired up. (Not at my house, I'm too lazy to pull it out of the shed, and I'm planning to have a sandwich for supper, so a BBQ is overkill.)

It feels like May, not March.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In Which Gravity Asserts Itself

Last Friday, I bought groceries.

I'm ... kind of lazy, actually, so it's my habit to carry in as much as possible at once so that I can make fewer trips. When you add that to the fact that I buy groceries on the way home from work - and thus I also have my laptop bag and my gym bag - I'm carrying a lot of weight.

The walk in front of my house ends in two steps down to the driveway. Since it was the beginning of March and I live in Ottawa, the walk was icy. In particular, walk was covered in 3 inches of ice, and the bottom step wasn't so much a step as it was a slide. Most of the ice was well-sanded, but that ramp of ice leading to the bottom step wasn't.

I picked up the groceries and my bags and stepped onto the ice.

I slid back down.

I tried again.

Same result.

I tried a different angle.

This time I got two steps onto the ice, which just made it more comical when I slid back down.

Finally, I gave up and walked across the lawn in snow that was deeper than my boots. (You didn't think I was going to put down some groceries, did you? Please see "too lazy to make many trips" above.)

That was six days ago.

Today, the ice is gone and large portions of the lawn are snow-free.

Spring is here.

Of course, I've said that before.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why I Can Never Change Jobs

Now that I'm a regular employee, I can access the company gym for free. Free.

There's more.

Not only is it free, but it's at work. This means I can go to the gym at lunch. I can even do classes at lunch.

Over the past week, I've done four classes - circuit, strength and stretch, core, and body toning.

You know, I used to think I was in pretty good shape. That was before the day when my lower back was sore - not because I injured it, but because I'm not used to working that muscle. I'm not actually sure I knew there was a muscle in my lower back.

Since I'm taking a little longer for lunch, I stay a little later. That means I don't leave until 5, and I don't get home until 5:30.

At the other gym, my classes didn't start until 5:30. My evenings are endless. I'm going to need some new hobbies.