Sunday, February 12, 2017

39 for 39

Last year was a disaster.  I woke up with flu like symptoms and a fever.  I drove to the park with a thermometer in my mouth and skied as far as Fortune Lake.  I went home and stayed there for 5 days with what was I think my second bout of flu in my life and certainly the worst.

This year went a lot better.  Dejan, Deb, Steph and Dan joined me and we left P9 at 10.30. 

The route:
P9-->Parkways and 1B to Western-->McKinstry-->Firetower-->#1 and back to P9.  39.9km. 

The snow started at 11 and was relentless with 10cm on the ground by the end which made the return journey very heavy going.  I made it back to the car shortly before 4pm with the two hut stops.  A grand day out indeed.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hello Blog. Remember me? The vasectomy edition.

When I was first at home with the children back in November 2014 I had a brief rash of blogging.  Everything we were doing was new and exciting and I had lots of funny observations to share.  The thing with kids though is that they like routine.  "What do you want to do today Toby?"  "Aeroplane Museum!".  "But we went there yesterday".  It doesn't matter.  They want it simple, they want familiarity.  In short, a small world.  I've heard it explained like this: if you are new to the world, say 2 years old, then everything is new.  It's only the second time you've seen snow (and you've already forgotten the first time) or heard spring birds sing or seen cherry blossom.  The world is overwhelming.  So really you just don't need too many wildly new experiences on top of all that.  Makes for a nice life but not a very exciting blog.

Fast forward to May 2016.  Felicity starts school in September, Toby will go to pre-school and I will hopefully have a conventional job, with a pay check and a commute.  So now is a good time for getting stuff done, before all that 21st century madness befalls us.  Hence, I had my eyes lasered in March, we had our crumbling front steps re-built at the beginning of this month and right now I am convalescing after my second major surgery of the year.  I feel like Joan Rivers.  Ok, it wasn't major surgery and it hasn't made me look young and beautiful but it has very effectively limited the impact that my genes will have on the future of human evolution.  On Friday, a beautiful sunny day, I walked into Dr. Weiss' surgery, feeling ever so slightly dazed by the compulsory Valium I had just taken and ever so slightly constricted by the medical grade "support" I was wearing.  20 minutes later, I walked out, all by myself.  During the interim I had been pushed, pulled, sliced, snipped, burnt and glued.

Now, either because it is medically necessary, or because the wily Dr. Weiss has figured out that it entices men to accept his otherwise moderately unattractive proposition (sterilisation), post-op instructions are exceptionally clear: absolutely no lifting or exerting for 7 days.  I.e. no helping with the kids, no house work, no dog walking.  In fact you have to sit down as much as possible.  Of course if I worked in an office I could be chalking up my hours by now, bringing in the bacon.  And in fairness to myself, I have done a very little bit of work helping Crystal with some admin tasks.  But she has taken the children away to visit Auntie Shannon in Toronto.  As a result, I have time to stare into space, watch Giro highlights, pick up a bootleg feed of the FA cup final, watch a Netflix documentary about Mitt Romney, work on the family photo album, re-heat frozen meals and write a blog.  All in one weekend.  I feel like a fraud though.  I thought the deal was going to be no work but in return lots of pain, specifically that unique kind of pain associated with a football in the groin (or more likely these days a toddler's head).  The very large and powerful looking pain pills that were prescribed added credence to this belief but in all honesty I haven't touched them.  Not even a measly Ibuprofen.  Zero pain (so far).  In fact the most painful thing was the pre-op DIY shaving.  Enough details.

I will leave you with these thoughts.  If you live in Ottawa your doctor will refer you to Dr Weiss for vasectomy.  He is the vasectomy guy.  He has apparently performed over 44,000 vasectomies.  70 a week.  Incredible.  It may be no surprise then that when you start sheepishly sharing your planned vasectomy with a few close acquaintances the familiar reply is "oh, yes, Dr Weiss. He did mine".  Who knew?  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Three and done: Spaghetti bolognese

Crystal mentioned to me that she had a student who lived with his dad who was always away working.  Dad left money for food but the student had no idea how to cook so lived on junk food and gummy bears, for breakfast.  The student is a nice kid, smart enough, no reason he can't learn to cook but I guess no one ever showed him.

The demise of home ec. has been well lamented elsewhere and gone are the days when it went without saying that you that learnt life skills where you lived life, at home.  This got me thinking.  I have been through my own arc of gastronomic ambition, from the 8 slices of toast and a pint of tea diet at boarding school to phoning my mum from uni to ask if I should still cook the chicken if it had gone green.  I ate a lot of frozen sausages during that period of my life.  In the last few years I've been a bit more ambitious as time and money have allowed.  But since our second kidlet was born I've reigned it in.  No more soaking beans and boiling them for a half a day; gone are the sauce reductions, the three hour dinner recipes and the 15 ingredient marinade.  Gone too is the spag bol that started with gently sauted onions and ended 45 mins later with an hour long simmer.  That has been replaced by a jar of Classico.

Out with hours, in with the minutes and with the hours have gone the cook books.  Not literally; they look nice on the shelf and I still love them and I will use them again while my teenagers are sleeping til midday on Sunday mornings.  But one has endured:  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Three Good Things.  The premise is three ingredients.  Well, three main ingredients and then all the so-called "store cupboard" standards.  So he still has you chopping onions by the pound and mincing garlic by the bulb.  Nevertheless, I hearby acknowledge Hugh's refined and sophisticated "Three" as the inspiration for my own down and dirty "Three".  The idea is, no chopping, no fiddling, no trying to figure out if this is nutritionally balanced or not.  One criteria: is it better than gummy bears.

So here it is, recipe #1 in the series "Three and done".  Spaghetti bolognese:

1lb of ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork or lamb
1 jar of Classico sauce or supermarket own brand, any flavour
300g of pasta, any type

1. Take a saucepan or a frying pan, put it on the stove and turn the knob to medium.
2.  Put the meat in.  Stir it around, break it up, wait until it all turns brown.  Should take about 8 minutes.
3.  Pour the sauce in, wait until it bubbles, then turn the heat down to low.
4.  Half fill another big saucepan with water.  Put it on the stove, turn the knob to high. When it's boiling, add the pasta, stir and turn the heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes or whatever it says on the packet.  Drain in a colander or carefully holding the lid with a little gap to let the water out and not the pasta.
5.  Put the pasta in a big bowl or plate, pour the meat sauce on top.  Put some cheese on if you like.  Eat it!

This is what you need:  (1) Any pasta; (2) Ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey (3) A jar of sauce:

That's the raw meat, pink:

It's cooking but still some pink.  Wait until it's all brown:

That's the browned meat with the sauce mixed in.

There's the pasta, covered in boiling water.

And there's some grated cheese to make it extra tasty

Up next, Fried egg sandwich.  Breakfast of champions.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Downhill champ

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Simon and Derek take Felicity and Tristan to Camp Fortune. The sun is shining and it's plus 5C.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Breathing space

The last time I wrote a non-skiing post was after we'd been to the farm on March 7th.  I had warned the readership (me) that the blog would be taking a break due to coursework commitments.  We have been feeling stretched of late so it is very pleasant to find myself on this, the first day of April, sitting alone at the kitchen table at 11am enjoying bright sunshine and silence.  Toby is napping and Auntie Ronnie, who is at home waiting for Jackson #5 to arrive, has whisked Felicity off to the grocery store.  I am confident that my Spec Ed course instructor does not read my blog and if she does I will beg forgiveness for not doing extra work but I think I am finally up to date.

A quick recap of the last three weeks.  A week preparing to go on holiday, a week on holiday in the Dominican and a week catching up from being on holiday.  The Dominican Republic and the resort of Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace (no less than a palace for the Fergusons, although I'm not sure it was palatial, thankfully) was beautiful.  Here is a selection of pictures.

This was our second foray into the hitherto unknown world of all inclusive resorts.  I think I was scared of them before and I distinctly remember before going to the Bahamas 2 1/2 yrs ago planning all sorts of activities to do around the island, the thought of staying in one compound for a week being unbearable.  Needless to say I did not even approach the resort entrance for the entire week and was very happy.  Three years of disrupted sleep, a house move, numerous trips and travels with the little ones and I have now wholeheartedly surrendered, morally, ethically and perhaps even intellectually to the ideal of not cooking, shopping, cleaning or driving for seven glorious days in a row.  Add to that not putting on snow suits, hats, mitts, gloves, boots, scarves or even socks, trousers and sweaters.  And add to that walking for 30 seconds before seeing, feeling and smelling the ocean, everyday, whenever you want.  This is not the end of adventures in the Alps or of rain-soaked bike trips or hours sitting at dusty train stations but as they say here, it is what it is and what it is is a wonderful break.

When we got back to Ottawa, three hours late at 11pm on Sunday night, it was -10C and there seemed to actually be more snow than when we left.  This is mixed time of year - long days have already arrived, 12 hours of sunshine if the clouds abate, but also a time of freeze-thaw, grey and brown snow giving way to grey and brown grass or lakes of floodwater.  The garbage of winter, held for so many months in those snow banks, is given up to lie, salt crusted, on the sidewalks and verges.  The city's big spring clean is still to come, the volunteers who tidy up the parks and the contractors who sweep away the road grit lie in wait.  But until then on dry days the streets are dusty and grim and when it rains there is a soup of grime hiding the broken roads and treacherous pot holes.

But there is much to look forward to.  Easter weekend is upon us already and later in the month Crystal and I are going on a weekend Wilderness First Aid course together.  That's how we roll!  Partly in preparation for our separate summer adventures, Crystal to Gros Morne, me to the Yukon and partly just because we like to spend a lot of time a little ways from help and increasingly with the kids.  There's a 10k at the end of the month with a group of Crystal's students.  At the beginning of May is a band trip to Washington DC for Crystal, the Spring Chicken enduro for Simon, then the Rideau Lakes bike tour and hopefully a whitewater canoe course, both for Simon (#understandingwife - that's a hashtag; it's 2015 after all).  And there's meant to be a girls cottage weekend in there somewhere just to recharge Crystal's batteries for all of Simon's excursions.  What about the kids?!  Their world is small!  Really, it is.  They are happy when they don't spend too long in the car, when they get to go to the park and play with water in the back yard and see their friends and scooter and get muffins from Grandma and Nono.  We are however planning to do a summer overnight canoe camping trip with them.

Back to now.  This morning we went to the park.

Felicity wore her helmet because under the play structure is a sheet of ice.  It is nice to be out without getting cold or wet.  It's -5C so ideal.  Otherwise it's a lake out there.  Felicity has been going to the pre-school program at Dovercourt twice a week and she starts swimming lessons after Easter.  Need to get Toby a tricycle with a push handle to save my back!  'Tis the season to get excited.  It's been a long, very cold winter.    

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ski #17: Toby and me

Felicity took Crystal downhill. We skied P10-Champlain-#1-P10. Stunning weather.