Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The title tells you how inspired I was at the end of the day Wednesday. I spent a good part of the day filing. We did also go to the Children's museum which is always a hit. After a childhood traumatized by trips to museums, mostly orchestrated by school and involving a lot of reading of very dense descriptions of charisma-free Roman or Greek archaelogical finds, I am of the opinion that anywhere that has interesting things or bodily-kinaesthetic features should not be called a museum. Nevertheless it's brilliant and I only wish it was annexed to my house. As it is it is across the river in Quebec and difficult to get to without the car. Luckily Crystal has found a ride to work and we have the car for two whole days. So now, Thursday, we are at the farm, the kids are playing in the kitchen and I am enjoying the rocking chair.

I should add that before the filing yesterday I had already been peed on and puked on. Anyone would think Toby is 16 weeks not 16 months.

Tea time:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hired help

Big news.  I have a new helper in the kitchen.  He lacks the refined skills or the self restraint of his predecessor but I feel like its good to bring in young blood.  Besides the 2-year old has better things to be doing these days: picnics at the beach, tea parties, shopping trips, stroller walks, you name it, she imagines it.  So bring it on Toby, and please, stop eating the cheese I've just grated for dinner!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ski #9: PAXC race

This is the second year I have headed out to Pembroke to take part in the Pembroke Area Cross Country ski race.  Last year the race was shortened because it was so cold, somewhere around -25C so this year's -15C or so seemed quite comfortable and we got to do the whole 10k.  I had a great time slowly but surely picking off the three skiers that I could see ahead of me.  I'll post the results when they are up.  Even got to hot tub back at Chris and Linde's.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ski #8: He ain't heavy...

...but his sister is getting there.  We skied up Fortune again and I am not sure how many more times I can do it with both of them in the Chariot.  I came very close to stalling and if gravity does not overcome us I suspect that my heart may just say no more and leave me lying in the culvert gasping for air.  Felicity had a great time on the way down.  She has a thrill seeker gene and loves to go fast.

Now it's Saturday night, Crystal has gone on a date with her friend and I am writing this blog instead of doing my homework.  Enough procrastinating.

Post 101

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

I'm not about to give a 101 on posting but this is my 101st blog post since starting in 2009.  This has been a busy week of appointments and citizenship ceremonies.  On Friday I found myself in the waiting room of a very sleek looking cosmetic surgery clinic.  At least that's what I deduced.  Enigmatically known as the "Ottawa Clinic" there's not much to give it away.  Nevertheless the endless fashion magazines, leaflets about skin treatments and the big posterboard in the exam room advertising the latest "round gel" breast implants gave it away.  So my secret is out.  I am tired of the receding hairline, the mismatched ears and the yellowing teeth.  It's time for an overhaul.  In fact I have a lipoma on my right flank.  It's been there for years.  Various doctors have said don't worry and I didn't until some doctor friends of ours pointed out that the longer it grows the more messy it will be to remove.  So my family doctor referred me to a day surgeon who thought it was too attached to the muscle to do in his clinic so he sent me for an ultrasound and now I'm in Dr Chan's office and he feels like it is not as free moving as the lipomas he normally sees so he'd like an MRI before we go any further and that means getting some blood tests to see if my kidneys can handle the indicator dye and before we know it it will be 2020 and I'll have a grapefruit attached to my side and I'll still be waiting for some test or another.  In the meantime, here is the offending right flank (WARNING: nipple exposure, sort of, under all that hair):

Anothe angle? Oh ok then...

Things perked up as the day progressed.  It got up to -2C which feels tropical right now.  I hit the canal with the kiddly winkles and they took it in turns to sleep.  Easy on the way out with a fair wind behind but that chariot acts like a bucket scooping up the wind on the way back.

And another skate for Lauren's birthday rounded out a thoroughly Canadian day to celebrate my new found citizenship.

We did it

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

That's what they sing at the end of each Dora episode.  Today we made it to story time at the library.  Toby obliged with an early nap and the stars and planets aligned.  The best bit was that after everyone had cleared out of the meeting room we had 45 minutes of running races up and down the room.  Then we had lunch in the mall and went to the grocery store and made it home with minimal complaints after a three hour outing.  After my complaints about the cold yesterday this was a fairly significant victory.  I flooded the rink in the evening with Chad and Mark.  Amen.

Oh Canada!

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Today I became a citizen of Canada by swearing allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, queen of Canada.  I've never had to do that before.  It was a nice little ceremony with 78 other new Canadians.  I can now carry on paying taxes and I get to vote.  There's an election coming up.  It would be nice to see a change but I'm not holding my breath.  Here is a picture of me receiving my certificate from the Queen:

The day before I started Special Education Part II which will now occupy 5 hours of my Tuesday evenings every week well into April.  And tonight I am off to flood the rink.  Crystal plays football (soccer, whatever) on Monday and we normally take amphetamines before going to an all night rave on Fridays.  None of the second part of that last sentence is true.  Suffice to say we have busied our weeks.  Luckily I get to sit around with the kids all day.  In fact we have done a lot of 'being' around the house over the last few weeks because it's been so f-ing cold.  I have a whole new perspective on winter now and it has not been great.  Lots of -20C days and that's just not really safe or even comfortable for kidlets.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Good news day

Busy day as I took Toby to the paediatric cardiologist to check out a heart murmur that our family doctor had heard. It's very normal in kids of this age and it turns out that Toby is absolutely fine although it has been a couple of months of mildly niggling worry since the referral. Toby and I celebrated with some sausage and eggs in the clinic cafe.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ski #7 Carbon copy

Exactly the same ski as yesterday, just 10 degrees warmer which was nice.  I am bored of mono-chromatic pictures of winter and slightly concerned that I may be becoming colour blind.  So just for fun:

In fact I ran with Francine this morning so the ski completed 200 minutes of exercise this weekend which may go someway toward getting me in shape for the Loppett in 3 weeks time.

Is this my most boring post for a while?  I'm distracted by American Football.  Thus completes my transformation to North American man.  In fact on Wednesday this week I will become a Canadian citizen by pledging my allegiance to the Queen no less.  After 37 years of being a loyal subject of Her Majesty I have never had to do that.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ski #6 and some other stuff

It was cold and grey for skiing today so I left the camera at home.  I was expecting the snow to be slow but it was actually pretty good.  Shows how much I know.  It was one of those days that started at -26C and was up to -18C by the time I headed out at 4pm.  It's meant to be +1C tomorrow.  Go figure as they say.

In lieu of a picture of me standing still or of a tree covered in snow or of a nicely groomed trail, here is a young man entertaining the crowd during a ski race.

In other news, the week came to an almighty climax with Crystal's birthday on Friday.  She is 35 in case you are wondering and are too polite to ask.  We ordered Indian, made a pumpkin cake and went to the climbing gym.  Only because we couldn't get tickets to our favourite thrash metal band you understand.  My fear of heights is alive and well.  Not so much heights per se but of getting stuck at the top.  Anyway, I am safely back on the couch now.  Luckily I don't have this guy's job...  

That's right, two days after the city tree surgeons came to trim our tree the city's tree surgeons came to trim our tree.  This was a different crew.  Same entertainment value.  Some compensation for the $500+ that we pay every month in city taxes.  Ouch.

Oh and I should tell you that we now have a picture on our wall.  The big wall with no pictures now has a picture.  It's a montage of pictures of birds which we bought from a small art dealer that sometimes sells bespoke furniture.  That's not true.  It came from Ikea.  I saw it on their website and liked it and we went to buy it and it was only then that I realised that the patterning on the birds was in fact extracts from British maps.  The British Museum, Bath and Bristol, the Solent and Southampton Water all feature.  Go figure as they say.

Finally, I want to try giving up reading online news, specifically the Grauniad.  I think that if I devoted this time to reading about other interests of mine I would learn something rather than simply reinforcing my already formed views.  It's going to be tough.  The Guardian is entertaining, the writing is good and there is always something interesting to read.  I only read a fraction of the all the articles that catch my attention. So we'll see how long I last. Here's a good one to start with: Manual Front Wheel Lift on a website called Mountain Bike Techniques. But you see that has to compete with such treasures as: It used to be rude not to answer the phone. Now you’re rude if you do. One last time, go figure.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Blink and you miss it

That refers to the week.  This one has flown by in a flurry.  Crystal went to the Banff Mountain Film Festival on Monday and I did on Tuesday.  This has become or model for this event - men go one night, women the other.  It makes the childcare arrangements simple.  The Film Festival is our annual goggle-fest.  There are about 10 films shown normally covering skiing, biking, climbing, paddling and over loosely mountain related pursuits.  It's really good and inspires dreaming if nothing else.  In fact last year it featured a guy who spent his 35th birthday climbing 35 routes in a day.  I racked my brain to come up with a suitably related challenge that could take place on or around Feb 8th every year and settled on what was last year a 36km cross country ski.  We came up a few k short last year but I'm already planning to repeat (+1k) this year.  I have decided that if I am still doing this in my 70s I will split it across two days of the weekend.  No doubt, if I am living in Ottawa, global warming will have morphed this into a run.

Daddy daycare has been quiet.  The more time we spend at home the more I feel that the kids are happy here.  Felicity went to her "preschool" on Monday with friend Cedar and seems to love that, coming home wired and exhausted but full of brainergy.  But the collective stress of getting them both dressed in this weather and out the door seems to make them both grouchy when we go out together and we are limited in where we can go without the car.  Standing at the bus stop when it's -20C is not a great option.  Moreover, they are playing increasingly well together and Felicity's imagination is on fire.  She will relate a picnic outing to the beach for an entire hour and rarely seems to be short of ideas.  Besides, if we went out too much we would miss the tree trimming man and his go-go-gadget arm truck.

I make it sound like we never leave the house.  In fact we rarely don't leave the house for something or other.  On Wednesday Crystal was home ill so I took Felicity swimming while Toby napped which was great because I don't often get to do something 1:1 with her.  Tuesday we all went to the library and today we did some groceries.

When the sun is shining, low as it is at this time of year and reflecting off the snow, the house is really bright, the sunroom is warm and it almost feels like being in a cabin.  Quite lovely.

Felicity has taken Toby's shirt shoulder off so that she can give him a flu shot.  She will also take his blood pressure, listen to his chest and check for puppies in his ears.  Marvellous.

Tonight I am off out for my weekly turn flooding the rink.  It's enjoyable but a late night.  Oh so old and grumpy.  News flash!  Flooding may be called off due to snow.  In the UK being a grumpy old man is a badge of honour, something of a recognised life phase and not something to be apologised for and changed.  Here, in North America, it is deemed to be negativity and you have to go see the shrink.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ski #5 Back in snow business

First, I'll tell you how the night went.  We were in bed at a rock and roll Friday night 10.30pm.  Toby got the ball rolling at 1.30am.  Crystal tried to get him back to sleep, I tried, Crystal tried again.  The whole process continued until after 3am.  At 4am Felicity woke up and I went and "slept" in her bed in between a diaper change, her rolling around and me waking abruptly to find one limb or another had lost circulation as I contorted to fit in the spare 12 inches of space not taken up by stuffed animals or sprawling child.  I finally got up at 6.15am when Toby woke up.  Three 2-hour naps does not constitute a satisfactory night's sleep.  Why I am telling you all this?  I don't know.  Sympathy? No.  Solace? Unlikely.

Anyway, not to be defeated, I headed out for a ski.  Cold but sunny.  Slow snow, sore body, tired body.  But worth every minute of suffering.  And now I'm home, Toby is in better spirits but his routine is out of whack and now he won't nap properly.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sick boy

Our little man has had a high fever for the last two days which has meant him being surgically attached to me for... two days.  Felicity has been neglected and its all been pretty miserable.  This on the back of the extreme cold earlier in the week has meant a lot of house-bounded-ness.  Luckily Toby did still nap or I may have slipped a disc by the end of the ordeal.  Here he is looking decidedly displeased with life.

Meanwhile Felicity had her own sick baby in carrier.  She took good care of her patient, feeding monkey a steady supply of Cheerio "pills".

When Toby did take his naps, Felicity and I retreated into the basement to work on the new shelving for our storage bins.  She's a good helper, holding the end of the wood while I saw so that it doesn't sheer off before the cut is finished.  Although clearly she must be some of distraction because I ended up with a sloping shelf when I mis-measured one of my spacings.  Did I just blame my incompetence on an unwitting 2-year old?  I think I did.

Look at those work boots!

This was day two of Toby's illness.  We got outside for about 4 minutes before Toby woke up.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Do less

Doing less included not writing last night.  My new do less mantra manifests itself in two ways.  As picture 1 below demonstrates I have now outsourced care of Toby to Junior.  And in picture 2 we see an appropriate response to winter (the return of which is evidenced in picture 3).  Socks on hands, blanket, couch.  All of which leaves me with ample time to cook leeks in Le Creuset.  Did I tell you about Le Creuset?  I think I did but I will again.  It literally means cauldron in French; in English it means very expensive and rather heavy cookware.  But beautiful to look at and very satisfying to cook in (unless you are being cooked in it presumably).  But you probably know all that already.  What you less likely know, unless I've written about it before, is that the blue beauty was a gift from Crystal for our 6th wedding anniversary in November, traditionally recognised with iron.  I feel like I am teetering near the precipice of wholeheartedly embracing domesticity.  Not quite.  Crystal is planning a girls hiking trip to Gros Morne, and I a Yukon canoeing trip, for the summer.  We have reconciled our impatience and our inability to wait until the kids are old enough for grand adventures by going our separate ways, temporarily.     

Right now, I have cleverly continued my outsourcing program to include Felicity's care.  She has been packed off to Dovercourt's preschooler program with her friend Cedar.  Hang on!  Who's going to feed Toby when he wakes up from his nap?!  Oh dear.  Bad human resource management.   

There we go, my train of thought disturbed by a waking toddler.  And now it is 8.30pm, the house is mercifully quiet, the tidying that has been done will not be undone for at least 10 hours and we await Crystal's adventure companions for planning session re: aforementioned hiking trip.  I will retreat to the basement to do man stuff - make shelves.  I might take a picture when they're done.

Pictures better integrated into text or altogether at the bottom? 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year

Welcome back.  Hope you had a good holiday.  Perhaps you haven't been to work for 2 weeks or maybe you have.  The blog has been taking a rest.  The holidays seem to be the busiest time.  We've done a lot of entertaining, not a lot of winter sports, a little home maintenance and even a tiny bit of extra sleep.  

Now it is back to the grindstone, although we actually had a quiet, peaceful day.  We all needed it.  The kids have been socialising energetically and may not be sure if they are coming or going.  In addition it is cold right now.  Cold, icy and windy.  It feels like what I imagine when I think of the deep, dark depths of and Ottawa winter.  

So we did some eating apples...  

...and eating apples and smiling...

...and sunbathing because it was cold but the sun came out occasionally...

...and then a bath, with bubbles...

...and smiles...

So 2015 starts off in much the same way 2014 ended.  Toby is growing and continuing his cheeky chappy routine.  Felicity's imagination flourishes as she surprises and delights every day.