Saturday, 28 December 2013


Mike got Jason (and I) a second controller for the Xbox One so we can play multiplayer on some of the games. I enjoy The Xbox but in general have always shied away from console gaming because I never used them as a kid; I don't have the coordination or muscle memory to use controllers very well. (I am a PC gamer.) Jason is trying very hard to get me to like his new toy - it isn't as though I hate it, or begrudge any time he spends playing it, I just don't use it. He first got me Peggle 2, which I admit is super addictive, and then for Christmas gave me Forza Motorsport 5, seeing that I love cars it was a good choice and I am really liking it. I decided it was time to get a Xbox identity:

Be my friend on Xbox Live: 
Chris Tine BINX

Friday, 27 December 2013

Found My Phone

Item Lost: My phone
Time Lost: Saturday December 21
Last Place I Remember: Back of my parents' SUV
Place Found: In my purse

So, I missed a lot of Merry Christmas messages and if I haven't been responding to your texts please don't be offended. Jason, Aunty Nicky, and Mike all say it doesn't count as lost if it was in my purse the whole time. But I thought it was lost, and I swear I checked my purse multiple times for it!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Wrapping Presents

I have finished all my Christmas shopping! However, I have done no wrapping. A big ice storm in Toronto is messing a bit with my plans, seeing that originally I was planning to head back to The City early tomorrow to do all my wrapping before Christmas started. Rrunuv Bayit has been without power for a couple of days and, while I am down at The Cottage, Jason says that it is getting pretty cold at night and the cat isn't happy about it. It is hard to know now what is happening with the various celebrations we had sorted out but I do know that that all the presents need to be wrapped and Two will probably be around while that is happening. Looking forward to it...

---------- from Facebook

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Out Of The Darkness

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, only 9 hours of sunlight. I know that as you go further north it would have been worse. Now gradually the days will get longer and hopefully I won't leave for work in the dark each morning.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A Photo Essay For My Dad

Where I write, Steph photographs (though her words are pretty decent too, despite what she thinks.) She has been working on blog post about my dad for a little while, even though she found it upsetting; I am very glad she persevered because the end result is lovely:

By Steph Koning, 

Before the funeral, my family put together two large boards of pictures. It was nice to go through all the photo albums and make the large collages reflecting his life. Originally the plan had been to put all the photos back in the albums but Mum is going to keep the boards intact for a little while since they are a good way to remember him. Steph's pictures are much more concentrated (and much more professional.) They really show what Dad was like these last 5 to 8 years. It is good to remember all those amazing summers at The Cottage.

Monday, 16 December 2013

And Still She Ages

It it hard to even remember when she was a puppy. Like previous years, our office dog Gracie takes amazing Christmas photos.
Gracie Puppy - Christmas 2013
Portrait taken this year at a veterinarian's office
as part of a Toronto Animal Services fundraiser

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Catching Cats

-------- from Facebook

(To catch a dog: Food)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Canada's Cold

It is starting to get pretty cold in Toronto. I know this from my eyebrows. They are so bushy (they look okay, I just got them shaped, they are just very thick). When I wash my face in the morning, my eyebrows hold in some water, which I never notice until I go outside in the winter and the water instantly gets cold and I have to rub it out. I know I am in pretty much the warmest city of all my friends, so I shouldn't really be complaining. (I will do another post later on about the humidity factor in which I will do some complaining.)

The temperature right now at 9pm
Toronto/Oakville/Paris: -6
Ottawa/Barrhaven/Grafton: -8
Edmonton: -19

I would like to briefly mention that Anne is in Stockholm and it is 6 there, so she is technically in the warmest city right now.

Monday, 9 December 2013

My Actual Christmas List

There is honestly just one thing:

I want my dad back.

The only way this could really be possible is for me to wake up. I would give anything, literally anything short of my own or another's life, for this is be a terrible nightmare. (I guess I am in the 'bargaining' stage of grief because I am actually begging here for this to happen.) It would mean going back in time, to who knows when, but I want to wake up and find out he is still here. However, this has just gone on for way too long and been so terribly real for there to be any likelihood that I am dreaming - for example, I have never written a blog post in a dream before. But I want my dad more than anything right now.

Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Where are you? Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, I miss you! Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, How did this happen? Dad, Dad, Dad, Come back! Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad...

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Xmas List 2013

Joint List
- Gift Cards (Sears, Blacks, Ikea)
- Duvet Covers (Queen - Brown/Neutrals)
- Sheets (King - Neutrals)
- Kitchen Knives (Paderno)
- Place mats (Burgundy)
- Tea towels
- Ikea container style cheese grater
- Potting soil
- Camping stove
- Zippered pillow covers (x2 King Size)

Chris' List
- Gift Cards (Chapters, Caryl Baker Visage, Dollerama, Lululemon)
- Books
- Any books by William Gibson (Not Neromancer or Pattern Recognition)
- Any books by Gail Voz-Oxlade (Not Debt Free Forever)
- Tassamo pods (Chai latte)
- Eye shadow primer, Urban Decay
- Small/travel size binoculars
- Small trowel
- Gin
- Bike lights
- Toronto Maple Leafs t-shirt (Ladies M/L)
- Subtle ear muffs
- Fabric snake to protect from under door drafts
- Nice zip-up sweat shirt (L)

Jason's List
- Gift Cards (EB Games, Amazon, Sporting Life, Tim Hortons)
- Craft Beer
- Chocolate and Candy
- Bathing suits (M)
- Universal remote (Harmony)
- Tassamo pods (Coffee)
- Xbox One controller
- Ride for Heart registration
- Fitted Blue Jays Hat (7 3/4)
- Bike pedals that clip into shoes

Two's List
- Arm and Hammer cat litter deodorizer
- Cat nip
- Large scratching post/perch

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Confirmed Political Views

Unlike the last time I tried one of these political quizzes, I was not surprised by my results from I Side With. This website does easy political reviews for multiple countries. I don't totally understand why there is a 2013 Canadian one when our next federal election isn't until October of 2015, but it is still an interesting exercise. This is what my results said:
I am not going to argue, I don't doubt that my values align with the NDP party. However, I will need to see what happens over the next couple of years in terms of leadership. I think, in general, the chances of political shifts between now and 2015 are too great to say anything at the moment. It is still a good idea to take some time and think about the issues, evaluate where you stand, and how important items up for debate are in your mind. Try out the quiz HERE.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Feeling Far Away

I am returning to The Cottage this weekend. I am glad to have come back to Toronto for a couple of days, following my dad's funeral, because it has given me a chance to try living 'life as normal' but it has been difficult. I am tired all the time and consumed with sadness. At times his death is all that I think about and all I want to talk about, then at others I do everything I can to drive it from my mind.

I have been meaning to post about this, but I keep waiting to 'find' my father somehow. It is difficult to explain and I hope I get a chance at some point to work on writing about the concept and my feelings connected to it, however at the moment the basics of this is that I feel lost and constantly miss him. It hurts. Everything hurts.

I think being back at The Cottage with my mom, Mike, and Aimee will make me feel closer to my dad. He is buried there, so many memories connected to him are there, and I will be with people who directly understand and are experiencing my grief. I will be coming back to Toronto on Sunday so as to start the whole 'life as normal' thing again Monday morning.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

So Much Yes

----- from Distractify, thank you to ERin for sending me this

Sexy Guys vs Cats - Full Listing HERE
This is amazing! Every photo pairing is so well done! The cats are super cute and the guys are smoking hot. Don't ask me to pick, I want all the boys and all the kitties. (I am not a big fan of Christian Bale, but I think that #37 is my favourite. This is probably because of the cat, it reminds me of Two and the "Paw-On-Face" thing that she does.)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Right After I Buy 1000

Mum and I went to Cosco on Monday and one of the things that I purchased was a box of 1000 biodegradable bags. We have an under-the-counter container for compost and like to fill up these types of bags and then bring them out to the large green bin that gets picked up every week. I love that Toronto does this type of organic materials recycling, Ottawa was just starting to do it too when I was there - so awesome. I was really happy with my Cosco purchase, especially as the per unit cost was far less then buying them at the grocery store, hardware store, or even dollar store.

But then... I was at work telling this to my boss, and she told me that you can just put normal plastic bags in the green bin. Turns out she is right!

From the City of Toronto website:
Line your indoor kitchen container (no need to buy special bags ... your used grocery bags will do just fine). By lining your kitchen container, you don't have to handle the organics twice. Just remove the full plastic bag from your indoor container and toss it into your outdoor Green Bin -twisted or loosely tied, if possible, as it helps us separate the plastic from the organics at the processing facility.

So, I am going to return my big box of biodegradable bags. I am not only excited about the cost savings of using any plastic bag and the convenience of that, but also the fact that the compost ones tend to breakdown if they sit in the container too long and then start to leak. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

A Speech For My Dad

--- as given in the late afternoon of Sunday December 1, at Jeffery W. Glendinning Funeral Home in Port Rowan at the funeral service for my father

I don't feel comfortable considering this an eulogy. My dad was born in 1955 and I didn't come around until 1984. I can't really speak to his time in elementary or high school with Clive, or afterwards when he met Mum, Cindy, Jim, and other university friends at Western. Or, his first job in Brantford when he was starting at Sears with Rick, Bear, and Ron – later he hired Kathy and met Bruce and Eve, and there was a big pile of work friends. I'm sure that my dad was a lot of fun in the 70's and early 80's, if the pictures are any indication it was good times. (After the service, we will have all the photos down on the pool table in the basement at the wake.)

It would be hard to summarize the life of George Sweeton anyways, but even harder seeing that I wasn't alive for the first half. Yes, I was born at pretty much the exact halfway point of his life, I'm almost 30 and he would have turned 60 in June. And those numbers, and that ratio just don't add up. It feels to early to have lost my father and my dad was way too young to die. But there is no question that he lived a great life and that is what I would like to speak about today. And when I thought about how to organize this, chronologically, by personality trait, or hobby; and I couldn't really find a good way to do it – so I decided on the George Sweeton conversation style, which just dives head first into everything at once, goes on tangents, changes topic without warning or even finishing the original thought, etc.

So, I would like to start with the mention of Bird Studies Canada as the charity of choice. This is what we decided on when trying to think of a meaningful organization to remember Dad by. He was always connected to the community and he really enjoyed living down here. Bird Studies is an important part of Port Rowan, in fact his grave-site is just down the road in Bayview Cemetery, which is located right next to the Bird Studies Canada head office. As a family we frequently visited the bird banding area which is just a short walk from the cottage. Mike says he hasn't been but this is because we always went too early in the morning. We would take guests there all the time. And it was a great place for Dad, lots of people to ask questions to. It is a gathering place of sorts. Well, it is a gathering place of sorts for birders. I am not going to totally say that my dad was a birder, but almost. He really liked watching birds with Granny and Pa (who are actual birders) and liked seeing interesting ones when traveling. We have two sets of binoculars on the front windows at The Cottage. But I am not sure how much these were for looking at boats on the horizon, checking out girls on the beach, or birds – probably a combo. He also liked watching birds at the feeders in the back part of the cottage. When he first retired I used to get updates with all the drama that was happening around the feeder – "Lots of red wing blackbirds here today, Chris. They scared off all the finches." Luckily Mum retired soon after and I think his life got more interesting.

But not before he started to notice how much Mom was refilling the feeders. He quickly insisted on rationing and limited the number of cups a day – he had to find out how much these birds were costing them. I visited multiple times during this period (I think I was writing my thesis) and he had lots of notes and calculations on this. Calling co-ops and feed stores to get the cost of various seeds and mixes, trying to work out the best deal. It was edging into a type of commodity trading/speculation/investment thing. But this is the type of mind he had. It was amazing. He knew prices, understood money, and was great with numbers in general. It felt as though he could quote the price of almost anything he ever bought. He tended to use these skills to try to get a good deal or obsess over finding the best price, which, while ultimately super beneficial, could be frustrating. But the intellect behind that is incredible.

Now, speaking from myself, Mum, and Mike, we would to thank all of the people who dropped off or brought over food. We never really understood the food and death thing, but we do now. With family and friends visiting it has been great to have meals on hand that can be easily reheated. Thank you for taking care of us.

I want to pause to give my own thank you to Jason for being so supportive and helping my family; with everything from computer issues to being a great reheating chef. My dad really liked you, even though you are kind of the reserved type that he normally would be a bit weary of, he was always comfortable with you. I am very happy that you are a part of this family.

Family was so important to my dad, I think it may have come from the fact that his was so small. His own father died when Dad was 26 and he worked hard to stay in touch with the few second cousins and other relatives he had. My grandma passed away almost 10 years ago, which was very difficult for Dad. So for the past little while, there has only been him and his sister Laura. There is 11 years between them. Aunty Laura always said that when Dad was born it was less like a sibling and more like her own fun little living doll. For as long as I have known she always referred to him as her 'baby brother' and it never felt silly. In fact, I would still occasionally, without irony, ask Mum if I could talk to 'Daddy.' He was such an affectionate man that it made these terms of endearment feel natural.

Dad loved his mother, before she died she would often join the family on trips. Dad helped her around her house and we visited all the time. They would talk on the phone almost every night – since they both stayed up way later than anyone else. Besides traveling with Grandma, Mum and Dad often joined Granny and Pa on a lot of different trips (so many, I am not going to list them.) And I want to thank them, not just for being a helpful and calm presence at The Cottage for us over the past few days, but for welcoming Dad into your big Joynes family, and giving him so much love over the years.

Mum and Dad started dating in university and he met her family soon after. For my Aunty Nicky, who is my mom's much younger sister, it probably felt like Dad had been a part of her life since very early on. He took her to Jaws in the movie theaters before she was really old enough to see it. I want to apologize on his behalf for that. But I can't apologize for later on when he taught her and Uncle Dabo's son to yell out “99 cents” up and down the aisles of Giant Tiger when he was little. Dad is probably still proud of that. Thank you for coming to stay with us, being here for my Mum, and project managing details that we were too upset to handle. You have been a huge help to our family, both in practical and emotional ways.

The whole family owes a massive debt of gratitude to my Uncle Simon. Thank you for meeting my mom at the hospital on Wednesday. Thank you for being with her that morning so she wasn't alone. Thank you for making the difficult phone calls that no one wants to have to make – or receive. Without a doubt, Dad thought of you as a brother. Many of the great elements of his life are in part from you. You and Dan helped him achieve the dream of owning and racing a keelboat (I said racing, not winning.) You were a part of the massive project that was building the cottage. I gather that large renovations like that can really strain a marriage – but my parents had a great time. And, I can't believe that Uncle Simon even wanted to be near the property while it was happening. A few years earlier he had worked with Dad to build the garage. Framing a two story structure with a guy so uncomfortable with heights that he wasn't even keen to get on ladder can't have been easy. Nor was repeatedly discovering the stripped screws he had salvaged to try to save money. I can just picture you saying, “We can buy more screws, George!” You guys treated each other like family, like close family.

The whole group of us does. And we were lucky that in October, Mum, Dad, and I went up to Packenham and Uncle Mark and Emma hosted an amazing Thanksgiving. Thank you and the girls for that great weekend, even Mike was there, Aimee too. I told so many of my friends afterwards that it was the best Thanksgiving I had ever had. And I am sure that Dad really enjoyed it too. It was good to have a few days together, lots of walks, wine, beer. One of the best memories from that weekend is seeing Aimee, a little tipsy (Uncle Mark and Emma can be a bit of a bad influence). She sitting at the table and Mike is trying to leave because they have a long drive to get back to the hotel they were staying at. And Aimee didn't want to go. She sat there, with her arm over my dad's shoulders, and she said, “Micheal, Micheal, hey, what is the most important thing?” and Mike shrugged and said, “I donna know, breakfast?” She replied, “No. Family!” And it is that attitude, and the fact you would never let Mike tell you what to do, that made my dad love you so much. Your family has always been incredible, even before your engagement having us over for Christmas. Dad always looked forward to finding out what colour Mrs. Manipor wanted everyone to wear so we would matched in pictures. Having you join our family is awesome and Dad loved it. I am so glad Mike found you, and I am amazed, but so happy he convinced you to marry him.

I am kidding Mike, you have proven yourself to be a really good husband. Dad was delighted with your guy's relationship and wedding. Dad loved you so much Mike. He was so proud of you. He talked about you all the time. Was so excited with everything you did; from sports to real estate to the army and even just the person you have become. I know all this because of his emails. As you know, Dad had a special relationship with punctuation that was a little different than the rest of us. And nothing he typed out ever got a capital letter, both in emails or comments on my blog. No place names, not when he used 'i,' it would be lower case. My name at the beginning of the email, the 'love dad' at the end, all lower case. But whenever he was telling me something about you, the word 'Mike' would have a capital. Your name was always more important than anything else in any email. Even 'mum' was typed using lower case.

Mum always said she dated Dad because he was the most interesting person she had ever met. She couldn't always figure him out, he was surprising and unique. And I think to a certain extent that has been true for all of their marriage. They would have such a great time together, always having fun. And from Mike and I, thank you for dating him. And, thank you for marring him. You two were the best parents. I was always excited for my friends to met my parents. We all got along so well. Hanging out together, playing games, traveling, we are a close family.

Having kids didn't stop Mom and Dad from acting like newlyweds. Maybe even earlier than that - like when they crashed Cindy and Jim's honeymoon and joined them in Jamaica for their second week. There was no question how much my dad loved her. They were all over each other all the time. Point of embarrassment for me but a demonstration of how close they were. Every New Years Eve, they would party with Kathy, Bruce, Rick, and Eve. If it was a contest, my parents would always win who could kiss the longest at midnight; really they just used it as an excuse to make out on the couch. Which I would use as an excuse to get drunk. So Mum, it is early December, and we are going to have to get through Christmas, and New Years, and it is going to be incredibly difficult this year. But when I look around, there are all these people who are here for us, to show there support, to share how much they loved Dad.

And so I want to thank all of you. For coming today. For showing your sympathy in any number of other ways. Notes of condolences, the emails, social media, calls, everything. Thank you. George Sweeton was a really great guy and he will be missed across this room. When you met him, he was so genuine. This is mainly because he wouldn't know how to be fake, all the actors are on the other side of the family. So even if you were meeting him for the first time or are old friends he would be so talkative and in such a positive way, he really was rarely angry. I don't know if you were on his call list but he phoned everyone. If he was friends with you, he would probably call you, just to talk. About bridge, or Settlers, or a recent sailing race, music, or movies. He hated to be alone. At one point he had a head set so that he could clip the cordless phone to his belt and wander around chatting.

He was so inquisitive, would ask a million question about you. He was a total people person, the life of the party. He had so much energy. And he really wasn't enjoying getting older. Unlike some of my relatives, who I feel are aging into their personalities, it always felt like Dad was aging away. That deep down he was still a guy in his 20's, maybe that wasn't even deep down, it was right at surface level. I am glad he never had to deal with a long suffering illness and that he lived life to the fullest. He died in his sleep, with no pain, and no fear. It is too soon, but it is the exact way he would have wanted to go.

He did anything he wanted to do. Concern about the cost rarely actually stopped him from doing something. He traveled so much, always with an attention to budget; eating homemade sandwiches wrapped in damp paper towel is a key memory from any childhood road trip. So with all his travel, the cottage, boats, cars, hot tubs (after he couldn't mooch from Aimee and Greg any more), his hobbies, and amazing friends and family - I know that he died with no regrets. If there is anything, it would be that he hadn't gotten his money's worth out of the big screen TV, which he waited forever to purchase. But he left nothing unsaid. Dad had no filter; if he thought it, he said.

I want to acknowledge all of his more recent friends, so many sailors and some local friends who aren't sailors. He had gone on long haul pick-ups and races, crewed on so many boats, and I know that these newer friendships were very special to him. Sailing was an amazing sport for him, so many things to think about. He liked the math and physics involve. It suited his ADD. And the keelboats meant people, crews of people to work with. He was a good teacher, really patient. Showing people knots; being excited about the race because he was a bit competitive but not frustrated or angry with people.

And now, in death, he is still teaching us some things. That you can have a massive heart attack that kills you instantly in your sleep, with no real symptoms or warning signs. And, that with identified high cholesterol, even years of medication and changes to your diet (all that skim milk for nothing) arteries can still get clogged and an angiogram would be a good thing to get done. Also, make sure your spouse knows where all the important documents are. My dad has what my mom calls 'squirrel holes' everywhere. Filing systems and logic that only he really understood. He also saved everything; he still has four beta machines, which I don't even think could plug into the big screen TV, one of them only rewinds.

The last person I want to thank is my dad. For believing in the Fix-It-Fairies; keeping broken electronics in the hope that the next time he turned them on they would work. For showing us that a man doesn't really need to know how to change a tire if they have CAA. For being the type of guy who could and would cry repeatedly at the movie Remember the Titans. For giving me the greatest childhood anyone could ever want, and putting up with me in my teen years. Thankfully because afterwards we became very close. I love him so much.

And, Dad, I miss you. I promise to remember how important friends and family are. I will keep Steph and Teri close. And treasure all of my friends and past roommates (who have taken care of me in some really rough times, now it seems to be Jason's turn). I also promise to always do my taxes on time. I know we file on paper because the $15 cost to do it online is too high and I can't promise that I won't switch to the digital system. But I know it bugs you when I do them late. I will try to take care of Mum and stay in touch in Mike, which is pretty hard to do. I promise to keep the cat off the couch and try to stop saying 'like' all the time.

I know my Dad is somewhere special and I hope wherever that is there are 12 km/hr winds and bridge partners that are as good as Aunty Laura, Granny, or the guys you played with weekly. I hope that your hip doesn't hurt and you can play squash. But most of all I hope that you are very happy there, because you were so happy here. I am going to try to keep that in mind - and I am going to try to live like that.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

George Ralph Sweeton

SWEETON, George Ralph - died suddenly in his sleep at his residence on Wednesday November 27, 2013. George Sweeton of Long Point in his 60th year. Beloved husband of Carol (Joynes) whom he married Friday June 26, 1981. Dear father of Christine (Jason) of Toronto and Michael and Aimee of Edmonton. George is survived by his sister Laura Sweeton of London, mother and father-in-law Patricia and Derek Joynes, brothers and sisters-in-law Simon (Danielle) Joynes, Mark (Emma) Joynes, Nicola (Dave) Campbell, and by his nephew Kevin and nieces Carla, Fiona, Sarah and Heather. George will be missed by his Bridge, Golf and Sailing friends. Relatives and friends are invited to a Memorial Service to be conducted on Sunday December 1, 2013 at the JEFFREY W. GLENDINNING FUNERAL HOME , 36 Front St. Port Rowan at 4:30pm. Wake will take place at the family home following the service. Interment will take place later in Bayview Cemetery, Port Rowan. In lieu of flowers, donations to Bird Studies Canada (cheques accepted) would be appreciated by the family.

- Obituary published in the Brantford Expositor and Port Dover Maple Leaf (a simular one was posted in the London Free Press as well)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Living A Nightmare

I woke up today and my dad was still dead.

(On a softer note, this is what I posted on Facebook this morning.)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Hunger Break From Lemony Snicket

I went out to see the second Hunger Games movie on Friday and it was amazing! So good in fact, that I decided to put my reading of the A Series of Unfortunate Events aside for a little while to read the Hunger Game books. The two series are both Young Adult (YA) novels and both incredibly written. Events is smart and funny, I have been savoring each book. Games is riveting, I flew through the first book in a day and a half. However, both cover rather depressing and/or morbid themes, even with that in the back of my mind I can't help but think of them all as these great treats of literature. I love YA, wait, correct that, I love WELL WRITTEN Young Adult novels. (And no I would not consider Twilight to be in that category.)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Game For My Commute

I am too groggy most mornings to read on my almost hour-long transit commute to work. (I always read on my trip home, which sadly is shorter, and then seems even shorter because I am reading.)

Before she traveled over to Stockholm to do her Masters, Anne visited Toronto for a little while this past summer. One thing she said she noticed (besides the fact that Toronto smells, which is unfortunately true most summer days) was that there seemed to always be sirens going and emergency vehicles rushing around. She would point them out to me as another fire truck, EMS, ambulance, or police car drove past and I kept saying, "It is strange, I swear it isn't usually this bad."

I realized though, that maybe I had gotten used to it. In Paris, we lived a couple of blocks from the train tracks; I got so used to the light window shaking and noise that accompany the trains I could even tell you how many passed during the day/night. Perhaps it had become the same with the noises of Toronto.

So, I now play a morning game with myself - Can I make it to work without sirens? Well, turns out for the most part, I can't. They seriously happen all the time. I get excited if I am a couple of blocks from work and haven't seen/heard one - then in most cases I see cops rush past (we have a station near work.) So, near work it is usually police and closer to home it is fire trucks, either way there are a lot of sirens happening in this city! But I want to start winning the game more!

Friday, 15 November 2013

More Than A Mayor

Over the past couple of weeks the world has been witness to, what I have found to be, a sad and frustrating political scandal. The Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is a joke on the global stage. The recently released documents detailing his appalling behavior while in office, as well as, his recent behavior in City Council and in front of the press - disgusting.

However, yesterday, the Ontario Premier spoke on the issue and I found the end of her speech to be a nice light in what has been a very dark couple of weeks. I see truth in her calm, beautiful, and optimistic statement:

"Toronto is a great city in an amazing province. We have a proud history and a bright future. Toronto is greater than one politician or one government. Ontario is greater than one politician or one government. I understand that people are affected by what is happening at this moment. But I want the people of Toronto to know that we will not be defined by this." 
- November 14, 2013 - Kathleen Wynne - Primier of Ontario

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

More Milestones

I can't believe that this is the second time I am writing about a odometer milestone for Jason's Yaris, but on a recent trip up to Ottawa (it always seems to happen on Ottawa trips) the car hit 123,456 kms. Jason was pretty excited that it was going to happen soon so we kept an eye on it to make sure we didn't miss it.

An even bigger milestone is that last night our cheques came from the ING Direct Joint Chequing account we recently opened together to help us better manage splitting housing costs. The cheques have both our names on them, it was pretty intense seeing it there in print, over top of the Rrunuv Bayit address. I guess it is getting serious, as they say.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day 2013

Sometimes in war you find peace and sometimes in army training you find love. On this Remembrance Day, I give many thanks to past and present veterans, especially my brother and sister-in-law. Lest We Forget.

Mike and Aimee's Wedding
July 29, 2012
Photographer - Aimee's Family Friend

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Foiled By Ford

I had every intention of going to the basement at work and running for a bit on the treadmill. I joined this really nice gym that is just steps away from my office and I have gotten into quite a good routine of going at lunch, working out for 20 to 30 minutes and then having a shower before heading up to work for the afternoon. It has been really helpful for my mood and I can tell that it is slowly giving more energy.

Well, today, just as I was standing up to head out - Rob Ford, the Mayor of Toronto, admitted to smoking crack. I have been following this story from the start. Even before all the crazy drama I follow city politics and policy quite closely because it has a direct connection to my daily work. So, the gym will not be happening this lunch hour as I spend the time reading up on this latest update. Man, this city is crazy sometimes.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Halloween Rebel

When I bite into a Kit Kat chocolate bar across the sections I feel like such a badass. I swear it makes it taste better too! The little Halloween Kit Kats are just two tiny sections, and I prefer to eat them without breaking it apart and every time it makes me smile; I am such a candy bar rebel! Next time I have a big one (unless I am sharing it of course) I am not going to eat it stick by stick like a chump; buck the trend and take a big bite!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Seriously, She Is So Helpful!

I know that I keep posting about how helpful Two is around the house. But she was at it again! Wrapping up a birthday gift and I leave the room to go find a pen to write in the card; I return to this:

Two Helping Wrap A Gift
Photo By Me

So yes, now that pretty wrapping paper has bite marks along the edge from her 'helping,' which looked a lot like attacking.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Living With A Boy

So, it is official, no question about it, I am now living with Jason. We did the final clean-out of his old apartment this afternoon and then returned the keys (main door, apartment door, mail box, parking garage, etc.) I am trying not to feel too overwhelmed by it, but there really is no going back from this point. So far, since he has basically been living here for almost a month now anyway, it has been amazing; I foresee us having a long and loving future. Still, no denying that this is a big step that I have never taken before and the reality of that came to me as I looked around his empty old apartment. (I don't know what I was expecting, all of his furniture is here now, of course it was going to be empty, but I hadn't seen it before tonight.)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Teri - The Bride Of Greg

Teri and Greg are getting married next summer. Yesterday, I got to go wedding dress shopping with her, her mom, Monica, and Kendra. I love watching wedding dress shows, such as the many different versions of TLC's Say Yes To The Dress, and being a part of the wedding in this way (I also went dress shopping with Taylor and Steph) is like a live show version! Teri looked beautiful in pretty much everything she tried on and by the end of the day she had two dresses that she couldn't get out of her head. After dinner, we loaded up the photos taken on our various phones and cameras throughout the day and after a fairly quick side-by-side viewing of the two favourites - she picked one. It is stunning, she is going to look breathtaking when she walks down the aisle in July!

Steph is their photographer and has done a session with them already. I think she captures them perfectly! Check out a couple of the shots HERE. They really reflect the way Teri and Greg are together and how happy they make each other. I am very excited about it all!

Friday, 25 October 2013


The sunrise is longer in the city
Pink and yellow light traveling up tall buildings
It is somehow still dawn downtown

Smoothie for five times the cost of its ingredients
A day of work for a month of breakfast
Sounds fine until you think about it

A good seat on transit makes all the difference
Your own space to think and read and watch
Everyone is quiet this early

Servers in the coffee shop are way too happy
They will hate you by lunch time
But I have mine in a bag
Trying to compensate for the smoothie

- Christine Sweeton, 2013

Thursday, 24 October 2013

New Headboard

Jason has moved in, and his king-size mattress is now on a nice wood bed frame. However, buying a headboard of that size to go with the frame was going to be too expensive, and take up too much space in the small room. So, on a suggestion from Kristen, we are using a picture(s) as a headboard or focal point for the room. I made these and they hang above the bed:
(Made from leftover cream coloured cloth from the bottom of some old curtains that I stapled around from brown cardboard. I then used a marker to write our names. The centre one doesn't have anything written on it. I feel like the effect is very minimalist and goes with the dark wood, cream, and basic neutrals of the room.) Here are some close-ups:
(As you can see, I looked up a 'computer-style' font for Jason's name and a 'Shakespeare-style' one for mine. This reflects our difference in educational background, Computer Science and English, we are an odd mix.)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Google Is So Helpful

Google likes to help you out with your searches; once you start typing a little list of drop down options shows up, based of your recent searches.

I hate you, Google. You’ve caused a lot of problems in my relationship. I share a computer with my girlfriend and she would look up anything.'I’m going to look up apples today.' She just hits ‘A.’ It’s 'Asian ass porn' instantly. Google is, like, 'I’ll take it from here. I know exactly what you’re looking up… Well, every time you hit ‘A,’ it’s ‘Asian ass porn.' Google! All I ask is that you let her type three letters before you jump to such a bold conclusion. - Daniel Tosh

Well, I needed to look up how long I needed to bake chicken in the oven (45 to 55 minutes if you are curious) so I went to use Google on Jason's tablet. Here is his drop down menu:

How to ...
How to make your own XBOX360 Hard Drive
How to clean and lube your bike
How to tie a tie
How to train your dragon

It reminds me of a post I saw on When Parents Text:

They should also make a website for 'when eight year olds use google' some of Sammy's latest googles include 'are mermaids evil' and 'how to make a real baby dinosaur'

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Results Week - ME!

I didn't do as well as everyone else - but I had such an amazing time that my poor scores just inspired me to work harder for next year. After finishing I couldn't stop smiling (and panting.)

Finish: 262
Gender Place: 147
Category (F 25-29):  31/32

Total Time: 1:25:19.2

Swim (400m): 15:49
Transition 1: 5:01
Bike (10km): 33:46
Transition 2: 1:34
Run (2.75km): 29:11

Side note, I think my terrible transition times didn't help; the transitions are often called 'the fourth event'. I took a lot of thought into setting my area up to speed transition, but it didn't help. For sure next year I want a bucket of water to clean the grass and sand off my feet after the swim before having to put socks and shoes on for the bike and run.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Results Week - Jason

So, Jason beat all of us, which I am going to say is because he swims a lot during the winter and bikes a lot during the summer. He was a bit nervous for the running part, and we did train for it, but he ended up getting a good time, especially after being tired from the swim and bike. The picture on the left is from the start of the race; just before the start of your heat you can get in the water to His category was also one of the first ones to go and the rest of us got to watch his entire swim and cheer as he came out of the water and ran back to get his bike for the second part. It was really inspiring and I think it gave us a boost before we started,since he did the swim in such a short amount of time. And the whole thing - IN UNDER AN HOUR! So impressive.

Finish: 129
Gender Place: 85
Category (M 30-34): 12/18

Total Time: 0:54:28.4
Swim (400m): 11:08
Transition 1: 2:57
Bike (10km): 21:59
Transition 2: 1:15
Run (2.75km): 17:11

This is Jason after the race. (He won a water bottle as a door prize.) I am excited to start training with him again for next year. We need to start going to the pool in the evenings to beef up our swimming.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Results Week - Mom

I finished before my mom ... but she beat me. Her category started last so there was at least 20 minutes between us; she caught up and I fell behind and when you look at the finishing times and stats she did amazing! (Totally kicked my ass.)

Finish: 247
Gender Place: 135
Category (F 55-59):  5/6

Total Time: 1:10:05.1

Swim (400m): 14:37
Transition 1: 3:59
Bike (10km): 28:07
Transition 2: 0:54
Run (2.75km): 22:31

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Results Week - Teri & Kendra

Seeing that Teri now consistently runs in 10km races and K has completed a marathon in the past, I knew they would do well at the triathlon. And I was right!
Before The Race
K and Teri
Photo by My Sports Shooter

Teri and K finished together, I actually think that they crossed the finish line holding hands - I can't show that shot because, unlike the one above that was in the Sports Shooter 'Free Zone', you have to pay for finish line photos. Anyway, Teri and K finished 206th and 207th - 99th and 100th for women. For their category, which was also my category, they were 21st and 22nd of the 32 females from age 25 to 29 that raced on Toronto Island that day.

Total Time: 1:00:58.7
Swim (400m): 12:37
Transition 1: 2:49
Bike (10km): 26:48
Transition 2: 1:00
Run (2.75km): 17:46

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Short Week - Results Week

To jump start me back to writing more regularly for Always Standing, I am setting up short series of posts with the various results for everyone who did the Triathlon back in August with me. Here we all are after the race:

MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series - Toronto Island 
August 24, 2013
Me, Jason, Mom, Teri, Kendra
Photo by Dad

If you are impatient and want to ruin the surprise you can look us all up on the Sportstats page HERE. However, results will be posted on Always Standing following the above photo from the right this week:
Teri and Kendra: Wednesday
Mom: Thursday
Jason: Friday
Me: Saturday

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Scary House Numbers

Yesterday, I was at a Lunch and Learn for first time home buyers. (I am not a first time home buyer, but we helped organize the session so I stayed to listen.) A cool 'rule of thumb' that was mentioned was that every $100,000 of house costs about $500 a month, in rent or mortgage. Obviously this is pretty rough, since changes in down-payment amounts can really change monthly mortgage payments, but I did find it pretty accurate in a more general sense. When I added up the total rent paid from all three of the units in the house I live in, it would suggest that it has close to a million dollars in value, which is about what I have seen similar places in my area selling for. Sadly, when I also look at what I am currently spending for Rrunuv Bayit and translate that to what I could afford in house value - I can't even buy a condo in Toronto and keep my mortgage payment comparable to what my rent is right now.

The second interesting number-ratio-rule thing that was discussed was putting aside money for repairs, maintenance, and general house upkeep once you own a property. The mortgage broker and real estate agents that were running the session suggested 1% of the value of your home per year put aside for maintenance. Then, last night, I was watching Til Debt Do Us Part, and Gail Vaz-Oxlade (who I have been in love with for a very long time, she really is the greatest) told a couple that they should be putting aside 3% to 5% of their house value per year. This might be because the show was filmed about 10 years ago when house values were different or that the state of repair and age of the house is an important consideration.

I have created my own 'rule of thumb' related to maintenance and upgrades, I think that for every 25 years of age of a house the owners should save (and then spend) 1% of the homes value on repairs and renovations. This would mean that a newer home would cost less and an older home should be getting more frequent and expensive upgrades.

I am going to use my parents as a rough example for my new theory. (The numbers are very very rough seeing that I live in Toronto and don't really have any concept of small town Ontario or cottage country housing costs, so please don't even consider these numbers estimates, they are more like uneducated guesses.) So, when living in a 'century home' in Paris that was worth let's say $200,000 a lot of money should have been put into upgrades (and I think it was, looking back on my childhood, it was spent in pretty much a constant state of house renovations.) The house was slightly over 100 years, so that would be 5 sets of 25 years, so 5% of the value meaning  $10,000 a year. That would mean a new roof, or saving for a couple of years for a new kitchen, but basically it would cover large projects. Now, they live in a brand new place down at the beach, possibly worth $400,000 meaning that 1% a year is $4,000. There aren't a lot of large repairs to a new house (or at least there shouldn't be) and it would be silly to upgrade something that was just built (especially in my parent's case since it was custom to their specifications.) However, $4,000 could pay for a small plumbing repair, or save up to upgrade appliances, large bathroom fixtures, fireplaces, or built-in features.

I really like numbers, and ratios, and rules, and everything to be cut and dry - black or white. (Yes, I know reality isn't like that, but I really wish it was.)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Time To Get Fit

As I mentioned before, I did a Triathlon at the end of the summer. Even though training for it didn't go as planned and didn't happen as often as I would have liked - I did still train. I spent a couple of days each week swimming, biking, or jogging. Now, without the motivation of a race looming and with the cold weather approaching, I find myself loosing the fitness I had. So, I am joining a gym at work! I hope to do cardio exercise on my lunch hour.

Monday, 30 September 2013

When Does It Count?

Jason is moving in. (This is both scary and exciting.) However, it is a long process and I don't know when to really decide that he has MOVED IN.

We haven't spent the night seperatly since the start of September, we have spent the night apart but never seperatly with each sleeping in their own apartment (instead, only apart at night when one of us is crashing at a friend's place.)

The King Size Bed is now at Rrunuv Bayit (much thanks to Kristen & Noah for helping with that) but he could still sleep at his old place since there is still a futon there.

Yesterday, there was a huge move of pretty much all the major items and furniture (huge thanks to Rob and Jason's brother-in-law). His computer is set up at Rrunuv Bayit though we haven't sorted out getting the internet to the back room being used as an office so it isn't super functional at the moment. He also could also work back at his old place on his laptop and he hasn't cancelled things yet so the internet would probably still work.

He is still paying rent at his other place and we haven't totally sorted out rent splitting yet for Rrunuv Bayit.

I think it will be OFFICIAL at the end of October when he is 100% out of his apartment and then we will be totally and utterly living together. (I am still finding this a very exciting but also overwhelming prospect.)

Friday, 20 September 2013

Monday, 16 September 2013

Monday Morning

------ from Twitter

"Why is Monday so far from Friday but Friday so close to Monday?"

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Yelling At Strangers

Sometimes I just want to have someone drive me around Toronto so I can lean out of the passenger-side window and tell bareheaded bicycle riders, "Wear a fucking helmet!" It drives me crazy to see so many people who don't. Idiots!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Two Is Helping

Two is a very helpful kitten. She loves to help with the cleaning and now she is helping with renovations. My parents are visiting and helping with some work at Rrunuv Bayit before Jason moves in. We rent so obviously the renos are pretty much just painting. I am switching the colour of this side table to match the new room colours and had taken it apart to prime it.
Two Helps Paint The Side Table
Photo by Me

"Iz help you, non? Non! Iz zit here and yous like it. Look at me and all oz my majesty! So, yes, Iz am in zee drawer, somes-times all zee catz are de same."

Friday, 6 September 2013

Need A Graphic Designer?

Congratulations to Sarah, otherwise know as Fae, a close friend of Heather and regular reader (and commenter) on Always Standing. Sarah has just finished her Bachelor of Science Degree in Graphic Design at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. She is a very talented artist! Now that she has completed her program, her website and new graphic design company is up and running at full tilt. I wish her much future success!

Visit her WEBSITE to see her amazing work in illustration, branding, photography, etc.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

We All Grow Up

------- from Facebook

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Summer weekends get so crazy! Jason and I have been very busy. I can't remember when either of got a day to sleep in, let alone a day when we both had time off together. With this last long weekend of the summer, I asked Jason if we could spend the entire Monday in bed.

I remember early in Jason and my relationship we could spend entire weekends in bed: talking, reading, fooling around, napping, watching TV, laughing, etc. I wanted to recreate that feeling; those days could turn into a full weekend and it was always such a joyful blur of time.

Well, a year later things are different, the day didn't speed by in a blur. I had a great time spending a relaxing day in bed, but I spent more time than I would have liked worrying about things I needed to do in the coming week, both for work and other things. A year later and the blur is gone, however, Jason is still amazing and I think I will always love spending a day in bed with him: talking, reading, fooling around, napping, watching TV, laughing, etc.

Time didn't blur but joy is still there.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Day Off - Pants Off

It is Labour Day and I am thoroughly enjoying not having to go to work on a grey Toronto Monday. I have decided to celebrate by refusing to put pants on all day. No Pants!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A Wonderful Wedding

I had a great time last night at Jason's friend's wedding. It was the perfect combination of sweetness and fun; it was beautiful while still being a total blast!

At Steph and Kevin's Wedding
Jason and I (new Smart Set dress)
Photo by Andrea