Sunday, 16 April 2017

Sulphur Stew - Sunday In The Azores

We were scheduled to go sailing today but when we arrived at the marina the captain suggested postponing the trip and waiting for better weather. It was pretty chilly and very grey, also apparently quite windy out on the water. We appreciated him giving us a chance to come back on a nicer day and we agreed on a Tuesday trip. That will be the day before we leave so it is cutting it a bit close, but the forecast is good for that day.

Both the captain and first mate highly suggested that we go to Furnas, pretty much everyone we talked to had mentioned this place. It is also the main destination for tourists when cruise ships come to port for the day. Basically it is the one big unique attraction. But the whole island is amazing, I didn't understand why everyone kept going on about this small part of it.

We decided to go because it was crappy weather and that is recommended. The first stop was in the main place for geothermal, volcanic activity. A conservation area with geysers and boiling mud and all that awesome stuff. We had seen some of it before at Caldeira Velha but this was at a much larger and more intense scale. As you can see from the short film from my phone HERE, I am not a good videographer. I also really like boiling mud!

In that video you can see piles of dirt with posted restaurant names, this is for a dish called cozido and it is another main reason to visit the Furnas area. It was recommended by a lot of people because it is very unique to the area - seeing that it is a stew cooked in the ground using geothermal heat it does lend itself to being pretty unique.

When we went into town Jason got the stew, though admittedly not at a very appropriate location. The stew is made from hearty and root vegetables, various cuts of meat, and types of sausage. It really would be best enjoyed in a very casual setting. However, we had lunch at a fine dining restaurant in a luxury hotel, see my photo of Jason on the right eating the stew with white table cloth.

The reason were at such a fancy place was that the hotel owns these beautiful gardens and hot springs and if you eat lunch there than the admission is included. The admission on its own is surprisingly high, especially as we just ended up walking around - I didn't think the hot springs would be a good idea for me. The gardens were spectacular though, they were started in the 1700s so some of the trees are huge and everything is very exotic and magical.

We drove home along the north-west coast which is a fairly remote area with gorgeous scenery, jagged cliffs and rough seas. So beautiful. (I only feel asleep for a short period of time in the passenger seat.)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Hospital Tales And Watching Whales - Saturday In The Azores

My Saturday started really early with multiple trips to the toilet to pee. I recognised the symptoms of a bladder infection (UTI) right away. I decided to go to the hospital to get antibiotics, told Jason, left him in bed to sleep, and headed over the hills on the short 15 minute drive to the main city. This also gave me a chance to practise driving standard again during a time when there were no cars on the road (literally none, I saw a total of three the entire time, both there and back.) 

Since it was the middle of the night, the hospital was fairly quiet and they moved me through quite quickly. When I first got there they said that it would cost 170 Euros to see a doctor, more if there were tests. (They did end up doing blood work.) Jason called our travel insurance from the hotel and by the time I was leaving the hospital payment information had been faxed and it didn't cost me anything.

After a bit of sleep and breakfast we went back to Ponta Delgada for our Whale Watching trip, stopping first at a pharmacy to fill my three prescriptions. We did have to pay for the medication, but it wasn't a lot and I am pretty sure we can claim it when we get home. For someone who enjoys hospitals, this was not at all the issue it might have been for other travellers (though I did not enjoy the IV going in so they could take blood.) The only unfortunate thing was another night without enough sleep. 

The whale trip was rescheduled to start half an hour later because the boat hadn't returned from the morning trip. We were told that the captain had taken them far out to see blue whales and that we would likely get a sighting too. Jason was so excited, he was practically bouncing in his chair as we sat on the marina patio having ice cream and waiting for the boat to come in. 

We boarded quickly and were on our way to many hours at sea looking for whales. Jason did get a glimpse of a blue whale, as we saw one surface a few times. We also got great views of a sperm whale that hung out near the boat for a long time. We do have a great video of the friendly sperm whale, including a dive that involved a tail flip. However, I can't figure out how to load it up onto the blog so instead I am included a photo from Jason that is reminiscent of my mom's famous seal shots:

"Whales" by Jason 
Atlantic in April 2017 near The Azores 

The captain would have kept us out on the water longer but a couple on board had a flight to catch. We could see the 'blows' of other whales in the distance, as it was our four hour hour trip ended up being almost six and a half. Jason struggled a bit to not get seasick and stayed outside the whole time. For the last little while I headed into the enclosed area to have a nap. Sadly my sleeping made me miss seeing some dolphins that Jason said showed up off to the side of the boat at one point, but the nap was still nice. 

Ring Science

Jason looked up what happened to our rings yesterday and it is pretty interesting!

So, our rings are silver and the sulfur in the hot springs reacted with it, turning into 'silver sulfide,' if we had stayed in longer the colour would have moved past gold to brown to black. It is known as Black Sulphide.

To fix this, you can polish the rings, since it will normal silver below but that results in losing some of the material. Our plan is to reverse the reaction when we get home. If we put the rings with aluminium foil and baking soda than it will reduce the silver and silver Sulphide which will reform the silver metal.

There is not point doing anything about it now since we plan to visit more hot springs during the trip and exposing the rings to sulfur again. Even though Jason really doesn't like the bownish gold they are right now.

Part of the reason that gold is considered a more precious metal is that it is less reactive with other elements, so this wouldn't have happened if we hadn't gone with the cheapest material option like we did. But I love it, makes me like our silver rings even more!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Rings, Springs, And Organizing Things - Friday In The Azores

Breakfast is included in our hotel, so after a bit of a sleep in we went downstairs to see what the buffet would look like. I was very impressed, four rows of food including a full row of bread and pastries, lots of hot food, fruit, yogurt, even chia seeds!

We went into town (Ponta Delgada) to sort out whale watching and figuring out how to get to the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, since the ferries don't start running until May.

We booked our whale watching with Moby Dick, one of the main operators and top rated on Trip Advisor. We are going tomorrow.

While we were booking, I noticed a brochure for sailboat charters; this is one of the ways I had figured out we could get to the islet. Also, it seems like a fancy thing we normally wouldn't consider - perfect for a honeymoon treat. The lady at Moby Dick said that the brochure was for a friend and she would call him for us, a few minutes later he was leading us to the boat (that was finishing up a film shoot for a French travel show.) We booked a private full-day trip for Sunday, and have no idea what to expect!

After a quick stop back at the hotel we headed over to Caldeira Velha hot springs. It was only 2 Euros each to go in. The short walk through the forest was breathtaking, with a stream, palm trees, and ferns everywhere. We passed a small pool and patch of boiling mud (so cool!) The larger pool was a bit cold but had a natural warm water waterfall so if you stayed close to, or under, it you were fine. It was totally magical. We did spend some time in the smaller, warmer pool too. After we got out Jason noticed that our silver wedding rings had changed colour! 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Trails And Tea - Thursday In The Azores

Jason and I arrived this morning in The Azores, specifically Sao Miguel Island, after an overnight flight. After leaving our luggage at the hotel (it was too early to get our room) we went exploring the central area of the north coast. I got us lost a lot so we ended up driving up mountains at some points and then through towns on really narrow streets. Eventually we made it to the tea plantation, which was where we had chosen to spend a bit of time while we waited for our room to be ready. 

They have two major tea plantations on the island, we chose to visit the free one which is still an active factory (the other is more of a museum I think.) The one we saw, Gorreana, is only one of three places in Europe that grows and produces tea. Though they have only been doing it since the late 1800s.

Besides checking out the factory, we did a hike through the tea fields (elevation gain of over 200m in 30 minutes gave me some Inca flashbacks.) The trail system here is incredible! Great maps and trail markers:

Amazing Trail Map And Markers
Gorreana, Sao Miguel, Azores
Photos by Jason

The main tourism website actually lists all the hiking trails and lets you search by length, difficulty, and shape. Unfortunately this one through the tea fields is the only loop-style easy trail under 5km. Looks like our next few hikes will be harder, and I didn't find this one particularly easy! However, the lack of sleep may have played a part, luckily our room was ready in the early afternoon and I could nap to catch up on sleep. 

Six Hours In

I didn't get a chance to sleep on the plane, so arrived with Jason this morning in The Azores, for our honeymoon, pretty damn exhausted. After touring around a solid portion of Sao Miguel Island (it is quite small) while we waited to check into our hotel, I came up with the following delirious impression...

The Azores is like Spain and Hawaii had a secret love child 500 years ago and didn't tell anyone about it. They just put the kid the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and gave it to Portugal to look after. All lush landscapes with volcanic geology, green vegetation, and bright tropical flowers interspersed throughout by classic Latin/Mediterranean style architecture and European towns/culture. It is an amazing merger that to some degree feels very familiar but at the same time is like no where else.

Like you would expect from a hidden illegitimate child, The Azores, both the islands and their population, are quiet. Comfortable with their complicated and unique identity but also very reserved about it. Most people speak English and Spanish (and more) but they occasionally point out the difference in those languages as they connect to Portuguese, the main one spoken here.

The weather changes on a dime many times throughout the day, a bit moody I guess. Flipping from cloud covered mountains to rainy coasts to stretches of blue skies across patch work stone fenced fields. The weather doesn't stay the same very long but it also doesn't seem to be too extreme.

Lastly, they got pretty into cows. Bit of an obsession, cows are everywhere and wander all over the roads at times - even major highways.

Basically this place is strange and amazing but also absolutely STUNNING! I can't wait to explore everything from the waves crashing on the coastlines to the black lava rocks on the hill tops and everything in between. Stay turned for more updates.

Monday, 10 April 2017

National Siblings Day

According to my Facebook feed it is National Siblings Day. Though really it is only recognized in The States, everyone is posting photos of their brothers and sisters. I figured I would join the fun on Always Standing. Instead of posting a 'Throw Back' image, here is a recent one from September:

Mike and I at my wedding
September 23, 2016
Toronto City Hall, Ontario
Photo by Stephanie Beach Photography

He also was back in Ontario a couple of weeks ago. Instead of attending the funeral for Aunty Laura he chose to spend the money coming back to visit her before she died. He brought along Maya too since she is still young enough that you don't have to pay for an extra seat. Not only did they get to see our aunt but they spent a bit of time in Toronto with me too. I love hanging out with Mike, he is a great little brother!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

How To Make Money After Retirement

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

I don't know who's idea it was but my parents 'sell' parking space in their driveway at the cottage on busy weekends. People who are used to paying for parking are happy to hand over $10 for the chance to be close to the beach, even though there is usually free parking somewhere. My mom has continued to do this and once mentioned that she saved up the money to pay for Spanish lessons.

I found out last week that my Aunty Laura was saving up money to travel, which she did a lot of. The way she made the money to travel was about as high brow and low brow as it gets. She saved her Bridge winnings, and collected beer bottles to turn in. It took some time but she was a talented Bridge player and $5 each win starts to add up. Also, for as long as I can remember she was always collecting discarded bottles that could be returned, but at 10 cents a piece it doesn't seem like that would add up quickly.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Aunty Laura

I got notice this morning that my Aunty Laura had passed away over night. She has been sick for the last couple of months and had been put on palliative care a few weeks ago. Goodbye Aunty Laura, you will be missed.

Aunty Laura and I at my wedding
September 24, 2016
Toronto Island, Ontario

This is her official Obituary which will be published in the London Free Press on Friday:

Sweeton, Laura Delbridge 
April 5th, 2017 

Born March 13, 1943 and died at home on April 5, 2017. Predeceased by her father Alec, mother Berniece and brother George (Carol). Aunt to Christine (Jason) and Michael (Aimee), and Great-Aunt to Avery and Maya. Bridge player, collector, cat lover and traveler. The funeral service will be conducted at Westview Funeral Chapel, 709 Wonderland Road North, on Sunday, April 9th, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. with visitation one hour prior. Private interment, Exeter Cemetery. Those wishing to make a donation in memory of Laura are asked to consider the charity of your choice.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Nothing Like A Conference

I spent the last couple of days at a BIA conference related to my new job. It was a very invigorating experience, it is always so inspiring to hear what other groups are doing. I am already excited to go again next year.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Happy Birthday Steph!

It is Steph's birthday today! 
I hope she is having a good one.
Prime seats in front, up top, on a double decker bus.
London, England - January 2008
Photo by ME

It has been nine years since we took this photo, and we have been friends since September 2003, yet she still makes me this happy! Since moving to Toronto in 2010 we don't see each other as often, but we both make the effort and I head up to Ottawa pretty often. We make it work, she is worth it. Happy Birthday!

Not A Good Quote

Yesterday I wrote about Mike's inspirational quote about building your dream. Well, last night at a workshop I heard this after the leader encouraged us to help pack up the chairs:

"Teamwork makes the dream work."

I hadn't heard it before, and while it is cute, I don't really like it. However, the content of the workshop was great! Kristen and I took it together, just a little 3-hour bit of instruction for two Tuesdays. Six hours and we got to build a multi-page website from scratch learning some HTML and CSS along the way. I will post more about what I built later this week but it was a good little course and I am quite glad I took it.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

I Will Build It

Hanging out with Mike yesterday talking about our future career plans, he mentioned the quote, "If you don't work on your dreams you will just end up working on someone else's." I had heard it before and I really like it. The internet seems to suggest that it is from Farrah Gray and is worded this way:

"Build your own dreams, 
or someone else will hire you to build theirs."

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Binder/File That No One Wants To Make

Before my father died I lived a very innocent life. Ignorant of the pain experienced after tragic loss and blind to the fact that the grief process may never truly end. I am far from enlightened now but I am experienced and I recognize similar feelings and situations when I witness friends and family dealing with death or dying.

One thing that is extremely helpful is to have a clear plan in place and to communicate your wishes openly with those around you. But, no one seems to want to talk about death, especially their own. Gord had completed a short worksheet about his funeral wishes and while I am sure the days following his unexpected death were a numb blur for Teri and her family, at least there was less decision making to be made, removing that element of stress from the process.

Having an 'end of life' binder or file is a good thing to do for the people you care about. You are helping to minimize any conflict between friends and family members with different ideas, providing details eliminates the need for speculation after you are gone, and mainly it eases the daunting logistical task of planing a funeral and handling an estate.

Here are two amazing resources, pick one and get on this:
-- The Death Wise Binder is incredible. You can print everything off HERE. This is my preferred choice because it is so thorough, beautifully organized, and includes a system of revisiting the data every 10 years. (Yes, it wants you do it on the '9' birthdays but just do the first version now and catch the next '9' birthday for a revise.) Admittedly it is massive and intense, at 24 pages long this option is overwhelming for even the most organized. It also shows you so many other types of documents that could/should be made.
-- For those looking for something a little bit simpler, the American Lung Association Life Planning Worksheet is a nice three-page option. You can print it HERE. This one covers the very basics and will at least help to start the thought processes and difficult conversations. In fact, you can skip the first two pages and just fill out the questions about a funeral and will on the third page. (Providing the location of  your will is really helpful, speaking from experience here.)

Not only should you fill this out, but copies should be shared with a few important people in your life as well. Also, a version of this document should be one done for every member of the family - regardless of age. The thing with these conversations is that they tend to get harder as you get older. Parents and grandparents are increasingly reluctant to share information pertaining to their death, and my generation will suffer for it as we will be the ones helping work through the inevitable - though hopefully far in the future.

Ignore excuses and get the information you need from those you care about - there isn't a 'good' day to talk about this. It is very common to find this type of discussion, organization, planning, and research upsetting. Questions and fears about mortality might be inevitable but try to shelve them for another time.

Just like I believe everyone should try to be open and comfortably talking about money, I am realizing I feel the same way about death and end-of-life planning!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Two Domains For Always Standing

I never noticed but I think that Always Standing is officially a 'Dot C.A.', or Canadian domain. I always tell people to just Google it (since it tends to show up early in the search results) or refer to the web address with a '.com'. But, I just noticed that when I was typing it out with the '.com' at the end it flipped to '.ca' so I have both domains!

Answer in the Comments:
How do you get here; Google, bookmark, typing it in, other? 
What country code is at the end of the address in your browser?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

One Year In The Force

Jason has been at his new company for one year today. When I previously mentioned it, I didn't say where. Well, I think a year in it is okay to say that he is employed in downtown Toronto for Salesforce, a company that works with Customer Relationship Management (CRM.) It has been nice to commute part way with him, and he is very happy not be driving each day as his last job was in Markham and not very transit accessible. I hope he continues to enjoy his job and love his work.

Motherhood - The Housewife In Literature

Excerpts from Ladies of Leisure: The resurgence of the housewife novel by Laura Miller:

It’s a wonder that anyone has the nerve to write about housewives at all anymore: Not only are these women bored, but they have been universally declared boring.

The readership for fiction is and has always been predominantly female and middle-class.

She is a wife and mother, roles that seem to have taken over her identity. Yet she looks down on women like that—most of whom, she can’t help noticing, are better at being wives and mothers than she is.

A 2014 novel that, while not technically about a housewife, wrestles with the same conflict between family life and self-determination, and it’s clear that the theme is enjoying a minirevival of sorts.

It’s as if such women can no long support a full-fledged novel, as if it’s impossible to imagine that these women could be happy, but equally impossible to take their unhappiness seriously.

But the housewife does have one last thing to offer novelists: An opportunity to flaunt their literary technique. The housewife is to the novelist what the still life is to the painter: a subject whose banality will take a back seat to her creator’s display of virtuosity.

She passive-aggressively rebels against her joyless, lonely existence in an unwelcoming foreign land by falling into a series of affairs.

To be so materially lucky that you’re not allowed to experience any discontent at all turns out to be just another way of being swallowed up by your social role.

She’s bored. She’s anxious. She’s guilt-ridden. She’s exhausted and frustrated and probably depressed.

Perhaps she’s refusing to acknowledge her own freedom, or perhaps she knows something the rest of us don’t. A lady of the house, a woman of leisure— with all that anyone in their right mind wants—she’s still dissatisfied. So have been many housewives before her, and so are many housewives today. But before we condemn them for their perversity and their tedious complaints, it’s worth remembering this: That’s always been one of the reasons they read so many novels.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Execut-ing It Up

Last week, in a whirlwind - interview - job offer - contract negotiation - Board vote - start immediately - situation that spanned just four days, I became the Executive Director at The Junction Business Improvement Area. So I didn't really get much of an unemployment break at all. It really is great to be back in a BIA job, I love the concept so much. The title of Executive Director is exciting even if the realities of the position are pretty overwhelming. The neighbourhood itself is awesome, actually it is too cool for me but hopefully I will find my own way to fit in.

By the end of last week a press release introducing me to The Junction BIA Members (see left) had been sent out and people were already welcoming me to the area. The week is starting off with our website publishing the same announcement publicly. You can read it HERE.

We Keep Raising The Bar

I have posted before that Jason and I like to put time frames on things we buy, we also like to buy things cheaply. I usually prefer to find the lowest price possible with little regard for quality - Jason has more of a focus on value and getting something durable. We also try not to get anything really expensive, luckily besides the house and its renovations, we haven't had to make a lot of big purchases.

I am not looking forward to having to buy a new couch or living room set, it is going to be annoying and expensive. Until yesterday, the most expensive piece of furniture we had gotten together was our bed frame. Even the appliances we have had to buy recently have all been around that same price point. Well yesterday, that changed and our new largest item purchase is for something we won't even be using - a Murphy bed for guests, the Stanley Cabinet Bed. (We got it with a grey stain so it looks like this picture but isn't the same colour.)
I have been wanting a Murphy bed for the spare room (also laundry room) since we first moved in. However, they are expensive. I have done lots of research to find a good price but all of them have to be attached to the wall. Jason hasn't been a fan of the idea.

At the Home Show on Saturday we came across a booth selling cabinet beds - basically a pullout couch, in a chest of drawers. This meant it was movable, in case we want it in a different room later on down the road, and it didn't need to be installed into the wall. The problem with a product that is this specific is that not many companies make it and therefore they can charge a lot for it. There was a slightly cheaper imported brand but the Canadian-made version was solid wood instead of MDF (important to Jason). I found the imported ones looked oddly top-heavy because the drawer at the bottom was significant smaller than the cabinet above, also the model we chose was only slightly more than the import anyway.

We get it in 6 to 8 weeks and I hope it lives up to the price, I also hope that it stays as the most expensive thing we have bought for a long time - maybe until we buy a car! But if we ever need a living room set then I am going to have a tough time.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

My Little Maya Bird

Wishing a big Happy Birthday to my sweet little niece, Maya Quinn Sweeton, who is turning ONE today.
Photo from Facebook

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Quote Of The Day

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

- Mark Twain

Monday, 13 March 2017

Little Gallbladder

I am at Steph's today in Ottawa, a quick turn-around trip that has me here for less than 36 hours. However, Steph and I got a chance to catch up last night, and today play a quick new card game that she had recently ordered online. The card game was designed by the same person who does The Awkward Yeti comic. He did these which Steph showed me after my gallbladder surgery last year:

Monday, 27 February 2017

A Perfect Poem

The service for Teri's father was opened today with a poem from Edgar Albert Guest, it was an excellent way to remind the gathered group of friends and family about the type of person Gord was:

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
  But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
  Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
  On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
  That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
  At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
  And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
  Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
  That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
  There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
  The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
  Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
  That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

- Edgar Albert Guest, "The Path To Home," 1919

The rest of the Celebration of Life this afternoon followed suit and was a lovely string of friends and family coming forward to share their memories of Gord (including beautifully done speeches from Teri and Kevan.) It was a touching tribute to a wonderful man.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Shock And Sadness

Teri called me on Sunday evening with the terrible news that her father had passed away. It was sudden and unexpected - later determined to be the result of a brain aneurysm. I first met my best friend's dad, Gord Osmond about 25 years ago, and he is probably the kindest person I have ever known. His goodness moved beyond his polite and thoughtful demeanor and into action.

I always found it impressive that he taught Grade 8 for his entire career as a teacher - the students are at a very difficult age. But I can imagine that he would have been the perfect person to provide knowledge and guidance. Gord was a great balance of fun, intelligence, organization, and caring.

Always the athlete, Teri would tell me stories of her dad playing sports in high school, he continued to be active his entire life - playing hockey, baseball, curling, tennis, and more. He was involved with the local retired teachers organization. The activities and groups he was a part of often received the benefit of his participation at the executive level, helping to run and coordinate. Gord was generous with his time and active in the community. He was passionate about politics with a focus on education, healthcare, and equality.

Teri's house has always been a joy to visit - Bonnie and Gord have made their home in Paris and their cottage up north places of love and warmth, where I always felt welcome. Gord was a great father, it isn't just that Teri and Kevan grew up to be amazing people, which they did, but they were always awesome from the moment I met them. I witnessed from the age of 7 how involved and engaged Gord was with his family, his friends, his school, students, and hobbies. He touched so many lives and we are all much better for it. He will be dearly missed.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Wedding Update

I posted the following on Jason and My Wedding Website but I thought I would put it here as well. (This is why it is written weirdly in third person.) After our wedding was over, we spent the last week in September doing a lot of donations:

CASH DONATIONS
During the reception at Watermark Pub we gave each guest 3 bingo chips in a small bag. Each chip represented one dollar. Our guests brought these to the head table during the evening and placed them in a charity jar. There were two jars representing different charities. We also asked that instead of just clinking glasses to get us to kiss, guests donated an amount of their choosing to one of the two charities. With the combination of poker chips and cash donations for kissing, we have given the following:

- $175 to The Heart and Stroke Foundation
- $280 to Jesse's Journey Foundation

Thank you to all our guests for their generosity!

DRESS DONATIONS
Chris has donated both of her wedding dresses:
- The Paperwork Dress, the cocktail length dress worn by Christine on Friday September 23, 2016 to Toronto City Call to sign paperwork was donated to The Brides' Project in Toronto. The Brides’ Project accepts donated wedding dresses and resells them raising funds to support cancer charities.
- The Main Wedding Dress, since the large dress worn to the ceremony on Saturday September 24, 2016 had been purchased used and was more than 3 years old it couldn't be donated to The Brides' Project. Instead, this dress was given to Double Take, a thrift store that supports The Young Street Mission.

OTHER DONATIONS
- Hot Dogs and Hot Dog Buns, on the Monday immediately following the wedding all the leftover perishable food was brought to Second Harvest in Toronto. This organization arranges the delivery of fresh food to various community agencies.
- Paper Plates, Cutlery, and Plastic Cups, we also had a lot of leftover picnic supplies which were given to The Daily Bread Food Bank.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Types Of Luxury Spending

I don't really know who came up with this, I have been trying to track it down to give the creator credit, but my guess is The Future Laboratory as mentioned by A. Caccamo in his article: The Beginner's Guide to the Luxury Industry. You can skip this post and just go to the source material, it is a good article. If you would also prefer to watch something there is an animated presentation on the subject of The Luxury Consumer Evolution too.

Unlike the above suggests, I don't think that these stages are steps on a ladder or scale, if they are more thought needs to be put into what makes a consumer move or change from one to another, both overall and per purchase. Instead I think of these as 'reasons' for each luxury purchase, the discussion to get something expensive when cheaper options are available is based on one of these five justifications - sometimes unconsciously. Overtime, a persons buying habits would show a preference for some stages over others.

Stage 1 - Acquisition of Wealth (The Show Off)
Using luxury items and experiences to show wealth and define social position

Stage 2 - Discernment and Worth (Design Maniac)
Using luxury items and experiences to show a higher level of taste

Stage 3 - Emotion and Experience (Vibrant Feeling)
Using luxury items and experience for emotional impact, or uniqueness

Stage 4 - Responsible and Aware (Leonardo Di Caprio)
Using luxury items and experience to connect with moral or political values

Stage 5 - Intellectual and Poetic (Isolated Self-Reflection)
Using luxury items and experience for self-improvement and transformation

It is cool to think of movements through the stages as a generational thing, 'new money' is flashy but long-standing wealthy families are more private. But as I said before I don't really think the stages are connected to time, they are personality based.

A lot of my friends would fit into Stage 2, they perceive their luxury items to be better made or more precise than less expensive ones, and while it isn't a show of wealth it is often still a little bit related to the demonstration of class. No better or worse, all my expensive purchases are usually connected to Stage 3 - I like to spend money on experiences and I want them to be emotionally powerful.

It is a fun concept to consider and I hope the experts in this field move further along with the theory.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Just Read

I like this graphic from Indigo, even if it is just a call for consumerism. Buying books is awesome, but remember libraries! Still, the love of reading is one of my greatest joys:
I have a couple of comments about it though; firstly, everyone incorporates rhymes before the age of two - babies love rhythm, that is what lullabies and nursery rhymes are all about. Also, I hate the idea of rereading books, I really don't want to read the same thing for a second time that day. I am hoping that I will be able to continue to refuse the reread, but I know that repetition within the day is inevitable with children. I hope to stay strong and only read something once a 'sitting.' As long as there are enough books around than there will be tons of options - remember libraries!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Beach Tic-Tac-Toe

When we rented a cottage at Ipperwash Beach when I was young, we would go for daily walks as a family (unless it rained.) To keep me occupied we played Tic-Tac-Toe. I would run ahead, find a stick, and draw the board - if I finished in time for Mom or Dad to pass by than one of them would play the game with me. It was a tricky balance to run far enough ahead to have time to find a stick and draw - they would walk passed if I hadn't finished by the time they caught up to me. Yesterday I taught this game to L at The Cottage...

Front: Jason holding hands with E
Middle: Mark walks with I
Background: Me playing Tic-Tac-Toe with L
Long Point Beach - February 2017 - Photo by Meg

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Panda Is A Real Cat

We took her back yesterday - but for the past week we have been looking after Tessa's cat, Panda. Unlike Two, Panda is a more 'traditional' cat...

Panda
- Spends a fair amount of time hidden under the bed
- Doesn't play very much with toys or string
- Takes a while to warm up to new people
- Sits near or beside you, not ON you
- Purrs very loudly when getting petted

She really is a lovely cat, but she is different than Two and it really made me remember how unique different animals are with their behaviors and personality.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Quiz - Distance Dispute

I don't know if you noticed from the previous posts but Jason and I had different answers for the question about the furthest we have traveled together. He said Peru and I said Paris. He was pretty confident that Peru was further, I didn't really know but felt like going over an ocean seemed like a bigger deal. But we both love facts and statistics and numbers, so Jason looked it up.

So, as the crow flies, in a straight line from one city to the other, using a Distance Calculator, we got the following answers:
- Toronto to Cusco: 6,410 km
- Toronto to Paris: 6,007 km
Jason was right but the difference is pretty close!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Quiz - Jason's Answers

From Tuesday's Valentine's Day Quiz, here are Jason's answers (as he relayed them to me verbally.)

- Who's older? Me.
- Who was interested first? You contacted me
- Married? Yes
- Together? Yes
- More sarcastic? Me
- Who makes the most mess? You
- Who has more tattoos? You
- Better singer? Me
- Hogs the remote? I don't know
- Better driver? Me
- Smarter? I don't know, what does smart mean?
- Most common sense? Probably you
- Whose siblings do you see the most? Mine
- Do you have any children together? No
- Did you go to the same school? No
- Who is the most sensitive? Me
- Where do you eat out most as a couple? Harvey's
- Where is the furthest you two have traveled together? Peru
- Who has the worst temper? Yooouuu..I mean...no one really
- Who does the cooking? We both do
- Who is more social? You
- Who is the neat freak? We are neat freaks in different and incomptable ways
- Who is the most stubborn? Me
- Who hogs the bed? You thinks it's me
- Who wakes up earlier? Me
- Where was your first date? Starbucks
- Who has the bigger family? I do, because of my neice and nephews, but you have a larger, in touch, extended family
- Do you get flowers often? No
- Who does the laundry? I do
- Who drives when you are together? I do
- Who picks where you go to dinner? Both of us
- Who wears the pants in the relationship? We are both currently wearing pants

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Quiz - My Answers

From yesterday's Valentine's Day Quiz, here are my answers (about Jason)

- Who's older? Jason, for this half of the year
- Who was interested first? Neither, eHarmony
- Married? For four months
- Together? For over four years
- More sarcastic? Jason (he is basically Kristen)
- Who makes the most mess? Me, but I am also the one that cleans the bathroom
- Who has more tattoos? Me
- Better singer? Him, by far. However, I sing way more often
- Hogs the remote? The Xbox uses voice commands
- Better driver? Him
- Smarter? Toss up
- Most common sense? Me
- Whose siblings do you see the most? His. Mike's in Edmonton
- Do you have any children together? No, and it is a long way off.
- Did you go to the same school? No
- Who is the most sensitive? Me
- Where do you eat out most as a couple? Harvey's
- Where is the furthest you two have traveled together? Paris
- Who has the worst temper? Neither
- Who does the cooking? Jason lately, but we try to share the task
- Who is more social? ME!
- Who is the neat freak? Jason but he isn't unreasonable
- Who is the most stubborn? JASON!
- Who hogs the bed? Jason
- Who wakes up earlier? My alarm goes off first
- Where was your first date? Starbucks
- Who has the bigger family? Me
- Do you get flowers often? Not really
- Who does the laundry? Jason
- Who drives when you are together? Jason, but only because he hates my driving
- Who picks where you go to dinner? Usually me
- Who wears the pants in the relationship? Pants? Isn't everything better naked?

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentine's Day Quiz - Questions

I noticed a fun Facebook status from Jeska today. It said in honor of Valentine's Day, all couples should answer the following questions and make it their status.

Couples: Since this is a blog and not Facebook, cut and past the list into the comments! You can either fill it out from your perspective or call your partner over and ask them to answer.

- Who's older?
- Who was interested first?
- Married?
- Together?
- More sarcastic?
- Who makes the most mess?
- Who has more tattoos?
- Better singer?
- Hogs the remote?
- Better driver?
- Smarter?
- Most common sense?
- Whose siblings do you see the most?
- Do you have any children together?
- Did you go to the same school?
- Who is the most sensitive?
- Where do you eat out most as a couple?
- Where is the furthest you two have traveled together?
- Who has the worst temper?
- Who does the cooking?
- Who is more social?
- Who is the neat freak?
- Who is the most stubborn?
- Who hogs the bed?
- Who wakes up earlier?
- Where was your first date?
- Who has the bigger family?
- Do you get flowers often?
- Who does the laundry?
- Who drives when you are together?
- Who picks where you go to dinner?
- Who wears the pants in the relationship?

I also want to say that I was so happy to read their lists and learn more Jeska and her beau. I met him on our Wonderland trip this year and thought he was perfect for her! Joe is amazing and I am so excited for them.

I look forward to seeing your responses in the comments, and stay tuned to Always Standing for mine and Jason's over the next couple of days.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Bitmoji Perfection

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Great Pet Shuffle

- I took Two to Teri's today. Two will be staying in Oakville until Family Day, hopefully behaving herself around the baby.

- Tomorrow I am going to go pick up Panda from Tessa's apartment. Jason and I are going to look after her for the week.

- This is because Tessa is up in North Bay looking after her families pets while her mother is out of town.

We are all so lucky to have Teri at the end of this chain who is able to take Two. Follow along with the TwoDeeCat instagram account, link to the left, for pet updates.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Officially Announced

I have resigned from my position at work and HR sent out the email today to let the company know. Now that it is common/public knowledge I thought I would mention it here. My last day is March 3, 2017 and I am going to have to really ramp up my job search so that there isn't too much of an unemployment break.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Movie With The Girls

Went to a movie (Hidden Figures, highly recommended) tonight with some friends from work. We have a Whatsapp group and talk throughout the day using lots of Bitmoji's. Here are the four of us represented by our avatars:

Clockwise from top left: 
Laura, Lor, ME, Sob

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Motherhood - Just Disappear

I was watching Hockey Wives with Tessa on Monday. (I would like to state that it was not my decision of show, I don't like it very much - but I can't judge her choice, I like a lot of reality TV and none of it is good.) One of the women had a baby recently and talks to her friend about how tiring motherhood is because her son isn't sleeping through the night yet. She said this, while giggling:

I don’t want anything bad to happen to me. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him. But if the world just blew up and everybody just ended at the same time, I’d be fine with that. That’s how tired I am.

This rings so close to depression. I have had these thoughts, they are the precursor to wanting to die. It isn't quite there yet, it is the desire to just not exist anymore in a way that avoids pain for friends and family - it is very close to a suicide fantasy. However, it also rings so true to what I image parents might think or feel at times.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Orchard And Goats

My mom is in Spain, you can follow along on her trip my visiting her blog Vicariously Travelling (link on the left). The problem with reading her posts is that it makes me really want to travel. I don't feel like I got to travel as much as I like to in 2016, probably due to buying a house and having a wedding. 

Mom went for a walk through a citrus orchard yesterday and the photos are beautiful. There were also chickens! They are less beautiful but still very majestic.

A Chicken Amung The Orange Trees
Photo by Mom

A few days ago she posted a series of goat pictures, they jumped over a wall onto the road in front of her. She says that she took the photos mainly for me because I love goats (and sheep). However, these goats had two baby goats so I think everyone would be excited to see them and want to take pictures.

A Series Of Goat Pictures
Taken by Mom

Almost A Commercial

Eating a Big Mac (with bacon) at McDonald's with Kristen discussing their recent Is it still a Big Mac? campaign.

Kristen: I think what makes it a Big Mac is the Big Mac sauce, so as long as that is still on there...
Me: I always thought the extra bun bit in the middle was the defining element.
Kristen: Though I actually haven't ever had a Big Mac so I don't know anything.
Me: Oh, you wreaked it, we were almost a commercial there for a second.

Monday, 6 February 2017

We All Age

Here is an updated photo from Ter, her son very seriously proclaiming his age:

It is important to note that he isn't usually a serious little guy. He is full of laughter and smiles! Just the cutest.

Both photos are taken by Teri or Greg, they like to have fun planning and executing little photo shoots at home.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Two Days After Drinking

It happens pretty much every time that I drink, two days later I feel hollow. It is a very sad feeling but still quite different from depression. On this post-drinking hollow day I can still easily laugh at things I find funny, I am excited about life and events in the future, and while I often feel tired on days like this it isn't a debilitating exhaustion. Depression is so different, which is why I don't worry when I feel a little sad after drinking. 

I didn't even finish writing this post, but I am publishing it anyway. 

Top Posts For 2016 - Views

After seeing Steph's Top 5 Posts, I wanted to do my own for 2016 on Always Standing. I think I would be able to use Google Analytics to quickly figure it out but it isn't working right now so I did it manually. Scrolling through the 220 posts from last year I can see the number of comments left on each and how many times that post was viewed. Some posts do much better than others and it is very difficult to understand why. It might be what gets visited through a search or something I post on Facebook that gets more traffic than usual - but my theories don't show to be consistent so I am not totally sure.

Honourable Mentions
These two posts did well but didn't break 100 views, however I still wanted to include them because I think they are great!
- Peru Overview, With Help From Mom - As it sounds, a quick diary about my January trip hiking the Inca Trail. The post is mainly used to send people over to Vicarious Travelling to view Mom's photos.
- Flat Surface? - A cute photo of Two sitting on our mantel at Casa Verde.

FIVE
Post about picking up my wedding ring, getting keys to our new house, and eating french fries. Pretty sure that I posted a link to this one on Facebook and it covers some pretty big life events, I understand why this shows up.

FOUR
The cute photo above taking by Mom of Maya in a Santa hat isn't included in the original post. It was just a list of what I wanted for Christmas this year, something I do on Always Standing every year. The traffic is probably from relatives and friends coming back to reference the items.

THREE
I like this post a lot. It references a big campaign but I spoke in my own words as to why it was important to me. I hope it inspired some of the 141 viewers who saw it to talk about the issue of consent - a discussion that can be had at any age.

TWO
An interesting post to follow up the last one, a quick reflection how that fact that Jon Taffer can be a bit of a bully on the show Bar Rescue.

ONE
A post that features two pictures of Avery from Jason and my wedding. I am glad to see it showed up as number one, Steph's photos are beautiful and Aves is adorable subject matter.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Quote Of The Day

"I love therapy! 
Paying someone to listen 
to me talk about my problems 
- it is like a hooker for your feelings."  

-- blackish (one of the best shows on TV right now)

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Caturday Over On Vicarious Travelling

Mom posted about taking care of me during my surgery back in December. Her post actually doesn't have anything to do with my surgery but it contains a couple of great pictures of Two, and some creepy pictures of Rasta's weird paws. See it HERE.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Shepherd's Wedding Cake

Pulled out a tupperware of what I thought was Shepherd's Pie from the freezer this morning so that it would be thawed to eat for dinner. I haven't really made shepherd's pie in a very very long time so I don't know why we would have it, but I thought it might have been put there by my mom.

Got home this evening ready to split it between Jason and I and warm in the microwave. When I opened the container I noticed that the 'mashed potatoes' at the top was in a beautiful rose pattern and realized that we had defrosted the top portion of our wedding cake eight months early. Oops!

I cut off a small part and put it in a labelled container to keep until our one year wedding anniversary in September - we will eat the rest for dessert tonight.

Note: Meg, Jason's sister, made our beautiful cake. Rich carrot cake with delicious cream cheese icing. Photo by Stephanie Beach Photography.

Monday, 16 January 2017

How Does A Rebel Get Anything Done?

I love classifying things, including people. (Remember THIS joke?) Lately I have been thinking about the four personality types presented by Gretchen Rubin in her latest book: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. I particularly like that there is a corresponding Venn diagram and that the types exist on a simple x-y axis.

The classification is in regards to how someone responds to rules, both those set by others and those set internally. Rubin starts to outline her theory in THIS blog post. Her definition of rules or expectations is very broad: Looking at people's response to outer rules, like laws, traffic signs, work deadlines, requests from friends, doctors' advice, and their response to inner rules, like personal resolutions, goals for self-improvement, or working on a self-generated project. Luckily she put together a QUIZ to help determine which type you might be - I didn't even have to take it to know that I am a Questioner. (I have to understand the reasoning behind an expectation, and agree with it, before I follow along.)

What confuses me though is how does the Rebel type get anything done? Basically as soon as something is a rule or expectation they become repulsed by it. Rubin does suggest that it is the smallest category. What are you?

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Christmas Kitty

Spending the weekend at the cottage and having Christmas. I got Rasta a new cat blanket with sailboats on it. Here he is sitting pretty.
Rasta - Photo by me, on my phone

Thursday, 12 January 2017

TB - Toddler Jason

Throwback Thursday with a twist! I thought I would post a picture of Jason that I found recently. Normally young pictures of Jason remind me of his current little nephews but not this one, because his face is quite round.

So cute!

He guesses that he was 3 or 4 and doesn't recognize the house. I remember when that type of wall paper and tile style were everywhere, definitely 80s!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

History In A Dot

I was shown a really cool website at work. It has won a lot of design awards and I can see why! Pulling articles from wikipedia the designer has created an interactive timeline that spans across 14 billion years of history. It is a beautiful way to represent data and allows you to scroll though based on time or subject.

View the website here: Histography.

It was made by a designer/developer Matan Stauber.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Happy Birthday Aves

I have been an aunt for two years now. I love this little rascal so much and I hope he has had an amazing birthday! I also hope that the coming year of 'terrible twos' doesn't drive his poor mother crazy. 

Avery Reading His Baby Sister A Story
Christmas 2016 - Edmonton 
Photo by me, with my phone 

B.R.A.T. Diet

So I fell a bit by the wayside with my big plans for lots of posting in 2017. But, in my defense, I got really sick. Like really really sick. I won't get into the graphic details but from midnight Saturday, all through Sunday and Monday and then still today, I have been unwell.

But, I love learning medical acronyms and have a new one to share!

The B.R.A.T. Diet
This is what to eat when having stomach issues because it is very bland. It gives your digestive system a chance to rest and recover. So here is what it is that I am eating:
B - Bananas
R - Rice
A - Applesauce
T - Toast
Except not really rice, since I don't like it. I have been having the occasional small bit of plan pasta instead of rice. Jason picked me up some Gatorade as well and got me his favourite 'flavour' which is 'red' and decent.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Friday, 6 January 2017

No, Thank You

Just before writing about her Top 5, Steph did a thank you post on her blog reflecting on her biggest year yet with Stephanie Beach Photography. I am so excited about the future of her company. You can read about the many things that has made this past year such a highlight, but for me it will selfishly be her participation at my wedding (which she also mentioned). Here is her sweet message:

I had such a hard time writing the original blog post for these two. This wasn’t because their day wasn’t interesting, on the contrary, Chris + Jason’s wedding was the most unique we have ever been a part of (and this will likely be a true statement for a long, long time, if not the rest of time). It was difficult to write because nothing was ever enough to express just how much they mean to us. When the bride is your very best friend, who has (and continues to) given you so much and always been there for you, expressing all of that in a matter befitting her, such a charismatic and well-spoken person, can be troublesome. Writing down the words that truly show how genuinely happy I am that two people as caring, thoughtful and utterly wonderful as them, have found each other took me longer than usual and to be honest, I still don’t think the words did the entire situation justice. I love them to pieces and getting to document their wedding days was without a doubt, a highlight of my photographic career and I can’t think of any other way I would have wanted to spend these days with them.

Check out the full 2016 Thank You post, HERE. You can also see her post about our wedding, which I love and frequently reread, HERE, the pictures are so beautiful.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Internet Famous

Taylor posted an amazing video of her kids on Facebook and Instagram over the holidays. The little girl is basically teasing her older brother by repeatedly swearing, it was so hilarious that I told so many people about it and showed it a whole bunch of times. Well, shortly after posting it on private social media, Taylor went a bit bigger and added it to YouTube. So, now I can share it here!


She has also signed with a distribution/media company since it was getting so much traffic and starting to make some decent advertising revenue. The plan is that any money made will go into the kids' education funds, and I hope these two consider going to university for media and get into making more viral videos as they get older!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Fall Wedding Handicap

Steph has reported on her blog the TOP 5 POSTSs for the year, Jason and My Wedding did make it. (Though we did get a nice little shoot out at the bottom, and included one of my favorite pictures of us hugging.)

I am a bit competitive and like to achieve really high digital and social media stats, so I was careful to link to Jason and my wedding post on her blog as often as I could. I also love the pictures and want to share them with everyone.

I think that we had a small disadvantage since the wedding was at the end of September and the main post went up at the start of November, so only two months of traffic! However, there was a wedding listed that only had a month up on the blog, very impressive, they must have a large network of friends and family.

Steph uses Wordpress, I think, for her blog so I won't be able to ask her how she figured out the top posts because Always Standing is on Blogger. I want to look into it though and maybe post mine later.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Year's Resolutions

2017

- Eat Better (Less carbs, more vegetables!)
- Cook More (Cut done on eating out)
- Save/Make More Money (Going to need to read Gail again)
- Post Daily (Always Standing)

What are yours?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Bitmoji Me

I made a Bitmoji version of myself... very pointless, very addictive... more coming soon, here is a sneak peek:

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Ramp Up In January

Looking to 2017, I am again hoping to post more on Always Standing. I realize that December has the trend of being a slow month for me writing over the last few years, historically this is how many posts I have done each December:

2016 - 4
2015 - 3
2014 - 7
2013 - 16
2012 - 15
2011 - 14
2010 - 30
2009 - 16
2008 - 15
2007 - 24
2006 - 22

However, I am going to ramp up for January and plan to get a lot of posts lined up. So, no backdating posts, I actually am going to try to write in advance and schedule them. Stay tuned.