Monday, 18 September 2017

Somewhere Changing

Back from a weekend in Niagara Falls with the following:

- Joy from three straight days with great friends
- A Massive headache
- Guilt from keeping Tessa awake
- The sound of Kristen singing Kesha stuck in my head
- Reminders from Taylor to do a safety check
- Sweat drenched clothes from the humidity
- A lavender plant
- Memories of the 45oz blue margarita
- Plans to go out on the Friday night next year

Journey Behind The Falls has ponchos too!
I never know where to look when I am the one taking the selfie
Me, Tessa, Taylor, and Kristen

After skipping a year because of my wedding, we are back with tradition. Third time is the charm.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Stripper Name

Saw this on Facebook this morning....

What is your Stripper Name?
colour of your underwear +
last thing you ate...

So, mine is White Coke, which is the perfect stripper name!! I hadn't heard this one before and it is pretty good. I knew the porn star name was -- Your first pet + The street you grew up on -- which for me is Sally St. Andrew, also awesome. Love that they all work out. What is yours?

A note on the fact that the last thing I ate was Coke Zero, I was able to leave caffeine for just over a week thanks to a big bottle of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke that Noah brought to The Cottage on Labour Day weekend. I used it to ween myself off the need for Chai Lattes, Coke Zero, and even in a pinch I will have a coffee - at least once, sometimes twice, a day. I held strong for over a week but one bad night of sleep drove me right back to it.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Agreed


from New Math by Craig Damrauer

Monday, 28 August 2017

Sleepovers - Child Vs Adult

I just got back from a quick four-day trip to Calgary. Jason used his Aeroplan points to get me flights out west for my birthday, so I could spend some time with ERin and Anne. (It was going to be during Stampede but got postponed to August.) I thought I would discuss the weekend as a comparison to sleepovers, specifically birthday party ones, I had as a child:

Length of Time
Not just a single night! Since I am in Toronto, Anne in Calgary, and ERin in Edmonton, if we are going to spend time together it only makes sense for it to be a few days. I flew out on Wednesday evening and back Sunday night.

Location
Instead of gathering in the living room or basement of our parent's house, we stayed at Anne's trendy apartment in the Kensington area of Calgary.

Sleeping Arrangements
We don't need to all be in the same room, and our bodies are too old to sleep on the floor. I got the fold-out couch with some awesome memory foam.

TV
Morning cartoons, fun movies, or late night television? Nope! An episode of Chef's Table in the afternoon.

Snacks
No chips, candy, or popcorn, instead we helped ERin by taste testing some new chocolate flavours.

Meals
We traded in the pizza and hot dogs for Anne's fabulous cooking. She made us orzo salad, fennel and zucchini soup, fish tacos with homemade mango salsa, and more.

Dessert
I used to love decorating cupcakes. But this weekend we helped ERin make two different fancy cakes (I was minimally helpful.) We started with the very complicated Pacific Cake that took much of Thursday, and then quickly whipped up a modern version of an Opera Cake on Saturday.

Restaurants
Our choices for a Friday night out on the town were not kid friendly at all. First stop, for appetizers and margaritas, was Anejo, where they make the guacamole and salsa right at your table. For dinner we went to Klein Harris, where I had beet salad and hanger steak. We also made a few breakfast/brunch stops at a pie place in Anne's building - I kept getting the quiche, so good!

Daily Essential
It used to be such a regular thing to visit the corner store, usually for ice cream or candy, during a sleepover, but now that we are older - it is coffee! Made at home or quick visits to a cafe.

Amusement
Hard to remember all the things that I did as a child at birthday parties; swimming, movies, games. In Calgary we went on a road trip to the mountains, visits to ice cream shops and the grocery store, dinners out, dinners in, a cat cafe, and lots of walking around the city.

Conversation
Did we talk about boys? Yes. But also our families, friendships, pets, careers, travel, health, education, and more.

Friendship
I think it gets even better as we get older. It was a wonderful weekend, I love those two so much.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Peyto Lake

Road trip in Alberta with my GeoConnection girls, day trip to the mountains...
Payto Lake 
(totally looks like a cartoon ghost)
Taken by ME with Anne's phone

Monday, 21 August 2017

Yes, This Describes It Well

Seen today on a chalkboard outside a convenience store near The Junction (technically a few streets away from the BIA). This really captures the neighbourhood:

Metropasses
Figet Spinners
Egg Whites
- SOLD HERE -

Friday, 18 August 2017

A Different Type Of Anniversary

A year ago today, Steph left her engineering job to focus all her attention on her business Stephanie Beach Photography. It was a very brave thing to do, I was very excited for her at the time. Everything is going well, she keeps exceeding her goals and is producing beautiful work - she is also much happier. Congratulations Steph, I am very proud of you.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Our Latin Mottos, Only One In Latin

Talking with my GeoConnect girls a little while ago and they were talking about the motto's are undergraduate universities had.

The conversation started because ERin was encouraging Anne to Surgit!, latin for 'Push On,' which she knew because it was Brock's motto. Anne then mentioned that the University of Calgary motto was in Gaelic. I made a mental note to check out what Carleton's was, anticipating that it would probably disappoint me.

I wasn't wrong, the Carleton University motto is Ours the Task Eternal, in English. I don't even know what that means! Also sadly they didn't bother with using a different language. The main thing I like about Carleton is the great colours, I don't like Calgary's red, gold and black. Basically University of Calgary has the best mascot/nickname and Brock is all around cool. Besides good colours, Carleton is, as usual, a bit of a disappointment.

ERin
Undergrad at Brock University (in St. Catherine's)
Colours: Red, grey, and black
Motto: Surgit!which means Push On! in Latin
Mascot: (The Badgers) Boomer the Badger

Anne
Undergrad at University of Calgary
Colours: Red, gold, and black
Motto: Mo Shùile Togam Suas meaning "I will lift up my eyes" in Gaelic
Mascot: (The Dinos) Rex

Me
Undergrad at Carleton University (in St. Catherine's)
Colours: Black and Red
Motto: Ours the Task Eternal
Mascot: (The Ravens) Rodney the Raven

My trip to Calgary for this year was originally planned for July so I could go to Stampede but it was postponed and now I am going from August 23 - 27. I can't wait to see them!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Another Great Meme

This time, it is a homemade variation of the Expectation vs. Reality meme that Taylor posted on Facebook featuring her, Lochlan, and Cadence. Love it!

What I thought yoga with kids would be like versus real life.
By Taylor (though Mark probably took the photo.)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Basically Fifth Element

I have wanted to go see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets since I found out that it was written and directed by the same person who did The Fifth Element. Also, whenever a science-fiction movie trailer shows up I get excited, then often realize it is going to be a scary one and I won't end up seeing it - this looked different though.

I love The Fifth Element, it is one of my favourite movies, I have mentioned it more than once. It was pretty exciting to hear that Valerian was given a positive review by my preferred movie critics on What The Flick? However, I actually gasped while watching the review when one the critics said they didn't like The Fifth Element. WHAT?!

Jason and I went to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets yesterday afternoon - so enjoyable. However, basically it was an upgraded, updated Fifth Element, which I think is fine, it is 20 years later - we can use another one. Both movies are great, I love this pop-style of fun action sci-fi. Here is my comparison:

PLOT
- Fifth: Basic.
- Valerian: Slightly better.

PACE
- Fifth: Fast but can be clunky, has a slow bit or two.
- Valerian: Speedy and sleek. I might re-evaluate this on a second viewing though.

DIALOGUE
- Fifth: Bad. (However, there are at least some memorable quotes - "Mul-ti-pass, multi-pass.")
- Valerian: Also bad, possibly worse.

BACK STORY/CHARACTER HISTORY
- Fifth: Provided, on a fairly simple level.
- Valerian: Missing.

CASTING
- Fifth: Strange. The age difference between Leeloo and Korben Dallas is pretty big, but really you can do no wrong with Bruce Willis
- Valerian: Badly done. Dane DeHaan was a poor choice. Spent the whole movie thinking how much better it would have been with a different person playing Valerian.

ACTING
- Fifth: Fine. Milla Jovovich is excellent, Bruce Willis doesn't really win a lot of Academy Awards for a reason but he is solid in this role. Supporting cast does well.
- Valerian: Not good. I liked how Cara Delevingne played Laureline. Dane DeHaan doesn't work, this character (in the comics) literally inspired Han Solo and I wasn't feeling that. Supporting cast is a bit weak.

WORLD BUILDING
- Fifth: Very cool.
- Valerian: Absolutely epic.

TINY SCI-FI DETAILS
- Fifth: Great, it is part of what makes it an amazing movie.
- Valerian: Incredible.

THE ARTIST
- Fifth: Diva Plavalaguna, an opera singer played by Maiwenn/Inva Mula
- Valerian: Bubbles, a shape shifting stripper played by Rihanna
- Note: The artists assist with the mission/plot in both movies, and also die in both movies, in the arms of the main male hero.

THE ANNOYING ONE
- Fifth: Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod, the original.
- Valerian: Missing, but you can tell they tried to reproduce it a few times, with the market guide or with Ethan Hawke (very enjoyable) as Jolly the Pimp.

THE GOVERNMENT LEADER
- Fifth: Great character. Tommy 'Tiny' Lister as President Lindberg is believable, well acted, and funny.
- Valerian: Not great. Herbie Hancock as the Defense Minister doesn't get much to do and you can't see him well on the hologram screen.
- Notes: Both black actors, one of my favourite quotes after Barack Obama won the presidency was, "If we have a black president now, how will directors show us that we are in the future in a science fiction movie?"

THE BAD GUYS
- Fifth: Decent. Gary Oldman is great as Zorg, and Zorg is a fun character. The henchmen (Mangalores) and Mr. Shadow are cool as well.
- Valerian: Boring. Clive Owen isn't interesting in the role, his henchmen (K-tron Bots) are boring. The motivation presented is clunky.

THE FRIENDLY RACE/SPECIES
- Fifth: A bit frustrating. I never fully understood the role or context for the Mondoshawan, but their big bodies and little metal bird heads were very imaginative.
- Valerian: Beautiful. Their world (The Pearls) is stunning, their Converter pets are adorable. However, the heavy CGI is noticeable.

THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS
- Fifth: Good. They appear all throughout the movie and have their own motivations and back stories (Father Vito Cornelius, David, and the aforementioned Ruby Rhod)
- Valerian: There isn't really any. I wish there had been.

MODERN HUMAN CONNECTION
- Fifth: The pyramids.
- Valerian: The International Space Station.

ROMANCE/CHEMISTRY
- Fifth: Almost believable.
- Valerian: Terrible and not believable.
- Notes: Both movies end with the two main characters making out in a small capsule as the camera zooms out from a window. Really bringing home the similarities.

I highly recommend both movies!!

Monday, 7 August 2017

My 'Not A Bucket List' Bucket List

I don't like the idea that I might have a bucket list, it is a morbid concept. I also don't like the idea that I would go through life checking off boxes, lists help me achieve things in my daily life but I wouldn't want them to control my entire existence.

However, Erin AH gave me My Future Listography, and I do really enjoy picking it up and going over things in it every year or so. There are also things that normally show up on other people's bucket lists that I really really want to do - so I basically have an unofficial one.

Skydiving would be incredible, I would love to run a marathon at some point, and there are lots of counties still to visit and amazing places to see. In fact one of the things I am most excited about for my upcoming Africa trip is the chance to cage dive with Great White Sharks which has been a dream of mine forever! It is something I thought I would have a hard time figuring out how to do, not just because they are remote but because I assumed that I would need to learn to scuba dive, turns out I will be doing a tour that has the cage attached to the side of the boat, so you can snorkel.

Something else that I have wanted to do for a long time was go tubing down the Elora Gorge. It keeps getting mentioned in various 'Toronto Day Trip' lists and sounds like a really fun thing to do. Last weekend Kristen and Noah invited us to go with them up to Elora and spend the day swimming, I mentioned the tubing, which they hadn't heard about, and we decided to try that. No matter what, it is an early morning to get there because the conservation areas fill up and the lines to get in can be insane. Last Sunday it turned out the tubing was closed due to high water, so we went with Noah's original plan to go swimming in the Elora Quarry, it was beautiful and very enjoyable. It also served to whet my appetite even more to go tubing.

Luckily it was open this weekend and we got to go. It was even more exciting and beautiful than I had imagined. The rapids were fun, I dumped out of my tube at one point even though we had gone into town to rent special ones that had handles and a back rest (they were cheaper, cleaner, and meant we got to skip a line inside the conservation area.) I would say I can cross it off my bucket list, but I like to instead think of it as a new fun tradition to try to do each summer - now that I understand the system better and know what to expect.

(Photo: Selfie by Jason. From Right: Jason, Me, Kristen, Noah - Helmets and life jackets on, ready to ride the rapids at the Elora Gorge.)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Meme Ad

I got this flyer in the mailbox from a real estate agent and I thought it was a cute use of the well known meme:


Luckily our tax assessment doesn't think Casa Verde is a mansion in a beautiful estate as implyed above, it is actually assessed at MUCH less than the cost to buy it. (Technically this is good for taxes, bad for our confidence. However don't get me started on Toronto residential property taxes....they are too low and it angers me.)

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

That IS Me When I Am Stressed

Noah posted an article that details how different personality types respond to stress, and what to do to help. I am an ESTJ so seeing that I am currently quite stressed I thought it would be an interesting to see if it matched things. Turns out my type was the first one listed.

------- from Facebook

What stresses out an ESTJ: 
– Being in an environment that is in disarray
– Frequent disruptions
– Irrational behavior
– Being surrounded by (or guilty of) incompetence
– Unexpected changes
– Lack of control
– Laziness in others
– Not having their strongly held values validated
– Guilt over being critical towards others
– Dealing too long with abstract or theoretical concepts
– Being in a highly-charged emotional environment for too long

When overwhelmed by stress, ESTJ’s often feel isolated from others. They feel as if they are misunderstood and undervalued, and that their efforts are taken for granted. When under stress, they have a hard time putting their feelings into words and communicating them to others. If they are under frequent, chronic stress, they may fall into the grip of their inferior function; introverted feeling. When this happens, they can develop a “martyr complex”. The ESTJ will be uncharacteristically emotional, withdraw from others, become hypersensitive about their relationships, and misinterpret tiny, insignificant details into personal attacks.

Thoughts
Yes! That feels very accurate. In fact Heather also commented on the post that the article matched for her personality type too.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ok, So It Is Here, Again

I am depressed.

It isn't that hard to talk about it because I have trained myself over the years to be as open and honest about this as possible. However easy it might be to admit it is happening, it isn't easy to go through - it is scary.

I haven't felt this way in six years, my last big crash was a long one from the end of 2010 all through 2011 and possibly into the start of 2012 as well. I met Jason in the middle of 2012 so, while he knows that I have clinical depression, he hasn't actually ever seen it happen.

Starting around mid-July with a combo hit of Saturday drinking and a Sunday/Monday without one of my pills I started the slow annoying spiral. Luckily it was the 'body' pills so my thoughts didn't get messed up. However, it has now been at least two full weeks of feeling really down and I have been fighting hard to not let it affect my work or social life.

I fixed the missing pill issue right away, quickly improved my diet, luckily had my mom around for a week to give me some guidance, am careful with my nighttime sleep habits, etc. I get into work everyday and I haven't bailed on social engagements. My thoughts are okay, nothing horrible happening and when they do get negative I am able to challenge and defuse them. However, I am crying a lot, spending way to much time in bed during the day time, not enjoying things like I usually do, and generally feel like shit all the time.

Working out is the main thing on my list right now where I am lacking. Getting some cardio exercise into my daily routine would probably help, but when I feel like this it isn't an easy thing to do. I also should think about seeing someone about it - a doctor, councilor, or psychiatrist. I don't want to mess with my pills again though and it is a struggle to find someone good to talk to, it is also expensive.

But I am fighting this, got to keep fighting it.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Speed (1994)

So I finally got around to watching the movie Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock last night. It came out in 1994 but was way to scary for my 10-year-old self. Then I never got around to it once I started watching and enjoying action movies. I ended up sharing my thoughts on Facebook as I watched - which most readers will have already seen but thought I would post here anyway for people not on social media...

Quiet Sunday evening on the couch with Jason, watching Speed for the first time. I know I am a bit behind the bandwagon on this 1994 action gem. Let's see how this goes..

3:20 - The opening credits are making me sad that Microsoft canceled Paint and also making me nostalgic for Corel Draw. However the score has stood the test of time - so good, already epic.

28:59 - Phone booth plot point!

38:16 - Used a car phone in a commandeered convertible, then took that guys cell phone too. Used cell to call police station - police station has rotary desk phones. The telecom in this thing is all over the place! Oh the mid-90s.

45:53 - Loving supporting cast, Jeff Daniels and Alan Ruck. Who knew!

1:33:43 - Amazing end to the bus saga! Super exciting. But there is still over 20 minutes left - is it just hunting down the bad guy? No more Sandra Bullock driving? I love her! She had better be still a good strong part of the rest of this!

1:35:13 - They killed off Jeff Daniels! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

1:38:26 - Sandra is now a bomb wearing hostage!! Nooo! Man, solid third act arc.

1:39:58 - Oooo Subway... (Didn't know LA had a Subway)

1:43:37 - ANOTHER the path isn't finished issue? I would comment that this is ridiculous but it isn't like we are all up on top of our Toronto infrastructure in 2017 so I can't really say anything.

I really enjoyed this movie, it is very very good. Speed definitely stands up in a first time viewing 23 years later which wouldn't be said about a lot of actions films that old. Can't believe it has taken me this long but glad I finally got to see it.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

I Miss Him, He Is Missing Things

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

Lately I have been really aware of all the things that my Dad has been missing (you know, by being dead.) As usual, strange things remind me of him. Here are the things he is missing out on this summer:

- So many superhero and action movies
- Sleeping in our cool cabinet bed
- Visits with the ever growing Minns family
- Lots of free events and festivals in Toronto
- Nautical style clothes becoming cheap and being everywhere
- Helping with our many outdoor house projects
- The new Game of Thrones season
- A lot of sailing

This doesn't even get into the extremely upsetting parts, like my wedding last year, or, meeting and playing with his grandchildren. There is always so much I want to share with him. I miss his happiness and excitement (something I am planning on writing about later.)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

So Many Babies

I am always slow to get out congratulations, and this past spring has seen a whole pile of babies. So here are the new humans in my life (not alphabetically, not chronologically, literally in no particular order):

Nic and Drew have expanded their beautiful family one further, bringing Canada a new little wombat. I have only met her once but Rosie is just the sweetest. They are all renting The Cottage next week so can show the new little one their 'Beach House'. (Photo Right)

Christopher keeps bringing us Canadian content and just a few weeks ago became the proud father of Elliott. He lives, with his lovely wife Heather, just a couple of doors down from James and Mike so Elliott will be able to spend lots of time with his cousins Ava and Aiden. And the grandparents are around the corner too - such a cool city family - it is the Toronto dream.

Canada Day celebrations were even more special than usual for Pat and Michelle, who spent the entire day in labour. Fitting date - as they have been known to host an epic pool party on it in the past. Liam arrived in the early hours of July 2. I am so happy for this little family and the many adventures they will have together. (Photo left)

I can't believe how much Henry looks like his dad Marc. Marc and Christine are up in Ottawa. Henry was born in March, quite a bit early I believe. But he is doing wonderfully, even if Marc is going to have him cheer for all the worst sports teams (Boston? Really?)

P and E also named their little boy Henry, who was born a few months ago. At the moment he is keeping a very quiet social media presence. I have had the chance to see him and can report that he is super cute.

Babies are going to keep on coming with Lauren due any minute and JennD expecting her second little one in the Fall.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Bringing Back The Verde

I wanted a modern font for our house number at Casa Verde, it really updates the look. My plan had been to possibly 3D print some since buying them is much more expensive than the more traditional house numbers. Eventually I ran across a project online that included a recommendation for numbers that weren't too insanely expensive, and the grass highlights would mean that the house could tie back to its name.

So here is another little weekend project that we just finished. Though it feels like it took much longer because gathering the supplies (like getting the house numbers) took months:

New House Number And Mail Box
Casa Verde - July 2017

We also fixed up the area right below the mail box. It used to be a pile of bricks blocking animals from getting under the porch and some cracked grey patio stones. A couple of weekends ago we had a big dump bin so that we could tear up the cement pad in the back yard and dispose of all the concrete. We took the opportunity to move some patio stones around on our property - getting rid of broken ones and clearing them out from areas we don't want to have them anymore. We also had to get a couple of bags of red rocks and even did proper excavation, lining it underneath with landscape fabric to prevent weeds.

Jason and I are really bad at taking before photos, even though I know how great they are when things line up side by side. Here are a couple shots that can fill in for a true before and after shot of our house number:

Slowly Improving The Facade
Bought it - December 2015
New eaves - March 2016
New house number - July 2017
Casa Verde

I am very happy that the old number is gone!
Casa Verde - July 2017

Yes, I know that the 9 is a bit tilted, Jason and I can fix that with a normal drill - just moving the nail at the bottom over slightly. We needed to borrow a hammer drill from the Tool Library in order to screw the plywood backing onto the brick. That was the main focus this weekend, so that we could return the tools last night.

Also, in case you can't tell from the photo, it isn't real grass. (It might look weird in the winter.) It was quite the 'crafty' project, there was spay paint and trips to Micheal's:

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Going To Africa

It was a crazy rash decision and purchase but a group of 6 of us are going to Africa in January. To quote Kristen, "July 1, no plans. July 3, ALL OF THE PLANS." We got a voucher from Groupon, making a very affordable tour even more so. We bought the Groupon about two weeks ago. Then over the last week we have been working with the tour company to make the final reservations. The trip includes flight, but out of JFK in New York, so some of of us have paid a bit extra to adjust the departure to leave from Toronto instead. Now everything is booked and I still can't believe it is happening. Kristen, Noah, Tessa, my mom, Jason, and I are all taking a 12 day tour of South Africa and the idea of being on a safari is still mind blowing to me.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Cleaner And Lighter

When we first purchased Casa Verde we did a lot of renovating in the basement:
- Demo
We wanted to be able to rent the space out to help cover mortgage costs. Also, it was important to create a space that we were comfortable having someone live in - as you can see from the links above, it was very gross for the previous tenants.

One of the things we tried to do was reuse things, this was difficult because of the aforementioned grossness. We wanted to reuse all the doors but by the time we finished we had knocked down and moved so many walls that they didn't fit and it would be better to get new ones - except for the bathroom. We were able to put the original bathroom door back on. We kept it with the 'wood' look because it was easier and I wanted to have natural textures in the space.

We got a request a few months ago from our tenant to pant the door white. We still have leftover paint so it wasn't an issue, but it did take a long time to have a free weekend that was warm/dry enough to do it. So this was a little weekend project (spray painted the mirror, painted the door frame and door):

Small bathroom upgrade: Painting everything white
Basement Casa Verde
Before and After: July 2017

Tenant was right! It looks much better painted white to match the rest of the bathroom. It really brightened up the space making it feel lighter and more open. I was also able to touch up some scuffs and dirt on the walls too since it is all the same paint colour - which really cleans things up a lot. Even though it has only been a year, it makes me want to do touch ups elsewhere in the house too, there is so much wear and tear that seems to happen. It isn't that Jason and I are rough on the house but I think our walls dent easily (plaster) and the pale colours we have everywhere show grime.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Cost Of Stamps

This is such a grouchy senior citizen post, but I can't believe the price of stamps now! If you just buy one stamp it is a dollar, when you get them in rolls or booklets it is $0.85. It is nice that they have the little P that means 'current domestic postage rate' so if it goes up you can still use it to mail a normal letter within Canada. But still, when did it get so expensive? How is this not a commodity market item?

I actually remember when it was $0.45 to mail a letter. I found a website that maps out all the postage increases from 1943 to now. It turns out the price I am remembering is from 1995, and for my entire elementary and high school life it was under $0.50. That milestone increase happened in 2005 so I was in university at the time and I guess I didn't notice. I am shocked at the cost now, it is just such a big jump.

It is the same story with gas prices too, I started driving when it was in the mid-sixties. However, I can remember it being in the forties when I was younger. Now it is regularly well over a dollar. (I am such a grouchy old person.)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Five Years And I Still Don't Like Coffee

Five years ago today I met Jason for the first time. We had been matched through eHarmony and quickly arranged to meet up for coffee, except I don't like coffee so I definitely had something else. I have different ways of explaining the matching process, or that first meeting, or our early days of dating. The bare fact is that we met up at the Starbucks at the corner of Bathurst and St. Clair (close to Rrunuv Bayit.) I was later told by Jason that the date was July 12. Seeing that later on we had agreed to use August 9 as the day we started a relationship, I was neither aware of or cared about remembering the specific day we met. However, each year Jason remembers this day and usually celebrates by bringing me Starbucks - but not coffee, I don't like coffee.

I can't believe that five years has gone by already. I love what we have done with this time together, I love where we are now as a couple, I love everything about him. Jason, I love you.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Flippy Floppys

There wasn't a dress code at the last BIA I worked in, however, my boss didn't really like open toed shoes/sandals so we agreed that we wouldn't wear them to work. I don't really think that flip flops are work appropriate, but it is a casual day today, with no meetings. Also, these ones are so much nicer than the usual $5 Old Navy style. I got them for Taylor's wedding, they are getting pretty worn out but I still love them.

Also, my awesome red pedicure is from Ottawa. We went out to get pedicures the day after Canada Day - such sore feet after waiting in lines, dealing with mud, and walking all over downtown. I didn't choose the colour to be patriotic, but lets pretend I did!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Hole In The Soul

I have been feeling a bit empty lately and I realize that it is because I haven't made or 'created' anything in a while. My mind is filled with timelines, organizational details, and budgets/prices for work, Casa Verde, travel, family and more. These leaves me feeling productive but hollow. I know that I am good at keeping track of these types of details. I analyse data well, much better than any creative skill I might have. But the data isn't enough, I need to be creative.

I thought that Casa Verde projects would fill that void. Fun little DIY upgrades like our 'fake crown molding' are really enjoyable, especially as they tend to take a fair amount of problem solving to recreate in our space. However, at the same time it often just feels like I am following instructions, just going step by step and not being really creative.

Hopefully I will get a chance to be artistic soon, but the opportunities seem more limited now for some reason. Maybe just getting back to writing will be enough.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Maybe It Is?

My numbers are terrible!! 2 posts in May! And I didn't do very well in June either. Maybe it is my new job that is keeping me from writing posts for Always Standing. My tablet is fixed now, I have no excuse.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Not A Full Day

My big street event at work was yesterday and the whole experience is a blur. I was at the office for 3:45am on Saturday morning to meet up with the people putting out our barricades, from that point on it was constant low-level chaos. I did take a couple of short naps - hiding out on an air bed thing (featured in the photo on the right.)

The event itself went from noon to midnight but I was there until about 2:45am helping with take-down - according to Jason. At this point time had lost all meaning and I had no idea. So it turns out that I worked a 23 hour day, which is pretty insane and I feel like I have the worst hangover right now. My whole body is puffy and hurts. But I did have fun!

I think the event went well. Over the next couple of weeks there will cleaning, reviewing visitor and business surveys, having multiple debrief meetings, and generally analyzing everything to see how we can improve.

Monday, 19 June 2017

It Is Going To Be A Tough Week

I am still a bit down because of Father's Day and how much it reminds me of Dad's death. Unlike more organic remembrances, that may still be sad but are at least enjoyable nostalgia, Father's Day just makes me think about the fact he is missing from my life now. It is definitely painful. His birthday is also coming up on Wednesday so it is a rough time for grief all around.

My event is, and like all event planning, the last week is chaos. It is basically controlled panic. While I do enjoy it, I could never do events like this full time - too exhausting. Also, this is a massive event and there has been less time to plan it than normal, even for a smaller event.

Also, related to work, it seems local discontent is coming a bit to the surface, which in general is a good thing because it will allow me to address concerns and improve relationships. But really this isn't coming at a time when I have the time, energy, or even mental capacity to give it the attention it deserves.

One week from today, next Monday, I should be able to take a deep breath and feel more centered.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Happy Father's Day

Dad - I miss you.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

You Can Cook Those?

Jason took me out for dinner tonight before he goes away for a week to San Francisco. It was a really nice evening and a great escape from work, which is all consuming at the moment.

We went to Woodlot on a side street in Little Italy. (And it turned out that area was having a street festival so walked around for a bit afterwards.)

One of the most interesting aspects of the night was that we ordered roasted radishes, I don't think I have ever had a cooked radish! It is totally different from the sharp taste when they are raw, both Jason and I really liked​ them. So strange to experience new food that is something so normal and simple.

How have I never had a cooked radish before? I am 33.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Lost Summer

I ran across a video on Facebook called 25 Years of Summer Songs and all of them brought brief flashes of life back to me, except one. It was so strange to recognize each one, remember the song, reflect on my time during that year and then be confronted by a blank. It was jarring but I assumed it was probably an American list and that song wasn't popular here.

Then I thought about the year - 2004. I don't know if I would say it was the worst summer that I have had but it was a rough one: staying in Ottawa after my first year at Carleton in Engineering, to take summer courses. Working at a minimum wage job across the city that took over an hour and half on transit to get to. Dealing with a long distance serious relationship. Not many friends around because so many people return to their hometowns during that first university summer. However, that minimum wage job was at Extreme Pita, so that is full-time radio listening and I am surprised that the song didn't stick in my mind from that.

The song, Burn by Usher, seems to be pretty universally agreed to be the main song for the summer of 2004. While I recognize other songs from that same album, that one just isn't in my memory. I don't totally agree with all the picks each year, in 2001 I can remember Drops of Jupiter being a major summer song, but that might have just been personal experience. I might not be big on music but songs are still often a serious memory link.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Too Early For Worms

There is sun light peeking through the top of the drapes in the bedroom. IT IS FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING!! The light doesn't wake me up or keep me awake (I don't need darkness to sleep) but the birds do. It is too early in the day for birds, go back to your nest beds.

I love that the days are getting longer, but hate that it also means the mornings are getting earlier.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Scaredy Cat

I don't really post much about Two here anymore​, because she has her own Instagram (linked on the left) but this morning she was being pretty amusing. Basically she randomly became super curious or scared of everything, like she had never seen it before. When she is curious she taps and bats at the item incessantly. If she is scared she either runs away or attacks or both.

Things Two was scared of or intrigued with​ this morning:
- The bathmat
- Phone charger cord
- Me taking my morning pills
- A hair tie on the bed
- Jason
- The dryer door
- A sock
- My purse
- Turning on The Tassimo
- Bed pillows, throw pillows, couch pillows

And this evening everything is back to normal again. It is funny when she goes a bit crazy, makes me wish I could have stayed home with her for the day to watch all the rushing around.

Monday, 5 June 2017

I Do Things Too

I did mention before that Jason has been doing a lot of work around the house, but I am also trying to be involved too. A few weekends ago I dug up the Perennial plants that I already had (two Bleeding Hearts that were a birthday gift from Mom last year, and some Irises from Aunt Dan). We need to do some serious work in the yards this year and I will replant them in the Fall when I know more clearly where our gardens are going to be. I got some planters to keep on the back deck so I can look after them over the summer. I also bought more perennials (manly Hydrangeas) since I really feel like Annuals are a waste of money.

Back Deck Planter Garden
Before & After - Spring 2017

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Smart Served

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

My parents got their Smart Serve certification so that they bar-tend at Give Me Liberty (the Liberty Village BIA street party that I worked on in 2012, 2013, and 2014.) According to my mom, it was actually at that event that my Dad learned about Shazam.  I don't know if they got much use out of the Smart Serve beyond those few times, they may have found it helpful for yacht club events. I was able to list Mom's as a Smart Serve bartender at my wedding so she at least got one extra use out of it.

Interesting side note: According to Anne you have to redo the certification in Alberta because it expires after a period of time. In Ontario it lasts forever. Teri and I did a course one weekend when we were 18, wrote the test and the end, and are still good 15 years later.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Candy Prep

Jason is 'on production' which I think is something in computer developer lingo but basically means he is scheduled for a off-time shift and has to work from home from noon to eight today.

To prepare for his Saturday work day he bought a Family Size pack of licorice sized Nibs and a big package of M&M's. He will now sit at the computer and focus very hard on work while eating a tonne of candy.

Friday, 2 June 2017

And Why Did I Go?

So, since I haven't been away, and most people knew that I wasn't, what has been the cause of the month-long blog hiatus? A lot of friends and family have been wondering why I haven't posted, and everyone has their own ideas as to the reason behind my stalled writing on Always Standing.

Here are the theories I have heard:

- The trails of home-ownership. Nope. It has been a busy Spring at Casa Verde but more for Jason than me. He has been working on the lawn, trying to get rid of weeds and seeding in more grass. While I was in Ottawa this past weekend Faye and David came and helped Jason and Noah tear down the gross shed/kennel behind our garage.

- Newly wedded bliss. Nope. I know we just had our honeymoon, BUT. We got married in September 2016, moved in to our own house in May 2016, bought our home in December of 2015,  and we had started to live together in October 2013. So the bliss wouldn't really be the type to keep me from posting.

- My new job. Nope. While it is true that I am working long hours at the office in preparation for our big summer event, it has only stopped me from posting in that I don't want to log into a work computer to do it. We use Google for everything here and having my account on the computer to access Blogger might get tangled up in the accounts I use for work. But I often have my personal computer here so could easily pop on it during a break and fire off a post.

The actual reason:

- My tablet broke! I don't think I ever mentioned that I had my own tablet but Jason got me a very nice Google Pixel C for Christmas. (It was intended for my birthday but came so early that I got it at Christmas instead.) Well, I have been using it to post on Always Standing because it is always on hand and the Blogger interface on it is okay. I hadn't realized how much I relied on it to blog, but I do. All my Azores posts were done from the tablet, it is pretty much my main computer now. Well, the screen on it went wonky about a month ago and Jason spent some time trying to fix it but ended up having to send it away. I have it back now and posting will pick up again.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

And Where Have I Been?

Obviously I was in The Azores last month, but where did I go after that? Why haven't I been posting on Always Standing, was I away from Internet? Actually, over the May long weekend, I was. We went to The Cottage and the Internet is terrible there. I also had a weekend trip to Ottawa but besides that I haven't done much.

It doesn't feel like a month has passed since I was posting regularly, but somehow it has been. I will start easing back into it, sorry for the absence.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

I Guess I Have Always Had This Nose

This is what I looked like exactly 33 years ago today, though only the nose is recognizable to me:

"30 minutes after delivery the flash bulbs start popping."
Photo by George Sweeton 
May 24, 1984

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Me, On A Sailboat, On Tuesday, In The Azores

When Jason shared his photos from the trip I was surprised how many there were of me. I am just not bothered by having my picture taken so it doesn't really register. We both only had our phones with us in terms of cameras but Jason came away with more pictures. I thought I would show what our sailing day looked like based on photos, it was a nice post to do about Monday, lets do it for Tuesday too. (All photos are Jason's unless otherwise noted)

Setting off! A beautiful day, a beautiful boat!
Skipper Pedro (left), First Mate Rui (right), and Jason
Photo by ME

Touring along the coast, passing cities and towns.
The architecture is very 'European.'

They let me drive!
I think there was some type of autopilot going too, 
but when I turned the wheel the boat moved.

Left the wheel to hang out at the bow.
One of the quiet coves along the southern coast of Sao Miguel.

I can see it! Our destination far ahead. 
It doesn't lie far off the coast of the city of Vila Franca do Campo,
but we left from Ponta Delgada so had to travel east to get to it.

The reason for it all!
something that I REALLY wanted to explore.
While we didn't see it from this angle (helicopter?)
you did get a sense of its shape from sailing around it,
climbing along the rocks on the inside, swimming in the lagoon, etc.
Photo from Tourism Website

We are getting closer.
The weather was perfect.
Just enough wind to be exciting,
not enough wind to make Jason uncomfortable.

I can't take my eyes off of it.
It is literally an ancient submerged volcano, and looks like it.

Rounding the islet to get to the entrance.
The cliffs show the rocks at strange angles and formations.

So beautiful.
Not just lava rocks and harsh cliffs,
also tropical vegetation.
(And later we would learn,
tons of newts and crabs.)

Time to swim!
We reach the entrance and they anchor the boat.
Jason and I swim into the Islet to explore.

Docking the boat.
After our excursion, we went into town for lunch.

It has moss still on the shell!
My reaction to one of the pieces of seafood served at lunch.

Full on tentacles.
But then I had fresh octopus for my main course,
it was amazingly delicious, melt in your mouth good.

Saying goodbye. 
Left the islet and the city Vila Franco do Campo,
time to sail back to the main port.

Dozing.
Spent the ride back enjoying the sun.

A bit bigger than us.
Came into port just as a cruise ship was leaving.

We want to thank our friends and family who supported this trip, which was our honeymoon, and those who participated in our crazy wedding back in September. The money that was gifted to us was used on this trip and allowed for the types of adventures we might not normally splurge on. We had so much fun and are very grateful.

Boats, Bones, & Bikinis - Tuesday In The Azores

I got to swim in the ocean again today, but this time it wasn't warmed by a hot spring. It is our last full day in The Azores and our postponed sailboat charter was scheduled. I was so excited to finally get to explore the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, but we had been told when we booked with Sailingside that we would have to swim into the centre of the crater on the islet because it was too shallow. The sail boat could anchor near the opening and wait for us.

This swimming idea did not appeal to Jason when the internet kept telling him that the ocean was around 16 to 17 degrees. We had done the Toronto Island Triathlon in similar temperatures, and Jason had bad memories of it being way too cold. So we woke up early this morning to go find him a wetsuit to rent. The major town that is just slightly down the road has a surf school so we set out to rent a wetsuit there. When we found it, there was just a number to call. They were set up on the other side of the island where the waves were better, but that was still on our way to the boat. When we met up with them, in a moment of weakness, I decided to rent a wetsuit too.

I am glad we held off going on the sailing trip because the weather today is much better for being out on the water. We got onto the boat and headed out of the harbour with our Skipper Pedro and First Mate Rui. We explored the coast along the way and finally made it to the islet. Jason and I went into the cabin to change and I decided that I would be fine in my bathing suit since the sun was shining and I don't really like the feel of a wetsuit. So this is why in the photo below taking by the skipper who stayed back on the boat - you can see me clearly but Jason blends in with the rocks in his head to toe black.

Exploring!
Jason (wetsuit) and I (bikini) in The Azores
Photo by our skipper Pedro
April 2017

We jumped off the back of the boat with snorkelling masks and breathing tubes, which I didn't know how to use so just ignored. Jason and I swam, through the thin entrance area and climbed up on the rocks inside the crater. We walked around, though the seagulls have taken over during the months when they don't run the ferries - so there were bones everywhere. There were also newts! Tons of them that were sunning themselves on the rocks but would run away when you got near. There were also quite a few crabs, including big red ones. 

Another couple had come in a sailboat too that was parked near the entrance and they were scuba diving in the lagoon area. They said that the previous day they had seen giant manta rays in the lagoon from the land and had come back to see if they could see them in the water. We didn't have any luck but we did see a couple of schools of beautiful silver fish. Jason saw other cools things since he is better at snorkelling than me, I think I kick too loudly.

We went into the town of Vila Franca do Campo for lunch before heading back to Ponta Delgada, this time sailing further away from the coast so we could get consistent wind. 

For dinner we went to an interesting restaurant, Quinta dos Sabores, that we had gone looking for earlier in our trip but required advance reservation. It was a farm to table style and they cook a five course meal just for those attending that evening. The food was good and we were hungry from being on the water all day.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Photos For My Favourite Day - Monday In The Azores

I didn't know how excited I was to swim in the ocean or how much I have started to enjoy hiking on holidays but today was so much fun, I think it has been my favourite so far. Let me detail our activities using photos (unless otherwise stated, all pictures were taken by Jason.)

We drove to the south-west coast 
to go swimming in the ocean at Ponta da Ferraria.
The cliffs are steep, would our little car make it?
----- 

Of course it would!
The switch-backs helped of course.
That truck is not ours, we rented a little car.
----

The jagged lava rocks make for an eerie looking coastline.
But this is the best place to swim in the ocean 
when the weather is a bit cool out.
----

Because these natural pools are fed by a hot spring.
At low tide the ocean is 28 C in this spot.
----

These pools have been used since the fifteenth century.
History was onto something, we enjoyed a nice swim.
----

Then we went for a hike at nearby Sete Cidades.
We set off to get to the lookout point for the 'twin lakes'
wanting to see the iconic crater formation.
---- 

The walk started off taking us pass an aqueduct.
(Which I could find no information about,
obviously it killed me to have no facts on this!)
----

About half way through we noticed
fog had started to roll in.
----

Was it going to be worth the climb
if we couldn't see anything? 
----

Because it really was a climb!
It was another hike with a big elevation gain,
almost 200m again, in a short period of time.
----

But we stuck it out, worked up a sweat,
and reached the top. (Hydrate!)
It was an enjoyable walk, no one else was around.
----

But at the top instead of seeing this:
Photo from a travel site.
Iconic image of the Azores,
seen a million times while researching the trip.
----

We had this view:
----

Still, it was a wonderful day!

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.)