Friday, December 18, 2009

A Walk along the Golf Course

It has warmed up. About -10C at 9 a.m. so we got our new winter clothes out and took the dog for a walk. Headed down the hill to our new favorite walk along River Ridge Golf Course. We were the first humans to make footprints on that path since the snow fell, but certainly not the first beings. The path was full of scents for Kelso and his ears were perked the whole way, waiting for 'something' to run out of the surrounding bush.

Walking in 6 inches of powder snow is hard! Really hard. I was gobsmacked by the difficulty of moving my feet. The clothes are great - neither of us were cold, in fact when I got back into the house I was actually sweating.

Despite the multitude of animal tracks, ranging from very small to really quite large, the only mammal that we saw was a coyote. She ran across the river as we were coming down the path. I didn't have time to get the 300mm onto the camera body before she was across and into the bushes on the other side.

Poor dog needed booties! He had huge ice balls in the pads of his feet and had to stop several times to try to remove them. He was successful with his front feet, but not his back and I actually had to let him off his leash so he could run up the hill, his traction was so bad at the end of the walk.

Spent yesterday Christmas shopping and I was pretty dang successful. Finished shopping for 2/3 nephews, 1/1 nieces, 1/2 sons, 1/1 husbands, and of course we were finished for 1/1 daughters a while ago. Now I have a week to get my head around gifts for parents, in laws and two boys. Should be able to manage that!

I guess I should figure out where to put the Christmas tree this year as my next task.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14 Happy Birthday Alex

We had a great weekend, starting with dinner at for the Belec and Co. Christmas Party. Amazing, but honestly I have never had a meal with so much (awesome) meat and so few vegetables.

Saturday I helped at HELP PORTRAIT Edmonton, and was awed by the experience.

Saturday night the SWU 94s played KC 93s at U18 indoor soccer, and played amazingly well. They have not played with intensity or passion like this in a while so this was very nice to see, and very exciting. Got the blood pumping for sure.

Edmonton set new temperature records, the coldest it has ever been on these dates. Sunday it was the coldest place in North America and the second coldest place on earth.

Despite the cold, we met mom, dad, Rob, Heather and Tori for dinner to celebrate Alex's and Dad's birthdays. The meal was good, the company great. Tori has grown quite a bit, and it is looking more and more like I will really be the runt of the family.

Tori is having surgery today, and we are hoping all goes well. And my thoughts are also with my boss, who is having hip replacement surgery today.

In honor of Alex's birthday I have made Sugar and Spice cookies. What better way to spend the daylight hours on a brutally cold December day?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Southwest United 1994 Boys Provincial Champions!

The boys had a great season, with 16 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. They made great strides as players and came together as a team. This weekend was provincials, in Calgary.

The weather sucked, rainy, cold, cloudy, windy. The fields sucked - clover, not grass. Puddles. Standing water and actual mud puddles.

The boys played Calgary II on Friday night and came away with a 2 - 0 victory, easily handled Ft. Mac Saturday (6 - 0), played West Warriors (Edmonton II) this morning and won that 3 - 1, and finished the tournament by playing Calgary I to a 1 - 0 result.

Congratulations, boys and coaches. Well done!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Most Spectacular Fall

I am a fairly clumsy person. If you know me you know that. Two weeks ago yesterday, I was barely awake, and quite possibly pinging, when the carpet guys arrived to do Colin's room. They didn't like Kelso so I got up to get the dog, tripped over either my camera bag, a USB cord or the battery that was lying in the middle of the floor. In any case, I knew I was falling, but there was a chair right beside me, so I grabbed it. Thought I would catch myself. Instead, I continued falling and dragged the chair over as well. Slid across the hardwood floor until the wall stopped my head from going any further. The first intense pain was my face and my thumb. And then I realized I had badly bruised my left forearm and right thigh. How? I don't know. The bruise on my thigh was epic! At first it had a very phallic look to it, but it grew to be more watermelon like. If you know me you know my thighs are not small, so a bruise that covers my whole thigh, all the way around, is big! The bruise is mostly gone, but there is this hard piece in the center of it, getting smaller, but still there and occasionally still sore. Weird thing is that my thumb is still very swollen and very sore.

In any case, a fall like this highlights the fact that I am not as young as I used to be. No more picking myself up and dusting off, and getting right back to what I was doing.

We are still waiting for the final installations downstairs - cupboards, sinks and counter tops are supposed to be here Monday. Fingers crossed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why does everything take so long, jaques?

So the painters arrived Tuesday afternoon and spent Tuesday through Friday prepping! Gawd! I just wanted to grab the brush and roller and do it myself! By Saturday the back portion was finished, and we were able to install the new washer dryer! (Thanks mom and dad), get much laundry done, and get the shelving set up for the pantry.
We had bought IKEA 24" wide pantries, which would have been beautiful. But once the space was finished, it was 2" too short for their 80" of height, and modifying them would probably have ruined them. So they went back to IKEA, and we replaced them with Bestra units. 75" tall, 48" wide, but only 15" deep. Now, will this cause us grief, or to be less pack-rat-ish?

And, I just really want to test this new SmugMug feature!

w00t! Isn't that the coolest!

Happy Birthday to DRB today too! Bike ride time!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Quiet Day. Started with a bike ride bright and early, since we don't have to herd kids to school these days. You would think that an early ride at the end of June would be good - avoid the midday heat. Well, I nearly froze! It was about 9C at 8 a.m. today, with a light drizzle and a not so light wind. We changed the route up a bit - went Windermere Drive to Ellerslie, then in through Langdale and Ambleside and then home. Not sure if that is a different distance than our usual or not. After the ride, DRB went to the office and I puttered around, working on photos, cleaning house. Cleaned the locker room of evidence of Ginger, so we can now figure out if Spot is destined for the same fate or not. CB and KT both worked, Alex had training with Benfica. We had fajitas for supper, and I just finished work.

Not really a big party for the anniversary! But a good day, without trouble or strife. What more is there to ask for!

On a different note, the painters did not show up today. We are so danged close to being finished, these sorts of delays are getting to me. I am planning, in detail, all the finishing touches, and I am growing weary of waiting!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gingersnap doesn't live here any more

So bizarre. I mean really - surreal, even. Gingersnap has been a great pet. Loving, cuddly kitten. But, when we moved (maybe before?) he started peeing in inappropriate places. This was made worse when he developed diabetes. When we decided to have the basement done, we knew that his time with us was limited. No way can we afford to replace the carpet only to have it ruined again.

So, the basement reno started n April, but it wasn't until the carpet timeline became a reality that we made the appointment at the vet. This was really hard - how would the kids feel? how will the other cat adapt? is this the right decision - the cat is otherwise healthy ( to our untrained eyes anyway). But then every time there was a new load of laundry that reeked of pee, or I had to wipe up pee in the locker room, bathroom or my bedroom, or anytime I stepped on the warped flooring at the front door, I knew he needed to go. So the appointment was made. And today was the day.

Well, D & K and Ginger, who fought getting into the carrier, headed out at 4:45. D returns to tell me that the vet suggested having Ginger become a clinic cat. Pay a surrender fee for NOT putting him down. Would I have done this? iDunno. Was it the right decision? iDunno. I still feel as though he is my responsibility. The fact that he is living there, rather than here, makes me feel guilty. I am left wondering "will he have a good night? will he wake the folks up there at 4:30 as he did here?" Why was I unable to get him to stop peeing everywhere? How will Spot adjust?

Honestly, this was a really hard decision, and having it turn into a non decision, does not make it better. Not tonight anyway.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Basement Reno ticking down

Things are looking really good! The finishing has started - trim on doors, shelves built, and the tile is about a third done. I have a full gallery documenting the renovation, and will keep updating it as it progresses. It will be very nice to have the second TV back, for sure. Though some coping that is being done is watching movies on the laptops, on the front porch.

I have to stop myself from running out and buying new accessories, decorative items and bath supplies! I can't wait to get it all set up, that is for sure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Time Flies

Wow! My head is spinning trying to keep up with the photo work I have done and need to deliver and the new jobs that I need to get done! Seems like I haven't stepped out of the office since the first of May!

The spring has been very dry, was fairly cold and my garden would have sucked anyway! There, that will be my excuse!

So no garden, probablty will plant some planters, but not much else. Hope to be able to hire a crew to at least clean up the yard, maybe start the backbone of the new landscaping.

The good news is that the basement is nearly done! I've been keeping track of it in a gallery here

I am really excited about the outcome. I suspect that the room that will make the most difference to the family is the bathroom. Daryl is most looking forward to the new office space, which he has firmly planted his stake into. For me, it is the laundry room! Hands down - laundry room.

I have ordered a 7 ft long counter top, standard 2 ft deep, mounted at 36 inches off the ground. Folding table. No longer will stacks of folded laundry stay on my dinner table. No longer will Colin need to get dressed in the dining room. No longer will there be stray socks all over the family room! Yep, for me, the laundry room reigns supreme.

The rest of the changes down there will be great - a nice open space, games table area, bar area, nice family seating area with the TV and fireplace as focal points, all very nice indeed.

Should be finished by the end of the month! Hopefully this will coincide with the end of the photo order backlog, and the start of summer yard work season!


Monday, April 6, 2009

Basement, thy time has come!

We have cleaned out the stack of unpacked boxes that have been there since we moved. We have cleaned out the storage room! Wow, it seems like a huge feat, and only took about 8 hours total! Many boxes of things to Goodwill, many others to trash. A few to keep! A few treasures were uncovered, like Katie's diary from 2000, and Colin's father's day poem from grade 3! And photos, snap shots from the early years. All safely tucked away into plastic totes to be retrieved 'in the future'!

With everything gone, we can now start to imagine how the new space will shape up, and even had a new, good idea! We are getting closer, closer every da-ay. I don't know who gets credit for that line, but thanks!

I took some before photos on Saturday - really amazing how you don't 'see' things when you look at them every day. The basement really is a disaster - holes in the ceiling, clutter everywhere, smelly cat smells. I've walked through the new plans with the kids, and they are all quite excited. I am sure we will have many conflabs when the time comes to choose the finishes. I have a plan tho - Colin gets first say on the bath and his room, Alex can be primary on the color and carpet for the common area, KT gets dibs on the upstairs bathroom and I get veto power on it all! Muwhahah!

This is gonna be great!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Progress without the evidence!

Okay, I FAILED at taking potos of the disaster that is my basement! But I have made some progress since I last wrote.

First, last Friday I climbed onto the roof (while D was still here) and shoveled snow all morning.

It was actually invigorating and fun, and turned out to be very necessary. I discovered that we had a very large ice dam in the west eave, under the spruce. D cam home and cleaned that out, and we have not had a problem with melt water in the hose or porch


On Monday, I emptied the boxes that have sat on the desk in the basement for however long. Many books into storage, many to go to charity. All in just a couple of hours. Thursday, D helped me by hauling boxes out of the storage room. We sorted through a couple of dozen boxes: stuff that we moved and did not unpack, stuff that has been taken out of the kids bedrooms, yada, yada. Ended up with some treasure:

My first teddy bear:

Alex's kindergarten scrap book, Katie's sixth grade writing, a full set of Portmeirion dinner ware (who knew that was sitting there all these years).

And we ended up with a van full of stuff to take to Goodwill.

Wednesday, ATCO arrived (unexpectedly, and with the house looking like a tornado hit) and they will be moving the meter this spring. Timing is good, I hope, and their work can mesh with the reno. However, outside they will need to dig up the front yard!

The renovator came by for some measurements Friday and so things are really progressing! A few more days of emptying and sorting, aggressively getting rid of 'stuff' and we should be ready to finally whip that basement into shape.

The next thing to get into shape will be me!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


So I have some pretty big projects underway, and I really need to focus my efforts better, so I am hoping that writing about them and keeping track of them in photos will keep me on track.

First is basement clean out and renovation.

A big part of cleaning out the basement will be figuring out where to put or what to do with our "stuff". A possible storage location would be the garage, but then that would need to be cleaned out first! :-)

Anyway, I shall take some "before" photos tomorrow, sometime between shoveling the roof and my shift. And I will take a progress photo once every two days, minimum!

Other projects include my two big photo shoots this spring, and getting fit.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's March!

Good grief, time really has been flying by. March 6, 2009. And it is -25C today! Bleck!

I've been working for SmugMug for a month now, and it is great! I am quite enjoying the job, settling in to a new schedule but still struggling with using my other time well.

I had intentions of walking with Kelso daily, but the truth is I am a fair weather pet owner, and the weather has just not been fair most of the month. We have gone out a couple of times, and that has been great.

I also intend to get the basement totally cleaned out and get rid of all that junk. The thing that will force me to do this is we finally have a renovator lined up. YAY! And we will be giving the basement a really good makeover, starting with moving the laundry into the back corner, building a bath between the laundry and Colin's room and then opening the whole remaining space into one large room. The little space on the back side of the fireplace will become a guest room. I am really looking forward to this; there is so much space down there but it is soo poorly organized. And right now, it is just full of junk! We are getting close to setting a schedule, so the junk must go.

I want to have that well under control so that I can start garden clean up as soon as the snow is gone. I will have a great garden this year, and I will get some serious landscaping done.

I also have not done very well at a PAD project. I figured that I would at least make some progress with that by using my iPhone and SmugShots! But, I just don't take a photo a day, and am not sure random snapshots are a great way to "push" my skills.

We are still waiting for resolution with our two insurance claims. Katie slid into a tree with her car, and it has been written off. That claim is mostly finalized, but her replacement car is not in her hands yet.
The repairs and replacement of all things broken or taken during the "party" has been finished, and now it is up to the insurance company to process that claim. It will end up being a $10K "sweet sixteen" :(

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last Day

Tomorrow, Jan. 29, 2009, is my last day working at Micralyne, Inc. I started there late November 2005 as a contractor, engaged to help hire 30 new employees. I started a full time salaried position with Micralyne February 1 , 2006.

It has been a very good three years. I have learned so much about MEMS in general and MEMS processing in particular, and also about business to business sales. I have had great coworkers and a wonderful, supportive and intelligent work environment.

And yet, I have made the decision to move on. I have a new job starting Feb. 2 that I know I will enjoy, but my decision to move on wasn't motivated solely by the new opportunity. The decision came because I believe that I had reached the end of the growth available to me at Micralyne.

So it was time to move along, down a different path on this journey of mine. I am very hopeful that this path will have many photo ops along the way, and that I can take advantage of those to explore this passion of mine and really start to get creative with it.

Tomorrow will be a melancholy day. The hardest part is over - making the decision and then letting people know was very hard. I have some very good friends at Micralyne and I hope I will be able to maintain those friendships. Saying farewell to customers has also been difficult. Tomorrow will be hugs and maybe a few tears, and hopefully a few beers as well!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Dentist

I have a totally irrational fear of dental work. Avoid it like the plague. No regular check ups in this girl's daytimer! And it is truely irrational, as I've never really had a bad dental experience.
Last fall, a molar that was giving me 'grief' for many months finally broke. There was just no way around it, I had to finally go to the dentist. Hadn't been in something like 12 years! (If it aint broke, why fix it!).
I have pretty good dental benefits, so not only did I agree to having the tooth fixed, I had them all cleaned. Fixing the tooth required a root canal! Yikes! Memories of my last root canals just aren't all that pleasant.
Dr. Frank had some really cool gadgets at his office, including a very slim syringe for freezing. No more giant silver needles in your mouth, just this unobtrusive needle on the end of some very thin rubber tubing. The root canal was no where near as unpleasant as the anxiety before hand would have predicted. The freezing came out quickly, with far less trauma than I remember.
Step two was prepping for crowns for that tooth and its neighbor, also a root canal tooth. That happened Thursday, and that was more unpleasant, more uncomfortable, but still not equivalent to all of the fear and loathing that I have for dentists.

So, what about that wisdom tooth Ms. McRae? You know, the one that was supposed to come out 15 years ago, the one that has erupted sideways and pretty much hurts all the time? Well, thanks, but it can stay where it is for now!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Well, here I sit, attempting for the third time to start this post! I am torn between the classic New Years type of message, reflecting on the events of this past year - and there are many - or a more forward looking post, outlining my goals and hopes for the year ahead. Perhaps both are necessary: the past lays the groundwork for the new year.
I read through last years posts: frequent in the first half of the year and then non existent in the last quarter.

Some things have not changed: I still hate winter!

Others have: I no longer attempt to follow the 'Eat to Live' diet, my mothers health is greatly improved.

My garden was an unmitigated disaster!
20' x 30' and a yield of one meal of potatoes! The raised planters were much more successful, and I ate fresh baby lettuce all summer long! I cannot even say that I grew a good crop of sweet peas this year! Didn't finish any other garden projects. Didn't finish any other house projects!

I have a new boss, new job description as the whole department gets a shake up. I am still not convinced that this is the right job for me, for many reasons (decision making structure, my lack of technical expertise, the whole desk job thing, and the list goes on). However, with the media perpetuated 'economic downturn', I may be lucky to have a job. And, this job has many positive attributes too. I have travelled to Boston twice, Chicago once, Toronto, Vancouver & Seattle, for work. I've managed to incorporate photography on each one of those trips! I enjoy working in a scientific environment, with some really great people and truly great clients. But, I was too long my own boss, setting my own hours and making my own decisions. I want that kind of responsibility and that kind of freedom again. The call of photography is sooooooo strong.

The kids continue to grow up and have each had many 'life lesson' moments this year. Both Colin and KT got their drivers licenses this spring. They also both bought their own cars. We are now a four car family, and as ridiculous as that sounds, it does have benefit in that it greatly reduces the amount of time I spend on the road.

Colin has had some driving 'experiences' that have hurt his bank account, but not him. Katie, so far, has a clean slate in the driving department. And Alex has just turned 14 so is actually eligible for a learners permit....I am certainly not ready for that.

Colin returned from Germany in December 2007, and finished Grade 12 in the second semester (Feb - June 08) this year. He made the decision to apply at the U of A, Faculty of Engineering. Initially I was really put off by this - he could be off somewhere more interesting than Edmonton, playing soccer and doing an undergrad degree. However, he is here and really seems comfortable and to be doing well in engineering. The U of A is among the very best Engineering schools in North America, so there is no fault to be found in that decision. He isn't playing soccer right now; however, he did finish his 'youth' soccer days on a high note. His team won Club National Championships in October; a gold medal finish to so many years of dedication.

One of the biggest 'life lessons' this year was experienced by KT, and by us as it was probably our most difficult parenting thus far. At the end of it all, the only damage was to property, the offender has served the deemed punishment and is expected to make retribution, and we all (I hope) have learned from the experience. It has forced KT to return to the workforce, giving her spending money ( & money to pay for retribution & speeding ticket money) which she relishes.
KT does well at school, could do better, and currently has aspirations of med school.

Alex has changed soccer teams; he moved on from the team he had been with since U10, and from being coached by his dad and some close friends. He is on a team that he really enjoys (with a better record than his old team) and thus far the move seems like the right choice. The old team certainly provided him with familiarity - perhaps too much. With the new team he needs to earn his spot and the respect of his teammates, and he seems to be doing so. What this has meant for us is a move outside our comfort zone, away from friends that we have spent so much time with. We miss that group dearly, but must say that the new team has certainly given us a warm welcome!

We also travelled as a family a bit: to Medicine Hat for Alberta Summer Games with Alex, to Tofino for a vacation with KT, Alex and KTs friend, to the GTA for soccer nationals and finally to Vernon for Christmas with the Burd clan.

So, what will 2009 bring? Who really knows?
My goals?
Do more photography, maybe even earn a significant portion of my income from it! Actually carry through with a PAD project. Travel and shoot more.
Get into shape! The Wii fit that we got for Christmas is going to kick start that! (So much fun!)
Travel more.
Get somewhere with the house - renovate, remodel, rebuild....pick one!
Shoot more.
Continue to watch the kids grow up, and be amazed at how time flies.
Travel more.
Continue to watch mom thrive under dad's care, continue to be amazed by dad being retired. What will he do next, now that the garage is organized?
Shoot more.
Visit all of the relatives again!
Travel and shoot more!
Grow a decent crop of vegetables.

Enjoy my days. Relish the moment. Do something that matters.

Happy New Year!