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More words on Banff

Before my vacation gets lost in the haze of laundry, yard, garage, bills, soccer practices and the rest of life, I feel the need to get it on (virtual) paper so I have a record for myself in the future, and because I know you like to hear about what I'm doing ;) .

While not totally perfect, it was a fantastic trip.  We left the kids at home with my mother, and in a sense they had their own vacation too; so much so, they didn't even ask about us.  And to be truthful, because they were  in good hands and because I really felt like Craig and I needed time to be alone as a couple, I didn't miss them very much besides times when were doing something they would love.

The biggest problem was the weather--it was cold (about 8c ish all week) and it rained periodically.  It was a bit heavy on our drive up from Calgary, but not so much that I didn't have a holy shit moment when I saw the mountains.
First mountain

I've been to Vancouver a bunch of times, but there was something about seeing mountains and no city that was very spellbinding.

I'm still wading through the pictures I took and put on flickr, I couldn't help myself--I needed to snap it all.

We spent the first day just being a lazy, checking out the Rimrock Resort (very swanky), walking around a bit, and attending the opening reception for the conference I was "attending" (I was very supportive of my research partners, but that was all!). 

The view from the hotel was great--even in the morning as the clouds and mist covered everything, it was neat to see them emerge as things cleared.

Mountain view

Thursday we had breakfast at Melissa's and then we took the gondola up Sulphur Mountain.  I am not one for heights (rather, I dislike being up on things where I feel I might fall, I'm okay in things that aren't suspending me by some little cable), so it was a bit silly how I reacted and I'm glad I was in the gondola with Craig only.  Note to self: sit facing up the mountain, not looking down to my death.

The view was gorgeous. 


At the observation thing, there's a boardwalk that goes about a kilometer to the weather station that a local figure Norman Bethune Samson used to record the conditions.  He walked up the mountain because he was tough (which we could have done, except that it would take close to 4 hours and there's nothing to see on the way up but trees).  I'm sure the view would be spectacular on a clear day, and it was pretty damned impressive even with the clouds and snow (yep, it was snowing).  We could see all sorts of mountains, the town, roads, trees everything.  I even got a bit brave and stand near railings and stuff!  But it was better to take photos of Craig


We had an obligatory cup of tea at the top (in the past, there was a teahouse up there that tourists would hike to) and then had a soak in the hot spring. No photos (didn't bring the camera) but sitting in that water, looking at mountains while a light rain fell on our heads was great. There was something different about the water than a regular hot tub and it was really deep--I loved it and want one! We had a nice dinner (mmm Alberta beef) at Earl's and then had an early night. One thing we couldn't vacation away from was getting up early (and the two hour earlier time change didn't help) and we were beat from all the touring about.


I wasn't planning to write so much about my trip, but there you have it. I think I'll stop here for now and write about the other stuff in another post. While this is a public blog, I write it primarily for myself, so I can be indulgent with my travel diary.

37 Words on Banff

IMG_0314, originally uploaded by Dr. Steph.

Home already.
It was cold.
There was snow.
It was beautiful everywhere we looked.
Some pictures up on Flickr.
More to come.
Better blogging about this later.
Only 22 days of work and I'm on holiday again...

Necessity is the mother of invention

Problem: I want to ride my bike to work but must transport my huge poster home from the printers (poster is 90" by 46").

Consensus of everyone I ask: You're taking the subway today honey.

Lightbulb moment: Last  night on the subway on the way home from great night of knitting at Lettuce Knit (got to meet That Laurie who is a knitter/dyer/spinner extraordinare and all round nice woman)...I need some sort of carrying device for the tube.  Aha!  My yoga mat bag.

Aren't I clever?

poster carrier

And it actually worked!  Poster is at work.  I haven't looked at it yet, mostly because I'm afraid I won't be able to get it back in the tube when I'm done.  I'm going to borrow a snazzy telescopic poster case to get it to Banff.  Not as nifty as a knitted thing, but probably safer. 

My research partner offered to take it home in her car tonight so I won't have to worry about getting it home.  Too bad, I felt like an Academic Ninja with it on (I know, dorky, but I'm a geek, what can I say!)


The Turn of the Screw

Things are ramping up in home reno land.  Nope, not the stairs.  Nope, not the bathroom (did I mention that the bathroom is undergoing a very very slow transformation?  No?  Well, there are inside walls missing).  This time it's the yard.

For those who don't know, downtown Toronto homes have leeettle yards.  Postage stamps.  That suits me fine because there are parks within a few quick blocks and I'm not much for yard work.  But I do like a good barbeque and something esthetically pleasing when I look out my windows so there's work to be done.

First to go was the back deck.  It was this tiny thing that wrapped around the back of the house (a typically Toronto semi-detached that narrows at the kitchen) with a too-high railing and too little useable space.  I used to have photos, but I think they died with my laptop.  Too bad, I could have been a little more HGTV with my before and after photos.

Unlike many things in our house, this baby was built to withstand a nuclear explosion.  Buddy used a LOT of screws.


Each screw was countersunk into the wood so far that the board expanded over it and the screw rusted. So we needed to drilling into each hole, blow out the debris with the air compressor, use a smaller bit to dig out more crap and then use the drill and Craig's manly strength to get those suckers out. It took a long fucking time. So long, that in the end we decided that we didn't really need to salvage the wood and we took the circular saw to it. Sorry, it happened so fast, I didn't get pictures. And that was just the top screws, repeat the process for the underneath frame. Then we got to the footings. 4-5ft down. 9 of them. We've dug out too, 7 more to go.

IMG_0144 IMG_0145

We've also made a whole lot of garbage that we'll be hauling to the transfer station this weekend. This is only half, the other pile is on the other side. Note the yellow garage. That's going too (before it falls over).


Here's the back of the house now. We're using the ample crushed rock under the deck to build a hill to our door. The plan is to put random flagstones down over the whole yard with something green growing in the spaces (maybe thyme--I'm open to suggestions). We'll also have some flowerbeds along the fences with pretty things and some smaller trees, but we have a ways to go before we get to that part.


So far, the best part is that I can get my bike out to the sidewalk without that deck in the way and our tiny yard (probably 20ft wide by 12ft) is looking a whole lot bigger.

Sticky Situation

We're in the stickiest situation since Sticky the Stick Insect got stuck on a sticky bun.
                                                                                                                        ~Blackadder IV, Major Star

Saturday was Fun Fair day at the kids' school.  It's the BIG fundraiser for the year; basically a carnival with those giant inflatable jumping things, food, a silent auction (we scored $50 a month for Magic Oven pizza for a year), temporary tatoos and all kinds of fun.

Craig and I volunteered to do an hour at the Cotton Candy booth. 


IMG_0133 IMG_0134

Yes, it's all ove r me and in my hair.  It was windy and I swear the wind was bouncing off Craig's machine and into mine.


We treated ourselves after our shift was over.  Don't worry about Xander's long face, he ate plenty.

More meme.

I'm starving for content this week. I have a post planned, but have been sidelined by a cold that has knocked me on my ass. I realized I was sick when I started falling asleep over my work, at work. I'm home today and a nap is high on my To-Do list.

From Rosemary

"The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer."

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
Barfing. I just found out I was pregnant with Emma and it was all barfing all the time. Morning sickness sucks.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
Sleep. Laundry. Pick up drycleaning (it's been ready for a week and it's two houses away, no more forgetting). Hair cut and colour. Work on poster for Banff.

3) Snacks I enjoy:
Tortilla chips and cheese (yep that gross stuff in the jar), popcorn, coke, goldfish crackers, flax lavash and hummus.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Travel. Have someone in to fix everything around the house (before I sell it and move to something bigger). Set up some charitable foundation that would be my next job.

5) Places I have lived:
Thunder Bay, Toronto.

7) 6 peeps I wanna know more about: (I'm tired, I'm stopping at 4 and going back to bed). If you want to play, please do!




From Michelle.  You can see how unread I am.  Going through the list, there aren't many where I said: "gee, I should read that."  For one thing, I like short books, Anna Karenina just about killed me with the boring economics in feudal Russia stuff.

I'm also wondering why so much Jane Austen is here.  I guess people took the books out because they liked the movies and then decided it wasn't for them.  This was my thing with A Clockwork Orange.  I had a thing about this movie when I was in my last year in high school (I was going through a stage where I tried to be shocking and subversive--I did my english independent study on Lady Chatterley's lover and the use of naturalistic language (which meant I got to say "fuck" a lot in class) and it got me into Kubrick's films.  But the book didn't really do it for me.  I find reading a book first is less likely to ruin a movie for me than the other way around.  Except maybe the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice which is horrible as an adaptation and really as a film.  But I digress, on to the meme...

What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies (have it at home, might read it)
War and Peace
Vanity Fair

The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West

The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present Cryptonomicon
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Now in brilliant colour!

The camera thing finally got to me. I am not the best photographer, nor have I had much desire to learn to be a better one (though I do regret missing Jacquie and Michelle's course on how to photograph my knitting), but I do like to have at least some close to the correct colour, not blurry photos of my knitting and the camera phone wasn't cutting it.

Claudia's comment gave me the push I needed. On her excellent advice, I spoke with Keri (who also just bought a new camera), I read some reviews, considered what I wanted and started some online research.

At first, I thought I just wanted a new version of my Canon digital elph. It served me well these last five years and I liked that I could just put it in my pocket and go. However, the lithium ion batteries were expensive and you can't just pop to a 7-11 and buy some--I wanted a camera that took AA batteries this time. I also wanted something with a more refined flash. My current camera tended to over do it and everything was too bright or whited out.

And, I have a romantic notion about people who can take nice photos. I admire their skill. I admire how they can see the world through a camera lens.

I don't just read Michelle's blog because she's a fun person who I like a bunch, but because her photos are always so lovely. Same with Cara and Claudia. I know they spend time with their cameras and editing photos afterward, and I may not really have the time to do that, but I want to learn more about taking pictures, since I do it almost every day. So I needed a camera with a bit more adjustability to do that. Not full DSLR adjustability, but more than compact point and shoot.

Getting another Canon seemed like a good idea because I was used to the interface, and they received good reviews in a number of places. In the end, I bought one a bit more jazzy than I expected because the price was right. It's a Canon Powershot a720 (just like Claudia's).


I used it for the demon spawn (aka moth) photo yesterday, some stash and some silly photos of the kids.


It was pouring today so I haven't tested it outside or anything, but it satisfies my needs and desires and I have a few weeks to practice with it before I put it to the real test in Banff.

Demon spawn

This week I found my life imitating Stephanie/Harlot's Art.

More specifically a chapter in her book, Yarn Harlot: A Secret Life of A Knitter.

I'm sure many of us feel like this at some point. That's why her books are fun to read.

However, this was not one of those "isn't life funny?" moments.

My life was imitating a chapter called "Moth".

I'll give you a moment to catch your breath.


A few days ago I saw one flit by and noticed it and then immediately denial set in and I went about my business.

Yesterday Craig noticed a flutter and said, "Hey. A moth".

I froze, and then immediately dismissed it (with no evidence) as a cereal moth.

But since the moth was corroborated, I was kinda stuck. What if it wasn't a cereal moth?

I got out Steph's book and had a read. There was my denial in black and white. Cereal moths in a room with no cereal?

I keep a bit of stash on display in a basket and I checked there first.


That's after I killed the demon spawn.

The only thing affected seems to be a few partial balls of calmer, which went into the trash. There were other moths in the basket, which I cleaned, and then the whole lot went in the freezer. I'll pull it out in few days and continue with the exorcism.

I also checked the rest of the stash (moth free!) and took the opportunity to bag it all so those evil creatures don't get at it. It also gave me the impetus to start cataloging the stash for Ravelry and maybe decide if I'm really going to use some of this yarn or if it should find a new home.

Phew, I feel like a dodged a bullet this time.

Is there a yarn goddess to pray to in order to prevent further satanic plagues?