Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 in hindsight

2010 has been quite the year for us. In a good way, for sure.  Below is a summary of all the highlights of this past year.  I'll try to do it in chronological order, although sometimes the exact date is a bit of a blur.

The winter of 2010 was marked by an unusual mild weather pattern. The snow was gone by mid-March, and the month of April was the first on record that did not produce any snow.  We were able to go out snow-shoeing once, and even that one time we had to be careful not to hit any rocks.  Needless to say that the mild winter meant a really good winter for running! Not that cold weather or snow scares us too much, but it was definitely easier to get out the door.

In early spring, both our jobs started to get quite a bit busier. Nolan was getting used to the management position, but it also meant additional responsibilities, and at times longer hours. I had a few trips to Petawawa, and one to Sault Ste. Marie, On.  Besides those trips, I also applied for a job within my own group, and despite some stress and sleepless nights, and I manage to do alright, and got the position. So finally after many years of 'sticking to it', I got a permanent position with the government, but most important I got a job I really enjoy! For 2010, we were also in a different office building, while they are upgrading our main building. Our current building is much closer to our home, so I was quite happy with it. Most of the summer and fall I rode my bike to work, which was nice. We're scheduled to move back to our Booth Street building in April, if everything goes according to plan. The original plan was to move back before Christmas, but progress got delayed, so we're all curious to see when we'll be moving back. If it's up to me, they can wait until next winter ;-)

We went to Europe the end of April for just over two weeks. We spent a week with my parents, and then headed to Rome for a week, which really was our honeymoon. It was really nice, with gorgeous weather and so much to see! Since we didn't like the public transport (or any kind of transportation there!), we decided to explore the city on foot, and must have walked 20 km each day. Great way to somewhat stay in shape, while also enjoying the great food and wine! Definitely a place we recommend, and it sure felt like a honeymoon.

The spring also marked the beginning of our marathon training. We decided to sign up for a marathon earlier in the year, even though we remembered from last time that the time commitment was not to be underestimated. However, we figured this year would be different, since last time we moved into a new house, got engaged; so really a lot of other things happening in our lives as well. This year would be more relaxed, or so we thought....

Early in the summer, I also received a  letter from Citizenship and Immigration saying that I passed for the Citizenship Test I wrote in February. Not really a surprise, since the test was quite simple. However, it was still an honour, and I went to the ceremony in August. Now I'm officially Dutch and Canadian! I'm happy I can keep my Dutch, but feel very privileged to be a Canadian now as well.

Early July, we started talking about perhaps moving to a single family home. Not that we did not like our town home any more, we felt this could be a good time to start looking for a new home. Not really thinking too seriously, we were about to contact our realtor, when coincidentally she had sent us a message, seeing how we were doing! We saw that as a sign, and started checking out some houses with her. To our own surprise, we fell in love with a house fairly early on, and decided to put an offer in. It got accepted, and we agreed on a closing date 6 weeks later. A little tight, considering we still had to sell our house! However, that went like a charm, and we sold our house one day after putting it on the market! We're very happy with our new house, and are currently deciding what colours we want to paint, what reno's we might do at some point, but we are also really enjoying our house! It has so much more space, privacy, great back yard, very bright and the cats love it as well. What else can we ask for!

During the house hunting phase we were still training for the marathon. Since we were the only two of our running group training for the marathon, we did most of the training on the trails near our home. Even though sometimes early (more than once we got up at 5 am to start running at 6 to beat the heat), we really enjoyed just being out on the trails compared to the pavement. Funny was that despite everything else going on, we found the training remarkably easier compared to the previous marathon. Maybe the next one will even be easier?? The marathon itself was far from easy. Never knew Montreal is so hilly, and the fact that we had a strong head-wind most of the time didn't help either. We didn't reach our goal, but still finished, and both felt afterwards that we should do this again to redeem ourselves! But not in Montreal, that's for sure. Any good suggestions?

Less than a week after we moved into the new house, I left for Jasper for a week, to attend the Canadian Institute of Forestry AGM and Conference. It was very interesting and a great way to meet some great people! Even though I enjoyed the time there, at the end I was ready to go home and actually enjoy the house. A week later my mom and Annette showed up for a visit. Luckily both Nolan and I were able to take some time off to spend with them, and we had a really nice visit. It was Annette's first time in Canada, but it sounds like she might be coming back someday! Too bad the visit was only a week long. Time just seems to fly during those visits!
A couple of weeks after their visit I went back to Edmonton and Jasper for a week for our annual employee forum. I'd been pretty busy with the organization beforehand, and was happy that everything went really well. The forum included a field tour which was interesting, since the temperature dipped to -28... But leave it to some foresters to still get of the bus and listen to the talks (and especially lots of respect for the people giving those talks! Brrrr!!).

Once back home, we didn't have to wait long for our next guests. Gijsbert and Anouk came for a visit, which was really nice. We all celebrated Sinterklaas together, and just had a great time.

Since I wasn't busy enough with work and everything else in our lives, I was also asked to join (and did) the Executive Committee of the Ontario Woodlot Association, as well as the Chair for the Ottawa Valley Section of the Canadian Institute of Forestry. I need more hours in a day!! But they are both great organizations, and I like working with them.

So a lot of text, but 2010 was worth while reflecting on. We'll have to wait and see what 2011 will have in store for us, but Nolan and I are very excited about our future together.
We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and we wish you all the best for 2011.

Katalijn & Nolan

Friday, December 24, 2010

Photos of...

To start the holidays with a bang (and because I had to clean up my computer...), here are some photos of the recent past.

This is the result of one month worth of facial hair. All for a good cause, but I have to admit I like him better without it!

Remember when Gijsbert (aka Max) and Anouk visited? Well, somebody got a hold of the camera and started taking some artistic photos...

 And below are photos of us snowshoeing this afternoon. It was a wonderful afternoon, and it was great to be out there, especially knowing that the rest of the world was still frantically trying to get those last groceries and get ready in general for Christmas. Christmas should be about peace and we definitely felt like that in the woods today!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It was the day before Christmas Eve...

It was the day before Christmas Eve… Yep, that’s today, 23rd of December. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, followed by Christmas Day on Saturday, and then stay-away-from-the-stores-day Sunday, also known as Boxing Day. I’m looking forward to the Holidays, that’s for sure. It will be nice to have a break from work, and more time for each other. As you might have noticed, the last couple of months have been busy for both of us. Work, house, running, life in general. Work has slowed down a bit in the last couple of weeks, but to be able to really get away from it for a week will be nice. Since work has been a bit more quiet lately, I was actually able to get a nice run it at lunch time today. And really, I should do that way more often! It makes you feel good, and helps with the energy level in the afternoon. New Year’s resolution perhaps? We also had a nice run last night, and it makes me realize that I miss not running more often, but life sometimes just gets into the way. Or do we let it get in the way? Maybe this year we can focus on doing more speed work and perhaps run some shorter races. It might help balance the time commitment...

Nolan will be starting a new job when he goes back to work on January 4. It’s still with the same company, but a different group. He’s looking forward to the new adventure and challenges, so he’ll start the New Year with a bang!

We’re hoping to take it easy the next few days. Try to finish unpacking those last boxes in the basement, get our snowshoes out (if there is enough snow that is), make sure we get our runs in, and just enjoy the season. We’ll be spending a couple of days in Brockville as well, which will be nice. Besides that, nothing too exciting planned, which is exactly how we want it!

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A little strange

Just to throw it out there, I don't believe in ghosts, spirits, or any of that stuff.  However... Ever since we've moved into this house, we've heard some strange noises, which we normally just blame on the 'newness' of the house, the wind or other elements, and we'll just get used to those subtle sounds. So really, nothing too crazy.

Today was slightly different. We came home, and the Christmas lights around our deck were on, which is normal. But we also have about half a dozen regular lights that were installed mainly for use in the summer.  In order to turn those on, you need to flip a switch outside, which is protected by an all-weather cover (similar to those covers that cover outdoor outlets). To our surprise, those lights were on! We haven't had those on in quite a while, and were quite surprised to see them on. Since there is snow on the ground, I went outside to see if there were any footprints. Perhaps one of the neighbour kids decided to turn them on? But no suck luck. The only prints that we saw (and that were in the direct neighbourhood of the switch), were prints of a squirrel. Now the question remains: do we really have a squirrel that is so thankful for all the bird food that we leave out, that it decided to turn on the lights for us? But if so, how was it able to lift the cover of the switch?
Or is there another explanation??

Friday, December 17, 2010

Canadian Tenors and so much more!

A while ago Ann asked us if we would be interested in going to the NAC (National Arts Centre) for their annual Christmas Concert, since this year the Canadian Tenors were special guests. Sure, why not! We like the NAC, tend to be there quite a bit lately (saw Nativity there last week), and it's always nice to spend a night out with friends. We were not familiar with the Canadian Tenors, but they are quite famous here and even appeared on Oprah (check here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAn3g-YfOsk). After last night, we can actually understand why they are well known. They were very impressive! Out of the four, two had really strong voices, but all of them were worth listening to. So yes, a great night out and it helped with the Christmas spirit as well.

This past Tuesday we got our first real touch of winter. Perhaps about 10 cm of snow, but the people were clearly not prepared, and everything slowed down to a crawl. I was lucky with my 45 commute to work (compared to 15). It took several people up to three hours to get to work. Nope, it's not just the Dutch that don't know what to do with that white stuff! It has been snowing now on and off all week, and we probably have about 20 cm now. I personally love the snow. It makes everything look so much brighter and lighter, and of course it makes for some nice pictures. I should post some soon.  Nolan and I went for nice walk after work today, and it's just so nice to see the lights, the snow covered grounds and soak up the fresh air. Makes you feel alive!

This week has actually been busy at work. You'd think that so close before Christmas things slow down. Well, that's what it looked like last week, but it really picked up again this week. I like to be busy, but I am also really looking forward to Christmas break! It will be nice to have some time off, do stuff around the house and finally get those last boxes unpacked!
What didn't help this week is that I was on the road all day Wednesday. First for a Christmas Forestry Seminar, which had carbon credits as theme. Very interesting, but I think they still have a long ways to go. After that I headed to Belleville for an OWA meeting. Before the meeting I had a chance to catch up with Candice, which was really nice and very much overdue! But overall it was a long day, especially since I did not get home until 11:30 at night...

Needless to say that with all this 'running' around, there was not an awful lot of time left to go running, especially in these winter conditions. But hopefully we'll be able to get out tomorrow, either running or snowshoeing, but we'll definitely hit the pavement on Sunday. I love running, but I can't wait to go snowshoeing again as well. I think we got out only once or twice last year due to a lack of snow. However, that made it a great winter for running. Hopefully, this year we can do lots of both!

One more week before Christmas. Craze how quickly time if flying by! And so close to the end of the year as well. I'm thinking of doing a quick overview of 2010, but that will be after Christmas. 2010 is not over yet, after all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This past Wednesday I worked from home, since a technician was supposed to come to fix our treadmill. Around noon I got a call saying that he had had an accident, and that he wouldn't be able to come. Nothing too serious, but it did mean we had to reschedule. Luckily another technician could come on Friday, and since my schedule was pretty easy compared to Nolan's, I decided to work from home again. I like working from home every now and then because there are so few interruptions.
Since I was at home anyway, I decided to go for a lunch-hour run before the technician would show up. We have a bit of snow on the ground, but the trails are still accessible. I was only about 2 km from home, when I saw something big crossing the path. It took me a second to realize it was a wolf! I had not idea we had wolves in the area, but they might be going after the deer, of which we have plenty. Funny enough, Anouk had just asked last week what kind of animals we have in the Greenbelt, and we told her that we have wolves out of the city, but not around here. How wrong we were! It was really impressive, especially since he was fairly close, although he moved at a pretty fast pace and was out in the woods in no time. There he stood and observed me for a second before he took off. I had one of the best runs ever after that. Not that I got scared, just really excited!

The technician was able to fix our treadmill, so on days like today, where it started with snow, then froze rain for 6 hours before it turned to rain, we can make good use of it again. Although, luckily we saw it coming, and decided to do our Sunday long run on Saturday this time. Smart thinking, especially when we looked out of the window this morning. It was just gross! We cleaned our drive way at the end of the day, so at least we got a bit of fresh air, but it wasn't really pleasant out there. I guess we'll be getting more snow in the next couple of days before it gets colder again.  Maybe winter will actually come??

Yesterday we also went to see Nativity, a coyote's Christmas. It was a play put up by the NAC itself, but we were not sure what to think of it. It was funny at times, but not very cohesive and seemed to be all over the place. Oh well, it's always fun to try new things!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Some days it feels that if you were to open up my head, you would see a whirlwind of thoughts, ideas, plans and feelings, all combined with so much energy that they're about to spill out.  Can you picture it?
Well, today my head felt like that. It started last night when I was restless, couldn't really sleep and even kept Nolan up. He asked me what I was thinking of, and we talked about some of it. But the 'business' kept rumbling in my head.
I also felt a slight hint of the 'empty nest syndrome' today. This morning, Gijsbert and Anouk took off to go  Montreal and Quebec to spend the remainder of their vacation their. I was working at home since we were supposed to get a technician in to fix our treadmill, so the quietness was really obvious when I was sitting at the table and did not hear any other sounds, voices and other noises.
So what did this lead to? Even though it was frisk outside (wind chill of -20 with a strong wind), I decided to go for a run, also because our treadmill would not be fixed today. It was the best decision of the day! The trails were slightly covered in snow, and a bit slick, but slowing down did the trick and it was just plain gorgeous. During the run I felt a great sense of being alive, and even though my head was a bit cold, it really allowed me to calm down the whirlwind in my head. After my run I had a nice hot bath, and I almost feel reborn! My body is calm, my head is calm, and I feel good.

Ok, enough Zen talk :-)

As I said, Gijsbert and Anouk spent the last few days with us, which was really nice. We didn't really do any exiting things, we went for a walk in the Greenbelt on Saturday and went for a drive through the city on Sunday, but spent a lot of time together and caught up.  And of course, we celebrated 'Sinterklaas'! We all had some gifts for each other including the poems, and there was (and still is!) and abundance of pepernoten and chocolate letters! Needless to say we had a great time!

Now the countdown to Christmas has started, and it's coming closer at an incredibly fast pace! November feels like a blur, and December is going into a similar direction. Luckily we both get some time off for the holidays, so we can recharge our batteries. Until then, we keep plugging away at it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life is a funny thing

Yesterday I was a bit overwhelmed with what life has to offer. But thanks to some great support, in particular by Nolan, l feel so much better now. Life sometimes throws stuff at you, but it makes you a stronger and probably better person.
I want to say thank you for all the nice words and encouragements. And just so you know, today my smile is back on my face!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In real life...

With everything going for me in my life, I really have no reason to complain. I am healthy, have a great husband, lovely cats, fantastic friends and family, good job, and just in general a really good life!

However, despite all this ‘goodness’, I have a really hard time feeling super happy (I certainly have those moments too!), and I can’t really put a finger on why I feel this way. I think it’s a combination of things. First of all, this week I was reminded that it is not always easy to be so far away from people you dearly care about. Nolan has been a great support, and I realize that if need be, I’m only 8 hours away, but still. I felt I should have been there to help out. Luckily things are going much better, and my task now is to support and make sure my mom doesn’t overdo it…
Secondly, it’s been raining and grey most of the week, the days are short and I haven’t been able to go for a decent run in almost two weeks. Sure, we did a nice 10k on Sunday, but I need more. Our treadmill doesn’t work at the moment, but hopefully they can fix that next week during a service call. Not running, or working out in general makes me feel sluggish and unhappy with myself, especially when you count in a lack of sunshine.
The fact that I am back in the office after a very dynamic week in Alberta might have something to do with it as well. It’s a good thing I have a pile of work to do to keep me busy, so I don’t have to look for something, but it almost feels like an anti-climax.

But as I said, I really have no reason to complain. We are doing really well, have everything we need, and my brother is coming for a visit this weekend as well! Maybe I just needed to vent? In that case, thank you for listening :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back in O-town

Our FPInnovations Fibre Forum 2010 wrapped up on Thursday around noon, and the overall impression was that people thought it a success! That is always nice to hear, and I have to concur that everything went well. We ran into one of my colleagues at the airport on Friday morning, and he told us how he was able to establish some very valuable partnerships with other provinces and industry. Another sign the forum was a success!
The organizing committee had arranged for a tour of (part of) Jasper National Park on Thursday afternoon, which was really nice. We'd spent most of Wednesday indoors, so we finally had a chance to actually see the mountains, and soak up some of that fresh air. First we went to see the Athabaska Falls, which were stunning. Especially with some of the branches covered in ice. After that, we went up to Marmot Basin, a hill well used for skiing. November is off-season, so the town itself was extremely quiet. But they had 53 (!) runs open at Mamot Basin, out of about 150 in total... I can only imagine how busy it will be during peak season...

Now I'm back in Ottawa and life should slow down a bit. At least I hope so! The weekend was good: we went to see Fiddler on the Roof yesterday, which was absolutely well done. We both really enjoyed it! Nolan, unfortunately, had to work today, but for him life should slow down a bit as well. Only a few more days before he will shave off his moustache, but it was worth the cause!

We're trying to get our acts together and go running more often, but with our busy schedules it has been challenging at times. Hopefully we can really get at it again, especially since there is no real snow yet, so the trails are still accessible. Who knows for how long...

Below some photos of Jasper, and one of Murphy, just for fun.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jasper. Again!

So when do you consider a cold winter day to be really cold? When is it too cold to go into the field? That was the recurring question today during our field day, as part of our annual forum. The thermometer measured around -27 this morning, so indeed a little frisk. But put a bunch of forest researchers on the bus, take them to a site and each and every one of them will actually get off the bus and listen to the presentations. Absolutely kudos’s to the people presenting their research work, who had to stand still for about 45 minutes, and do their little spiel several times to make sure all the people could hear about their work. Frosted hats, beards, and shivering people were all paying attention and learned more about the lodgepole pine partnership. I should add that by the time we actually got to the site, it had warmed up to about 21 degrees. Below zero that is.
Luckily after the site visit we didn’t have to wait long for our lunch stop, which was inside. After lunch we stopped at another research site, where we learned more about the boreal plains, which was also interesting. At this point, it almost felt warm with temperatures hovering around -15 degrees.
It’s interesting to see and learn more about the work we do in Alberta.
Tonight I have to provide an overview of today’s field tour, and how it links in with the next few days, what we’re hoping to achieve, and some of the questions we would like to answer. I’m not a very good, or confident, public speaker, but some people thought I would be the perfect person to do so. Not sure if I agree, but we’ll see. I’ll be happy when tonight is over though!
The rest of the forum, which runs until Thursday afternoon, will be indoors in Jasper. Similar to the CIF AGM in September, we’ll be locked indoors surrounded by beautiful mountains and green space. I guess we’ll have to try to sneak out a few times trying to soak up that fresh mountain air.
Oh, and on a little side note. I found myself on the cover of an Alberta industry magazine: Forest Innovations, The Edge. Totally unexpected, and perhaps not my most flattering pose, but still fun! I might get famous now! Nolan’s first reaction: don’t you think it’s time you buy a new jacket?

And even in Edmonton you see several people sporting that very popular Movember stache. Did you have a chance to donate?

Monday, November 22, 2010


This morning I travelled to Edmonton, to attend our anual FPInnovations Wood Fibre Forum. This year I'll be extra busy, since I've been involved with the organisation and logistics. Needless to say that I will be very happy when it's Friday... But so far it's been great. I've been able to catch up with some of my colleagues I hadn't seen in a year (since last year's forum...).
Edmonton right now is very, very cold... It was -24 when we got in this morning, and they may have made it up to -18, but that was pushing it. Tonight will be cold as well, close to -30, so nice and frisk before our field tour tomorrow! Should be fun.
I'll give an update later this week. Right now all I want to do is sleep!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I think I can say that Tuesday was the highlight of my week: I actually got to spend a day in the field! Together with some of my colleagues, we looked at a long-term research site, as well as several new research sites for a potential biomass trial. The weather was fantastic, the company was great, and the fresh air was, well, refreshing! The timing was great, since it poured all day on Wednesday, which was when we were stuck inside all day for meetings. Tiring, but still fruitful. Today will be my last day in Petawawa and at the PRF, and we'll host the Management Advisory Committee, for a meeting to update them on the progress on our strategic and management plans. I'll be presenting a part as well, so we'll see how that goes!

Tonight I'll be sleeping in my own bed, and then tomorrow a day in the office to do some last minute preparations for our upcoming forum next week. I just checked the weather forecast and it looks like it might be a good idea to dig out my long john's, especially for the field day on Tuesday. Snow and -15. Great!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tha mouse in tha house!

As mentioned in my last post, this week was a short work week. Not that it made it any less busy! We're getting really close to our employee science forum in two weeks, and there is still a lot of work to be done, but we're making good progress! But on top of that, I'll be in Petawawa for the better part of next week as well. But this time I'll actually be spending time in the bush, which is a huge treat! I'm really looking forward to that.
Thursday was Remembrance Day, and I watched the Ceremonies on TV this year. Still impressive, and I feel privileged that I can remember in two countries now.
I spent the rest of Thursday cleaning up my office and putting the books into the bookcases. There is still some work left to do, but it's looking so much better! A few more boxes to unpack, and we also still have to hang up 95% of our wall hangings such as photos and some smaller paintings. And then last but not least, we want to clean up and organize the basement. Hopefully we can have all that ready by Christmas, and then we can start painting and add some desperately need colour to this house!

The weather has been incredibly lately, lots of blue skies, sunshine and very comfortable temperatures, especially for this time of year! I made good use of that and went for an awesome trail run yesterday. I tried to go slow and relaxed, but then I miscalculated the distance (the loop was 3k longer than I had anticipated, not sure why!) and I started to worry that Nolan would get worried since I was supposed to pick him up by 4 pm... Long story short, I pushed myself a bit and had one of the best runs in a while. The trails were awesome, the sun was gorgeous, especially when it started to set, and I just felt so lucky being out there! And yes, I made it in time to call Nolan I would be a few minutes late :-)

I have a hard time sleeping in on the weekends, and when I got up at 7-ish this morning, Nolan was still asleep and I tried to go downstairs without waking him up. Well, that went well until I got to the bottom of the stairs where a mouse was nicely positioned for us. The cats were out and about, but didn't really pay attention to the mouse. Obviously, they were the ones that had killed it earlier that night. I woke Nolan up, just so he could enjoy this present as well! We're not sure how we got a mouse in the house, but the cats don't go outside so it must have gotten into the house somehow. At least we have the cats to help us take care of these issues. Although I have to admit that I do feel a bit bad for this poor little critter, but we rather have them outside!

Nolan's stache is slowly but surely getting bigger and thicker. I'm still not sure I like it, but it's for a good cause, so I can't complain too much.  I'll be gone for a good part of this month, so I'm lucky that way. We went for a walk this afternoon, and I took a picture of Nolan. If I remember, I'll grab it of my camera tomorrow and you can all see how his stache is progressing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Short week

Monday morning, again. It seems that this past weekend has flown by! Regular three day weekends would be nice, however, I can't complain too much since this will be a short week. Thursday is Remembrance Day, and Government employees get the day off, so we can take time to remember. Since it's a Thursday, I decided to take the Friday off as well. Short week, longer weekend! Which is great, because there is still so much to do around the house. We are making progress, and I hope that we can finish unpacking and arranging the upstairs this week and weekend. After that it's on to the basement, and then we can really start painting and add some colour to the house.
This past weekend we put my desk together, and put the bookcases in place, which definitely makes a bit of a difference. We've had some people over this weekend (Carrie, JoAnn), and everyone seem to love the house! Which, of course makes us feel proud! We're still happy as well and the cats really seem to enjoy it as well. Murphy seems to be full of energy these days, and discovered a new 'game'. Running around the corner, sliding on his back (!) at the bottom of the stairs and then moving forward by pushing his claws into the carpet on the stairs. Not sure if it makes sense, but he seems to be enjoying it immensely!

I am still riding my bike to work, unless the weather is too crappy. This morning it was chilly (-2, windchill of -6), but still enjoyable. The hardest part is getting changed at work, and having to put on clothes that are freezing cold!  But it's definitely a nice way to wake up in the morning. I wonder how long I can keep this up, before winter will really set in.

In the meantime, Nolan's moustache is growing well... He should update the photo on his Movember page! I'll try to convince him to do so soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


That's right, Movember. No typo here! Movember was initiated in Australia in 2003, and focuses on raising awareness and funds for men's health, and prostate cancer in particular. What is it? It just means that participating men will (try) to grow a moustache for the month of November, and raise money and awareness in the process.
Last year, the Canadian campaign was the second largest in the world, with only Australia raising more money. Of course, this year the Canadian Mo Bros would like to raise the most money and run the largest campaign!
To help them reach this goal, Nolan and his team decided to sign up. You can find his Mo Space here:
I'll start donating shortly as well, since he needs a little bit of help there. I have to admit, I'm really curious to see how he will look like after a month of growing facial hair on his upper lip. He will probably turn into some sort of bushman, since he has no problem growing facial hair whatsoever.
Of course, photos will follow shortly, and will become more interesting once we get further into the month of Movember.

Riley participated last year and quite successfully I might add! He decided to do it again this year, and his Mo Space can be found here:
And yes, he can use some help with donations as well. Maybe those two can start a competition. Two fold of course: who can raise the most money, and who grows the best moustache? Maybe I should ask Tina to judge with me, so we have a somewhat balanced verdict.

-- To be continued --

Sunday, October 31, 2010

White Halloween

I'm totally high on candy right now... We thought we would have a record number of kids tonight, since we have two crazy Halloween houses around the corner. However, it seems that parents drop their kids of in front of those houses, and then take off again. The rest of our street is pretty dark; I think there are three other houses giving out candy, everything else is dark. We might be left with an awful lot of candy tonight!  I wonder if you can freeze candy? Or will it stay good until next year? I'm definitely candied out!
We tried to take some pictures of the Halloween houses, but it was hard since it's dark outside.

Last night we got together with Riley and Tina, whom we finally got to meet! And they could share exciting news with us: they got engaged the night before! Really exciting for both of them, especially since they seem like a really great match. We went out for coffee, then dinner, and then off to see the Warren Miller ski movie. The movie was not bad, but we enjoyed the company! And coincidentally, it had started snowing that night. The first snowfall of the season! It most likely won't last; most of it has melted by now, but when we were driving to the Running Room this morning, the trees looked beautiful. I guess we're ready for winter!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some days...

No, MOST days I really like my job!  It's busy, especially this time of year, but I like that and it keeps me focused. My job is interesting, dynamic, at times challenging and frustrating. But it can also be very rewarding! I am in a position where I meet a lot of people, which really helps me build my network, but also produces some very valuable friendships. Some days are long, but today my supervisor gave me a really nice compliment, which meant a lot. It's nice to realize that people sincerely appreciate what you do.
So what do I do? Officially I'm a Knowledge Exchange Specialist, which, of course, can mean anything. I work closely with a lot of our researchers and technical staff, as well as other extension people from the CWFC, CFS, industry and other partners. Among other things, I try to connect people and make sure they know from each other what they are doing. Since I'm in Ottawa, I'm quite lucky that I work on both a national level but am more deeply involved with some of the developments specifically happening in Ontario. I'm quite actively involved with the Ontario Woodlot Association on a volunteer basis, but it helps enormously with my day-to-day job. I guess I'm extremely lucky that I get to work on things that I also like doing in my spare time.
But extension work is only part of my job; I'm also involved with the forest management plan for one of Canada's National Research Forests. People that know me probably understand how passionate I am about this research forest, and how thankful I am that I have a chance to work with both the people and the forest there. It also gives me a chance to spend some time in the bush now and then!

That is something that we also try to do outside of work. As I've probably mentioned at least a dozen times before, we love the trails in our area, and try to enjoy them as much as we can. Last night we went for a nice 10km run, for the most part on the trails as well.  Good thing that Nolan likes that too, although he did complain last night that I sped up too much: 'As soon as we hit the trails, you seem to unleash!'  Not sure if that is a compliment or not ;-)

Next time, I should take some time to write about Halloween, which seems to have taken a whole new level in our neighbourhood. Yes, I'll add photos!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SRI and more photos

This past week, I spent two days in Pointe Claire, near Montreal, for a SRI Workshop: The Five Disciplines of Innovation. Senior Management of both the Fibre Centre and FPInnovations had taken the training, and most project leaders and scientists were asked to go as well. Since not everybody was able to go, there was a list of 'back-up' people in case they had some extra spots available. And you guessed it right, my name was on that list and I had the privilege to attend the two-day workshop.  It was an intense two days, but very much worth it. They showed us how to think differently, especially when you are working on a project. We learned about value propositions, and how to look at your project proposals from a different point of view, or look at the end product, rather than at the process. This way you make sure there is a need for that specific product or service, and why your proposal is better than the competition. Of course, it was so much more than that, but I would need several pages to explain it all! In short, it was a very interesting two days, and I am very happy I was able to go.

By the time I came home Thursday night, I was pretty much toast, both physically and mentally. The last few weeks have been pretty busy, with the house, the marathon, travelling for work, visitors, and work in general. Not that I'm complaining, not at all! But my body just shut down, and I decided to stay at home on Friday, and recharge the battery. It was hard, but I didn't do anything that day! I just read the paper, read my book, went for one of the best runs in a long time, and had a nice long bath. And guess what, it felt so good, and I really think I recharged that battery!

Saturday Walter and Deb came up from Belleville, and they brought Steph with them. It was a really nice visit, especially since we hadn't seen them in a long time, and it was nice for them to finally see how we are living here in the Ottawa area. But overall, it was just nice to catch up. We went for a nice walk in the Greenbelt, and again fed the chickadees. Especially Steph loved hanging out with the birds!
Today, we decided to sleep in and skip running in town. We finally cleaned up the garage, so the car can finally go inside, and started putting the floor in for our fitness area in the basement. After a really nice chat with Renée (which we should do more often!), we decided to go for a run. Of course, at that point it was raining and cold... But that couldn't stop us, tough as we are :-) The rain was definitely cold, the wind was nasty, but we still managed to get a 5k in. Nolan hadn't run in a week, so especially for him it was nice to get out there. And for me? Even though I'd run a nice 10k on Friday, it felt like I had to start leaning again right there. But with some strong perseverance, we manage to do it.

Here are a couple of photos left from my mom and Annette's trip. Finally some pictures of my mom as well!
My mom during our walk at Stoney Swamp

Nolan and I

My mom and Tante Louk in Belleville

Tante Louk and Annette

Our last day's breakfast, Canadian style. Needless to say we weren't very hungry for the rest of that day...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Little text, more photos this time! They're all very nice, except that my mom took them all, and does not appear in any of them. The next batch will guaranteed have photos in which she appears!

Nolan explaining life to Annette

Annette, Nolan and I near the Parliament buildings

Me in our kitchen, with lots of tomatoes from our own garden!

The cats enjoying life and the new house, although Murphy is a tad big for that box...

Feeding the chickadees in the Greenbelt.

More chickadees.

And more chickadees...

Trying to lit the fireplace. It worked!

Having dinner at the table we still love!

Thanksgiving lunch with Nolan's parents and Aimee.

Monday, October 18, 2010

So quick!

This past Friday, we dropped my mom and Annette off at the airport in Montreal, marking the end of a very good week, with the only downside that it went by so quickly! We all had a wonderful time: it was, of course, nice to see my mom, to see Annette, and to show them our new house. For them it was just a good to see us, to see with their own eyes how happy we are, with each other, our lives and with everything around us.
My mom and Annette spent Tuesday in Belleville, and Wednesday around Kanata (Nolan and I had to work those two days), and Thursday we went to the Museum of Civilization, which is always worth while visiting! Friday, we took them out for a real Canadian breakfast (in the Netherlands, it's not common to go out for breakfast, so we had to show them!). My mom and I spent some time together after that, which was really nice, but also hard because we both knew she would be leaving soon.  It's difficult because we can't just stop by for a cup of coffee or so, but at least she knows I am doing well, and am well taken care off!
The weather on Friday was so bad that we decided to spend the night in Montreal, which turned out to be a wise decision. The rain was coming down sideways, and the highway is very dark and not very pleasant to drive on a normal night. This was also a good opportunity for us to celebrate our first anniversary! A bit early...
It's amazing to realize that a year has passed. But what a year it has been, for both of us. Promotions at work, a permanent position, and Canadian Citizenship. And we're still super happy as well!

Nolan is part of a great curling team, with which they play in a league. But last year, it turned out that quite often of the the team members would not be able to play, and they asked me if I was interested in becomingt their spare... Nolan had taken me out on the ice twice last year, but I still had to learn how to sweep (and delivering a rock still needs some work as well...).  But then Nolan got asked to help with a beginners clinic, which he did, as long as I could participate! Sure, no problem, so I ended up in the clinic yesterday morning. I was slightly nervous at first, especially after I found out several people had played before. But luckily, I was not the only 'true beginner', and actually really enjoyed it! But who knew I would be sore today! I hope it's not too bad, because I'm planning on running home again today. It's so nice to run on the trails, especially now with most of the leaves either on the ground or coloured and a fall sun. Just great!

Coming soon: some pictures of last week's visit. Thanks mom!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This past weekend was Thanksgiving, and there are lots of things I am thankful for! Yesterday also marked the fifth anniversary of landing in Canada. Quite the milestone and it makes you look back on the past five years, and beyond. But it also made me realize what an incredible journey this has been. My decision to move to Canada was not taken five years ago, more like 20 years ago! It took several hurdles before I was finally granted permanent resident status, but even that was the beginning of a journey. A journey that would take me from Tim Horton's to the CFS, where I am incredibly happy. It has not always been easy, but definitely rewarding. It also helped that I had tremendous support of people around me, whether it was in Canada, or across the ocean back in the Netherlands. My biggest supporter is probably my mom, who, despite the fact that it was not easy for her to see her daughter move across the ocean, never held me back, but always encouraged me to do it, without closing the door behind me. When I met Nolan, he was embraced in the family with so much warmth, which meant a lot to both of us. And in return, I was welcomed into his family with nothing but love. Of course, Nolan is amazing as well :-)

It was wonderful to host Thanksgiving at our house yesterday, with everybody there (except of course my dad, they'll have to come back together next time!).
Everybody loves our new house (just as we do!), so I'm sure people will be back!

My mom and Annette arrived on Friday, and as far as I can tell, they're having a great time! The weather has been amazing, mainly blue skies and no rain, and we've taken them to several walks in the Greenbelt and our neighbourhood. The colours are also magnificent, and we've been feeding chickadees out of our hand on the trails! So yes, people are having a great time! There are photos, which I will try to add to the next post.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Long, special weekend coming up!

This Monday is Thanksgiving Monday, a statutory holiday in Canada. In other words, a day off!  But traditionally, it’s also a day you spend with family, and spend time realizing everything we have, and that we would like to ‘give thanks’ for.
This year, Thanksgiving will be especially special, since my mom, and her sister Annette will be here to celebrate with us!  Nolan and I are heading to the airport this afternoon to pick them up, and they will spend the rest of the week with us. Nolan’s parents are coming over Sunday afternoon, and we will have a real Thanksgiving lunch. Well, real… Maybe not real for some people, since there won’t be a bird. It will be a vegetarian Thanksgiving lunch! But hopefully just as delicious.
The weather forecast for the weekend is absolutely amazing, so we’ll make sure to get out there and enjoy some of the beautiful fall colours. It seems that this year the red colours are not as vibrant as they have been in previous years. Not sure why that is.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Beautiful fall

Yesterday, I decided to run home after work. I'm currently lucky enough that I only have to run on the road for about 1 km, the other 10 km are all on the trails! The colours are almost at their peak, and it's just plain gorgeous.  During my run, I stopped a couple of times to absorb all this beauty around me, and to take some pictures as well. But really, pictures don't do justice! As you can see below, the leaves look almost green, while in reality they were bright yellow. It might say something about the quality of my camera (maybe I should talk to Nolan about that ;-)) .

At one point I stopped, because I heard a bunch a birds around me. As soon as I stood there, I realized I was surrounded by chickadees! They landed on my hand, and were hoping for some food... Unfortunately I didn't have any with me, maybe next time?  While I was playing with the chickadees, I looked over, and saw the largest and brightest cardinal I have ever seen! So beautiful, but unfortunately a bit too far away to take a picture (especially since I didn't have a zoom lens).  The chickadees were more than willing to pose, except when I tried to take a picture while they were sitting on my hand they wouldn't sit still, of course...

Not a bad picture though, for a BlackBerry camera!

Today, the weather was completely different. Rain, rain, and more rain. It didn't really matter, since I had to pick up a car to take to Petawawa tomorrow. I decided to go home early to work there, and to avoid traffic. While I was sitting at the table, I noticed a little black squirrel munching on the food in the bird feeder. True, the feeder is quite easily accessible (but still attracts birds as well!):

 The main reason for the feeder is not to feed the birds, but for entertainment for our cats. And it seems to work!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Renfrew County Outdoor Woodlot Conference

Yesterday was the annual Renfrew County Outdoor Woodlot Conference, organized in partnership with the Ontario Woodlot Association, of which I am a (board) member. And on top of that, the location of this year's conference was the Petawawa Research Forest. Needless to say that I spent all day at the PRF yesterday! The weather was frisk but beautiful and the colours are starting to come out, in other words, perfect conditions! Darwin and I showed the participants the world class Meridian Road study, that looks at white pine regeneration, Craig and Ian talked about red pine management, and Suzanne and Ian explained biomass harvesting. After lunch, the participants were introduced to sugar bush management and how to successfully manage your woodlot to produce maple syrup. Overall, it was a very successful day, and a great way to show everybody that the PRF is still alive and kicking!
Afterwards the Algonquin Section of the CIF had organized a little event to honour some long-time members and researchers, including Ben Wang and Kit Yeatman. 

After a long day, I was really hoping to finally sleep in on Sunday... However, Nolan had other plans :-) He had told Ann that we would meet her downtown for a run. Oh well, it was nice to stretch the legs a bit, even though I ran alone since Ann and Nolan decided to go for a walk (Nolan still was not feeling a 100%, and Ann is slightly injured). The colours are so nice, that I decided to go through the Arboretum. It turned out to be a nice run, until I was getting close to the end of my run. A squirrel ran out in front of me, and a car just came down the road, and hit the squirrel. The squirrel got hit, and was killed instantly. It might have been a good thing that I was pushing myself a little bit at that point, so hopefully most of the blood in my body was used for running, and not for my brains and conscience... Still, it was quite upsetting to see this black squirrel get hit in front of me. You always see so many dead squirrels on the road and every time it breaks my heart. I know, I'm probably a softy, but it does make you realize that life can be over in a heartbeat.  So, enjoy life as much as you can. It's worth it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Home sweet home

Yesterday afternoon, I finally returned after an amazing week in Jasper. I say finally, because by the end, I was ready to go home. The week was phenomenal, but I am not used to spending so much time with other people, and at the end I was just exhausted! But it was very much worth it.
The CIF Conference came to an end Wednesday afternoon, and we left shortly after to go back to Edmonton. There, Nancy and I spent one more night before I caught an early flight back to Ottawa the next morning. Nancy didn't leave till 3 pm, so she got to sleep in!
But it is good to be back home, to see Nolan (who spent most of the week in bed, sick...), to see the cats, and to see our new house again. I still love it!

Since the program in Jasper was so jam-packed with interesting sessions, we made the difficult decission to skip a couple of presentations and play hooky... We took a little tram up one of the mountains and hiked to the top. The view was amazing, and it feel good to finally see a bit more of the area than just the view from the conference room!
 But really, I can't complain. Especially since Tuesday was our field day, and we saw quite a bit of the area as well, followed by one of my best trail runs ever, after we got back to the lodge. So in a nutshell, it was one fantastic week, and I feel very privileged that I was able to go.

Below a few more photos:

Big horn sheep on the hills, which are reclaimed after coal mining. They try to grow trees, but are having a hard time with extremely low survival rates of the seedlings. As a result, the bighorn sheep population (and the elk) is booming!

The Rockies all around us! In the distance you can see Mount Robson, the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies.

And that's me...

And that's Jasper in the valley. 

The lines on the mountains are really neat. It looks like somebody held a ruler beside them!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I am currently in Jasper, Alberta, and it's absolutely fabulous around here! I was asked to go here in preparation of our annual employee forum which will also be held in Jasper, in November.  For some reason, I became heavily involved with the organization of the forum this year, and several of our partners are currently in Jasper to attend the Canadian Institute of Forestry's AGM and Conference. It's a great opportunity for me to make some very valuable contacts, and it allows me to sit in on some of the sessions of the conference and attend the board meetings. The fact that it is held in Japser, really, is the icing on the cake! Below are some photos to leave you with an impression of the area. After the board meetings this afternoon, Nancy and I went for a walk, which gave us a great chance to get a better idea of the area. Enjoy :-)