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!