Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - A year in review

It seems that you can't open a newspaper, turn on a tv show, or check a website without being bombarded with '2011 lists'.  News, highlights, music, sports, etc etc. Since I couldn't live without lists (I would forget at least half of the groceries if I didn't have a list, I probably would not get a lot of work done, and it helps me to keep my mind organized!), I thought to look back at 2011, and mention some of the highlights (and lows).

The year started off pretty quiet. We had an average winter with some snow, but everything was slightly different being in the new house. In a good way!
The single running highlight came in February when I ran the Peterbrough  half marathon. It wasn't super fast, but it was a fun run, and nice to catch up with Candice. It also marked the last race in a very long time, and we were both ok with it. We took a break from running this year, and it was good. We did run, mainly some shorter distances and on the trails, but no races and it felt great not to have that pressure of having to run all the time.

March saw the biggest low of the year, with my dad being sick. It's those moments that make you realize you're further away, and you can't just go over for a weekend to help out. However, I was impressed with how quickly I was able to fly back, and felt blessed that I could be there for those few weeks. I stayed for a week and a half, and went back home for another week and a half, only to return. This time for a planned Easter visit, to enjoy our family Easter breakfast, where everyone was present, including my dad! It was also a nice visit to catch up with some of our Dutch friends, and to just relax.

The spring and early summer were fairly busy with work, but we also spent quite a bit of time putting our garden in. We definitely added some colour to the garden, and were able to grow some taste tomatoes and parsley to last us a lifetime!
A house in our neighbourhood burnt down in June, which was scary; it hit too close to home! Luckily nobody got injured. I also worked several weekends at the PRF, which was anything but typical. Road washouts became the norm! I don't think they'll ask me back!

Against all expectations, my parents were able to come and visit us this summer. They had bought tickets before my dad got sick, and my mom refused to cancel the trip until she knew for sure they couldn't go. Well, her foresight pay off, since they were able to spend a good two weeks here in Canada.
The summer in photos: click here.

A definitely highlight this year was our trip to Utah. Nolan was in Salt Lake City for a conference and we decided to make it our holiday destination. It was an absolutely amazing trip!
For updates, check here:
Utah part 1
Utah part 2
Utah - Part 3: The Arches!
Utah - Part 4 - Dead Horse Point State Park
Utah - Part 5: Road trip!
Utah - Part 6 - Capitol Reef National Park
Utah - Part 7 - Uinta National Forest
Utah - Part 8 (final) - Antelope Island

The fall was a bit more quiet at the home front, but work definitely made up for it! Nolan and I were both kept busy with our jobs. I also travelled quite a bit; a trip to the Acadia Research Forest in New Brunswick and several trips to the PRF, as well as a trip to Huntsville and North Bay.

A fun trip for both of us was Carrie's wedding in Toronto in October. It was a beautiful wedding, and we had some time to explore Toronto as well, which was fun. I felt like such a small town girl in a big city! In a way, Ottawa, is just a big town and not really a city. Just the way I like it!

And now it's winter! We finally got some snow, unusually late, but it lights everything up. While I write this, it's -14 and a windchill of -20. Toasty compared to the -20 and -28 windchill we had yesterday...

We picked up our running this fall, which we have been able to do outdoors for the most part due to the milder weather until this week. The year off has done us really well. So well, that we decided to sign up for the Ottawa Marathon this spring. The official training program starts in January, but we've been able to build up our basis significantly in the past few weeks, so we'll be ready to hit the road running!

In general it has been a pretty good year for us. We are so happy in this house (have I mentioned that before?), and the cats our happy with us. We're probably boring people, without crazy adventures, but this is the way we like it!

To all of you! Have a wonderful, healthy, happy and prosperous 2012, and that all your wishes may come true.

Warmest wishes from both of us.
Katalijn and Nolan

And big paw from Fertile and Murphy

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A wonderful Christmas

With very little snow on the ground, it was a bit tough to get into the Christmas spirit. We got a dusting later in the week, and it did miracles to our Christmas spirit!  And as promised last time, here is a picture of our own Christmas tree and some close ups.

A couple of weeks ago we were at Costco and Nolan pointed out characters from Rudolph. I felt a little out of the loop, since I am not familiar with the Rudolph movie. We picked the characters, and put them up on our door knobs (Rudolph, Clarice, and the snow monster below:)

Once all the classic movies starting coming on TV, Nolan looked up when all of them were on, and he made me watch Rudolph, How the Grinch stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.  So now I am all up to date on the Christmas movies! And to top it off, we watched Home Alone last week while wrapping Christmas presents. Talking nostalgics...

We started Christmas eve with a 15k run in the bitter cold. A good way to burn off some calories... We attended the Candle light service in the evening (last night), and slept in and took it easy this morning. After lunch, we started unwrapping gifts, and Nolan and I got spoiled. Royally!  I got some running clothes, including a bright pink jacket (great visibility at night) and tights that provide warmth while running, which might come in handy this winter! And a new bird feeder, which is always great (especially with my obsession of bird feeders!).
But it was also very nice to spend time with family. We were even able to connect with my parents and brother, who were home in Amerongen, thanks to current technology! Gijsbert took this picture while we were connected with them through Facetime. So I guess we were able to wish them a merry Christmas in person, which made them a little less far away for a bit. And we even witnessed them lighting the real candles in their real tree! Just like the old days.

We were planning on taking it easy this week, but in the meantime our agenda is of course pretty full... We are hoping to paint our bedroom, get a couple of runs in, connect with friends and try to relax as well.

And since I'm somewhat obsessed with our cats as well as our bird feeders, here are some more photos!

This is what happens when I work from home...

Merry Christmas everyone, with hopefully lots of time with family and friends!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


This past week was has been slightly busy at work, but I survived! Unfortunately not everything got done, just not enough hours in a day, but I will have a few more days this week to finish it all. Or at least most of it before I sign off Friday afternoon and take a break.

I spent Thursday at the PRF for a meeting discussing long term research sites, and we spent most of the day outside. The weather forecast called for rain all day, but what we got instead was a bit of a surprise. Sure, the odd shower, but it went up to 12 degrees!! Hello!!! It's mid-December, we should be freezing our feet off! It felt really weird, but admittedly made for a great day in the bush.
Friday it started to turn around a bit, and Saturday was officially chill, which continued Sunday morning with a low of -17. Of course, great weather for running!  We ran a 16.5 km in the sun. It was a tad chilly, but besides that perfect running weather. It's amazing how quickly you warm up! Not sure what the rest of the week will hold, but a dump of snow would be nice, especially if it stays for Christmas. It's been hard getting into the Christmas spirit without snow.
We did manage to put more lights on our tree, and it actually looks really nice now. I know, next time pictures :)

And some exciting news: We won our curling game on Friday evening! So we really ended this part of the season with a bang. We'll get back on the ice again in the New Year, so hopefully we can continue our winning 'streak'.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From Sinterklaas towards Christmas

According good Dutch tradition, Nolan and I celebrated Sinterklaas again this year. I had made several dips with crackers for dinner, as well as a salad and home-made speculaas, just as I remembered it! We both had bought a gift for each other, and we also received a box full of goodies from Amerongen. All in all a very nice evening.
Even though we paused to celebrate Sinterklaas, the Christmas bug has definitely arrived! You can't walk into a store without hearing Christmas music or being bombarded with 'ideas for Christmas gifts, most houses have their Christmas lights up and lit, and the number of flyers in our newspaper have increased significantly. Christmas, the season of spending...

We went out to buy a Christmas tree this weekend, a balsam fir! I have a long standing relationship with balsam fir trees. I have cut numerous down, as part of pre-harvesting treatments in pine stands; I've cursed them more than once, when we'd be out measuring trees, and they would dump another load of snow on our backs; and after a day in Balsam country, you'd always find needles in your clothes. Yes, the balsam and I go way back... Due to this dynamic relationship, I never expected that I would actually pay money for one of those suckers! But... this weekend we did. And a beautiful tree it is, by far the nicest balsam I have ever encountered!
We decided to put it in the living room, and started decorating. We bought some nice balls and lights. However, a string of 30 lights is apparently not enough to cover the tree! Nolan bought more lights tonight, but we still have to put them up.

It is somewhat hard to get into the real Christmas spirit since we have none, zero, no, snow!! Something is wrong here! I'm heading to Petawawa tomorrow, and the forecast calls for 11 degrees with lots of rain. Just weird!

Work has been nuts lately, with lots of deadlines and projects on the go. But I'm really enjoying it, and I'm still learning so much. For example, I'm working with our in-house economist looking at the economic impact of the work we do. Slightly different from my normal job, but very interesting. I'm also taking the lead on some strategic work for the research forests, which is always interesting (sorry, I'm slightly biased).

Since I have so much on my plate, I like to work from home now and then, since it allows me to really focus on my work without being interrupted too much. Of course, I like sitting in the kitchen so I can keep an eye on the bird feeder ;)
When I got up one time, this is what I saw:

Do your cats sit on the table as well?

Our running is also going well. We're slowly increasing our distances and are feeling stronger too. Bonus this time of year with all the tasty foods lying around :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December already??

Time just seems to fly, as usual. So before you know it, it's December! It just doesn't feel like December at all. Sure, the days are short and most people have their Christmas lights up by now, but there is no snow! We've had two minor snow falls, but that has all since disappeared. Everything is green, and today the temperature hit the double digits again! That, of course, won't help with getting the canal ready for skating...
Otherwise things are going well. Work is definitely picking up again. I have now four major projects on my plate, of which two could have quite the impact on our program. It's actually really cool working on things that really can make a difference, but it definitely adds to the pressure.
Last week I attended a two day session on biomass in North Bay, which was quite interesting. I was the moderator for the two morning sessions as well, so that added a different dimension to it as well.

Another highlight is that we won our first curling game this season! Funny part is that it wasn't even with our own team; we were sparing in JoAnn's team. But it doesn't matter, we won!

Not sure if I mentioned this before, but we bought another bird feeder, which seems to be quite popular with the local bird population. We have chickadees and house finches as regular visitors, and so far the squirrels are able to keep it alone! Next time I'll try to post some more pictures again.

And of course, tomorrow is Sinterklaas! I actually baked some real speculaas today, and the house smelled amazing!! We tried a couple of pieces and it tasted pretty good as well. We will save the rest for tomorrow, when we will have our own Sinterklaas celebration. Should be fun!

Running is also going well. The lack of snow does help with the ability to get out there, and we're really taking advantage of that. But I'm not complaining if we do get a bit of snow, and will be able to get our snowshoes out again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Writer's Block

Well, in reality I just don't have much to tell.  This week has been somewhat strange because I was in the office for five days in a row! I don't really remember the last time that happened, with all the traveling, a couple days off and teleworking here and there.  But work is still good, and so much office time resulted in actually getting lots of work done!
This weekend has been pretty quiet as well. We went for an awesome 15k trail run yesterday morning, during which we were almost chased by a buck! There was a picture in the paper a couple of weeks ago of someone feeding a deer in Kanata, and I have a feeling it might have been the same animal. That's why you shouldn't feed wildlife, they become a danger and will get shot.  So much for cute Bambi then.  I guess you can tell that feeding wildlife is a bit of pet peeve of mine. Birds at the bird feeder don't count, obviously...
This coming week I'll be spending some time in North Bay, at the Harnessing Biomass Seminar organized by the Biomass Innovation Centre. Should be very interesting. I'll be moderating the Tuesday and Wednesday morning sessions, so a good reason to pay extra attention :)
Besides that, not much excitement happening here. The birds like our bird feeder, but are still shying away from our new one; hopefully that will end soon. And we're waiting for the first snow fall, but that is still not in the forecast. Winter is late this year!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Life at our bird feeders

I like animals a lot, and for some reason I always get excited when I see new birds visiting our bird feeders. It's something that runs in the family (right mom??). Nolan thinks it's cute, to a certain degree...
We try to be creative in order to keep the squirrels from eating all the food. Squirrels probably don't like climbing spruce trees, or so we thought. Well, it's definitely discouraging them a bit, but not completely:

A grey squirrel is feasting in the exact same bird feeder while I type this...

The benefit of the squirrels, or the blue jays for that matter, is that they are not the cleanest eaters, and lots of the food get spilled on the ground. Which attracts more squirrels, but also other animals like:

A female cardinal

A blue jay

And here a blue jay on a feeder, feeding the grey squirrel...

Blue jays fighting over food. No wonder so much food ends up on the ground...

And some house finches enjoying the feeders once things quiet down. They are quite often joined by dark-eyed juncos (no photo)

Today is November 11, Remembrance Day in Canada (similar to May 4 in the Netherlands). People are quiet for two minutes at 11 o'clock to remember those who gave their lives for this country (WWI and WWII, but more recently Afghanistan).  I did not go downtown today, but watched the ceremony on tv. I always find in impressive to watch; some of those veterans liberated the country I could grow up in without worrying about war or thinking twice about freedom. It was a given, and they made it possible. So thank you!

I also took the opportunity to go for a run before 11am this morning, and since the trails are in good shape, without snow or too wet, I decided to enjoy them while I can!  The sun was shining, the wind cold, so perfect conditions for a good run! I found a new trail, that next time might require actual trail running shoes, but it didn't matter. I was outside, in the bush on a beautiful day doing something I love! If only Nolan could have joined me...

Monday, November 7, 2011


Today I decided to do it fifty-fifty: work half a day, and take half a day off. I needed a mental break to mend my braincells together after last weekend, and some time to just be. The first thing I had to do today though, was return the rental I had for the weekend. Instead of taking the bus home, or catch a ride, I decided to walk home. It's about a 7k walk through the Greenbelt, and definitely a great way to start the day! I was smart enough to bring a camera this time, and was able to take a couple of nice pictures:

Deer season opened today, and I have to admit that I'm glad that there is hunting in the Greenbelt! 
OOPS, that should read: is NO HUNTING!!!

A porcupine up in a large white pine tree

See that little ball on the branch? That's the porcupine...

Hairy woodpecker

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ontario Woodlot Association - Chapter summit

As you might know, I am a member of the Executive Committee of the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA), both at a local and provincial level. It's an organization that promotes the sustainable management of privately owned forests, and although I don't own a woodlot, I am still allowed to be a member. That being said, we are keeping an eye open for a woodlot, preferably in Renfrew County, but there is not much available right now. Hopefully at some point...
In the meantime I spend quite a bit of time with the OWA, as a board member, but also as the chair of the Business Development Committee (BDC). Our members are all across Ontario, so we don't have many opportunities to meet face-to-face, but this past weekend the OWA hosted a Chapter Summit. This allowed chapter representatives to get together and discuss topics and issues that other chapters face. Since we were all getting together, the BDC decided to meet in person as well before the summit would actually start. I will spare you the details, but it basically comes down to that I drove almost 4 hours to Port Hope on Friday, had the BDC meeting, and then spent the rest of the weekend at the Ganaraska Forest Centre. It was a very fruitful weekend and it was great to meet some of the other members and chapter representatives. The best day of course was Sunday, when we spent most of the day touring nearby forests and woodlots. The area is very different from what I am used to, and it made me realize that I am not as familiar with hardwood management, as I am with pine-mixedwood stands. So all in all an interesting weekend, at times intense, but where I learned lots as well.
The weather was absolutely amazing, which made it a bit hard to be away from home as well. There is still so much we could be doing around the house!
The next few weeks should be low on travel, and hopefully I'll be able to get back into a routine and pick up the running again. Being away so much and the short days don't always make it easy, but at least we have a treadmill at home. So let the marathon preparations begin!

Ps. You might want to consider becoming a member of the OWA. There are lots of interesting benefits, even for non-woodlot owners!! Just let me know if you'd like more info...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Home away from home

A quick update between all my travels. And again another update written on my BlackBerry while on the bus on my way home. I'm getting pretty good at this!
First of though, Fertile. After an improvement Monday morning, she seemed to be worse when we came home from work. She was still not good Tuesday, so we decided to take her to the vet. They ran a bunch of tests and checked everything out. Also to be sure, they gave her some fluids. The tests all came back negative, but she still didn't really seem to get better. Until Wednesday morning, when Nolan reported that she was pretty much back to normal. She even fought with Murphy again. So we won't know what happened, but maybe the fluids did help.

After I got back from the vet, I headed to Petawawa where I would spend the next few days. AGM of the Friends of the PRF Tuesday evening, and then we hosted a 'take your kid to work day' on Wednesday. With 5 kids and 12 adults it made us wonder if some of the adults also wanted to check out the PRF and maybe just spend the day in the bush.  But it was fun to tour some of the Ottawa folks around as well. The weather was absolutely amazing, and who doesn't like to spend a day in the bush when it's so nice, right?
One of my Ottawa co-workers said: so this is where you spend so much time. Nice!
Nice indeed :)

After I got back to the hotel, I decided to go for a run, since it was so beautiful outside. There is a nice trail system in Petawawa, but as usual, I was paying more attention to the surroundings, and not so much to the trail, which resulted in a flat-forward-saved-by-my-hands fall. I didn't really hurt myself, but my right shoulder is a bit sore today.
After my run, I met up with Krista, which was really nice. It had been a while since I'd seen her. It also made me realize that I sometimes do miss the valley. However, I am also very happy with our place in Kanata, and this way I have the best of both worlds!

This morning we toured the Base Commander of CFB Petawawa around, which went very well. If only we'd had more time! Unfortunately the nice weather we had yesterday left us today, and we made due with grey and rainy weather. But still nice to be outside.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Port Hope and then Granaraska for the OWA chapter summit until Sunday. So Nolan is having a lot of alone-time, but I think he is somewhat enjoying that as well. Of course, I will leave him a honey-do list :)
And how could I forget, Monday was Halloween! We had a total of 158 kids, and then had to turn the lights of, because we ran out of candy! I have never seen so many kids on the street. Good thing we ran out of candy: I really had my fair share..

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A (photo) update

This afternoon we decided to go for a walk in the Greenbelt, since it was so beautiful outside. We brought our camera and our sunflower seeds, so we could feed the chickadees. Back home, when I uploaded the photos to my computer I realized how long it had been since I actually cleaned up my camera! So at the end of the post, you'll see some 'spring-like' photos, that were taken a mere three weeks ago before the cold weather set in...
But before the pictures start, a quick update.
This week has been pretty good, with some running, curling and lots of leaves to rake! But the weather was so gorgeous, it just seemed impossible to stay inside for too long!
Even though the weather was so nice, we've finally had some decent frost, so most of our plants are now completely done for. We cleaned up our gardens for the most part, but now it looks so bare! Only a few days ago we still had vibrant colours. We do have many visitors in the backyard, ranging from squirrels and chipmunks to chickadees and other birds. We always try to put a bird feeder up, but the squirrels always eat the food before any of the birds get to them! So now we have a feeder in the spruce tree, which so far has been left untouched. By both the squirrels and the birds... We are now looking for a pole with a squirrel which will hopefully help, since the bird activity is always fun for the cats!
Talking about cats, Fertile is not doing so well. We're a bit worried about her, but will take her to the vet tomorrow, so hopefully she'll be back to normal soon.
This coming week I'll be up in Petawawa this week, and then off to Peterborough for the weekend, so Nolan, once again, will be a bachelor this week :) And of course Halloween tomorrow! Hopefully we won't have too many kids, so there is some chocolate left over for us!! Another reason to keep running...

So here are some photos. The first few are from our walk today. The birds are cute; Nolan is just weird...

And here are some photos from earlier on. This was Thanksgiving Monday, when the temperature went up to 27 degrees (second weekend in October...).

And this last one is specially for Krista:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week off, wedding-weekend in Toronto

Nolan and I decided to take last week off to enjoy a break, to finally paint my office, and do some more clean-up outside. Since the weather was pretty miserable, the outdoor stuff was put on hold (indefinitely??)! However, we were able to paint my office, and it is now the exactly same colour as it was in the old house. We liked the colour there, and we had some left-over paint, so easy choice! The painting itself was pretty painless; the cleaning up and moving of all the books and other stuff took a bit longer. But we did it, and it makes me feel good! We also had to do some running around before the big weekend in Toronto (picking up a suit, getting my hair cut, etc).
The 'big' weekend in Toronto was for Carrie and Brad's wedding (Carrie is Nolan's sister). We left fairly early on Friday to pick up Nolan's parents. We offered to drive so they didn't have to worry about the weather, busy highway and crazy city driving.
Once arrived in Toronto, we dropped the folks off at Carrie's place, and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Metropolitan, which was quite nice and the location was great. Friday night was dinner with the MacAfee's, in a nice and quaint Italian restaurant. We walked back to the hotel, and when we got back there, decided that since we were in Toronto, we really should enjoy it! We were a stone throw away from Dundas Square, so walked around there a bit and ended up at the Elephant Castle on Yonge Street. It had been so long since we actually went out and had a beer, and with good music playing in the background, great beer from the tap, and no worries of having to get up early the next morning, we just simply enjoyed it.
So, the next morning we slept in and explored the city a bit more. It's quite a bit different compared to Ottawa, also much bigger :)
After lunch we got ready for the wedding, and made our way over to the Distillery District, the wedding venue. The wedding was small, but nevertheless wonderful. Carrie looked beautiful and happy, and they definitely make a great couple. We didn't take any pictures, so I can't share any right now, but hopefully we'll be able to fetch some from some other people later on! But all in all a great time.
The next day we were invited to a brunch as well, which was also nice (although we were both pretty tired from a short night...), before we headed back to Ottawa.
By the time we got home, we were totally worn out, and pretty much headed straight to bed!
Now it's back to routine and work, and running! We decided to sign up for another marathon next fall, so if you have any suggestions for fun marathons, let us know! This past year we barely ran any races (I just ran the Peterborough half marathon in February, my last race...), but are planning to do the opposite next year, with hopefully many events. Should be fun, and will hopefully get us back into better shape!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Busy but satisfying Thanksgiving weekend!

For the Canadians among us, do you remember the last time you spent Thanksgiving shovelling snow?? I bet it wasn't that long ago... This year was definitely a little different. Records were broken left, right and centre with a high in Ottawa on Saturday of 27.6 degrees. In case you didn't realize, it's October... In one word: awesome!!

We had a fairly low-key Thanksgiving weekend without any real commitments. We didn't go down to Brockville since we'll all be together in a couple of weeks for Carrie's wedding. Since the weather was so gorgeous, and we had so much time, we decided to spend the time well... outside!! We painted the front porch, front door, garage door and around the garage. We cleaned up the deck (it looks so empty now!) and we cleaned all the windows! We also went running Sunday morning (my legs were killing me though, never thought that painting could be so hard on the legs, but I guess I was bending and crouching down more than I realized), and we went for a beautiful bike ride Monday afternoon. The colours are just amazing right now, and with these temperature and blue skies, you really don't want to spend any more time inside than absolutely necessary. We took some pictures during our bike ride; I'll upload them later.  Admittedly, we were pretty tired at the end of the bike ride, and were somewhat cursing ourselves for going so far. But it was so worth it, despite my soar derrière today...

The weekend wasn't totally un-social. We had Debby over for dinner on Friday, which was great as usual, and Ann and Tom invited us over for a left-over-Thanksgiving-dinner on Sunday, which was also very tasty and social. Nolan was able to teach us all some new expressions as well. Not sure if it was him or the Scotch being creative...

So overall a great weekend, that came after a very inspirational and interesting week of training. The course was very good, and I learned a lot about working for the Government; especially at a higher level. Time well spent!

This week is back at the office, but only for a few days. Next week is booked off (for the most part), and we're hoping to tackle the upstairs and splash some paint on some bedroom walls!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's about time...

For another update here on my life. I'm doing great!

A bit more elaboration... Obviously things have happened in the last week and a half; and most of it kept me off the street!
First of all, and most importantly, it was Nolan's birthday last week. So today, he is exactly 32 years and 1 week old. I'm still hoping that one day he will be older than me, but I have a feeling that might never happen... He also started this weird tradition to get sick on his birthday. Last year (when I was in Jasper and still don't hear the end of it...), he got sick by himself, and the same thing happened this year. We still managed to have a nice evening with pizza and beer, though. Relaxing!

I was all for a relaxing evening, trying to recover from our first day of the Component Leaders Forum. Agreed, I had some jitters beforehand, but in the end it went alright. Definitely a great experience, and I was glad to be part of it.

Did I mention that I got talked into curling this year? Nolan's team from last year dissolved, but he wanted to keep playing this year. He found another couple looking to play in the non-competitive league on Friday evening, so really I had no choice but say yes :)  And you know what? It's actually a lot of fun! I attended one training session last year, but had never really played a game before. And I know I can't really say this about myself, but I didn't even do that poorly. I might have done 'ok'! But most of all, it was fun and I enjoyed it. Surprisingly though, I was actually sore afterwards, and my back is still somewhat tight. Maybe I can talk a certain person into a massage...

On Friday the temperature started to drop, it absolutely poured rain, and Saturday was the first official day of fall. Or so it felt! But it was beautiful. After a very short night, I was on my way to the Outdoor Woodlot Conference in Beachburg early Saturday morning, and the drive alone was worth going. The leaves are turning (although the colours are not super dramatic this year), and the sun came out as well. Jut gorgeous. Besides manning the OWA booth, I was able to join a couple of the guided tours, and talked to a lot of people I hadn't seen in a while. It just shows that the forestry world, especially in this part of the country, is small and tight. And I'm proud to be part of it! On top of that, I also managed to negotiate a great deal for two 4' white pine saplings. The more trees the merrier!

We're also back into the running mode. This past Sunday we ran with Ann, and since Nolan was still getting better and Ann is slowly getting back into it, I did an extra loop at the end. And it payed of since I saw a fox! In full view, in no hurry, and in great shape. Pretty cool in the city!
This evening we went for a run in the greenbelt, and saw several deer and porcupines as well. We're just so lucky where we are and what we are able to do.

This week I'm taking the Essentials for Managing in the Public Service / Delegated Authority Course, and I am loving it! There is so much to learn, our teacher is awesome with a tonne experience and can present many real life examples. It really seems to connect the work we do with the bigger picture (i.e. the Government). It's another step forward...

This weekend we'll be home for Thanksgiving. The weather forecast is great, so hopefully we'll be able to get lots of stuff done in and around the house. We're staying put so no traveling, which is actually nice for change. Looking forward to a long weekend!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Algonquin's wolves!

Since I'm waiting for the bus in the beautiful sunshine, I thought I'd might as well update my blog. Thank you BlackBerry :)
I spent the last three days in Huntsville to attend and present at the annual conference of the Canadian Institute of Forestry. The Monday and Wednesday were filled with technical sessions, while the Tuesday was reserved for a field day. The venue? Deerhurst resort on the edge of Algonquin Park. Deerhurst is probably well known for hosting the G8 last year (and the millions it received for upgrading...). But the location is beautiful, especially with the colours starting to turn as well. 
So all in all three days well spent! 
A quick recap:
I arrived Monday around noon after a four-hour drive through beautiful surroundings (it made me want to move back to the valley!). Monday evening was reserved for the banquet and award gala. The Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (my group!) won the forest management group award! Pretty cool for sure. 
I had signed up for the Hardwood Management Tour which was quite good. I don't work a lot in hardwood, so it was very interesting to see that side as well. The weather was absolutely amazing and it made for a great day in the field! That evening we had the visitor centre of Algonquin Park to ourselves with an outdoor barbecue! We also had the great opportunity to listen to the park naturalist, who gave an incredible presentation on wolves in the park, and the history of the public wolf howl. 

*** Algonquin's Public Wolf Howl information ***
The first public wolf howl was organized in 1963 (almost 50 years ago). There were a couple of staff on hand, and expectations were blown out of the water when 565 people showed up!
Since that date 111 public wolf howlings have been held, normally on Thursday evenings in August, and on average 1700 people attend these sessions!! I had no clue!  And apparently they are as quiet as can be. It must be quite the sight.  

We were treated to our own private wolf howl that evening, but unfortunately no wolf decided to respond. 

On Wednesday afternoon, we had our session on partnerships and knowledge exchange, and that went quite well. We decided to shake it up a bit and make it interactive after we finished the case studies. After 35 minutes of conversations, I had a hard time getting people back as a group, since they we're so engaged in their discussions. I guess that's a good sign?

Now it's back in Ottawa, where we are finalizing the details for our component leaders forum next week. Did I mention that I am one of two facilitators? Not sure how, when or why that happened. Hopefully all will go well. 
This weekend should be good. We're heading to Brockville on Sunday (or so I think) to celebrate Nolan's birthday. It's his birthday on Tuesday, in case you want to congratulate him. And unlike last year, I'll actually be able to spend the day (or at least evening) with him!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oops, we did it again...

The beginning of this week, I had the pleasure of spending two days at Acadia Research Forest, in New Brunswick. Canada has two national research forests, Petawawa and Acadia. As is probably well known, I spend quite a bit of time at Petawawa, however, the National Research Forest Program encompasses both forests, and I therefore need to spend more time at Acadia to get a better understanding of research and management priorities there.
The two days were very well spent, especially since we were outside for most of it, and as we all know, a bad day in the field is always better than any day in the office! I got to see several active management sites, as well as some old research sites that we need to decide on what to do next with. It was great talking 'shop' and management options with both managers and scientists. Always so much to learn and absorb, but I also feel like I can actively participate in the conversation and have the odd smart suggestion as well :)

I caught an early flight back on Thursday, and spent the rest of the week in the office, which was a bit of an adjustment... On Saturday, Nolan and I decided to go on a shopping spree, since we both need clothes, and I needed a dress for Carrie's upcoming wedding. We said to each other before hand that whatever we do, we're not to buy art!
In case you didn't know, I seriously hate shopping, especially for clothes. So by the time I found some nice shirts and two dresses, I had mentally checked out for the day. How do people enjoy shopping with so many people around them?
We ended the day in an art gallery, trying to find a wedding gift for Carrie. We looked around a bit, and the sales person noticed we were interested in one specific artist. We had looked at her work before, but were never totally sold on it. He told us he had another piece in the back, which he could show us. I started laughing and said that it might not be a wise thing to do, since we have a history of buying art impulsively. He brought it out anyway, and we fell in love. Darn it!!! We negotiated a bit, and indeed bought it... So yes, we did it again.
We hung it up in the living room, and that evening I looked up some info on the artist, Maya Eventov, and noticed that the picture of the painting on the website was upside down. We looked some more, and more, and noticed that the actual painting was framed upside down! We both hadn't noticed it, and understand how the mistake could have been made. But now knowing that it was upside down, we wanted to fix it. We called the gallery this morning, and they told us they would fix it for us, but since it was just a matter of changing a couple of screws, we did it ourselves. So now we have a new, beautiful painting in our dining room! It almost feels like we bought two :)

This picture is not great, I'll take another one soon, but it is really cool how it shows the sunlight coming through from upstairs. We're both really happy with it!

This morning we went for a great trail run in the green belt. Over 12 km on beautiful trails, with leaves already changing. We saw deer, two porcupines, heard lots of ravens, and saw lots of other wildlife like snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, and many birds. So great to virtually have this in our backyard. Any complaint about my commute just seems unjustified knowing we live in such a great place!

I'm off to Huntsville tomorrow to attend the Canadian Institute of Forestry Conference, and actually moderate a session on Wednesday. Should be fun, and the drive through Algonquin Park will be amazing with the colours slowly starting the change.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labour Day Weekend

Labour Day Weekend, aka the last long weekend of the summer, or also known the last weekend before the kids go back to school, and for me also known as the last little break before 'officially' the busiest time of year commences. Fall is traditionally busy; fieldwork is drawing to an end, September and October are popular times to organize conferences and workshops, and really is the only time to organize field days without the bugs, before the snow flies, but you also need to be thoughtful of hunting season. Long story short, life is about to get really busy!

We spent the long weekend at a friend's cottage, about 2 hours north-east of Ottawa, and it was absolutely amazing!  The group consisted of our running-partners-in-crime, although the average miles covered by the group is seriously decreasing, with only Debbie and Nancy training for a half marathon, JoAnn still on crutches, and the rest of us trying to fit a run in whenever we can find the time. If all goes well, we'll be meeting up with Ann to finally get a Sunday morning run in this weekend.
Of course, exception to the above, is Tom. He just qualified for Boston, but is hoping to improve on his time to actually be able to register for the world famous marathon.
The weekend itself was very relaxing, with lots of good food, delicious drinks, and a nice hot tub! The cottage was on a lake, but Nolan and I managed to get a quick paddle in, but it was a little too cold for a swim. Especially after we got drenched on Sunday night, and then again Sunday afternoon. But it didn't dampen the spirits. And of course, we had to very cute, but quite flatulently dogs... Overall a great weekend thanks to some great friends!

The next few weeks might be a bit more quiet when it comes to blog updates... I'm leading a Lakehead University Tour at the PRF this weekend, then heading to New Brunswick on Monday for a few days, then off to Huntsville to present at the CIF Conference, after that I'll be busy with our Component Leader's Forum in Ottawa, followed by a week of training in October. I'll check in when I get a chance though. Told you it would be busy...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Utah - Part 8 (final) - Antelope Island

SLC is famous for its large Great Salt Lake. A very large, and mostly a very salty lake. It is so salty, only brine shrimp can live in it. There are also lots of brine flies, lots and lots of them.
The day started with thundershowers, but it cleared up after a bit. Pretty funny how we managed to get two days of rain in one of the driest places in North America... Antelope Island is known for its bisons, antelopes and deer and of course its many, many birds. It's a famous island for migrating birds to fill up on brine shrimp before they head further south (in the fall) or north (in the spring). 
We also came across some other creatures...

Distant rain

All those black dots are birds

Our first bison!

A deer with a huge rack!

More bison

We went into this shed, which was part of an old farm on the island, and we saw this snake. At first I thought it was fake, but then it moved. Definitely the largest snake I'd ever seen in the wild. 

You can somewhat make out the clouds of brine flies flying away in front of the running boy. we took some footage as well, that I'll try to upload somehow as well.

At the end of the day, we had to return the rental back, and we found a really nice Mexican restaurant where we had an awesome meal with even awesomer (!) guacamole! A good way to end our fantastic vacation!

This is it for Utah, now back to our normal life :)