Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stuff we talk about during our runs

We quite often run with our good friends Ann and JoAnn, and in an attempt to start running more often, we have decided to commit to running with them on Wednesday evenings as well. We meet close to my office, so it's not that difficult to do. Some of us are struggling with injuries, and it is just like long runs, you something start talking about the weirdest things to distract yourself from the actual running part.
An excerpt from tonight's run:
Ann: we saw this huge splash in the canal last week
Nolan: Maybe it was a dolphin.
Ann: I don't think fresh water dolphins exist
Nolan: Well, maybe in the future they might have evolved to fresh water dolphins. Maybe we can create a salt water canal and add the dolphins!
JoAnn: Yes, and then we can have lobsters in the canal
Me: And create a whole new industry for Ottawa!

I guess it is quite clear that we sometimes have the weirdest conversations that go in any direction possible. But it's fun, and we do have the occasional serious conversation as well. Although they are a bit of a rarity... Also important, we had a great run!

On another note, my weekend started today! This week and weekend has been nuts; after a interesting weekend, Monday was not much better with ad hoc requests fro DG's and other interesting developments, but definitely a lot of fun. However, as of now, my BlackBerry is off, and work is miles and miles away, only to reappear on Monday. This weekend is filled with time for us, for the house, and our annual pool party on July 1. The weather forecast is actually quite promising this year, 28 degrees and sunny. Perfect weather for a pool party if you ask me.  But I guess also nice weather to accompany a royal visit. For the people that have been living under a rock for the last few weeks, Will and Kate, yep, the Royal couple, are visiting Ottawa this week. Arriving tomorrow, and in town for Canada Day (July 1). On of their events will be attending a citizenship ceremony. Obviously that hits close to home, and I have to admit, I'm slightly jealous. It would be pretty cool to receive your certificate out of the hands of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge...
A few weeks ago, Nolan was talking about perhaps heading downtown. But after watching the Queen last year, and stories about half a million people expected downtown, we quickly opted for the televised version this time. At least then you know you will always have the front seat.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I recently finished Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, and if you are familiar with that book, you know that the four elements (water, fire, air and earth) play an important role. In my last post, I wrote about the fire. This time, it's time for water...

This weekend it was my turn to supervise the fire crew at the PRF. On a normal summer weekend, that would mean that two students would be in, manning the two fire towers for fire detecting. However, with all the rain we have had in the last few days, there would be no need to have the students come in, and I would mainly be working in the office, open and close the gates (the PRF is open to the public in the summer, mainly for fishing), and keep an eye on the place. Nothing too crazy, you'd say. It was looking like it would be quiet and I was actually looking forward to catching up to some of my work and get things done. Well, it was not to be...

Take a look at this and try to find the differences:

The photos are taken from a slightly different angle, but they were taken at the same place, about 2 hours apart... If you click on the top photo, you can see a beaver dam in the distance (where the green ends, and the darker colour starts, is where the dam is), and the water is obviously lower on this side of the dam. The second picture shows the water to the road, and the dam in the distance. The water is just simply flowing over the dam. There is a serious threat the road here can break, if the culvert can't handle all the water.

Now look at these:

Yep, same place again and about 3 hours apart as well. So a complete wash out. We had opened the gates this morning, but luckily nobody got stuck on the other side of this wash out, and we were able to have everybody out by 3 pm. I decided to lock the gates for the rest of the day, seeing that this could be a potential hazard... Once I found this wash out, I decided to follow the water to see if this wave had taken out more culverts. Well, unfortunately it did, and a I came upon a smaller one at the far end of the PRF. Some other crossings are not very stable either, and all the crossings have humongous water levels. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

In the midst of this all, a lady came to the office, obviously upset, telling me that her husband had left to go home, and was supposed to be home two hours ago... Luckily that ended well, and I think he probably just lost track of time.

At least I will have some help tomorrow, so we can check out all the crossings and culverts and make sure they are either well marked, or cleared from any debris. So much for trying to do office work. But it sure makes for a fun and interesting day!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Last night, around 9 pm, we heard the sound of a fire truck. We didn't think much of it, since you hear them more often, although this one did sound a bitter closer than normal. Nolan looked outside, and he could see the reflection of fire in the windows of houses across the street! That made us realize it was a bit closer than usual. We ran outside, and first thought it was one of the houses on our street, but quickly we noticed the huge flames and large amounts of smokes coming from a house at the end of our street, across the road. I have never seen a fire like that; the house was complete engulfed in flames and you could see and hear several small explosions. Fire trucks kept arriving, and it was quite amazing to see how quickly and efficiently they went to work. When the fire spread to the other house, you could hear a common awe among the dozens of people watching the fire. The fire fighters were able to knock the fire down in about 45 minutes, and were able to save most of the second house. Watching last night, we really thought they would knock the first house down; it sure didn't look like any of that would survive. Luckily nobody got hurt, and everybody was able to get out on time. Nevertheless, two families were displaced and lost so much.

The Ottawa Sun newspaper has a story and some dramatic photos, which shows quite well the intensity o the fire.  The Ottawa Citizen article gave it some attention as well, and it was on several newscasts. Which in return turned our street into a huge parking lot for media vehicles.
I just walked by it from my way from work and took this picture with my BlackBerry:

All in all a pretty scary situation, and you realize how quickly things can take a turn, and change your life forever. One our to-do list this weekend: make sure we have a decent inventory of our house... They have not figured out yet what caused the fire.

On a more personal level, Nolan will be a bachelor again this weekend. I have fire duty (how peculiar...) at the PRF this weekend. Luckily we've had quite a bit of rain this weekend, so I won't have to worry too much about actual forest fires, but I will be there to keep an eye on the place, and it's also a great time to catch up on a lot of work without too much interruption. Who else works on the weekend??

Monday, June 20, 2011

Intense weekend

The down time I was hoping to get only partially materialized. We went up to Mattawa on Saturday to attend the memorial service for Michael Pineau. The service was very well done, but also very intense. It's so sad to see a young life go, especially somebody as caring and intelligent as he was.

When we came home Saturday, we found out that our neighbouring street had a street party! Somehow we missed the invite, but we were still welcome to go, and met some of our neighbours. Apparently they do this every year, so we're sure to be there again next year. It's great to see that everybody gets along so well, and all of our neighbours seem really nice. Bonus!

We spent the rest of the weekend 'taking it easy'. We decided to sleep in on Sunday, and instead of running in town go for a run later in the day. We should have known that was not going to happen... We did our chores and at least the house looks cleaner, but we (well, mainly Nolan) also spent two hours trying to get a ceiling fan up, having to use the crooked electrical box installed by the builder. After a couple of hours of struggling we gave up and put the old light back up. However, even that didn't go well. So I guess we'd better get a new fixture before the parents show up in a couple of weeks (it's in the guest bedroom).
After this debacle we felt too pissed off to go for a run, so we ended up going for a nice walk. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous lately, lots of sunshine and no rain to speak of. We actually watered our lawn last night, trying to salvage some of the grass before it all dies...Most of our plants are doing quite well, but some are struggling a bit. It seems to coincide with whether we put extra top soil and fertilizer down. I guess a lesson for next year?

Today is the first day of a 10 day work week. Almost like the old days, when I first started working at the PRF, we would work 10 on and 4 off. It will feel a little like the old days as well, since I'll be supervising the fire crew on the weekend. Fun! I'll be keeping an extra eye on the weather this week, that's for sure.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Busy Expo, heat wave and my life in general...

Expo 150 turned out to be a bit more attractive to people than first anticipated. The last estimations say that about 40,000 (!) people visited the site! No wonder if felt somewhat crowded on Saturday... But all in all it has been a huge success, for the organizers, but also for the PRF. We drew a lot of attention to our booth, which was exactly what we were there for! But by the time I came home on Sunday, I was pretty zonked. At least I had about 5 hours of weekend left!

The last few days have been nice and warm, although not as warm as the one day crazy-warm-humid-hazy-sticky-42 degree day we had last week. The interesting thing was that after this crazy hot day on Thursday, the temperature on Thursday never made it above the 20 degree mark. Funny how climate and weather do their own thing. I like it! Although I do prefer the warm weather over the I-wish-I-had-a-sweater-day. The last few days have been nice and warm as well (30 or so), and the weekend looks awesome. Mid-twenties and lots of sunshine. We could use a little bit of rain though, especially since our grass is starting to turn yellow. We also haven't cut it in over two weeks. It just doesn't grow. Somewhat opposite to earlier this spring, when everything was way, way too wet! The bush is still pretty moist, with lots of mosquito-producing puddles...
A recent study confirmed that Canadians like talking about the weather. I bet you that study only focused on Canadians, because I think everyone likes to talk about the weather! At least the Dutch :) Makes you wonder how will fund a study like that. Couldn't they do something a bit more useful?

After twelve days of work, I'm happy it's Friday.  It's been a good, but long two weeks, and I'm ready for some down-time. And perhaps trying to get a run in? It's been a week now since I went out for a run, so hopefully I am able to get out tonight. But sometimes life gets in the way. Or OCTranspo, our city bus company... Last Wednesday it took me exactly two (!!!!) hours to get home. Isn't that ridiculous! It normally doesn't take much more than an hour, which is enough as is. But this time the first bus got cancelled, the second was full, after which I got frustrated and took another bus, which meant I had toured our neighbourhood... At least the bus driver was nice!
On a said note, remember the two baby raccoons we took to the vet a couple of weeks ago? The vet decided to put them down. I know it was the right decision, but it still sucks...
Fertile was at the vet yesterday for some teeth cleaning, and apparently she made a tonne of friends among the clinic staff. Everybody loved her! No wonder, when we picked her up she had those big eyes which looked even bigger on her already tiny head. Just really cute.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Expo 150

This week and weekend I'm excited to promote the Petawawa Research Forest during Expo 150. You might wonder what Expo 150 is? It is a massive Expo to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Renfrew County, while in the meantime promoting and recognizing local organizations, companies, townships, etc. There are at least 150 exhibitors, a huge military section (surprise!), but also a really nice forestry section (yes, that is where you can find us).
After the scorching heat we had on Wednesday (with a humidex of 43 degrees...), the days of Expo have been rather cool. Today a high of only 19, and tomorrow we might be lucky if we reach that. In the meantime we're also keeping our fingers crossed that we won't get rain.
But all that aside, the event is definitely worth while visiting. There is so much to see and do, and a tonne of information. You can tell that people get saturated with information, so much there is to see.
The responses we get to the Research Forest are what we had expected: Are you still open? Is there still research happening there? I thought it shut down?  We have told several people now that we're still alive and kicking, so we reached our goal already: creating awareness among the local public. And especially today should be a busy day, so many more opportunities to get the word out that we are very much alive and active!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Nolan and his love for cats

People who have known me for a while, know that when I first met Nolan he had to get used to the cats. Growing up without any pets, he just wasn't just to them. It didn't take long for him to start loving them though, and there is even talk now about getting a dog!
Just to show you how much he and Murphy connect, here are some shots from Murphy's daily belly rub rituals...

Thursday, June 2, 2011


This afternoon when I came home from work, I decided to water the plants outside, so I opened the garage. In the garage, I heard this fairly loud noise, almost like a bird. It came from the side of the house, but when I checked it out, it turned out it was not a bird. There were two baby raccoons and one of them was making a lot of noise. The other one was too weak to really move or produce any noise. It really was a heartbreaking sight. I called several organizations, the city, the humane society and wild life sanctuaries, but nobody was willing, or able, to help. It was obvious they were suffering, dehydrated and desperately looking for their mother. We don't know what happened to the mother. Maybe she got killed, or perhaps she decided to abandon the young.  Whatever happened, it was clear she was not nearby and I felt we had to do something for them. You can't just leave them there!
In a last resort, we called our vet, and asked them if we could bring them there, and take them out of their misery. They were very helpful and accepted them without any trouble. We left them there, and they told us that they would assess them, and decide then whether they would try to keep them alive, or do the humane thing and euthanize them.  They said they would let us know what they decided, so I'll keep you posted.
Raccoons can be a nuisance, but seeing two small babies is absolutely heartbreaking. They are very, very cute but also very helpless. And yes, I know I have a huge soft spot for animals in need. Nothing wrong with that!

As for a follow up on last week, especially with regards to our presentation: it got cancelled... The ADM received last-minute notice that he needed to be somewhere else, so unfortunately, we will have to postpone. I was quite disappointed, but there is nothing we can do, and we'll try to get him out there later this summer. And we didn't waste our time too much; we will be using an adapted version of the presentation for our neighbouring base commander next week. Can't hurt to recycle presentations :)
Work has been good, but it is also busy. The good thing, however, is that it is very diverse and exciting, and also rewarding. So all in all, I can only say that I love my job!