Sunday, July 31, 2011

A typical weekend

Remember last weekend I worked at the PRF? Roads washed out and we had to close the gates due to safety reasons. You can read about it here.
This weekend I am up at the PRF again, but it looks like this might be a more typical weekend. Yesterday was pretty quiet, and the fire index was low enough so I didn't have to send the student up the fire tower. This morning it was still pretty low, but when we checked at 1 pm, it had climbed enough that I decided to send a student up, just to make sure everything is ok.

Now I can hear you thinking, what is the fire index? The fire index is the Fire Weather Index, developed based on fire research done at the PRF. It takes several components into account, such as rainfall, temperature, wind speed and humidity, and based on those number calculates the FWI.  At the PRF we rely on it when deciding on whether to man the fire towers or not. Normally you man one fire tower when the index goes up to around 4, and two towers when you get close to 7. We normally check the index at 9 am, and again at 1 pm. In the afternoon, it also provides you with an 'predicted FWI', which we use in our decision to send someone up. There are two weather stations, so we receive two different FWI's. Since rainfall can be very local around here, the numbers can vary quit a bit. The weather stations closest to the office gave us a number of 3.2, and a prediction of 9.2. The station further away had a current FWI of 2.1, and a predicted FWI of 6.9. The station further away received more rain, and has therefore a lower number. Pretty cool, eh? So to be on the safe side, I sent one student up to the tower nearest by. Normally you would send someone to the further tower, and then if smoke is detected, someone else can quickly go to the nearest tower to get the second bearing. However, the far end of the property is still pretty wet, and there is no activity on the base, so the chances of seeing anything on that side are pretty low (knock on wood!). Hopefully there is no smoke detection today!

Another task is to make sure the roads are in good shape, no washouts or fallen trees, etc. It's one of the perks of working weekends, I get to see stuff like this:

Not bad, eh?
But I also get a lot of work done on the weekends, since there is minimal interruption from email or phone. The only thing that is hard: to be inside on a gorgeous day like today when the woods are calling...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birthday and time off

I really should write my blog more often, because now I risk writing too much, generating too much text and becoming boring...
Remember that freak storm we had last week? Here is a picture of it rolling in:

So last Thursday was my birthday. It was also by far the hottest day of the year! We got up to 37 degrees, and just under 50 with the humidex. Pretty hot indeed. So what do you do on a day to celebrate but where you also want to stay cool? Indeed, you go to the Diefenbunker! The Diefenbunker was built during the cold war to create a safe haven in case a nuclear bomb would be dropped on Ottawa. It was actually quite interesting, also since everything was left in the state of the late eighties, when they left the building.

The rest of my birthday was special as well. Of course my parents were still here, and I got spoiled rotten by both Nolan and my parents. Nolan bought me a new office chair, and my parents gave us money for a new digital camera!! (The rest of the pictures below are all taken with our new camera.) All very nice. And to top it off, East Sides Mario's for dinner! Maybe not the most exciting place, but the food was good, and the beer was even better!

Mom and Dad at East Sides

Nolan and I at East Sides (after a beer or so...)

On Friday Nolan and I went for a long bike ride, which was really nice. It had cooled down a bit, but it was still pretty warm to go for a run. A bike ride proved to be a great alternative!


Me adjusting my helmet

On Saturday we dropped the parents off down town, and Nolan and I went on a date and saw The Lion King! It was very, very impressive and very well done. We both really enjoyed it. Afterwards we met up with the parents again and first went to Darcy McGee's for a beer (really, we're not alcoholics...), and then went to Royal Thai for dinner. It was delicious. Good thing I had the vegetarian pad thai; all the other dishes (with meat) were a tad to spicy for me.

Sunday was pretty quiet with a visit to the Agriculture Museum in the morning, and Nolan and I went for a nice run in the Greenbelt in the afternoon.
Monday we had planned to go to breakfast, but when we woke up we found out that my parents had been rebooked onto another flight after their original flight had been cancelled. First we thought they were booked onto an earlier flight, but it turned out to be an earlier flight the next day! So I made some phone calls, trying to get the airline pay for a hotel, since we couldn't really drop them off on Tuesday due to work commitments. After talking to several people, I was able to get them on a direct KLM flight that same evening! So it took a bit of determination, but it all turned out for the better!

Now our lives are back to normal. Work is still busy and interesting and the weather is still gorgeous. So really, we are very happy and lucky people!!

To end, here are some photos taken with our new camera!

Fertile (I will dedicate a post to her soon, also to explain her name...)

Yellow rose

Nolan's reflection

An EMPTY wine glass ;) 
(If you click on the picture, you can really see the reflection; photo credit: my dad)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Parents - Update

It's been a week now since my parents arrived, and it seems like time is just flying by! But by the same token, I can barely remember what we did do yesterday. I'll try to give a bit of a recount...
I had to go to the PRF last week for a tour of our HQ group out of Ottawa. I wasn't feeling great, but decided to make the trip anyway. I was supposed to spend the afternoon there for meetings, but decided to go home since I just wasn't feeling great. My parents spent the night in Kingston after visiting with the Belleville gang, and would visit with Nolan's parents on Thursday. I love the fact that they are here, but it was also nice that since I wasn't feeling well, I could just go home and crash on the couch without being social!
The next day the cold really hit me, and I actually called in sick. I think it's the first time ever that Nolan has seen me sick! Needless to say we took it easy Thursday and Friday, which we both had off, and just did some work around the house.
On Saturday we went to the Museum of Nature which was quite impressive. The best part? The bug department!! We saw grasshoppers mating and laying eggs, and we say really cool bugs emerging from the soil! Nolan and I were both mesmerized, and had to be removed by staff when we were hanging around for too long...
Sunday we went running with Ann, and were actually able to do 16 km! Quite the achievement (if I may say so), since we hadn't run an awful lot in the past week, and the mercury was started to climb as well. But we took our time, and ended up having a great run! We had some conversations that I would love to post here, but I was sworn to secrecy...
Nolan's parents showed up for lunch, and the parents took over the house. We really had nothing to control anymore! But it was great to see how well along they all get.
It had been a hot and muggy day, and by the end of the day, a sudden storm rolled in. We watched it come in, but it still hit us quite unexpectedly. Strong winds, heavy downpours and lots of lightning made for a very impressive storm.
Luckily we didn't have any damage, but some people were not so lucky. The main stage at Ottawa's Bluesfest collapsed (maybe two storms in just over a week was too much??). Luckily there were only two injuries and nothing more major. It could have been so much worse.

I worked Monday morning, but in the afternoon my mom and I went for a great walk in the Greenbelt. We say a buck with a huge rack and some other small animals. It was just nice to be out in the woods, with great company. We stopped at Don Cherry's (!!) for a beer, before making the track home. Well deserved, right?!  We also went for Indian food for dinner. Of course we ate too much, but it was worth it!
On Tuesday I had to head back to the PRF to host the Meet and Greet for the judges of the Canadian Forces Sustainable Communities, but the storm knocked down a tree on the Visitor's Centre, and it damaged the displays and the building, so that option was out. A new venue was quickly found, and the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre offered to host the judges. I was still allowed to present on the PRF (and the judges were quite interested, just like rest of the group), but on top of that got a tour of the centre, which was very interesting!!
My folks in the meantime decided to spend the day in Mont Tremblant, and ended up liking it so much that they decided to spend the night there as well.  They are expected to come home tonight, and then we'll make some plans for the next few days. Nolan and I have time off until they go back home Monday night, so time to do stuff.
However, we are experiencing a heat wave, which can make it a bit harder to do a lot of stuff outside. They are forecasting 35 degrees for tomorrow, but also a humidex of 47... In other words, a sauna!
We're now trying to find something to do for tomorrow, which is a very special day since it's my birthday! So to be continued...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Parents arrived!

Last week we were mainly busy running around trying to get things ready and organized before the grand arrival of my parents! We took Friday off to do some final running around, but did find time to go for dinner with Debby, Pete and Andrea before heading to Bluesfest. There had been some issues with line ups earlier in the week, but the organization had promised to fix the issues. So when we arrived Friday around 8 pm, we were surprised to see huge line ups. We were so confused about the start of the line ups (there were two, one for entry and one for ticket sales) that we jumped the line quite a bit. Oh well... We still had to wait for about 20 minutes, which wasn't too bad and made us feel a little less guilty about not getting tickets in advance, as we had promised Andrea to do... 
Once one site, we had to use our elbows to get passed the first stage where Rise Against was playing. Not really my type of music, but a lot of other people thought differently about that... We managed to get to the Hard Rock CafĂ© stage, where we saw the final part of Midwest playing, which was enjoyable. After a short wait, during which we found Pete and Debby, but also noticed that Craig and Connie where sitting right behind, Hey Rosetta came on stage. The band we came to see!! The first song was good, the second one too, even though the rain slowly started to fall. During the third song, the weather gods decided to have no mercy, and showed us what they had in store for us. The rain came falling down in drops I have never seen so big. The wind picked up which made the rain fly sideways, and it even looked like we saw a funnel cloud in the distance! Hey Rosetta kept playing very bravely, even when their crew started covering up their equipment with tarps... When the song was over, the announcement came that the show would be put on hold 'temporarily'. That was it, no other news. In the mean time, Pete and Debby had moved on to the main stage to check out Black Keys, the big show for the night. They texted us that they never even started, and being wet and cold decided to return to Debby's place. The atmosphere was a little interesting to say the least, since not only the bands had stopped playing, the beer tents were no longer serving beer. 
After having waited for an hour, we decided to return to Debby's place as well, where we had our car, and go home. Disappointed since we dropped a good buck for the tickets, but mainly because we missed a what was going to be a great show!
The following day we heard that Hey Rosetta played for a bit, but quit after their sound system broke down. Black Keys came back up at 10:40, and played for almost 40 minutes, but I am not sure if an hour and a half wait would have made me want to watch that. Maybe next time?

The next morning we had breakfast with them as well, to celebrate Debby's birthday, after which we headed to Montreal to pick up the folks. They had a good flight without any issues and had no problems coming through customs, so that was great. Now we are trying to get used to each other's company :) but also just relax and enjoy having them here.

Also a quick garden update: my mom bought us a beautiful Hortensia which we put in our front garden. Our hostas are also about to bloom, and our tomatoes are looking very promising!
In my travels around the yard, I found two little treasures...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meet the future Nolan

Nolan underwent a transformation, dyed his hair, and now looks like this:

Ok, maybe not. But the torture machine you see here is not an illusion. 
So back up a bit... We used to go to the gym a lot, but stopped going regularly last year, and opted out of a gym membership this year, especially after we started talking about perhaps purchasing a home gym. We both like to work out and lift weights and it is something we have been doing for years. Earlier this year we looked at some options, but never went ahead and bought something.  Both our birthdays are coming up this summer, and we wanted to treat ourselves to something that we would both use and like. Enter our new home gym. Admittedly, it was a bit of a rush purchase, and getting it downstairs was definitely the biggest challenge! But we managed, and after at least four hours of labour we were actually able to put the thing together.  Tonight we did our first workout, and we both realized how much we actually missed lifting weights. 
If all goes well (and really, when does that happen?), we'll both be fitness buffs by ... (fill in date on the dotted line). Therefore, to be continued. I do think I will be sore tomorrow though!

This past Friday also was Canada Day, a beautiful day this year with lots of sunshine. We decided to forgo the Royal Visit (William and Kate were in Ottawa), and enjoyed our annual pool party at JoAnn's place. We had a great time, but the pool was too cold to actually enjoy. All the sunshine didn't warm it up enough, just yet.
Sunday we went running, and by the time we were done at 10 am, we were all very close to catching a heat stroke. And there it was: JoAnn's pool! Still bloody cold, but it did the job of cooling us down!

Five more sleeps and my parents will be here in Ottawa! Pretty amazing considering everything we went through earlier this year, so needless to say I am really looking forward to it. It will be a fairly low-key trip, but I think that will be perfect for all of us. I won't be 'allowed' to plan too much, which will make some people happy :) And I am also looking forward to having some time off. Time to relax with the folks. Oh, and of course work that exercise machine!