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...