Saturday, December 22, 2012

44 cm and counting

Of snow that is. Finally a bit of winter :) A great day to go snow-shoeing, even though is was a bit chilly (-7 and super windy!).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! 
See you in 2013...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I love my job/life!

It seems so much easier to put a blogpost together when I actually have something to write about. Or better, when I have pictures to show. This time there are a few things to say, but definitely things to show.  I also wasn't sure how to name this particular post, but I think this sums it up nicely.

Why so happy? Partly because they let me out of the office for the last two weeks! I spent a good chunk of the last two weeks outside, and what is better than spending time in the woods, especially with some really knowledgeable and great people?
It started about 2 weeks ago with a workshop which was a nice opportunity to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a while (including my supervisor, who lives/works about 800 km from Ottawa). I think the highlight of the workshop was the roast (retirement sent-off) of one of my colleagues from the provincial government. For maybe obvious reasons I won't post any photos... Trust me if I say it was a great night :)
After the workshop, we spent two days touring research sites. The first day we visited McConnell Lake, north of North Bay (close to Temiskaming), to look at a white pine competition study. It was the first removal cut of the overstorey, since the regeneration has established quite well. Remarkable was the amount of red pine in the understory! The photos below give an impression of the site.

This photos is really cool. The little stem in the centre is the original stem when the tree was still very tiny (the trees were about 110 years when cut).

The next stop was the clear-cut site. It used to be a mix of low-quality popular and other mixedwoods. It was harvested about 10 years ago, and again, with the right site prep the regeneration was plentiful!

The following day we went to a red pine spacing study, but since that was on AECL property, we were not allowed to take any photos. The site visit was very successful though. We had some good discussions about next steps. It is due for remeasurement and treatments next year, and I'll be actively involved with this study. Looking forward to it!

Last week I spent most of my time at the PRF, helping out with the remeasurement of a white spruce genetics trial, but also had a chance to look at the harvest of the site of the biomass study, currently underway. As you can tell, they're using some serious equipment! And the snow has started to stick around...

But it's not just work. Life at home is pretty good too, and luckily Nolan doesn't mind spending some time outside as well. Today was chilly (-10), but sunny, so a great day to go for  a walk in the Greenbelt and feed the chickadees.

We also saw a pileated woodpecker:

And even more exciting, a white least weasel, but it was too quick for photo, but it looks like this:

And of course, plenty of squirrels. We made a short movie of them being very vocal towards each other, but I have a hard time uploading it (too large?), so hopefully I can add that later. For now the photos:

Our cats are still doing well, although Murphy is starting to act a little weird lately...

Have a wonderful Christmas, and a happy, healthy New Year!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Road trip, good friends, and simply life

It's been a bit quiet from my end, and I think it's in part because life is just so normal. Well, at least to a certain extent... A couple of weeks ago I had a day (because of Remembrance Day, and Nolan took the day off) so we decided to go to Burlington to visit our dear friends Riley and Tina (remember the cute couple that got married a couple of months ago?).  The drive there was nice and relaxing; we took highway 7 instead of the busy and less-than-pleasant highway 401. In the end, it turned out to be faster as well! We even had enough time to take the Gardner Expressway downtown Toronto, so we could have a look at the CN tower... Unfortunately it was covered in fog, so the view was not great. But still, downtown Toronto never ceases to impress me (still a little village girl at heart!).
It was great seeing Tina and Riley, and of course Julie who is 15 months now. We took it easy, went for walks, visited the waterfront of Burlington, but mostly just chatted and caught up on our lives. It was just a wonderful weekend and we all wished we lived closer together! But really, they are 'only' a 5-hr drive away, so at least doable for a long weekend.

What else happened? We spent a weekend in Brockville to celebrate Nolan's dad's birthday (70!). It was a nice weekend with everyone there, so good to catch up.
We also went to an art gallery for an exhibit, which really we shouldn't do since we alway end up buying stuff. Including this time. However, we are very happy with this new addition! It looks really nice in our upstairs hallway, especially since that is now all painted and has the new light fixtures in. Now it really is our place, completely re-done since we moved in.

We had a somewhat quiet Halloween this year, only 157 kids... That's one less than last year!
And the rest is just same old, same old... Work is still great and still busy. I've been on the road quite a bit, but mainly down the Ottawa Valley so no exotic destinations. Nolan is doing well, so no complaints there either. Running has been a bit quiet, but we signed up for a half marathon in February, so I guess we'd better get our act together soon!

Cats are happy, especially Murphy since we recently moved his girlfriend back to our bedroom:

He spends most of his days now in close proximity of our humidifier. Not sure why he's so obsessed with it, but every year when we pull it out, it's love at first sight all over again...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Renos, trail running and fall colours

Since Thanksgiving made for a shorter week, we'd decided to both take the week off. First we had plans to go to Vegas for a few days, but then got smart (well...), and decided to stay put, and do some renos. I guess it all started by our shopping spree where we'd bought new blinds and lights. And of course to make them look nice, we really should do some more painting. And so we did.
We ended up painting our bathrooms (ensuite and powder) and the hallway upstairs. Especially our hallway was a bit of a challenge, since we have a circular staircase with tall ceilings, it was a bit of feat. But we did it! Once it was all painted we (well, Nolan) put up lights in the bathrooms, hallway and all the bedrooms. With some fairly small changes, our house looks so much better! Well worth the week.

The weather has been very fall-like lately, but we definitely have the nice days in there as well, and no snow so far, so really we can't complain! We went for some nice walks in the Greenbelt to catch the last few call colours before all the leaves are gone.

This morning I ran a cross country run (5.5 km) which was a lot of fun! The organization was great, and the mud was plentiful! I was not a 100% fit (fighting a chest cold), so wasn't in the best shape of the world, but still had lots of fun, and will definitely come back next year. Maybe Nolan will even join me :)

And finally, meet our newest accountant...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nolan's birthday!

Yesterday was Nolan's birthday, and I had promised him a while ago that I would make him a special birthday cake. I even took the day off to do so (well, plus a 100 other things). See photo below for the result. Not bad, if I may say so. And in case you're curious, we managed to NOT set off the fire alarm with all those candles. Although that makes you wonder about our fire alarm...

And that really funky light I was talking about last time? This is what it looks like:

Pretty cool, eh? Next week we're planning on doing more work around the house. More painting, more lights, getting the garden ready for the winter and maybe, just maybe I might clean our windows..

Monday, September 24, 2012


That is how you can describe our weekend. It all started with a surprise birthday party for JoAnn, who will turn 40 early October. We had all gathered at Ann and Tom's and I think JoAnn was indeed surprises when she realized it was a birthday party, rather than an end-of-summer get together. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of food and drinks...). Margaritas anyone??

The next morning I got up a little earlier than I'd wanted (well or so my body thought) to go to the Renfrew County Outdoor Woodlot conference. When I woke up it was pouring rain, and by the time I got to Renfrew it was still very, very wet. Luckily I could park along the road, so didn't have to worry about getting stuck (good thing they had tractors on display, since a lot of people got stuck in the mud!).  However, by the time the event went underway and the first tour left, it had cleared up nicely and there were even hints of some sunshine! I didn't stay very long, but was glad I made it there and caught up with some people I hadn't talked to in a while. So it was worth it.

I was back in Ottawa early afternoon, since we had to get ready for the NAC gala that evening, where Lang Lang would be performing, while also trying to prepare for the Army Run half marathon the next morning.  While I was away, Nolan had put up our new light for in the bedroom, and it looks amazing! I'll try to take some pictures next time.
Then Nolan had the brilliant (and slightly obnoxious...) idea to try to get a last minute deal on  a hotel room downtown. And it worked! We found a cheap deal for a 4-star hotel two blocks away from both the NAC and the start of the Army Run.
So we checked in to the hotel later afternoon on Saturday, and then headed to the NAC. We watched some 'celebrities' enter the building on the red carpet, including Lang Lang himself. The evening itself was wonderful. The music was absolutely breathtaking and Lang Lang is just amazing. The was he moves his fingers and plays the piano is simply out of this world! Definitely a great night out!

Afterwards we walked the whole 2 blocks back to the hotel, instead of going back to Kanata. We both slept really well and were well rested for the race. For some reason we were both a bit nervous. Not sure why, but I guess we'll never get used to running races...  Nolan decided to run with Ann, and I would try to run with Debbie and Nancy, whose pace is slightly faster than our pace. No wonder I was nervous!

We started a little too far back, close to the 2:30 pace bunny, and the first km we were just weaving through the people, passing other runners left right and centre. It took energy trying to dodge people, but it also gave energy passing people! However, we still had a long ways to go, and I tried really hard to pace myself. However, that was somewhat unsuccessful. I led Debbie and Nancy for most of the race, and was waiting to crash. Hard. I have a tendency to start out too fast and then crash and burn. But we kept going and passed the 2:15 and then the 2:10 pace bunnies. Well, I did crash, but not until the 18km mark, so with 3km more to go. Not too bad, but 3km is incredibly long if you feel like you're going to pass out!  But Debbie and Nancy pulled me through! Nolan did really well too. He and Ann ran together up until 15km, and then Nolan started to speed up. He finished a few minutes behind us, and Ann was able to take 5 minutes of her previous time. So we all rocked this weekend!
It turned out I ran a personal best, and shaved over 4 minutes of my previous best time!! Not bad considering my training was less than perfect... So maybe that 2hr barrier is within reach with some serious training?! It's definitely motivating!
However, my legs are screaming at me today, so not sure when the more serious training schedule will kick... First a little break :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It's been a little quiet here lately, but that is mainly because I don't have much to say. Well, at least nothing interesting... That doesn't mean that we haven't kept busy! We spent a great weekend in Toronto for Riley and Tina's wedding. It was an absolute fabulous weekend, with many friends that we hadn't seen in a long time (or that I had never even met yet!). Tina and Riley are an amazing couple, and I couldn't be happier for them. Nolan was the MC for the day and he did a marvellous job. Someone to be proud of! Tina told me I was the 'hottest guest' of the day. She totally meant that as  a compliment, but of course, we're both red heads so slightly biased!

The view from our window of the hotel. Not bad :)

In other news... Jack hasn't been around for a while. I hope he has moved somewhere else, and nothing has happened to him. Maybe he found better tasting almonds??  Murphy is still keeping an eye out for him from his newly discovered favourite place. He also has bright white teeth again, after visiting the dentist, ehm, vet today. We should add him to our insurance plan. Or become a vet because apparently they make good money!

Our pepper plants did really well this year! Will try again next year.

We've been saying for a while that we should update some items in our house, such as light fixtures, blinds, paint more rooms, etc. Well, last weekend we started to make due on some of those ideas... We went to check out blinds and bought new ones for the large side window in the staircase, dining room windows, and living room windows and patio door. We've started putting them up (hence the DIY, Do It Yourself), and it makes a huge difference!
After checking out (and buying) all the blinds, we went across the street to look at light fixtures. Maybe not a smart thing to do, since we were, apparently, in need of some shopping therapy. We checked out the light fixtures, and found the ones we had put up in the old house that we loved, but weren't able to enjoy since we sold the house... We decided to use the same fixtures for the hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms. We also bought a new fixture for the dining room, and a funky light for our bedroom! So we have our work cut out for us! After we put up a couple of the blinds in the dining room, we realized how badly some areas need to be painted. We both took a week off in October, and were thinking of going on a last-minute trip, but now we're thinking that maybe we should just stay put and really put a dent in all the work that needs to be done around the house (and that we want to do!). We can always go away on a trip later on (we do have a nice trip coming up this winter as well!), but now we're in the mood to get things done around the house! Make it really look and feel like our house :)

This coming weekend is the Army Run, a half marathon that we signed up for, and thus are planning on running. We haven't had the best training in the world, so we'll see how it goes. Right now, we're just praying for not too much rain! We're also going on a date the night before to see Lang Lang. I'm really looking forward to that, but thought it would be just him playing, but now it turns out to be a full blown gala. I guess we'll have to dress up again!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meet Jack!

I have a new friend! A blue one!
It all started last week sometime, when Nolan noticed a Blue Jay sitting on our front porch. He didn't think much of it, we tend to have a lot of birds around... And then on Saturday I went outside to get the newspaper, and this Blue Jay comes flying from the tree on our front lawn, and it is pretty clear that it wants some food. So I grabbed some birdseed and he took it, almost eating out of my hand. He looked in good health, but young. Probably this year's chick.
A couple of days later, I was about to leave for work and I hear a Blue Jay's call. And low and behold, there he is! I fed him again, and this time he would eat out of my hand. He was going after the sunflower seeds (don't all birds prefer those sunflower seeds?), so I figured he liked nuts... I grabbed some almonds and he immediately fell in love with them! He's been back most mornings since, and the last couple of days he's also showed up in the evening for a bed time snack.
He grabs the whole almond out of my fingers, in flight if I don't give it quick enough, and then puts it in between his claws and starts picking away at it until it's completely gone.
It shows that at least he is somewhat wild. He will get quite close, but you can't touch him, which I think is actually a good thing. He should stay somewhat wild. But we did decide to give him a name. So Jack it is!
Below are some pictures, to show how close he is, and what Murphy thinks of it all...

Besides Jack, life is pretty much back to normal. I actually have my second weekend in a row off! We got quite a bit of rain, so at least our lawn is starting to look green again, and we actually had to cut it today! However, it's not enough to restore water levels, and for most farmers it came a little too late. But I guess that is nature?