Monday, August 25, 2008

Ottawans In Calgary BBQ - Edworthy Park

On July 23rd, we got together at Edworthy Park for a BBQ with all the Ottawa expatriates that we could find here in Calgary. It turned out to be quite a crowd.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Biker Baby

"Hey Grandpa, is that your motorcycle in that trailer?!"

"Hey, I want a closer look at your bike!"

"Sweet bike, Grandpa! Can I borrow your helmet?"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reunion Day 4 - Heritage Park

Here's probably the last installment in my drawn-out series of postings from the family reunion held in July -- the reunion where I failed to take many "family" pictures, mainly snapping photos of Scott with some family in the distant background.

On the Monday of our reunion, we went to Heritage Park (Calgary's historic village) to make the most of the sweltering heat. At least we were able to wear shorts and sit in the shade -- many of the park workers were dressed in long wool clothes. We kicked things of with a picnic near the tracks of the steam train that circles the park.

There is a theme park with authentic antique rides like a ferris wheel, a carousel and a strange roller-coaster contraption that bobbed up and down as it when in circles, and then a shroud came up and covered the whole thing. Scott was too short to go on most of the rides, but he loved the carousel

I think everyone loved the carousel because it was in the nice, cool shade. Here's my brother J keeping tabs on the little nieces on the horses. I suppose the beard is his attempt at period authenticity.

Scotty can hardly go anywhere without an appropriate amount of pointing. There was very little hooting on this occasion, as I recall.

No trip to the park is complete without a ride on the steam train. It ambles along a wide circuit through the park -- and on a day like that Monday, it is stifling hot on board.

We eventually left our seats in the enclosed part of the car in favour of the open section near the front with a bit more circulation. It was here that R snapped this picture, which is one of my favourite Daddy-Scotty shots.

The final order of business was a riverboat cruise around Glenmore Reservoir. Scott decided to wander around a bit, encountering strangers as he went. He typically gives the same reaction to anyone he doesn't immediately recognize: he stares at them intently with a furrowed brow. On the boat, he stood and stared at a woman seated near us for a good 2 or 3 minutes straight. I think she found it a bit unsettling.

Well, I think that is the end of my reunion pictures -- except for the ones of Scott sitting on my dad's motorcycle. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hey, Free Dummy

If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.

That was always one of my favourite "Deep Thoughts - By Jack Handey", a recurring segment of Saturday Night Live several years ago. I remember coming up with my own list of similarly-styled thoughts when I was in high school.

This particular Deep Thought crossed my mind because I've been coming up with all kinds of free stuff the last two days. I had considered buying a barbeque yesterday because they were on sale, but I decided to hold back since I'm still in school and we can't spend the money. Then, on the way over to R's parents' place yesterday afternoon, we drove by a barbeque (albeit an old one) that was sitting by the side of the road with a sign that said, "Free- Still Works". It was only half a block from our house, so I grabbed it and wheeled it back home. It has a tank of propane and everything. It's just a little old and dirty.

This morning, we were on our way to church and we noticed the neighbours four houses down had left two bikes out front with a "Free" sign. They weren't race-ready for the Tour de France or anything, but one of them looked to be a decent replacement for R's bike (the other looked like it came across on the Mayflower). I grabbed that one and hustled it home.

...Because, hey, free dummy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nursery Stowaway Meets Rabbit, Dampness Ensues

Every Sunday morning, Scott comes with us to church. He sits with us through all the services and classes, which can be a real test of his powers of concentration. Unless he crashes during Sunday School for a good nap, one of us usually has to take him out to the hallway at least once during the morning.

Once he reaches 18 months of age, he will be old enought to attend the "Nursery" instead of coming with us to the Sunday School class that follows the main service. There he'll play and learn with kids aged 18 months - 3 years, eventually moving on to a Sunday School class of his peers.

The Sunday before last, Scott and I were taking one of the above-mentioned breaks in the hallway when I heard that they were short-staffed in the Nursery. I volunteered to help out if I could bring Scott in with me. He took to it immediately -- latching onto a pink toy stroller with a little doll strapped into it until it was snack time. He loved snack time, obviously. Our little boy is always happiest when has something to chew on.

I think he did pretty well in the nursery, and didn't seem too concerned whether I was watching him or not. Hopefully, he'll still be as open about it in October, when he's legit. I tell you what, I would gladly volunteer to attend any class that gave out cookies.

Afterwards, when we pulled up in front of our house, we saw a large rabbit hunkered down next to the tree in our front yard. I quietly climbed out and let Scott out of the car to see the rabbit. The pointer finger shot out immediately and the hooting began in earnest as he advanced on the rabbit.

Scott stopped short when the rabbit ran off a few steps, but he resumed the chase after a moment, hooting at the animal long after it disappeared into the neighbour's bushes.

In all the excitement, I forgot to close the sunroof on the Jeep, noticing my mistake a few hours later when we loaded up to go to a family dinner. Unfortunately, it rained pretty hard in the interim. We had to sit on towels and R was not impressed.

Scott just chirped away merrily from the back seat, making Vrrm sounds at the passing cars.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Random Acts of Saving

Last month the Canada Revenue Agency sent me a letter about taxes.

I claimed quite a host of deductions for 2007, mainly moving expenses and tuition payments. The end result was that I got most of my prepaid tax refunded. Now CRA is revisiting that decision, and would like to see all of my documentation. I knew this might happen, so I saved all my receipts and paperwork. Still, it takes quite an effort to get everything together and mailed off within the 30 day deadline. I think I will be able to send it to them today. Now I just hope that the results come back favourable, and that I didn't make mistakes that are going to cost me.

However, I have had some good fortune to offset any bad news from CRA.

Two nights ago, I was going through a file of receipts and stumbled upon a government cheque that had been issued to me last summer, but I had never cashed. Lucky for me, these government cheques can still be cashed long after regular cheques would have gone stale -- especially since it's a cheque for $750. When I came out to the living to show R, she shook her head and said, "How is it that we didn't miss something like that?"

What makes this more amusing is that it's happened before -- last year in fact.

Last summer, as we were getting ready to move, I made a big pile of clothes that I was going to take to Value Village. As I went through the pockets of a Russian leather-ish jacket that I don't wear anymore, I found another such cheque, this one a reimbursement payment for a business trip that I had taken 1.5 years earlier. It was a most pleasant surprise, because the cash windfall corresponded with the unexpected cost we paid to have our air conditioning repaired in our car (see post from May 10, 2007).

Some might call me absent-minded for misplacing large sums of money for months and years at a time. Maybe. But these random acts of saving have now twice had the effect of producing cash at times when we encounter unexpected expenses.

Now I wonder where the next cheque is going to turn up, and whether I want to the know the financial misfortune that will accompany its discovery.

[August 26, 2008: As it turns out, the misfortune was a fairly hefty speeding ticket.]

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reunion Day 3 - Back Yard Bobsled

How about a little more about our family reunion? It was almost a month ago, but I still haven't got it all up here yet.

We all went to church together and then came back to our house for a picnic in our backyard, since it is fairly large and shaded. The adults hid in the shade while the kids played around and tried their best to get grass stains on their Sunday clothes.

The leading cause of grass stains on this particular day was the back yard bobsled. A few weeks before, our Calgary niece A discovered that the hill on the side of our house was steep enough that she could coast down it in the little buggy that we bought for Scott. Ever since then, her favourite activity has been riding down that hill in a wagon or buggy. I've even started loading Scott into the wagon to let him "ghost-ride" down the hill. Seeing him coast past obstacles like a tree and a shed used to make R nervous, but I've figured out how to do it safely (ie: he won't crash, but I suppose he could hurt himself if he decided to jump out or something).

I could see that the cloud of neices and nephews were somewhat unsure what to do in our yard, so I demonstrated this neat activity to them. For the next 4 hours the wagon and buggy were in constant motion, except for the infrequent occasions when somebody crashed into the shed or woodpile.

When they weren't perched atop a toddler buggy, the kids had a great time playing some sort of jail game in the little cottage, slide climber and other assorted yard toys that I've accumulated second-hand. The cottage was a particularly good deal -- I picked it up for only $15.

Our trees are large enough that we have been able to hang swings from the branches. I got two used swings for a song and hung one in the front and one in the back. Scott likes to watch me mow the lawn from his perch. Some of his girl cousins were such cute little mothers to him during the reunion. Little L just loved to lead him around and help him have fun.

Beards are also an important part of our family reunions, apparently. Unfortunately, I really don't have the wherewithal to take part in this particular aspect.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Reunion Day 2 - Prairie Winds Park

More about the family reunion held July 18-21:

The second day of our family reunion was nothing but sun and blue skies, in stark contrast to the sopping mess we saw on day one. Conditions were nearly ideal for a trip to the park -- a few degrees warmer would have been welcome. Everyone had a good time playing on the playground and running up the toboggan hill at Prairie Winds park, but you had to run pretty hard to feel like getting wet much higher than your ankles in the wading pool (the water felt icy cold). Scotty has pretty short ankles, so he didn't venture out very far at all until the very end, when R showed him this cute little fountain.

Unfortunately, we didn't take very many pictures on this day; however, we think the ones that we did take turned out nicely.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


For a while, Scott has had a few words that only we can identify, sounds that I doubt anyone else could recognize. For example, he says "Beh" for fan and "Da-Doo" for rabbit. He also has semi-recognizable versions of "Daddy", "Mama", "Up" and "All-gone", plus a decent dog's bark, an owl's hoot and an ambulance siren.

Lately he has been adding some more sounds, like the "Vrmmm" of a truck and the "t-t-t" for "Hot" (accompanied by blowing out air and waving his hand). However, last night he uttered what is probably his most clearly intelligible word to date: "Night-night". R was taking him out of the living room to go put him to bed, and telling him to wave night-night to me -- as usual. This time, instead of just waving, Scott suddenly said "Nigh-Nigh" in a very clear voice. We were both kind of shocked.

R says that we are entering the thrilling stage where children start to pick up new words at a tremendous pace. How exciting.