Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Past

Christmas has come and gone in a relatively quiet manner. Kate and I spent it at home without the company of Banana and McMonk. I don't exaggerate when I say that Christmas and Boxing Day were spent entirely inside. While I claim it was quiet, we had guests - plenty of them, in fact. We hosted eleven people (with me as the only Canadian at the table) for a big post-Christmas turkey feast. Phone calls and greetings were sent back and forth to siblings and parents. The day before Christmas Eve had us visiting with a friend fom New York who was back in town for the holidays. Christmas Eve brought my folks over for a gift exchange. The cold (-20 celcius or worse) weather and 40 cm of snow that had us socked in lifted for Christmas Day, but we never found reason to venture out. Even the lure of ultra-crowded malls, half-baked attempts at sales and quenching of consumerism weren't enough to lure us out of our comfy surroundings yesterday.

Today saw us tidying the house and making up the guest room yet again. We're very excited to see Hillary (one of Kate's friends) who is coming for visit. She'll be staying in Calgary for a few days before we all head off for a New Year's ski in BC.

Moving to this new house and neighborhood (along with meeting up with this lovely Aussie with a vast social network) has meant that we always seem to be having people over or preparing to have people over. You'd think it would exhaust me, but I am whole-heartedly enjoying the thrum of activity that the house contains.

Life couldn't be better these days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Things are quickly drawing to a close at my little company. I've cleared out my desk and hanging files; delegated all my responsibilities and now have to wait for something to happen that I can fix or take care of.

I'm starting to feel some sadness at having to go, even though I know better, more challenging times await.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008


Oh, you Internet.

Full of facts, answerer of questions, solver of arguments. How can we disagree with you.

I especially love your summaries. Where else can you find fifty years of popular songs condensed into single sentences?

We used to do it, but then you did it with someone else, and now I'm not going to do it with you, although I wish we were still doing it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Slacker Friday

Because I love you, dear reader, and because it's a slow, slow afternoon at work, and because this is likely the last Friday EVER that I'll be sitting at this desk, I'll share with you my favorite commercial of all time.

I can proudly say that my two dear little snowflakes get this commercial, too. Mind you, I have played it for them, over and over.

Canadian Traditions

Traditions are wonderful things. They create a sense of orderliness and predictability to one's life. For North Americans, it seems that holiday traditions are the most common and wide-spread.

Last night, I took Kate and a group of Aussies to see the Stuart McLean Christmas concert. The concert consists of Stuart McLean hosting musicians playing Stuart McLean's WebsiteChristmas-themed songs and Stuart reading stories he has written about a fictitious friend named Dave. Dave lives in a small town in rural Ontario, where he owns and operates a record shop called the Vinyl Cafe. The stories tell the humorous goings-on of Dave, his wife Morley, their kids, neighbors and other townsfolk that make up their lives. Ever since I first went to this event in 2002 with the pre-Veer gang, it has signified the start of the Christmas season for me, sure as playing "Welcome Christmas" first thing in the morning on December 1st.

As the lights dimmed on the sparsely furnished stage (a comfy-looking wing-backed chair, a side table, an old-fashioned table lamp, some microphones and a big screen showing 1950's style, winter-themed family photographs), two singers appeared in a spotlight and began singing a Huron Christmas carol a Capella. The show was mesmerizing right from the start. Stuart's funny, touching tales are engaging and give you a sense of familiarity with his characters right away. At the intermission, my Australian guests remarked that being there felt more like being in someone's living room than sitting in a twenty-five-hundred-person concert hall.

I loved being able to share the traditions that I've created. As Kate and I build out a life together, I realize that there will be some traditions that I will need to let go in order to create new ones - ones that we have built together. Times will change as the girls grow older and (soon) strike out on their own and not be present for day-to-day life, leaving further changes to be made to traditions. I'm glad that Kate has embraced and shared this experience and wants to make an annual night out at this show as part of our Canadian Christmas routine.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where I'm At

There's a certain calmness to me these days as I go about my business. I have (roughly) three weeks of work left, and I am definitely looking forward to the time off. Most of my duties have been transitioned to my Facility Coordinator and the guy in Seattle who will be looking after things when I'm gone. There's no sign of my replacement, although the HR team is planning interviews next week. Giving that the holiday season will be a week away when they finish up the selection process, I doubt I will even shake hands with the new person.

My post-Veer time is filling up by itself, too. Odd jobs around the house, plans to doing some volunteer work, landlord-ing, training for triathlon season ... all are bounding around in my head, eventually to land in a spot in my schedule. I've started cycling on a stationary bike in the garage and I've (sorry - Kate has) started a project list to tackle in the New Year.

Life is very good right now.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Letter

Well, the Christmas letter is done. With apologies for the lack of brevity, you can wait for your copy to arrive in the mail or you can download it now.

Ho ho ho.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


My van was broken into this morning.

Actually, it wasn't 'broken into', it was entered without my permission.

As I opened the door to use the van this morning, I noticed that the driver's seat had a pair of ski pants that had been on the back seat. "That's odd," I thought, "I don't remember rifling through the van for anything last night." Then, I saw the the glove box and the coin change bin in the center console had both been left open. I could then see that everything open-able (bags, too) had been opened.

I vaguely remembered bringing in groceries last night, 'bumming' the door closed (with full hands) and thinking that I should come back out and lock the car. The thought then skittered off in my brain to hide behind some more immediate thoughts, and had just poked its head around the corner now.

I began to panic. Banana's ski bag had been in the back seat. Our discount ski cards were in the glove box. Had I left my wallet in the door, as I sometimes (out of forgetfulness) do? A quick pat of my pocket eased my mind - there was the familiar lump of ID, cards and perhaps some cash. With that important part of my life still in my possession, my fright lessened but was still in the back of my throat. "What else was gone?" I wondered.

A quick inspection of the car revealed that aside from the parking meter change, all the other things (skis, boots, sunglasses, ski passes, tools, gloves, etc.) were all in place, although slightly disheveled. Rather than well up with feelings of anger or violation, I felt a bit of sadness and respect for the person who had done this. Whomever it was, they needed money and for some reason decided to take just the cash they could find and not the convert-to-cash things. I was grateful for this. I also paused to think that perhaps something might be missing and I just have so much 'stuff' that I hadn't even noticed it was gone. On that note, I decided that if something has gone missing that I didn't miss yet, I shouldn't be sorry that it had gone on to hands that did need it.

Tonight, I just might leave a Christmas card on the driver's doorhandle with $20 in the envelope. If I do, I'll write this as a sentiment:

Thanks for not damaging the interior of the car in your search for cash last night. I'm sorry that you are having a hard time with money. Here's a little bit extra to help with the journey.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I'm working away on the Christmas newsletter and am looking for some kind of jazzy template to show off my writing. When I google 'holiday newletter', it comes up with all kinds of advice and tips on how to create a readable one. Deciding I need a pat on the back (after all, I'm an excellent writer - just ask me if you don't think it's true), I click on the link to one advice page, then another, then another. A common thread that runs through them is, "don't try to fit every event and accomplishment in." They warn that your newsletter can lose a reader's interest if it stretches to two or (god forbid) three pages.

Without pictures, our newsletter weighs in at EIGHT.

Whoops. It would seem that I have some editing to do.