Thursday, July 22, 2010

How Much More Macho Is There?

This Saturday, I'm doing something hard. I'm gonna ride up a mountain, over and over, in the mud and sometimes the dark, over stumps and roots and rocks and logs, through trees and across streams, with bear warnings clearly posted at the entrance to the area where the race is taking place. I'm going to sweat, and swear, and grind, and groan, and chug uphill until my calves and quads scream. I'll likely wipe out, over and over, bruising and scraping and possibly cutting up legs and arms.

It's a world-class, 24-hour-long event with over 10,000 competitors (87% of which are testosterone-charged young men). There are five of us on our team, taking turns riding, getting almost enough sleep, pushing through fatigue to do our best, and the one thing that is inspiring us to give it our all - our reason for this sacrifice is summed up in our team moniker.

The Five Cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The Cosmos must have a more-important-than-usual message for me right now. This past week has seen me meeting three very unique characters.

First, I met a 91 year old man who, within 15 minutes of meeting me, revealed that:
  • he had been raised in an orphanage for the first five years of his life
  • he had been a soldier in WWII as a Nazi under Hitler
  • he was now a proud Canadian
  • he has donated blood over 50 times
  • he is a practicing cross-dresser and transvestite
  • has a book about his life written by a Calgary ghost writer.
He turned out to be one of the most interesting, lively, young-beyond-his-years and genuinely happy people I have met in a long time.

Secondly, I met a woman in her late forties/early fifties of great material wealth, but who was living in such paranoia and exuding anxiety to such a degree that everyone around her (including several house staff that she has at her beck and call for much of the day) was living in a state of fear.

Lastly, this evening, I spent some one-on-one time with a man who I have known for some time. This man is unique in that:
  • he spends the majority of his free time with his charity that promotes picking up litter, not using drugs and participating in sports (mountain biking in particular)
  • is a race announcer
  • has almost completed the process of legally changing his name to Crazy Larry

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be picking up from these folks, but I've enjoyed getting glimpses into some very interesting lives.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I had the greatest time this weekend, hanging out with my mom's family and Banana. We went to Langley, BC, for semi-decadal (that's every fifth year) Key Family picnic.

Five years is enough time for family members to change and gather some stories to keep you entertained. I had found I had graduated from 'active parenting' (cutting meat, slathering my child with sunscreen, keeping her entertained/out of harm's way) to the Elders' Circle that sips the beverage of their choice, feet in the kiddie pool and watches with bemusement as the Active Parents do their thing.

I was also very proud of my daughter as she mingled with her kin, finding them all to be funny, witty and entertaining (which they are, in their own ways). I was happy to spend some time with my cousin and her new baby. I am fully aware of how much energy it takes to be the parent of a toddler and am soooo glad that it is her and Tom that are starting on that journey and not me.

I'm watching Banana make plans to leave the nest. Vancouver is a likely landing spot. She identifies with the bohemian lifestyle (all the good and bad parts) and sees herself fitting in with the Commercial Drive crowd. We spent some time riding the train system there and an afternoon on The Drive. If she can afford the rent there, I'm sure she'll be happy.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coming to Visit?

Kate's mum (really, that's how she spells it) is on her way from Australia for a visit. Problem is, she landed in Vancouver five days ago where she met up with MY mom and is having a marvelous time, touring Vancouver Island. The two of them (three, actually - our thirteen-year-old niece is along with Nonna for the ride) are staying Bed and Breakfasts, visiting Saltspring Island, shopping, sightseeing and meeting all my relatives.

Kate and I are both happy that our mothers are getting along, but ... doesn't Nancy miss and want to see US?????

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pitter Patter

We've decided to take in a stray.

The lovely Autumn, a friend of Banana's, is coming to live with us. She and Banana have been pals for the past few years and have great plans of eventually exploring the big, bad world together. Circumstances have arisen that have lead to smaller steps towards their eventual independence.

Autumn's parents (dad and step-mom) had been making plans to live and work around the world as soon as Autumn finished school. Autumn's dad (being a Sommelier) has landed a job in the wine-making region of BC, starting pretty much now. His wife (as is custom) is tagging along for the season, and they both have plans to scoot to more interesting parts of the world (namely China) when the weather in the Okanagan cools down. Autumn wasn't ready to pack up and leave Calgary just yet, with a bosom buddy and a boyfriend in town. When word of her wanting to stay first emerged last fall, we offered up some space in our house. As the time got closer, we firmed up the offer (and then the plans) with Autumn's parents.

We're looking forward with great anticipation to having Autumn with us. She's a polite, friendly and helpful houseguest - we'll see what happens when she's a resident (I have high hopes that things will get even better). She's a steadying and calming influence on Banana. She's a good eater (regularly vacuuming up leftovers in the fridge, but never putting on an ounce of weight) and a good conversationalist. She also is fluent in French, so it will keep Banana practiced up.

I'm also looking forward to having another person coming and going in our place. I've always said that I wanted a house full of kids, pets and music. Technically, it is just one kid now (and that is only until Autumn turns 18 in August), but it is the young spirits that I was referring to when I originally made that wish. Another (surrogate) daughter is just the ticket to keep life interesting.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Although we bought this house with the intention of not doing any renovation projects, a few small ones have popped up. The most recent one is a refit of Kate's closet. After an abortive attempt to recess a set of drawers into the back of what looked like a false back ("Oh, hello structural roof support beam. I guess I shouldn't take the Sawz-all to you."), we had to re-drywall and revise our plan.

And by "we" Of course I mean the royal We.

Now I'm looking at a day and a half's work, *if* I don't run into any more surprises and if my luck that is masquerading as skill holds out.

Whenever I start renovations, I always feel like a cork inspector at a leaky dyke.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Family Time

When I first heard of the upcoming family reunion in Langley this July, I quickly dismissed it as an event too inconvenient to attend. We are going to have houseguests during the weekend it is scheduled, it would be a lot of miles to put on the van and I can't just pick up and leave for the four days (two bouts of day-and-a-half drives) that would be required. That was my rationale.

Lately, I've had little tugs at my heartstrings. I have a new second cousin who has turned a year old and I have not yet looked at him in person. I'm seeing e-mails from aunts and second cousins that I haven't seen for what seems like ages. I have an overwhelming urge to play cribbage (OK, I'm just making that one up).

Anyways, I've decided to fly out, despite the houseguests. Kate is staying put, out of politeness, but I'm going. And in a last-minute decision, Brianna is coming with me.

Isn't that nice?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

El Presidente

Once again, I've decided to take on the role of President of the condo board where my parents live.

Last year was my first try at this impressive-sounding (but thankless) position. Our condo board (as it exists) is what is called "self-managed." This means it has farmed out the tasks of bookkeeping, groundskeeping, errand-running and common area cleaning to different parties (all of whom need to be poked and prodded to keep in motion), with the frustrating tasks of condo fee processing left to whomever is on the board.

When I signed up last year, I was keen to learn all about 'managing' a condo, and what an experience it has been. Two other condo owners volunteered to be on the board (with me as president), then promptly disappeared when it was time to do any work. These two both moved out of town and rented out their units, leaving me to deal with little problems like:
  • water pipes leaking between two condos and causing water damage that has to be fixed. They both point to the other (and the building, because it is supposed to take care of common property), leaving the board to arbitrate who should pay for repairs,
  • a (heating) boiler failure at the end of November, going into the coldest stretch of winter, with half of the condo association wanting to upgrade the boiler and half not wanting to go to the time and expense but wanting multiple estimates before proceeding with fixing the problem
  • a garage that is structurally unsound, with some tenants that want to build a carport with rooftop garden (not surprisingly, ones on the second floor who would benefit most from it -not the poor schmoes who would then have their garden view turned into the equivalent of a basement window well) and HOBOS living in the present garage, butting out their cigarettes in the wall insulation
  • a bevvy of other projects that need to be done to upkeep this 90 year old heritage-designated building

As a newbie to the condo board, I had no idea what I was allowed to do and what I shouldn't do. I knew that I needed to pay bills and collect condo fees, but that's where my knowledge (and perceived authority) ended. I stepped gingerly for a year, was criticized by others and thought for sure there would be a coup d'tat (or at least some of my critics would quickly step up to take the reins away from such an imbecilic President at the next Annual General Meeting).

Guess what? When the AGM was called, I got very little affirmative RSVPs. Then, the day before the AGM, in flooded a bunch of proxy votes entrusted to ... ME! Out of 12 owners, only three showed up for the meeting (although I didn't need them there - I had enough proxies to be a quorum all by myself). It was a disappointing turnout, but a message had been sent.

Apathy, laziness and lack of willing to step up and do things their way has given me a clear mandate - they don't care what I do. I plan on getting a lot done this year, and I'll do whatever the hell I please.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Looks like I'll have some company at Wasa Lake Triathlon this year. My lovely wife and three of her craziest friends have signed up to do the sprint distance with me.

After all, how hard could it be? (har har har)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Next Plane to AUS ...

... that has us on it will be in December. We're going for Christmas and New Years. That means that we'll be in Canada for summer for a change.

Whoo hoo!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thank Yous

I'm trying to instill in Banana the importance of "Thank You" wishes.

Although, ideally, we give gifts without expectations, the truth is we all want to have a little feedback on the effort made. Banana just had her 18th birthday, which included some big efforts and nice gestures from those who love her. A smattering of gifts was also included - some from her new Aussie relatives that are far away and have no idea how she received her gifts.

I've been after her for a week now to acknowledge those gifts. Thank you cards have been put in front of her, along with stamps and addresses, but to no avail.

I'm quite disappointed in her.