Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Sean's blog will be off the air until a few matters get straightened out.

You take care and wish us good luck.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I'm driving down the Deerfoot this morning when I see a 20 year old Ford pickup rattling down the center lane. The paint is badly faded from its original silver color, the fenders are dented with spots of rust along the bottoms of the panels and randomly blemishing the upper half of the vehicle. It looks like attempts have been made to keep this truck running. Someone has even tried to stay some of the more serious body damage with Bondo and primer paint, so it takes me a while to notice that three letters and an exclamation mark have been spray-painted on the tailgate of the Ford.

L O E !

The letters intrigue me, as I can't figure out what they mean. I look and ponder, running acronyms through my head until I finally realize that each of the spray-painted letters is in between one of the letters on the vehicle's logo, sending a message to everyone who's stuck behind this piece of rolling junk that's only going 100 km/hour down the highway.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Today's fortune cookie reads:

Now, If I could just figure out which path I'm supposed to be on, I'd be OK.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Har har! Ho ho! Fencepost holes are done, and not a minute too soon. The family returns to the house after a five day trip to the Okanagan, and my goal was to be done. I find I get so much more done when I'm the only family member around. Don't get me wrong - I *do* enjoy their company, but as Barbara Coloroso has mentioned, parenting is not an efficient profession.

It wasn't all work, though - heat exhaustion sets in pretty fast when you are using a hand-auger in 30+ heat. I spent some of the week relaxing as it was my vacation, too. I've started a few paperback novels, watched some trashy primetime TV and did some laying around.

Doing nothing isn't as bad as most people make it out to be. Our society focuses so much on "accomplishing" something in every waking hour. Even when someone takes a vacation, it is assumed that they are taking time off to work on a project (as I did) or to travel. You don't need to do anything specific to rejuvenate yourself. Sometimes quiet reflection is enough.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sunday, August 08, 2004

When my neighbor, Mr. G., came to me with the idea of replacing the fence between us, it sounded like such a good summer project. He, being an older gentleman in failing health, offered to pay the lion's share of the materials if I would do the manual labour. The old fence was definitely in need of replacement (being 40 years old) and the new fence would be the same location, size and colour as the existing fence. Tear down the old one, put up a new one.

Doesn't sound like a Herculean task, does it?

Somehow, this little project has stretched from late June until now, almost 2 months after lumber was purchased. Mr. G., who is normally a patient and kind man, is starting to run out of patience. He phoned me a few days ago and mentioned that he had asked a landscaper to give him a quote on finishing the project for me (I've got the old fence disassembled and disposed of, as well as half of the post holes cleared out) and wanted to know if I wanted to hire them instead. I assured him that I had plans to finish, and that I would somehow delay the other things that were keeping me from the fence.

I've taken this week off work and have sent the family to the Okanagan so that I am free of job, parental and all other obligations, so that I might focus on the fence. So far, the weather hasn't been co-operating. Yesterday (Saturday) was rainy and today's not much better. I am resting and recharging my energy. When I changed my business voicemail tonight, I realized that I haven't taken a work break since November of last year. Even that break was a busy one, filled with parental responsibility and the general hubbub of international travel (we went to Greece so The Missus could compete in a marathon). It wasn't what I'd call a restful vacation.

So, in between digging posts and hand-mixing concrete, I plan to enjoy the solitude that an empty house holds.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I washed my hands nine times today, and the day is not even over.

And no, all nine times weren't for the reason that you are thinking. Ewww!

  • Washing hands and face just after waking up
  • brushing teeth after breakfast
  • morning shower after workout
  • pre-work pee
  • going to eat an apple at my desk, wanted clean hands
  • Late morning bathroom "visit"
  • prior to lunch, wanted clean hands
  • post lunch pee
  • afternoon face wash, helping to wake me up

Does this seem obsessive?

Went out for a nice bike ride with Bob and The Torpedo this morning. I can kick both their butts on the bicycle.

I had a flat for the first time in 1300 kms (accourding to my trusty, dusty bike computer). I was certainly envying the lovely carbon fibre that my two riding mates were on. My bike is 18 years old this summer, and though it has carried my for tens of thousands of kilometres and endured all sorts of abuse by me, I am considering getting a new one some day. 12 gears just doesn't cut it, nevermind the non-indexed shifting levers on the downtube. I *could* upgrade components, but that's just going to require more cash than a new purchase.

What's a fella to do?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Windermere Triathlon is done for another year. The race was a bit of a dissapointment as I haven't trained as throughly as I would have liked. The day was glorious, as usual for that location. I was staying with a friend who has a second home in Invermere (he refers to it as 'the cottage') and enjoyed the hospitality and vacation time.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

When summer vacation happens, children everywhere are thrilled ... for about the first week. Then boredom sets in. We, as parents, are responsible for the supervison and (to a lesser extent) the entertainment of our children. Some parents just send their children outside to play. Some buy new cartridges for the family X-Box. Some ship them off to other relatives' houses and hope that they find a way to keep them busy. Some, (like us) enroll our kids in daytime themed "camps" where they are supervised for us while we work to, uh, pay for the said camp. That just doesn't sound right, does it?

Banana and McMonk have started their run of summer camps. These past two weeks, our two little hams have been enrolled in the Pumphouse Theatre's camp. They get to learn about set design, diction, script writing, singing, costume preparation and other aspects of putting on a show. Each day as I drove them to camp on my way to work, they would bounce around in the back seat, revving themselves up so that they could run showmanship laps around each other and the other campers the moment they arrived. Even as we were getting out of the car with the other kids within earshot, Banana and McMonk needed to talk over each other. All of them at once seem to need the attention of the counselors, who were on the caffeinated activation level as their little charges. Wild hair styles, flashy clothes, ear-catching voices were all part of the normal atmosphere. They were in for a super, super, SUPER-charged day. It was an agoraphobic's nightmare. The end of the day was a different story.

When we came to pick them up, our children would quickly wind down from their frenzied, manic camp personas to a quieter version of themselves. They reverted to a version that needed solitude to recharge before the next high-energy camp day. We each breathed a sigh of relief and took them back home, where they retreated to their rooms and where they would read, play quietly or just relax for the rest of the evening.

Tonight was different. The plays that they had put together over the span of the camp were presented. Fifty sets of parents sat in the darkened theatre and watched what their children had been up to for the past two weeks. Filled with inside jokes, the performances were delightful. Each of the campers got the spotlight (literally) for a few moments. Lines that they had been dying to say, longing to deliver were finally presented. The performances were aimed at humor, but each character had wry, subtle touches of individuality that would only be recognized by a parent.

I am impressed but not surprised by the confidence that Banana and McMonk show when they are on stage, delivering to the masses. They are the kind of cool, confident kids that I was afraid to talk to as a youth. I hope they are nice to the shy, quiet kids.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The triathlon training, she's not going so good.  I did get out for a nice ride today, but the next triathalon I'm in is gonna be a butt kicking, and it ain't gonna be me that DOES the kicking.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Automotive Haiku

Clunking, grinding noise,
bits of metal on the ground.
Transmissions aren't cheap.

Friday, July 23, 2004

What the hell have I been doing instead of blogging?

Diggin, laddie. Diggin fence-post holes. With these two hands. No sissy machines for me - I'm hand-crankin 'em out.

And boy, I am I getting tired of doing it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Think nothing much changes with you from day to day?  Check out what J-K Keller did to document his apparent lack of change. 

Your face changes, based on stresses, weather, daily activity (or lack thereof), emotions, attitude ... nevermind what you can do to you hair.  I've seen similar projects done by taking monthly or yearly shots of people, but nothing that shows daily changes.  what a great regimen.

The web is a perfect showcase for amazingly dedicated projects like this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I've been eating and eating and eating today.  Maybe I'm having a growth spurt.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

It is ironic that I am growing, learning and changing in such profound ways right now and that none of that experience is making it to this archive of my life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Hopeful that I'll start making blog entries again? Me too.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

I took Canada Day off, and everything at work held together.

Friday night (Saturday morning, actually) we did some late-night work that required us to be up until 5:30 am. The rest of Saturday morning was spent hugging the pillow until noon.

Today, work was closed and I prepared for the big fence building project at the house. Tomorrow, we pressure-wash the deck and prepare for staining.

Busy little bees, aren't we?

At least I got a blog entry in.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Remember when you were in grade seven and you went to your first party? And your friend who was having it, had, like, pop and food and a stereo and great music? And all the kids from your class came, even the cool guys and girls came too? And there was even some slow dances, and someone said that it was girls' choice? And your friend that had the party, their parents were there, and they were, like, hanging around and looking at everything and like totally spying on everybody?

Well, right now, I'm that parent.

Friday, June 25, 2004

School's out! School's out!

Hooray! Beware! School's out!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

After hearing about Milk Duds in American-based media for years, I was expecting them to be delicious. Someone brought a box into work today and left them as a public offering on the kitchen table.

It turns out they're chocolate-covered lumps of toffee. Yuck!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Don't let the doom and gloom of the recent posts at No Comment fool you. I'm really quite excited about my daughters (yes, both of them) competing in a triathlon this weekend. Banana completed a triathlon training program last week and is keen on all the sports involved. McMonk is along for the ride, but isn't quite as enthusiastic, as you might expect at the tender age of ten. I'm glad both of them are staying active and enjoying activities such as this.

Banana is moving on from elementary school next week, complete with a graduation ceremony and dance. It might seem a bit odd to have a graduation ceremony to go from Grade 6 to Grade 7, but she is changing from a school that she's been in her whole educational career. She's going on to be with a group of teenagers, fraught with a whole different set of joys and concerns than her present, younger schoolmates. New responsibilities are on their way too - home rooms, her own locker, changing classrooms throughout the day, optional classes, intramural teams, ... It's all so exciting and frightening at the same time.

I remember junior high as a time of great change and deep insecurities for me. I hope that her teenage years are a bit gentler with her. I hope to have my crap together in short order so I can be there to support her when she deals with hers.

Just in case you are counting, this is my thousandth post to my blog!
After a rough night, I went into work early before I'd had a chance to have breakfast. I decided to go out of my way to a local grocery store and pick up some breakfast fixings. Wouldn't you know it, there's a faded old sign prohibiting left-hand turns between 7 and 8:30 am onto the street where I needed to go. I didn't see the sign, but the cop that was waiting for me as I completed the maneuver certainly was aware of it.

I've now been to the hundred-and-fifty dollar "don't turn here between these times" course. I was polite to the police officer, but he seemed to have a plethora of pat excuses for the price of the ticket. I thought I sensed a ticket quota and a slightly guilty conscience at this obscure turning restriction.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Yesterday I felt like I wasn't pulling my weight at work. I wasn't hungry and had no energy. I couldn't connect with anyone that I talked with, I was forgetful and I couldn't concentrate. My kids were annoying and demanding, my personal life felt like it was crashing down around me.

Today I felt like competent and useful at work. I had much more energy, had good conversations with people, felt like I had a handle on all the personal stuff I'm dealing with and had a pleasant time with my kids who are funny, entertaining and interesting people. I had a good swim workout and I have the energy to 'blog.

The difference? 12 hours of sleep. It does wonders - everyone should try it once in a while.

Friday, June 11, 2004

I bought a new tin of hot chocolate powder and left it in the office kitchen.

Help yourself, but don't forget that you have to buy the next tin.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I'm thirty-nine years old, and I have white feet.

Pale, pasty-white feet.

When I was nineteen years old, I would scoff at my dad's white feet. He walked around all day in workboots, his feet encased in thick wool worksocks. He would get home from work and pull off his workboots and socks and let out a huge sigh as his feet emerged from their UV-proof cocoons.

I, on the other hand, spent my summers outside, barefoot, on the pool deck where I worked as a lifeguard. I had a clearly defined line on my feet where the pigmented skin ended and the thick, tough (remember I was walking on concrete all day) pigmentless skin of the soles of my feet began. The tops of my feet were the color of rich, medium-stained mahogany. In fact, a bit of the tan from last summer could still be seen, even in May before I started my summer job on teh pool deck.

Now, as I enter another year in my life, I notice little things like this that tell me times have changed. I understand the reasoning behind some of my parents' comments from the days of my youth. I find myself saying things I thought only my father would say. I sometimes make grunting noises when I get up after sitting for a long time. I have the tiniest, wispy-white hairs growing out of my ears. I have a daughter that can start and competently operate our finicky gas lawnmower and another one contemplating boyfriends. I have been treated to many things in the past thirty-nine years of this existence, some of them requested, some of them thrust upon me.

The wisdom that I used to wish for as a young man has come to find me, and as a consolation prize for not being all that I hoped it would be, it gave me white, untanned feet.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Cycling; snoozing; a drive to the mountains; complements on my parenting skills; watching a thoughtful dramatic movie; Chinese food with enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow in a tupperware container .... altogether an entertaining day, filled with activities and moments that I enjoyed.

What else could one ask for on his birthday?

Monday, June 07, 2004

Bloody spammers.

Haven't they figured out that if they have to trick you into reading their message, you're not going to be in the best frame of mind to buy something?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

It ended up being just water. Seems the toilet has been flushing slowly and it had overflowed.

Note to self: Always do a test flush on a clean bowl of water when using a public facility. It could save embarassment if the plumbing ain't working properly.
Eeeeeww! I went to use the washroom today and found the seat totally wet. As I don't have a sense of smell to use as a reference, I could only judge by the color of the liquid that it was just water. Still, the idea that someone would somehow wet the seat and just walk away was pretty gross. We are in a small office of 25 or so males, and we don't have a designated janitor. This means that someone got up from making that mess and walked away, thinkng someone else would clean it up.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I walked the girls up to school this morning as I usually do. The sun was shining and the day hadn't yet heated to it's full radiance, but it held promise. We'd had a slow start to our day, as I am trying to get the girls to use their alarm clocks to wake themselves up and the experiment hasn't been successful yet. We'd rushed through breakfast, dressing, getting our teeth brushed, making lunches and finally getting out the door before the school bell. I had been pushing them all morning, but I had done it in a gentle manner this particular morning and felt I had done a good job at balancing between grumpy, overbearing dad and fun, playful dad.

I walked them all the way through the park behind our house and up the hill to the school, right to the door. When we were within 15 feet of the door, I stopped and let them continue on into this world that they experience without me. Even though things are rushed in the morning, I love the time that I spend with them. I'm watching these two young girls get older and more independent. Even though I want them to be able to handle themselves and do all the things that self-reliant people can do, I still cherish the times when they looked to me for all the answers and relied on me to provide their world and all its parts.

Just as Banana was about to cross the threshold into the school, she hesitated and turned back to me. Sheepishly, with her head down, she trotted back to me and gave me a hug. No words, just a hug, from a slightly self-conscious, soon-to-be-teenager.

Somehow, she knew I needed one. The hug said that she appreciated me, she appreciated that I came all the way up to the doors of the school, she appreciated that I'd woken her up gently and had sure her lunch was in her backpack. That one hug made my whole day better.
I'm still awake, and I'm learning how to make DVD's.

Of course, my first one must be perfect.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

A more cheerful day all around. Plans are being made for our hostelling trip this weekend in the form of a menu and a shopping list. Banana and McMonk are inviting a friend (each) along.

The weather is looking promising so far - sunny and 24 celcius. We're starting at the Ribbon Creek Hostel on Friday and staying at Rampart Creek on Saturday night. The guitar is coming along, as are some sugary treats - specifically, graham crackers, milk chocolate and marshmellows - s'mores ingredients! Yum!

I expect to do a lot of nothing during the evening. I'm pacing the weekend gently, hoping to have the girls explore and entertain themselves. I'm looking forward to having some reflective time to do some reading and journalling. Much to think about these days and I find the mountains to be a calming place where I can hear my own thoughts.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Friday was a hard day. Not a bad day, but a hard day.

Devon, our dog, had a rough morning. I was awakened by her having a choking fit that lasted close to twenty minutes. This seemed to be a signal that she had suffered enough with her failing health. It was time to have her put down.

I'd been to the vet with her about a month ago, and he gently suggested that it was time to have her euthanized back then. Now, she was trying to tell me the same message in her own way. It was going to be so hard, saying goodbye to someone that I loved so much. To think that I was the one that had to make the decision to proceed with such an action was going to tear me up inside, too.

I called and booked the appointment that morning. I called Jenn at 1 pm and told her what was going on. At 2 pm she came and picked me up from work. Jenn had tears in her eyes as she opened the back door of the van and showed that she had brought Devon along. Devon sat in the back, a shadow of the dog she had once been. The grey hair on her face and the cloudiness in her eyes spoke to a constant fatigue and dimming of her once-sharp senses; her fur had pretty much all fallen out due to an adrenal gland problem; her body had mostly wasted away due to inactivity (bad hips) and the pain that must have been caused by eating anything that required chewing (periodontitis and infected gums). She was weak from malnutrition and looked tired. The fact that she sat listlessly on the seat when I saw her told me that her health had failed in so many ways. I know that had she been a healthy dog (as she was when she was young), she would be hyperactive, pawing at the door and window upon seeing a recognizable face. Having us, her pack, around wasn't much comfort compared to all that was wrong with her.

It was time.

We went and got the girls out of school 1/2 an hour early. McMonk was very perceptive - she immediately asked what was wrong. We waited until we got out of the school building before we told her what was up and where we were going. Banana was brave and tried hard not to let her sorrow show. Weeks before, Jenn and I had discussed this with the girls and spoke of the inevitability of it. There had even been a date set once that we didn't have the courage to follow through with. The girls knew, and they had told us that they wanted to be with her when she went to sleep for the final time.

We had 45 minutes until the appointment, so we stopped at the park behind our house. We all (Devon included) sat in the grass as we talked about how much fun we had with Devon as a family. We talked of our favorite memories of her as a young dog. Devon had walked over from the van with us, but at a slower pace. She didn't find pleasure in exploring the field like she might have - perhaps she sensed the sorrow that we all felt and for that reason wanted to be physically close to us. She always was good to cuddle when you were feeling down. We all took our turns crying and telling funny stories until finally, it was time to get going.

We piled into the van, Devon coming along slower than the rest, as we had come to expect of her these days. We drove to the vet clinic and all went inside. I took care of the payment details as I knew I would be in no shape to do this on the way out. Jenn had been thoughtful enough to bring Devon's blanket that she slept on, so when we went into the examination room, she wouldn't have to sit on the steel table. We all gathered around Devon and petted her. The doctor explained that he would give her two injections - the first would tranquilize her and would take about 15 minutes; the second would quickly make her heart stop beating and she would fade away without any pain or awareness. We told him we were ready, and stood and cried softly as Devon was given the first injection. After the initial pinch of the first needle, she just lay down like she usually did and became comfortable on her blanket. We all petted her and showed our love for her as her consciousness faded.


I have Devon to thank for so many things. Comfort when I was feeling blue. A playmate for me when she was a puppy and I had too much energy. A reason for Jenn and I to come back to the house in the days before we had children. A constant source of material for my banter with the girls, as she did normal dog things and I put human emotions and ulterior motives to them. Boundless energy in her role (in younger days) as a portable alarm and exercise device for Banana and McMonk on our trips to the playground. Patience with my daughters as they carried, dressed, chauffeured and ordered her through all of the things that they needed a canine pal for.

Finally, I have Devon to thank for seeing my two daughters, holding and comforting each other as their best friend (apart from each other) gently drifted away from them.

Devon, your presence was a blessing to us. We promise to keep you dear in our hearts.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

There's a statue downtown that I really like. It's of a big farmhorse, and it's built to be larger than life. The statue is made of rusty, well-worn metal that's been welded together, and the pieces are all things that you would find on a farm here in Alberta. Plow pieces, metal tractor seats, bolts, scythes, barbed wire, ... that sort of stuff.

It's a beautiful statue and I enjoy examining the detail of the work. The size of it speaks to the bigger-than-life-ness of the horse, and how important this strong-backed animal was to a pre-mechanical farm. I like that the horse is made of bits of the farm, as the farm was created (partially) due to the existence of the horse.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Victorious, I return from my very first Masters' National swim competition.

Well, not quite victorious, but I did put in a good showing. Second place in the 50 breaststroke, 3rd in the 50 fly and a somewhat respectable 7th on 200 freestyle. Very good, considering the meet was representing all of Canada.

One of my teammates broke a Canadian record and of course the whole team was thrilled for her. She was floored - she had no idea her times were even close to the record. It got me to thinking, "Maybe I have a chance at one of these records for my age group." I was quickly brought down to earth.

One of the competitors in my age category has a natural gift for swimming. At age thirty-seven, he is going to compete against 18 and 19 year-olds at the Canadian Olympic trials in July. He got into swimming on a lark, starting when he was 18 years old. When I was eighteen, I had been training for five years, doing 11 two-hour practices a week. Yet this fella, after just four months of fairly low-key training, set a city record that stands to this day, twenty years later, for 100 metre butterfly (1:01.32). After all the training I had done when I swam age-group, I was barely able to go 1 minute and 12 seconds for that race.


I have to be at peace with the fact that I will never be a record holder in swimming. That's not why I swim. I swim because it is a healthy thing to do while I spend time with my buddies. It's not too expensive equipment-wise, you don't get all sweaty while you're doing it, and it's a gentle sport on your body (especially your joints). I sleep well after hard workouts. Swimming can be done at your own pace and no one gets left behind on the trail or road becuase they're not as fast as the others. Those that swim tend to be comfortable with their bodies. You can't help it after standing face-to-face with each other, hour after hour, in nothing but lycra.

I admit that a competitive fire burns within me when I am in motion. When I am swimming a length and I look over to the next lane and see someone swimming at the same pace (or a bit faster), I'm compelled to beat them to the end of the length. That little spark makes me train better and work harder. It also makes me appreciate having teammates, as I wouldn't be pushed to the same degree if I swam alone, even if it is me doing the pushing.

I am at peace with my performance when I am done. I see others setting records and reaching other great personal achievements due to natural talent, or perhaps just dedication and drive. I know I balance all the other important things in my life (including goofing-off time for myself) and give what I can to swimming. One of my teammates noticed that I seemed happy with my reasonable showing at the meet and commented on it this weekend. They said that I seem to always be accepting of my swims, be them great or not-so-great. I took that as a wonderful complement.

Monday, May 17, 2004

After a busy, busy day on Sunday, I decided to kick back and watch a mindless film. Preusing our collection brought me to a videotape of Dana Carvey's Master of Disguise - perfect for the involving task of sorting odd socks. The first fifteen minutes of the film almost turned me right off. I thought it was insipid comedy, but watched on. After an hour I was enjoying the goofy antics, strangely drawn in by the predictable gags and slapstick.

Goes to show, you need to be in the right frame of mind to watch certain types of shows. You gotta be ready to laugh at a guy quizzing a waiter to see if he's got "a leee-tle weener and some tiny nuts."

Friday, May 14, 2004

Summer feels like it is here. We've dispensed with what we hope will be the last of the spring snowfalls and the grass and trees are greening up quite nicely here in Calgary. I'm making plans to replace the fence between Mr. G and my house, but the project is experiencing feature-creep.

As well as replacing the fence, I'm considering building a new garden shed. The tired, old metal shed is just not cutting it for a place to store all our sports equipment, gardening supplies, Christmas stuff and other, outside junk we seem to have. It is the sports equipment that seems to be accumulating. Jennifer has been pining for a greenhouse, ever since we moved from a place that had one. I'm looking at the condition of the lawn and considering putting a walkway between shed and house, too. Our once-thick-and-luscious lawn has become pretty beaten-up under the feet of many playing children. Having a concrete walkway at the entrance to the garden shed would change it from its present grassless mudbath state. Also, what kind of foundation is this new shed going to sit on, in our soft, sinky-soil back yard?

All of this has left me felling overwhelmed, and I am trying to collect the enthusiasm necessary to tackle planning for this, never mind actually doing the work.

To compound things, I've been struggling with some personal issues as of late and I'm finding it hard to focus on moving forward. I am pinning my hopes on some deep thought, some soul-searching, some time (which I never seem to be able to find) spent journaling and perhaps a divine signal or two.

Wish me luck.

Monday, May 10, 2004

As we are all learning, I'll share two tidbits I picked up today.

You don't have to be just like someone to like them.

The word "chinook" is derived from a Native American word meaning "snow eater."

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Yo, mama. Happy Mothers Day. You deserve it.

Thanks for having me, too.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I should know better than to eat salami for lunch if I know I am going to be around other people.

I had the farts all afternoon. The fact that I have no sense of smell means that I have no way to gauge if farting squarely into the foam of my office chair was actually muffling the smell. I understand that this ploy works.

I pity the foo' dat work in my office space.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Before and After:

Sweet, innocent little girlAni deFranco, eat your heart out!

OK, ok, there is a bit of age discrepancy between these two photos, but you get the idea that a big change of appearnace took place. This weekend included a fund-raising event where my eldest daughter ran 5 kms AND shaved her head to raise money for equipment for a cancer ward at a local hospital.

This kid has no fear.

Friday, April 30, 2004

A cold has wrapped its tendrils around my windpipe this week and decided to grow into my sinuses. I'm suffering, but the weekend gives no hint of slowing down. Kids need to be delivered to various places, relatives need to visit (and be visited), so off I go. How come I don't get to phone in sick as a dad?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Devon, the faithful and (as far as the kids are concerned) omnipresent dog, is not well. I learned from our vet that Devon has a hyperadrenal disorder, which will require blood tests and (at best) daily medication or (at worst) surgery. Before that can happen, she needs to have some teeth extracted and needs antibiotics prior to the teeth coming out. The fact that she can't keep food down, let alone medicine, doesn't bode well. I have decided that Devon's time is up.

What a hard, hard decision. I've never taken a life or encouraged someone else to take a life, even for humane reasons. This is quite a step for me, but one that seems so, so necessary. Devon is in discomfort, as evidenced by her demeanor (snarling and snapping when people pet her in the wrong place or try to pick her up). She sleeps most of the day and eats very little. I'm sure it's her teeth that are the main source of her pain. When she seemed to be eating less and less of her hard crunchy food and losing weight, I started adding softer food (like toast, cheese and hotdog bits) to her bowl in the mornings. Even these treats (that used to be consumed ravenously) are remaining now. Poor thing - she's slowly starving as well as existing in pain.

Her fur has been coming out over the past six months, leaving her looking ratty and ill-cared for. Embarrassed to take her to a groomer before diagnosing the actual problem, we traveled to the vet yesterday. He diagnosed the problem (along with her voracious water consumption and numerous pee breaks) as a hyperactive adrenal gland. We both agreed that the required surgery on her decayed teeth and infected gums would be hard on her. The vet correctly left the decision in my hands.

I thought of just having Devon put to sleep without consulting or informing the rest of the family, but I decided against it. This sort of thing is a family decision. This evening, at the dinner table, I explained our trip to the vet and Devon's ailments and the condition she's in, as well as the possible options and the price it would extract from Devon. I told them of what I thought would be the best course of action and asked if they agreed. Teary-eyed, we all agreed that Devon needed to be euthanized. The girls, even at 10 and 12 years old, need to understand the humanity of this act. I preach to my kids that love can be defined as actively working to help someone's situation improve, even if that means going through some mental anguish yourself.

Banana surprised me by wanting to be with Devon when she is put to sleep. That will be a hard thing for Banana to be part of, but it is a request that I'm going to honor. It will be good for both of them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Tossin' and turnin',
turnin' and tossin',
Tossin' and turnin' all night!


Head's full of thoughts. Trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing here. Options are before me, complex and beguiling options, intriguing and enticing options, wonderful and frightening options, and I gotta pick. Wish I could say more, but I can't. Suffice to say that I'm a man with lots on his mind.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The paperwork for my life never seems to end. Utility bills, Geek bookkeeping (even after hiringa bookkeeper), school forms to fill out, ...


Friday, April 23, 2004

Tonight, I won a prize for being a rowdy drunk.

Hooray, I think.
I'm just about to head out for drinks with my work buddies. We've done well with our little company, including surpassing some financial goals that we set for ourselves over the first three months. We're gonna take some of the extra money and treat ourselves to a night of bowling and billiards. I can't wait to kick back with some of my workmates.

The bad thing is that I have to get up tomorrow at 7 am to drive for three hours, then compete at a swim meet.


I guess this is what training is all about. If I hadn't been training all year, drinking and then competing would be out of the question.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Monday, April 19, 2004

Today felt like spring. Again. The bike is calling to me from the shed, and time is near for the first long road ride of the season. I've been out on a few short toots, but a good two or three hour session is in order.
I'm having a look at my old high school's web site. It's wonderful that the young punks that are running the site have thought of us older folk and included an alumni section so that we can record where we are, how to be reached (e-mail address) and a field to enter what we have done since high school. I am a bit dissapointed by the banality of the entries. I really don't care that almost every single one of those unique people went on to post-secondary, perhaps moved to a new city, found someone that could stand them, got married, squeezed out (or held their wife's hand while she squeezed out) a couple of kids, then got a job as the executive vice assistant at some accounting or insurance firm.

Freakin' boring.

Where's the meat in that? Have they learned anything important, or are they just following a predetermined path? Have they had something taken away from them that they'll never get back? Have they done anything they thought they'd never do? Have they broken anyone's heart? Have they changed anyone's life for the better? Have they spoken to God? Has their soul made any progress in the last twenty-one years?

Having a biography with some real details would make for much more interesting reading and hold my attention better.
Just finished the last of the Matrix series of movies. How dissapointing. Just action, action, little bit of love interest, violence, sappy ending.

Friday, April 16, 2004

One of the young hotties at work told me I was "looking pretty buff" lately.


It put a swagger in my step for the rest of the afternoon. I'm old enough to be her dad, but I'll take complements from anyone.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Thanks to one of the developers at work, I spent the better part of an hour going through a photo journal of the Chernobyl area. A woman from Russia describes (in sometimes wonderful broken English) and shows us the cities and countryside around the Chernobyl area. She travels by motorcycle and we get to come along.

Frightening, engaging, touching, intreguing. Makes me want to travel by motorcycle.

Maybe someday.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

It's OK, I found my keys. Call off the search party.

Monday, April 12, 2004

A new coworker (who also happens to be a young, attractive woman) has inadvertently raised the testosterone levels in the air around here.

You can almost hear the chests being thumped.
I found myself watching golf this weekend.


What's with that?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Parents of preschoolers are the majority at work, but I'm happy to report that my two charges are well past that mark and sailing quite nicely into teenager-dom. This coming week will see them (for the first time) supervising themselves during the day as Spring Break descends upon Calgary.

Though Banana is going through a stage of finding her style by dressing out of our costume box, she continues to impress me with her level-headedness in her approach to friends and interpersonal dealings. Boys are entering into the scene, but there is no "love interest" in these Y-chromosomed beings. They are just interested in the same sports as she is. The change to womanhood marches on, as I am now finding sports tops in the laundry much to small for The Missus. Banana and McMonk are eating like horses, too, but it all seems to be pasta-based. Go figure. They must be growing.

In the vein of growth milestones, McMonk turned ten today. It was a quiet event, as we had the party last weekend, ensuring that none of the party invitees had left our little town on their Spring Break sojourns. As a result, McMonk's big day consisted of:
  • sleeping in
  • a casual, non-healthy (by her own choosing) self-made breakfast
  • an early morning visit from my mom and dad - the proverbial doting grandparents - bearing gifts and offers of an afternoon at the shopping mall
  • a few hours of time at Gramma's House of Fun Kid Things, playing with Bo, her hyper-everything white, poodle-like dog
  • lunch out
  • dinner out
  • staying up way past regular bedtime, thanks to no school tomorrow
  • sleeping in Big Sister's room.

McMonk, we're impressed by the things you're learning, the questions you're asking, the way you are dealing with others, the activities and areas you're showing interest in, and the interesting and incorrigible little kid that you've become.

I'm still enjoying being a dad, no matter how bad it cuts into my triathlon training efforts.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The queue at the free-for-relatives-and-friends Computer Repair shop is being taken care of, finally. We've managed to steal time from our sleeping schedule and make great headway into the pile of machines that had been accumulating in the office. We've got reinstalling applications down to a science, and we're learning that Ghost Enterprise edition is a handy tool, even for home-based fixer-uppers. If you are waiting on your machine, you are third in the queue and it will be ready on Thursday. And this time we mean it.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

So, did ya get got?

As I lay in bed last night, planning my upcoming morning, a memory of an April Fools day from 15 or so years ago came back. At that time, I was a lifeguard at a pool in Edmonton. I was guarding the morning shift (from 5:30 am to 1:30 pm) - an excellent time for pranks. Having done a bit of prep work, I had brought my sunglasses and an old driver (golf club) that had the head removed and the shaft painted white. I had my regular guard uniform on and took care to stand on the opposite side of the pool from where the changeroom exits were, sunglasses on, standing motionless, facing straight ahead. When the patrons emerged from the changerooms, they looked across the pool and were greeted by the sight of ... a blind lifeguard.

I had people come up to me and ask what I was doing. I replied that I had been changing a caustic soda barrel last night and had splashed some caustic soda in my eyes. I'd been to the Medicenter and been treated, but because of the short time between the accident and this morning, combined with the early hour of the shift, I hadn't been able to arrange a replacement. So, I had to work the shift. Besides, I could hear any trouble that people were having and could call for help.

Some people actually bought this story. Not many, but some did. Most of the regulars (who knew me) came out, looked at me and just laughed. It gave me something to amuse myself with in what can sometimes be a quiet job at a length-swimming-only pool.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Skydiving, skydiving ... someone's put that bee in my bonnet again.

Monday, March 29, 2004

I could a swam all night. I was in the groove, doing 100 I.M. after 100 I.M.. I'm looking forward to a great season in swimming and for triathlons.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

So much has gone on lately, and I've had so little time to document any of it. Work has been quite consuming and what litle time that I've had to spare I've been investing in family and friends.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Yesterday, I had one of those moments that you absolutely live for.

I was sitting at a stop light beside a car that had pulled slightly ahead of me. I look sideways out my window and notice a large dog directly across from me, sitting in the back seat of the car beside me. The dog (a Wheaton Terrier) was staring intently at me while the driver and his passenger were carrying on a conversation. I stare back at the dog for at least ten seconds, and then for some reason decided to feign a lunge at him. Then, the silent comedy unfolded.

The dog goes absolutely nuts, barking at me (although I can't hear it through the two sealed windows of our cars) and scaring the bejeezus out of the passenger. The passenger does a classic head-thrown-back-and-hands-shooting-up-in-the-air move, along with the silent (to me) scream.

It was all I could do to keep my enjoyment to a mere smile as the light turned green and I drove away.

Classic slapstick comedy. What a treat.

Friday, March 26, 2004

This Week's Favorite Quote:

"... so many good times I can't remember .... STUPID BEER!"

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Curious about New York? Have a peek at the album.
Just realized that I only have (theoretically) 6 more years to teach Banana everything she needs to know to be an adult.


Friday, March 05, 2004

There's 5 inches of fresh powder that have fallen onto the 7 food base at Lake Louise, with 8 more inches forecast in the next 24 hours. What the heck am I doing in Edmonton?

Oh yeah - I have kids.
I saw my first set of frisbee players engaged in an outdoor game of catch. Can spring be far behind?
Family Updates:
  • McMonk is growing her hair out. It's shoulder length and looking good. Swimming every second day is takin git's toll, but she seems to like the style it's becoming.
  • Banana and her buddy are working on a Science Fair project that has been accepted into the city finals. The project is all about how age effects peripheral vision. Smart cookie.
  • I got back from my second trip to New York in three weeks and I was feeling out of touch with my family. A few days together for a ringette tournament whould cure that.
  • Oh yeah, ringette. We're off to Edmonton this weekend for Petite B Provincials. Banana's team got the wildcard spot. And 'wild' it will be.
  • Devon (our 15 year-old dog) got a good brushing tonight. She really needed it, as she is looking rougher and rougher all the time, with thinning fur and many cancer-like spots on her skin. She rarely jumps up on the bed (I suspect her hips are giving her trouble), she loses her footing when walking on the floor and doesn't sleep much during the night - she just wanders and wanders. I think it's just about time.
  • work has many things on the go - thank goodness I have help in Tech Services Land. I love being busy but hate being overwhelmed. Work is steady but I feel like I'm keeping ahead of it.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I'm remembering today what a precious commodity time is.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Congratulations Sheldon and Kim. Your priorities have just changed.

Take good care of Ella Lilliane.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Our house is ringing with peals of children's laughter. One of Banana's buddies is over for a sleepover, and we are home to the class guinea pig for the weekend.

I better watch where I step.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Swimming tonight was so hard, I thought I was gonna die - no, wait.

Swimming tonight was so hard, I wished I could die, but knew I wasn't gonna be that lucky.

(to tell the truth, it felt good to have some healthy hurtin' going on in my arms and chest.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm back, I'm tired, I'm sluggish from lack of exercise, I'm ready to eat properly again.

It's nice to be home.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Business trips are a workaholic's dream. You are relieved from all family and personal habitat responsibilities. You don't cook, you don't clean up after yourself, you don't have to deal with relatives (face-to-face, anyways), you don't even have the regular at-your-desk trivialities ... you are free to slave for The Man until you drop.

I *am* putting in quite a bit of time at the office, but I did notice the sun shining through the window just after lunch today and took a whole Saturday afternoon off. After all, I'm in New York for the first time. I walked through most of mid- and lower Manhattan, seeing Times Square and Union Square, Soho and Greenwich Village, Little Italy and Chinatown, Battery Park, Liberty Island, the World Trade Centre site, the Brooklyn bridge, Wall Street, Broadway, Park Avenue, and lots of interesting folks on the street. I'm totally impressed by the vertical scale of this place. Everything is straight up.

The entrepreneurial spirit is deep-rooted in these folks. There are thousands of junk shops, operating under the guise of "Trading Companies". The goofiest, tackiest stuff is up for sale - plastic purses, shelf dust collectors, throwaway electonic and cloth goods, ... and there's SHOPS full of just one or two things. And there's several shops with the same twisted idea that this stuff will sell. I guess they have the best chance of finding someone buy it, here of all places. There are so many people around, all of the time.

Boy, I must sound like a country bumpkin. I do love the excitement and scale of it all.

Coming here for work means that I get to hang out with the locals, too. I was taken out to a homey Italian restaurant on my first night, and a swanky Manhattan place called the Park Avalon on the second night. They've threatened to take me to Dukes next, so I get to see the seedier side of the city. I hope they come through for me. I haven't felt threatened in the slightest during my trip. I've been all over, but just not to upper Manhattan or over to Brookyn or Queens. Maybe I'll save that for next trip.

I'm taking pictures with my trusty digital camera, which I hope to make available as soon as I get home to my required cables. By Monday evening, I'm sure I'll be ready to tear myself away from the office and all the work that there is here, but for now, I'm still digging right into getting things set up my way.

Whoo hoo!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Surprise, surprise! Things got moved up on my trip. I'm getting packed, preparing to climb on a plane to New York. I hope I have everything I need.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

I certainly am able to pack a lot of fun into a week. This week includes:
  • big hullabaloo at work while we sort out some last minute details of a big, big deal
  • a surprise outing to a Calgary Flames game
  • a social get-together for my old farts swim team
  • booking airline flights unsing frequent flyer points, for eight people, all with different arriving and departure dates
  • a trip to New York for myself with only two days notice
  • Banana's city final ringette tournament
  • Geek work that just won't seem to leave me alone
Pile wanting to spend time with my kids on top of that, along with the fact that I am single parenting this week (The Missus is in Newfoundland with work), and my life begins to feel pretty busy.

Monday, February 09, 2004

On the drive into work today, I passed by one of my coworkers as he was walking into work. I saw him and drove right by.

The reason for not stopping wasn't a snub - it was done out of respect for his privacy. We all need quiet time to be with ourselves and prepare for the day. For me, the trip to work has become a transition period, where I put away all the home thoughts and mentally pull out the work "to do" lists and bring forward the knowledge and memories necessary for dealing with coworkers and job issues. Having someone cut that time short really throws me off.

As I drove towards him (he on the sidewalk, me on the street), I saw him purposefully striding towards the office, still blocks away. I decided to let him have his time. A simple gift that will go unnoticed, but one that would be missed if it were snatched away.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Another weekend spent in Edmonton. The ringette tournament was a great success as long as you don't look at the standings. No deaths, minor injuries and a good time had by all.

A drive from Calgary to Edmonton with my dad meant a little bit of father-son bonding. Being with my dad brings out the redneck in me. We rode in a pickup, made some ethnic slurs, bemoaned our in-laws, cursed the eastern government and ate a greasy-fried lunch at a truckstop just barely off Highway 2. You can't get much more Albertan than that.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I'm needing some new music.

Everything I listen to these days seems to sound like Top 40 radio or 'old-rock' radio. Some of my work buddies have shared out their iTunes playlists. If I was sitting still at my desk for long enough, I'd troll through their selections. Yeti has some interesting stuff.

Perhaps tonight ...

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Tonight was a tough workout. 2900 metres, but they were hard ones. 10 x 200 m with 10 seconds rest in between seems to be a blast from my age-group-swimming past. After the good, healthy hurt I feel from my shoulders, lats and biceps, I'll happily revist more of those memories.

We be building some muscle for summer!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

tirathlon? triathlon? tire-athlon?

There's a freudian slip if I've ever seen one.
I was all over the place today, learning about computer speech recognition, child psychology, what part of New York the La Quinta Hotel is in, what a good ringette goalie ought to know, the difference between ECC and non-ECC 512 meg 168 pin SDRAM DIMMs, the need for reverse-lookups on your domain when you're running a mail server, and lots of other stuff.

I'm also reminded that switching tasks involves driving from place to place, and driving from place to place is a terribly inefficient way to spend your time. Better to stay in one place and get everything done. I'm gonna try to do less for everyone and more for just a few.

Had a great workout today, too. I think (because I've been told) that today is the first day of tirathlon season training.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Experiencing cerebral difficulties.

Please stand by.

Friday, January 30, 2004

People keep adding to my 'gotta do' list while I'm trying to get rid of 'gotta do's so I can get some of my 'wanna do's done.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Amidst all the noise, confusion and craziness that is our family, Banana turned 12 today.

Friday, January 23, 2004

It is still dark as I rise from a warm, comfortable position and venture into the day. I sit on the edge of the bed and s-t-r-e-t-c-h, bringing blood and life into muscles that have laid dormant for the past few hours. The cool air of the house isn't prickly enough to penetrate the warm fog of tired that I wear. Feet are jammed into my heavy, comfortable slippers before I stand, then walk to the hallway and down to the shower.

I gently introduce my eyes to light - first the dim glow of the range hood light (a mere 15 watts), then the distant brightness of the light above the stairs (a 60 watt bulb here) and down the stairs and round teh corner to the twin-60-watt-luminosity of the bathroom. I reach into the shower and turn on the water, adjusting the water pressure lever to a position that I know will produce a soothing-but-not-scalding temperature. I allow the hot water time to reach the shower stall before I venture in. A quick pee, then I'm ready, as I prepare to step into the coursing stream, eyes still squinting to block out the harshness of white lights against white tiles. The basement floor is cold and I surrender my slippers begrudgingly.

Soon, the water envelops me, fifty tiny streams hissing into my scalp and running in rivulets through my hair and down my neck, back and chest. It's right about here that I start to wake up and realize what is going on.

It's morning.

The Missus is gone off to work already, and I begin my breakfast of oatmeal, apples, brown sugar and a glass of milk. If I'm really hungry, I'll steal a bit of the kids' cereal for a second bowl. By now, I have woken Banana and McMonk up and they are having breakfast with me. We are talking about what we have planned for the day, what we are doing that night, what is coming up on the weekend. It's a great ritual that brings me closer to them and helps wake us all up before leaving the house.

I have shaved before breakfast in my comfortingly traditional routine. I make two passes over my face with the Braun, going with and against the grain of my whiskers, making sure to be smooth and thorough. I dab on a discrete amount of aftershave balm (Perry Ellis 360) - I know razor burn will follow if I don't. I try not to use too much as to be aromatically intrusive. Next, a few quick swipes with an industrial-strength deodorant, just in case, then open my razor and tap the whiskers into the sink (four taps, always) then close up the razor and wash the whiskers down the drain.

Onwards into my routine - I next find myself in front of a my closet. I pick something comfortable as my job demands, but always clean and (preferably) pressed. I like shirts that button up with button-down collars. Denim or at least cotton pants and always, always a belt. When I'm not feeling like a dress shirt, I'll sometimes choose a sweater, or sometimes a t-shirt - perhaps a vest overtop. My sleeves will be rolled up by the end of the day. I may roll them up as I put on the shirt. I like having my hands and forearms free of fabric, to the point of choosing shirts without sleeves, and not wearing watches or jewelry. I mentioned this to my mother one evening, and she noted that as long as she can remember, her father was the exact same way. How peculiar.

With lunches made and placed in backpacks, I leave the house with the girls and head up the alleyway to school. As soon as we get to the end of our property, Banana and McMonk see their friends and rush off to walk with them. I stop at the end of the driveway and watch them walk the 1/2 block to the chain-link fence surrounding school grounds, then they dissappear into the gate.

Then I turn to go back into the house and see the sky.

It's beautiful. A thin, high layer of cloud has lit up with purples, oranges, reds and other colours that there aren't names for yet. Even though the crisp January air isn't the least bit warm, the fire in the sky touches something deep within me and I send out a "thank you" to God, the Collective Good or whatever it is that brought me to this spot and made me aware of all of this. The sun is still lingering under the horizon.

So, I stood for a full minute and drank in the moment. And that's why I was late for work yesterday morning.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Someone asks you to do something.

You hesitate before saying you'll do it. Then they ask you, "Oh, do you mind?"

What they're really asking is, "Do you want me to be all pissy at you for the rest of the day?"

Answer accordingly.
This evening, at the dinner table, my youngest daughter informed me that I don't have a bum.

She tells me I have a gluteus maximus. What are they teaching these kids in school these days?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Sweet like maple sugar on pancakes.
Sweet like a long stalk of grass that you just picked on a warm summer afternoon.
Sweet like a recently-cut Granny Smith apple while it's still cold from the fridge.
Sweet like hot chocolate afer you've been outside tobogganing.
Sweet like a bit of icing that you gently remove from the corner of your lover's mouth.
Sweet like juicy watermelon slices, dripping and running down your fingers.
Sweet like brown sugar on warm oatmeal after sleeping in.

That's the kind of sweet I'm talking about.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Contentment and a busy work schedule don't do much for blogging fodder.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Every dog has it's day, and Devon (our dog) has had a few extra. Her time with us is just about up. She is no where near the active, friendly, ever-barking dog she once was. We've noticed that her energy level had dropped substantially as of late. Devon is quiet, almost to the point of not knowing where she is in the house, even if she is right behind you. Her fur is looking awful - it is thinning out substantially and has bald spots along her spine, on her hindquarters and around her neck. Her back legs shake when she stands still and she finds it hard to jump up onto the sofa (which she's not supposed to do anyways but does). She's lost about 30% of her adult body weight and feels quite bony when I pick her up. Her stomach is quite weak as evidenced by the dog puke she leaves for us when she gets a treat that she can't handle. She can only eat dry kibbles (regular dog food) and not much else. Devon has always been a dog that has loved her treats (dog biscuits, toast crusts and the very occasional scrap of cheese) are the only treats she gets, but lately, unless it is something really tasty, she's not too interested in taking it when it is offered.

Is she enjoying life? That's something I wonder about all the time. I feel she is definitely at the end of her days on this mortal coil, but when will the end come? And will that end come quickly, or will she get to the point where she can't get around comfortably, or can't keep any food down? I've considered that she might be close to that point, as I've sat beside her when she was resting, and heard her wheezing (in pain or discomfort?) as she lay still. Is she at the point now that life is no fun for her? She constantly needs to be around a family member when we are home, even more than she did in her adult years. I'm almost scared to take her to the vet, as they may recommend a bunch of intrusive medications or procedures to prolong her life, but not add to the quality of it. Devon has already had a bunch of teeth pulled and I fear that she may need more dental work. If she had more pulled, I doubt that she could eat solid food, and her stomach couldn't take anything else - she'd throw anything else up.

One of the things that I have considered is euthanizing her. I'm uncomfortable with this for one reason - I would have to be the one to make the decision and the one to actually take her to the vet for the final time. Also, the question comes to mind of "how much suffering is too much suffering?" We enjoy her company, but I don't want just her existence to be a burden to Devon. The girls would miss her (as I would, too).

Life is something that is a great gift - even for a dog.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

The air is crisp and clean. Snow crunches under my feet. My daughters and their friends chatter happily away as we walk along the sidewalk, where melting snow has caused oozes of ice across the once-clean-shoveled concrete. The weight of the ringette stick that carries several pairs of skates including my own presses down through my heavy jacket onto my shoulder. I shift the load to the other side. My brisk pace causes the girls to fall behind slightly, but they don't seem to notice. Evening comes quickly and the last bit of the day is used to travel to the outdoor rink near our house.

Lacing up four pairs of skates in the cool January air brings out the age in my hands - the skin stretches across my knuckles and my fingers become cold and white from the effort. I feel the night nip at my ear, making me wish I'd brought a toque. One by one, the girls rise from the wooden bench that has been painted red too many times. Helmets are hastily added and shoes are left where they fell in the snow as everyone makes their way to the ice. The frozen plywood acts as a sounding board for the solid "ka-chunk" of a puck. The click-clack of the hockey sticks punctuates teenage laughter and conversation as we make our way onto the ice under the bluish-green rink-light glow.

I move across the ice in ways that feel familiar. Childhood has different memories of skating - cold, pinching feet and awkwardness. Now, I glide comfortably, smoothly, as my legs do as they're told. The girls busy themselves, working out child rules for sharing the three sticks that were brought along. Oldest passes on tricks to youngest - raising, where to shoot, when to pull back and fire. They shoot at a goal with a tattered, old shawl of a net, hanging forlornly on the metal frame. A group of teenage boys and girls have silently given up half their ice to our little group. I, like a lumbering old patriarchal bear, circle about on our half of the rink. The biting sound of steel on ice pleases me, as foot crosses over foot in the corners. There's no wind to carry away the warmth I feel at this moment.

The evening is perfect. My children are at play.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Tonight, I'm feeling old. The last of my wisdom teeth is causing me some discomfort (I'm off to the dentist tomorrow). My skin is definitely losing it's elasticity - my eyes are getting wrinkles in the corners lines underneath.

Monday, January 05, 2004

I don't know why I've been so tired lately. It certainly isn't from over-exercising.

Friday, January 02, 2004

If you don't think 45 seconds is a long time, that's because you're not a burrito that has already been in the microwave for a minute and a half.


It's probably a good thing that my coworkers think of me as staid, respectable, family-oriented and boring.

I'm less likely to get into trouble that way.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

As we did last year, our family decided to ring in the New Year with a healthy activity - an 8 km run.

It's an organized event called The Resolution Run. We ran from the Eau Claire Market to the Crowchild Trail bridge and back. There were over 1400 runners out and the temperature (according to the clock/thermometer display at the CBC office on Memorial Drive) was -5c. Banana and I made up words to Christmas carols, modified to match the conditions ("Walking in a Winter Wonderland" became "Running in our Winter Underwear"). As McMonk wasn't up to doing the run, we decided it would be best for her to volunteer on the route, so she stayed with Shawna, one of the Missus' friends. When we met up with Shawna in the Eau Claire Market, the first thing Shawna said was, "Hi McMonk. We should go get some candy to eat while we're out on the course." Right there and then, an instant bond was formed. We ran past McMonk and Shawna twice. Shawna smiled and waved, while McMonk was shouting at the runners to stay on their side of the pylons. They both seemed to be having a good time.

After the run, we headed out for pizza at a Greek restaurant. The girls impressed the owner of the restaurant be thanking her in Greek (it's fun to do stuff like that). After dinner, we headed home and watched the big countdown to 2004 on TV. The Missus was beat, so she headed for be at 10 pm. I could have been out at any number of big events, dancing the night away, but I was home with my daughters, cuddled up on the sofa. It was a quiet way to end 2003, but a comfortable one.