Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer bucket list

I copied an idea from Chloe and made myself a summer bucket list. I actually don’t love the words “bucket list” because it’s so over-used and “kick the bucket” isn’t my favourite way to refer to death. But since I haven’t thought of anything more clever, bucket list it is. 

I stole some of Chloe’s to-do items and some I thought of all by myself. They are all things that I’ve talked about doing for a long time, but for one reason or another, just never happened… inconvenience, laziness, or just not making it a priority. You know how things often sound like a good idea in advance but then when it comes down to it, it’s just easier not to go. Hence the list! I stuck it on my fridge so I won’t forget and have been slowly ticking off items. I’ve done pretty good with several still left to go…

Biking to my parents
I plastered Instagram with pics of my bike journey but here they are again in case you didn’t already see them. Dale and I have talked about doing this for a few years, but somehow summer slips away and then fall gets busy and then it gets put on the shelf for next year. We finally made it happen and it was way easier than we thought it would be. Years ago as teenagers, my friend Vonda and I biked from Rosenort to Assiniboine Park, and then Dale and I biked from Winnipeg to Rosenort a few years later. Both times, zero training was done. I think it was the first time on a bike that year in both cases. We had to bike for miles on gravel roads in the heat of the day and I’m sure we didn’t take water. I remember there being exhaustion and regret (more so in the trip Dale & I did). 

In the 25 years since then, my mind possibly exaggerated the difficulty of the ride and I viewed it as a monumental undertaking. We planned ahead. We didn’t train, but I ride my bike fairly regularly (Dale not so much). We left early so we’d be done by noon. We brought full water bottles and stopped halfway at Rob & Gab’s in La Salle to refill them. And it was easy! It was a perfect day - no wind and sunny and warm but not too hot. There were some long, not-very-exciting stretches but even then, the sights and sounds were pretty cool. I could have done with a little less roadkill though. Best of all, I have a brand new bike that is so much faster and lighter than my old one. It was only the second time I’d ridden it and it was awesome. The total distance was about 65 km, which isn’t really that far. It took us 3 hours and 22 minutes, but we could have done it faster. I stopped quite a few times to take pictures. 

My sister-in-law Jean is visiting from Florida and she went for a bike ride around the city that same morning and ended up biking the same distance as we did! And here we were feeling all proud and amazed about ourselves. Although Jean runs marathons and bikes very long distances so to be able to even compare ourselves to her in this one situation is pretty impressive.

This is a dirt bike jump near my parents. It looks ridiculously treacherous in real life and I can't imagine anyone actually trying it. The "Take at own risk" has been added recently. I feel like that goes without saying.

Yesterday, Janet and I went on another long bike ride to Beaudry Park in Headingly. There was a path the whole way: we took the Harte Trail to the Perimeter Hwy and after that things got a bit rougher but it wasn’t too bad. The whole thing was about 50 km. It was another gorgeous day and it was a lot of fun. I should’ve put that on my bucket list. I might add it just to check it off.

Speaking of biking, I recently read an article about this Canadian woman who bikes all over the world, often completely on her own. Now THAT”s crazy. But also very, very impressive. 

Aschenti Chocolate
Since chocolate is my favourite food, I’d been wanting to check out this place on Corydon ever since I read about it a while ago. They import beans from Cameroon and do the grinding and chocolate-making process all on-site. They sell a bunch of different flavoured bars, all with a few basic ingredients. The girls and I went and they owner was lovely. She gave us different samples and explained the whole process. They’re trying to bring across the message that chocolate can be a healthy food, not just candy. I really like that message. We bought a few bars and have been enjoying them in moderation, not only because they’re expensive compared to a Kit Kat, but also because you don’t need much to satisfy your taste buds. I often need just a little something sweet and one square of this is perfect. 

First Fridays
This is an event in the Exchange District on the first Friday of every month. Shops are open later and they have different things going on. This time they had a pop-up market in a back alley with different farmers-market type of vendors, which was really cool. We explored a few shops in old buildings and took the creaky stairs to the top - my favourite part. I didn’t feel like going last Friday but Chloe pushed it because it was on both of our lists and I’m glad I went. 

This is a new-ish coffee shop/bar in the Exchange that has a rooftop patio in the summer. So Blake & Kristin and Dale & I went one night. We took the stairs up several floors; it looked like we were going nowhere when suddenly we step onto this tiny, crowded patio. All eyes swivelled in our direction. Sadly I don’t think it was because we looked so awesome (which we did) but because we were old enough to be everyone’s parents. There was no one else over 28 (I know, that’s very precise). We tried to act super cool to make up for our age, but it didn’t help when Dale went to the bar to ask for a menu and found out this place is way too trendy to have a menu. They offered ONE type of cocktail, ONE type of beer (a Chinese one for some reason?!), and ONE type of wine, and no food. It made the decision easy. We sipped our ONE type of drink while looking at the city around us. It felt super urban and cool and it was pretty fun. 

If this pose looks a little awkward to you, you don't understand how tiny and full this patio was and how squished we were. But we're happy!

Unfortunately we were still hungry afterward so we went to La Roca and had appies and drinks and visited with Colonel Sanders, which is as weird as it sounds. It was a great night.

Neve and I had been drooling over the commercials for the Triple Truffle blizzard but when we got around to going to DQ, it was no longer available. Apparently it was the blizzard of the month last month. Instead we had the Salted Caramel one, and it just so happened to coincide with the Children’s Hospital charity day, so that was a bonus.

Yoga in the Park
There’s a free yoga class every Wednesday at 6:45 a.m. in Assiniboine Park. I’ve gone twice this year; the first time was really good except the teacher’s mic wasn’t working and the background music was really loud so it made it hard to hear. That part was much better the second time but it started raining lightly halfway through the class (this Wednesday) and kept increasing in intensity until the teacher ended things early. I had to bike home in the rain but a long hot shower warmed me up. I might try again next week.

Stay tuned for an update on the remaining items. I don’t think they’ll all happen but I’ll do my best.

In other news, we’ve been doing yard work. Ever since our play structure left the yard, we’ve had a rectangular area filled with sand and pebbles. Meanwhile, the grass under the trampoline was scraggly and ugly, so we decided to switch the two. We dug up the dirt and grass from the under-trampoline area and moved them to the former play structure site. Simultaneously, we shovelled the pebbles and sand and moved them under the trampoline (we moved the trampoline first!). That wasn’t as easy as it sounds. 

I ordered a load of 1/4 down to even out the area under the trampoline and there was enough left to cover the parking spot in the back too. I also got a couple of yards of mulch to refresh all the flower beds and space under our big front yard evergreens. All we need to do now is plant grass where the play structure used to be and plant some shrubs and flowers against the fence. You can see a glimpse of our work-in-progress in this picture:

We had Dale’s family over for his mom’s birthday yesterday. It was a beautiful evening - the weather this summer has been amazing (except for the rained-out yoga class) - so we took the dining room table outside and set it up on the grass. We put up lights and candles and built a fire later. It was a great evening.

All the grandchildren except Amy, who's working in Ontario

Keep on summering!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Andy Lake 2017

We spent last week at the lake; it was our fourth year at Andy Lake and it lived up to all our over-blown expectations. The weather was hot and sunny every day. One of those days was a bit cooler and windy, but other than that, it was perfect.
This is the fourth time I've blogged about our week at the cabin and there's really nothing new to say. Even my pictures are the same from year to year: water trampoline, dock, children reading, kittens, playing games. If you're new here (or forgetful or curious), you can read past entries here: 2016, 2015, 2014.
The cabin itself has seen better decades (the whole thing shakes when Dale & Spencer walk around and my helpful tips of how to walk more gently are not appreciated or heeded), but when we're not in the lake or on the dock, we're in our screen room. Every evening we have our sauna/jump-in-the-lake/repeat routine, followed by a movie or shows (Community was the show of choice this year).
It's just so nice being away from home/work/responsibilities/errands and having nothing else to focus on but ourselves and each other. I love summer road trips with all my heart but you can't beat this for relaxing. Chloe was with us the first half of the week until she had to go back to work on Wednesday. It would've been nice to have her with us the whole time but she didn't seem to mind having the house to herself (and her friends) for a few days.

Dutch Blitz, 6 Nimmt, and Qwirkle, were the games of choice.

I spent most of the week reading this 900+ page novel. It's loosely based on this guy's actual experiences in India.
I really liked it but I was also happy to finish it and move on.


Every year there is a batch of new kittens. Definitely no spaying or neutering going on here.

Bob & Jan came for dinner one day. My kids look like they haven't eaten in days and are frantically making their burritos before we run out of food. I believe Bob & Jan did get some food in the end and didn't go home hungry. But I'm not certain.

This is our pet swan, who we initially named Sammy but later changed it to Ron Swanson (Parks & Rec character).
We learned the hard way that it's better to use him when it's not windy.

It's silly to take so many picture of the lake when it stays the same from year to year but I just couldn't help myself. I could look at it all day. And I did. There are parts of ours stay that aren't as idyllic as I've made it look (like when there are other guests hogging the dock and they're loud and obnoxious and yell at their kids) but overall it's pretty amazing. It's always sad to say goodbye but for the first time, we're spending a second week there later in August. And in the meantime, it's nice to be back in our own beds and house, where Dale and Spencer can walk around heavily to their hearts' content.

More summer updates to come ... hope you're all having a wonderful summer and remember - Summer Part 2 is just beginning!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lake weekend

I keep telling Summer to slow down already but it just won't listen. I feel like I've barely started enjoying it and we're well into July. I need to stop stressing that I'm not enjoying every second enough.

One awesome summer thing we did was spend this past weekend with my family at my sister's cottage. After the responsibility and stress and emotion of their daughter's wedding last weekend, my sister and brother-in-law somehow summoned the energy and effort to invite the entire family to the lake for the weekend. So instead of enjoying some much-deserved peace and quiet, their cottage was filled with people and kids and food and noise and happy chaos all weekend. Oh yeah, and Bob had a bike mishap earlier in the week that resulted in bruised ribs and other aches and pains. They are troopers.

Neve dislocated a rib a week or two ago after landing on her neck on the trampoline. Since then, her gymnastics moves have been limited. It feels odd to see her walking instead of flipping and tumbling like usual. Well okay, she's jumping here.

We label our cups so we don't have to wash or waste too many. I like this pic of Bella and her bright eyes.

Lexie was working on her summer "bucket list." I should have taken a picture of her list since "visit Auntie Ellen" made it on there. She kept us laughing - from telling her mom it's "not the time" for Sabrina to say "I love you" (in front of others), to making a memorial for a dead ant (that's ant, not aunt).

Lori brought not one, but two AMAZING trifles.

My parents
This cutie was pretty fun to have around (his hands are full of sand)
Playing Codenames

and Boggle ... looks like no one's having fun here...

and Sluff, which appears to be a hilarious game. "Bring it in, ladies!"

Jan had sparklers so we tried our hand at light-writing. It took us a few tries.



Okay, a lot of tries ... and a lot of sparklers ...

And finally ...

Success! (except why I didn't move the lounge chair three feet to the right, I'll never know.)

The boy taking a break from The Communist Manifesto for some lighter reading.
Dan in his element on the sailboard
And of course, lots of tubing...

Spencer and I made the mistake of pretending we were bored with our tube ride...
... a mistake I won't make again. (maybe)

Boat babes
To top off the festivities, it was Janet's birthday on Sunday. Like always, we made the kids go stand with the birthday girl for a photo because it looks lonely when the birthday person is all by themselves. I think this tradition harkens back to the days of film when the thinking was, "If we're going to take a picture anyway, we may as well get as many kids as possible in the picture because this might be the only picture we get of them this year."

Just when you think things couldn't get any more magical, a rainbow appeared on Sunday night. At one point it wanted to be a double rainbow, but it couldn't quite muster up a complete second arc.

So there you have it. One full, busy, delicious, loud, fun, active weekend at the lake. I was planning to come home Sunday but ended up staying until today because it was hard to leave. A huge thank you to Bob & Jan for sharing their awesome place with us.