Apr. 13th, 2019 09:15 am
metawidget: A "palatable" icon with happy face licking lips and captions in both official languages.. (palatable)
I can see green grass here and there now, and my cycle commuting is back on track after a snow-related interruption earlier this week.

I've had some good news lately… the post-vasectomy test results came back all clear, and the promotion process I started in the fall has declared me qualified to gain a level — with any luck I can continue working on similar stuff to now but training and managing some help, but that's for management to decide.

I was slated to do some teaching internationally somewhere in the Caribbean (for learners from across the Caribbean) but the project has been bumped over to more senior people. Which is mostly a blessing because I have plenty going on, and it got bumped from February when going somewhere hot sounds appealing, to June, when 40 degrees happens. It stings a bit to be pulled but it's for the best.

I did get to teach locally, though — a Positive Space training with a new set of materials and approach I developed with Deirdre. I think it went quite well, and it qualifies more volunteers at StatCan and Health Canada to do listening and referral.

Elizabeth has been really busy with music — open mics, house shows, a show in Wakefield coming up… it's nice to have that heating up after a long fall but it has been an adjustment in terms of time and energy available for her and me. We're off to an afternoon open mic today with the kids… it's been a while since we've had kids take in her music in a venue. I hope they'll let her do her thing, cheer at the end and munch on fries during (rather than rush the stage)!

Next week I'm contract bargaining most of the week… I hope we make some good progress toward a solid agreement. I get to draft the bargaining updates. I'm learning a lot and think I'm making a difference.


Mar. 23rd, 2019 11:27 am
metawidget: close-up of freewheel of a bicycle (bicycle)
I biked to work yesterday and brought the kids to swimming on the big bike today… it's cold but the streets are clear enough. Part of the street-clearing by the city involved dumping huge chunks of ice on our front lawn and smashing a garden box. It was on the easement and hidden under a snowbank but it seemed gratuitous. Oscar was pretty full of rage last night when he found out.

I'm trying to streamline and delegate stuff at work… delegation is its own sort of work but I think I'm getting some of it done. Union concerns are ramping up with a perfect storm of performance talk season, new initiatives from management and bargaining.

Honestly I'm feeling a little overwhelmed today: beer bottling kind of took over the kitchen last night and a whole bunch of furniture is shuffled around for a house concert today. Our kitchen tap is acting a little flaky and there is a buck of work and life stress swirling around me. I hope things settle down soon. Maybe biking season will be good for my state of mind.
metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (politics)
I had a dream about shopping for dress pants last night, in two parts (the trying on right before close! The buying later!) I found a hole yesterday in a pair of pants, so thanks, literal brain.

I'm back at work and also writing away at the current step in the promotion process. Looking at what I've been up to through a technical competencies lens and thinking that whether I get a promotion or not my involvements are due for a prune. Had a conversation with one of my career-knowledgeable friends who backed up this idea.

We had a late morning start at home and a discussion of daylight savings time over rushed breakfast this morning. The take-away the we could agree on came down to us being at the wrong latitude for all this (or maybe we should just go full Saskatchewan and go to UTC -4 year round).
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
I'm recovered pretty well from the vasectomy and feeling pretty much the same as before now. From what I can tell I got a shorter recovery period than some (although I didn't go rock climbing the next day like some people).

I'm also recovering from that kind of overwhelming fall/December in work, union and domestic stuff. I'm in no danger of running out of that, and we were briefly out an oven (but Elizabeth and Diane took apart the electronics, scrubbed them, or them back together and now we have a reprieve), but I'm sleeping better and feeling much less stressed. I've been kicking the tires of Woebot (kudos to the person who mentioned them in a recent private entry) for a little while and so far they seem earnest and more like a text adventure game than my best friend… but fun and full of reminders to take care of my brain.

I feel like the working and volunteering universe keeps throwing teaching opportunities in front of me; maybe that will be a theme for 2019. I'm re-learning R in order to learn some of its confidentiality features so I can teach my stuff in the context of a tool that the cool kids are using these days. I'm also looking forward to giving Positive Space volunteer training another crack having gotten some feedback on my first go around. I think I'd be very satisfied with doing these things well if I do!
metawidget: Person sitting cross-legged from the rear, in black and white with noise and scratches (body)
It's cold out there and I'm holding the fort having made cookies. Elizabeth will be bringing back the kids, JP, Leah and Esme from skating on the creek soon.

I'm not out skating partly because it's currently colder than Winnipeg out there,maybe TMI… followed by holiday stuff and the start to the year )
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
These scones are rapidly becoming a go-to recipe for me. It's adapted from the Bon Appetit Cookbook (2006) edited by Barbara Fairchild — we have lavender around the house more than lemon zest and don't do blenders.

Easy Ginger-lavender scones

Preheat 400 F

Mix in largish bowl:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lavender flowers, squished between fingers

Chunk up and blend in with a pastry blender until everything is a coarse meal:

2/3 cup unsalted butter, right out of the fridge


2/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Make a well in the center and add:

3/4 cup whipping cream

Blend with fingers until cream is mixed in (there will probably be some flour kicking around still).

Divide into halves (for normal-sized advices) or thirds (for mini scones), knead each part 8 turns or so, squash into a disc and cut in 6 wedges.

Bake around 18 minutes until lightly brown, then transfer immediately to a tin. They reheat nicely at 350 F for 10 minutes the next day.
metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)
I'm run pretty ragged lately… the constellation of stuff around work is exciting and chaotic.

I attended my union's annual general meeting a couple of weekends back and may have gotten a little famous for questioning the exaggerated bar graphs in our electronic voting system. I also had a chance to meet some neat people, speak on the Professionals Canada question that was in the news lately, and vote on things of substance and things deep down the procedural rabbit hole. It was enlightening, sometimes maddening, and worthwhile.

Last week I did even more standing up and speaking in front of people — I chaired one AGM and delivered the Treasurer's report and ran the elections in another. At the end of the week a bunch of scrambling around resulted in a good talk on statistics on gender under the Positive Space umbrella.

I was fairly convinced that something was going to go down in flames last week, and it didn't! Between good help and my grinding away at managing things, we got things done.

This weekend marked 14 years of Elizabeth and me kissing. Heather and Andrea took charge of the kids and we got to go treat ourselves to the nearby spa — baths and saunas and tasty food in among the carefully placed oaks and rocks :) The kids got to go sliding (Morgen got to slide while snoozing on Andrea… that totally counts) and drink hot chocolate, so they were only a little jealous.

I'm starting this week with delivering a pilot Positive Space orientation and then heading off to bargain for three days. In December I'm teaching the record linkage course for the last time, then a first teaching experience on data access and confidentiality in my new portfolio. Somewhere in there I put my name in for a promotion — the process is a little different each time and this one feels a little more streamlined than recent ones. I'm looking forward to things settling down a little before Christmas is really upon us. I suspect it won't, completely, but I think the most intense parts are behind me for now.


Oct. 28th, 2018 07:38 pm
metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)
We have a fridge and potable water again! Yay, back to 21st century privileged life.

I also got to take care of little Morgen while Heather and Andrea went out to see a play… I mostly just swayed while she slept on me, but it's nice to make the mutual aid more mutual — Heather in particular has helped a ton taking care of our kids.

Vivien is in a Hallowe'en mood already. Choice quotes:

"There are no ghosts upstairs… they promise!"

And she was decorating her trick or treat bag with stuff: "a pumpkin, a skull, and a BLOOD BANANA!"

I can't resist saying "BLOOD BANANA!" randomly now.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I'm at the sports centre while the kids are swimming — the parent gallery is on the other side of a wall with windows, so I'm watching a swimming lesson on almost-mute. The muffled sounds suggest fun, and there is lots of bouncing and splashing and the occasional "trust you can float" exercise. I got the kids the goggles they wanted last weekend and they're the only kids with goggles in the pool today.

It's been a long couple weeks — still fridge-less, despite having talked to lots of people and voice recognition systems and had a technician visit a couple of times. Maybe we'll get a replacement soon… the city is also doing some municipal water work so we're under a boil water advisory until Thursday morning at least. It's almost camping!

I'm done my antibiotics for my elbow but I still have to wait for the now-not-infected swelling to go down (and blood donations are out until the elbow is completely healed). I feel a little urgency to actually donate because I'm not super optimistic that the MSM deferral won't be replaced by some other lovely normative standard around monogamy and white picket fences.

We all have a bit of a cold. *Sniff* I'm hoping we'll have a healthy, restful stretch with modern amenities soon (and maybe Elizabeth and I will be able to take a proper break together).

Today Oscar gets to go in a biplane with [personal profile] commodorified (and a pilot). I think he's excited and Elizabeth and I will find something awesome to do with the younger ones…
metawidget: Person sitting cross-legged from the rear, in black and white with noise and scratches (body)
Today I saw a bear just off the side of the bike trail through Gatineau Park (near the intersection of the trail parallel to the parkway and the trail parallel to Allumettières). I was wondering why the oncoming cyclist was way over to the left and then I saw a black bear cub that she was clearly giving a little space. I didn't stop to take a picture.
Read more... )
It's been a bit of a month, I guess. And it's only the middle.
metawidget: Sticker saying "you are beautiful" on a black background. (beautiful)
My bike is back from the shop for its spring tune-up. It rides so light and comfortable. I also installed a Trail-a-Bike hitch so I can have an auxiliary drive up hills and keep better track of one kid while biking. I've been biking to work more often than not these days, which feels good!

I'm looking around for a new assignment at work… I've switched within my section a few times over the past decade but it's time to make a slightly bigger jump. I'm really enjoying my extracurriculars so one big criterion going forward is being able to stick with at least a couple of them. I think I say this every entry but I love working on Positive Space. It's a good-people magnet.

Elizabeth wrote ten new songs in February, which is becoming a tradition, and had a little house concert brunch earlier this month. I like these at and food gatherings we do!

I celebrated two years with Heather and a year with Andrea this winter, and we're planning to combine Ada's birthday party with a ten-year wedding anniversary party for Elizabeth and me. My heart and couch runneth over <3. They'll run over a little more in the fall, too: Heather and Andrea are expecting. If all goes well, thanks to their dedication and the help of a donor, they'll have a kid. Oscar is hoping the kid will be a Virgo like him (Viv has been getting a lot of mileage out of me and her being Leos and I think Oscar wants a sign buddy). I'm happy and excited for my loves and know how much they've wanted this! I look forward to another kid in my life and to finding ways to be helpful and in solidarity.
metawidget: Owlbear miniature with arm-wings spread, looking threatening (owlbear)
Feeling pretty good at work this week… much computational and negotiation grinding has culminated in my being able to deliver a bunch of data (on the order of 25 gigabytes!) to some people that needed it.

I'm also getting a feeling for where I can contribute best in the coming fiscal year on Positive Space and mental health fronts… and it should let me trim down the lists and meetings I'm on. Things are moving and I'm in the right place to help push and steer! I'm also finding the other pushers and building connections with them. It is very satisfying.
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
a black and white image of a seated woman from behind superimposed on a stack of washers

Body: I created this image from some with I was doing on interactive media way back in 2004, helping out a professor in the Communication Studies department at Concordia. It's a still from a Flash toy where the washers are all tottering around and responding to mouse presses and movements. The group was very interested in bodies and technology and this was one of my takes on the link between the two. I use it now when I'm thinking of my health and aging.

a hand-lettered sticker reading 'YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL' stuck to a black background

Beautiful: I saw this sticker on a magical, giddy first trip to Ottawa with Elizabeth back in 2005 — someone had stuck it to the inside of an OC Transpo bus. It was touching and positive and probably put there with some political intent.

a blue wooden dining table chair and a traffic cone in the street

Art or moving: this was from another want with Elizabeth, around Duluth or so in Montreal. I was taken with the idea that someone was making performance art in the street but Elizabeth pointed out that maybe they were just trying to hold on to the parking spot for moving. It's a nice silly icon.

If you want me to pick some of your icons, as [personal profile] amazon_syren did for me, comment below saying so, or with a non-sequitur.
metawidget: Sticker saying "you are beautiful" on a black background. (beautiful)
Just finished my second week at home with the kids while Elizabeth was teaching in Kingston. With the older two in school much of the day, a lot of my time during the day involved errands and hanging around with Ada. She is getting so articulate, and is generally cheerful and musical as she goes about her day. We did a bunch of shopping, brought some ancient hazardous things to the Ecocentre, and kept the house from self-destructing. I got into the rhythm of things and enjoyed the change of pace… but it is definitely a lot of work keeping the logistics of the day going and I'm impressed with what Elizabeth gets done on a regular basis.

Outside of the workday, I had lots of help and company from Heather and Andrea… they took the kids on a museum adventure on a ped day when I was at a training session downtown, and we has lots of time all together with the kids. We had [personal profile] dagibbs over for Brass one night and he almost didn't win (which would have been news). I really enjoyed spending lots of time bonding and just being with my interprovincial loves (with kids awake and with kids asleep). We'll be back to seeing each other regularly but quite as much as we've managed in the past couple of weeks. I look forward to the next opportunity like this!

I popped my shoulder out for the first time in a while a week ago, between doing up my pants and reaching for my toothbrush (I wish I had more exciting stories for these incidents). After a day of naproxen, I was feeling better on Monday. I think a lot of whether it pops is linked to stress and tiredness.

Now that Elizabeth is back, her writing, recording and performing well be part of things around here, as well as work and union stuff for me… Positive Space, re-weighting and bargaining are front and centre for me. It's a little unreal but I'm looking forward to re-engaging with all that starting next week.

Unrelated: you should watch this magical time-lapse footage.
metawidget: Co-sleeping kid taking up as much space as possible between co-awake parents. (co-sleep)
This is going around and has in years past… but it's the first time I've done it and as good a way to break the posting ice as any.

Places I've slept in 2017:

Gatineau, Quebec
Ormstown, Quebec
Vaughan, Ontario
Eganville, Ontario
New Hamburg, Ontario
Winnipeg, Manitoba

I am mostly a homebody, I guess.
metawidget: Sticker saying "you are beautiful" on a black background. (beautiful)
The neighbourhood is covered in snow today. I took Ada out on a little errand walk and it was delightful.

Yesterday I celebrated thirteen years of kissing Elizabeth. We had a nice supper and kissed in a park — park kissing was how it all began :) Our date was brought to us by my two more recent loves, Heather and Andrea, who did supper and bed with the kids after dancing up a storm with me and the younger two at the Ottawa Family Dance. My life is full of love and wonderful people.

Friday I picked up my new bike to replace my stolen one. It felt really good to ride home on a fast, light bike that fits me nicely.

Thursday I attended a union consultation team meeting and got a new title of consultation VP … and managed to pass off a committee seat to keep my workload sort of constant.

I'm waiting for results in a promotion process at work. Wish me luck!
metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (politics)
So, I'm leaning toward throwing my support behind the wonky, bilingual, at least somewhat scrappy decent human being and labour activist who plans to refractor labour law, taxes and benefits in favour of those who need a boost.

I am hoping someone out here wants to geek out on the merits of this.

Summer fun

Jul. 27th, 2017 11:52 am
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)

July has been an adventure! We started with a wedding in Cambridge (my cousin Mike got married to his girlfriend Caitlyn — now they will go back to wandering the world teaching). It was a grownups-only wedding (a first for us since having kids). My aunt Anne did a ton of groundwork, recruiting a babysitter and giving us a place to stay, and it was fun for us all! Then we staryed in the GTA as Elizabeth started some Waldorf teacher training — we stayed the first week and I touristed with the kids while she did her daytime studying, and we had family time in the evenings. We were staying with a family in Richmond Hill; their grandfather was unexpectedly there and enjoyed the kids, and various people were coming and going. They have had a nomadic life over the years and it was fun to see how they live. They have tried to give a bland rental house as much character as possible with what looks like barn wood dividers and musical instruments and art everywhere. It was Richmond Hill, so I spend a lot of time driving (but mostly to TTC stations: the kids find the transit almost as much fun as the parks and museums, it seems).

Originally I was steeling myself for a trip from Toronto to Ottawa alone in the car with three kids, but my cousin Mary had a plane to catch in Ottawa (to get to an icebreaker, so she could scoop up Arctic water for Science) so I had adult company on the ride home. I’m getting to know the route and good places to stop! Amazing Coffee in Madoc and The Hungry 7 in Perth are quickly becoming traditions. She crashed with us overnight, which meant she got to meet Heather, and then caught the plane up North (and the weather was merciful, so it only took one try for the airline to get her up there). We came home to a questionable fridge, so the evening was full of coolers and thawing and delivery pizza.

Elizabeth's training was three weeks, so for the last two Heather stayed over. She had to work during the day, so I did home-making and running the kids around: Oscar had day camp with the UQO kinesiology students and I found parks and people and errands to fill the rest of the days. Evenings were good — the kids accepted that bedtimes without Mama could happen for days on end, Ada started sleeping the night, and with a bit of videoconferencing and some cranky moments, we made it through missing her during the week. Sharing the routine and spending time with Heather was really nice. Elizabeth came in for a semi-flying trip on the weekend in between, with a pagan potluck and traditional Sunday pancakes.

Now we’ve got a week and a bit of homebody time before Kaleidoscope Gathering. Elizabeth has found some time to keep working on the back stairs with Oscar's help, and we've been having pretty unstructured days. Oscar has had a cold and ear infection this week, but he seems in better shape today. Elizabeth and I got to go out for supper and a walk last night while Heather fed and did bedtime with tired kids. It was a nice time to catch up on being a couple.

I saved the pictures for the end — here are some of the nicest ones from June and July. We generally unplug in the woods, so you'll have to imagine all the fabulous dress, campfires and various degrees of extravagant camping rather than getting photos…

Ada is such a kid.

Two-year-old Ada with bubbles.

On the grounds at the Slit Barn in Cambridge, for my cousin's wedding.

Elizabeth, Eric and a rusty giant eagle sculpture.

Oscar being adventurous at Edwards Gardens in Toronto.

Oscar balancing on some rocks in a stream.

Viv enjoying being in nature at Edwards Garden.

Viv looking up in front of some trees. six more… )

Ada quotes

Jun. 21st, 2017 06:34 pm
metawidget: me, Oscar, Elizabeth with Viv in front (family selfie)
Ada is having a good language month:

"Pizza, here [points to mouth]… Papa, here plate!"

"Castle! Bounce bounce bounce. Whee, slide!"

"More orange juice. More orange juice, mummy. More orange juice, now. All done orange juice."
metawidget: me, Oscar, Elizabeth with Viv in front (family)
Viv and Oscar have been out playing at a neighbour's place today, leaving us to be ruled by delightful Ada. But I wanted to record a couple of fun Viv moments.

First, when discussing bugs in the kitchen, she wanted to know if ants have necks. Siri had trouble parsing the question, but a little searching got a yes answer — and those necks are apparently very strong.

Second, she wanted to play Set this morning… and she pretty much figured it out (on the solid-only deck) and was able to pick out sets and explain why (or work out what was wrong with them when she made a mistake).

Smart and delightful kid.


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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