Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo!

Hallowe'en adventures have come and gone at our place... some highlights:

Keep an eye on him - he's pretty fast...

video

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pumpkins, etc.

On Saturday afternoon Kai and I went to a pumpkin patch with my good friend Anne and her two little guys. The weather in the morning had been gloomy and cool, but by late afternoon the sun had managed to push its way through the clouds and we had a delightful time selecting pumpkins, identifying farm animals, going for a hayride, and romping through mazes. This was our third annual visit to the Cottonwood Farm, and fall certainly wouldn't be the same without it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another joke

Kai: Knock knock

Me: Who's there?

Kai: Boris Cuckoo

Me: Boris Cuckoo who?

Kai: Boris Cuckoo you!

...

Gotta love kid humour. Sometimes things are funny just because they're nonsensical. Of course, I laughed, because I enjoy the nonsensical, especially when a 4-year-old comes up with it.

A side note: Keith was right a week ago - I have bronchitis.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Evening walk

Friday, October 19, 2007

In the presence of genius

Okay... so some, um... including myself, may consider that an exaggeration, but in general it is not everyday that I get to listen to a talk given by a Nobel Laureate (no, not Gore this time), and then participate in a wine and cheese celebration to honour approximately 100 local scientists of the thousands of recent Nobel Prize recipients, one of whom is a good friend of mine. I had that privilege yesterday at work.

And to top it off, it was a Nobel prize for Peace.

So although climate change seems to be speeding up at a rather alarming rate, I was encouraged that there are things that we can all do to at least minimize the magnitude of change, even if it is something as small as hanging your clothes on a clothesline. No soapbox today... I'm just in awe of how a community can work together to make an impact.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Quietly sewing

It is official: my voice is on vacation. What was an on-again/off-again raspy mess yesterday is today a rare throaty syllable bookended by apologetic whispers and enthusiastic gestures. It is good that I generally work alone, eh? I am mostly feeling alright, as per usual with my not-so-extensive laryngitis experience, I just can't talk. Alas. I just need my voice to return by next week because I'm off to Germany to give a talk, and I am going to need something other than whispering and gesturing to pull that off. I suppose that is obvious, considering the keyword "talk".

But I can still type...

I have been spending the majority of my free time over the last few evenings sewing a myriad of projects that are hopefully worthy of Christmas gift-giving next month. I would love to show them to you, but I'm afraid many of the recipients of the projects are faithful readers, so you're just going to have to wait until December when we are back from our travels and I can show off the spoils. Anyhow, the sewing has been productive. It often takes a deadline for me to get my act together to start a project, but what can I say - I'm task-oriented.

Last night I sat at my sewing table, listening anxiously to the Leaf game on the internet in the intermittent silences that fell between the whirrings of the machine (let's not talk about that game, shall we?). This was followed by some serious hand-sewing while I sat perched in front of the television, half-watching/half-listening to the Rockies homer their way into the World Series. Crafting and sports are united at last! (And Keith wasn't even home for much of this.) Oh, yes - I am a card-carrying, unapologetic member of the happy-go-lucky Rockies' bandwagon. It is great for the community, not to mention participation in the lunchtime conversation at work, which inevitably circles around sports for a decent percentage of the meal. I fade into my meal when the wave of conversation heads towards college sports (how can anyone remember all those schools?!), but I can hold my own with hockey, and I'm almost up to speed with baseball and football. Go Packers!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Congratulations Al

Good job, Mr. Gore. A Nobel Peace Prize makes your other awards pale in comparison!

Oh, and we shouldn't forget the IPCC. Congratulations to you, too. Keep up the great work!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Contaminate This

I just read an article in the Toronto Star that makes me shake my head: Do trees spew 'contaminants'?. It's short, but I'll summarize anyhow: someone at Toronto's City Hall wrote a report stating that trees and vegetation are spewing contaminants, and someone else thought that sounded dumb, so the report is now getting a rewrite. Some other people asked for additional clarification, because apparently the report made no sense to anyone. A section on "air emissions" (I can only assume they are talking about the emissions of molecules and particles into the atmosphere, and not the actual emission of air) evidently

"focused on six air contaminants singled out by Environment Canada. They include carbon monoxide; compounds that cause acid rain; fine dust that causes respiratory ailments; and "volatile organic compounds" or VOCs. VOCs include a wide range of substances – some man-made chemicals such as benzene, and some natural substances. The smell of cut grass, for example, comes from VOCs."

Let's look up the word "contaminant", shall we?

con·tam·i·nant
[n. kuhn-tam-uh-nuhnt]

1. something that contaminates.

Okay, fine. So let's look up "contaminate".

con·tam·i·nate [v. kuhn-tam-uh-neyt]

1.to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.: to contaminate a lake with sewage.
2.to render harmful or unusable by adding radioactive material to: to contaminate a laboratory.

The implication here is that a "contaminant" is something that doesn't belong or isn't natural. As far as I know, trees and vegetation are pretty naturally occurring things. So if a tree emits something into the atmosphere, that would also likely be natural, right? Exactly. Also, some natural things can burn naturally, emitting carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide (i.e.: forest fires started by lightning strikes). And volcanoes spew sulfur compounds, which become components of acid rain, also a very natural process.

Perhaps it is safe to conclude that many of the compounds in question can occur naturally in the atmosphere?

So... let's back up a second and STOP CALLING EVERYTHING A CONTAMINANT.

How about we just call them "chemical compounds"? Here's the thing - atmospheric scientists, and specifically atmospheric chemists know that there are naturally-occurring emissions and anthropogenic emissions of many of the same compounds or the same class of compounds. The key is to decipher what humans are doing versus what would happen in our absence. Are we offsetting the balance, or is our influence merely a drop in the bucket?

It's no wonder that the general public is so confused about the environment. Our policy makers can't even explain things properly in their own reports.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sick

Our family got sick last night. Well, two of us. Around 5 AM we woke to the sound of "Daddy? Daddy! Dad!" I groggily took pleasure in the fact that Kai was calling for Keith, deciding that it was likely his turn anyway. The night before Kai had wandered into our room, and it wasn't until I returned from putting him back to bed that Keith woke up and asked if Kai had been up.

I rolled over, swallowed, and was immediately aware that my throat was sore. I tried to go back to sleep, gradually realizing that I heard water running, people moving about, and hushed voices.

It seems that Kai had thrown up on his bed. Keith thought that perhaps he had just coughed and triggered something, but a couple hours later while he was cuddling with me on our bed (normal morning procedure), he jumped up and ran to the bathroom to throw up again. It wasn't just a gag reflex - he has the stomach flu. The poor little bub is pale, feverish and very groggy. I felt well enough to go to work, but more than happy to come home during the day to stay with Kai while Keith went to work at the Rec Center. I just finished a bowl of turkey soup (so yummy) that Keith made yesterday, following an hour or so of cuddling with Kai on the couch while we watched some of his PBS Kids favourites. I certainly wouldn't say that I enjoy that Kai is sick, but I certainly enjoy his willingness (delight) to just collapse onto me for over an hour. Even more, I'm thankful that I can be here with him.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bathtime blogging

So my Thanksgiving resolution is to squeeze blogging time into otherwise potentially inactive times. Right now I'm camped out in the upstairs hallway, watching Kai pull all of his bath toys into the tub and feeling the damp heat of Jake's breath on my leg. (It's safe to assume that wherever I am when I'm home, he's within a 3-foot radius of me.) I don't have to sit here, mind you. I'm beyond the stage where I feel I have to be in the bathroom while Kai plays for 15 minutes in the bathtub.

Aside - when exactly, are we allowed to do that without feeling guilty? Someone once told me that they heard of a person telling their child to sing while they were in the bathtub, so they just had to listen for the singing to stop. I have come running back to the bathroom when I heard dead silence for a moment, but it wasn't an issue. After all, a kid who can swim in a pool where he can't touch *should* be okay in a bathtub with his mother in the next room putting away laundry, but I still feel like a terrible mom when I have to run downstairs to grab something because accidents can happen. Anyhow, I digress SO terribly...

But I am wondering if Children's Aid is going to be bursting in on me in the next few minutes.

All that to say that I could be folding and putting away laundry, or wiping down the counter in the bathroom, or filing away some necessary documents in the office/spare room.

But I'm not. I'm here with you, because, well, I've been neglecting you again. It's not that I'm doing it intentionally... there are just a lot of other things that need to get done when I've got free time.

Like making the Christmas presents. I know, it's only October, but I've got a weird deadline this year.

Oh oh - here's something cute to tell you that will make this rambling nonsensical post all worthwhile:

The backstory is that last year I purchased a pair of bike leggings and a long-sleeve bike shirt from Keith's work - they were very much on sale and then some with his discount. I hadn't actually worn them until today. It's not that I haven't wanted to - they're just a little on the "athletic" side for work. Well, this morning it ws 37°F as I was leaving for work, and the high was 70°F, so I had the opportunity to use my bike clothing. I ended up changing back into said clothing when I left to come home.

So, this afternoon I entered the house with Kai greeting me at the door and asking me to come cuddle with him on the couch. I said "okay, just let me get changed", to which he replied "no, your outfit is perfect. It's perfect." He sized up my bike clothes. "Yep. You look perfect."

I said "really? wow... thanks sweetie. That's very nice."

And he said, "Well, you look good enough. Yeah... good enough. C'mon to the couch."

Good enough?

Gee thanks.

Ah... the nuances of compliments.

Anyhow, that was almost two hours ago. I just got changed out of those clothes a few minutes ago. But apparently they were "good enough".

What else what else?

Oh yeah, our oven died yesterday while we were cooking a 12.5 pound turkey for 20 hungry people. That was great.

Thankfully Scott and Brian, our quick-thinking and even-quicker-acting friends dashed out to buy 5 rotisserie chickens. Aren't rotisserie chickens great? And so are Scott and Brian. Thanks friends. All in all, it was a rather chaotic evening, but we still had fun. After all, it beats having spaghetti for thanksgiving anyday. Not to mention that thanks to our neighbours and their functioning oven, we now have a good supply of turkey leftovers. Soup anyone?

Anyhow, I should really wash this kid before he turns pruny. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Yellowstone Revisited

I know. Another long silence... No excuses, just average busyness. My folks have been visiting, I've been traveling, and life has been trucking on. Blogging has taken a significant backseat - my Google Reader is jam-packed with over 300 blog entries, and I am seriously considering cutting out about two thirds of my feeds.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon being very domestic. In addition to vacuuming almost all the carpeting, mopping all the lineoleum and doing three loads of laundry, I made two batches of curried butternut squash soup (with Braeburn apples and shallots, about 2 gallons in total), two batches of lasagna, and a batch of chocolate chip cookies (because there should always be chocolate chip cookies.) Still on the agenda for this week are a couple pies, as well as a shopping trip to acquire the fixings for a turkey dinner. This will be the first time that our family has been together for (Canadian) Thanksgiving since we moved to the U.S. - two years ago Keith was at a wedding in Maine, and last year he and Kai went to Canada for a family reunion. So to mark the occasion, we've invited over a few other families for a turkey dinner. This will be my, uh... second time cooking a turkey. I find that amusing.

Oh - did I promise something from Yellowstone? We went... it was lovely. We saw a bunch of elk, a lot of bison, a coyote, and a few mule deer. We saw many many pronghorns on our way to the park while driving through Wyoming. We even saw a mommy black bear and two little black cubs, but the best black bear was this little guy, given to Kai by the nice lady at the Mammoth Springs gift shop. His name is somewhere between Hugger, Cuddles, Bear, Blueberry and Strawberry. We're all confused now.


Highlights, apart from the free stuffed black bear:

Seeing a rainbow at Old Faithful.


Watching a bison cross the road right in front of our van.


Seeing water squirt out of the ground.


Having toques to stay warm when the weather turned chilly.


Sharing it all with my parents.


Finally, my favourite ominous photo.