August 2019

Almost 10 years ago to the day, after our Dodge Caravan went up in flames in my one and only serious car accident, we bought my ‘little blue car’, a 2009 Mazda 5. It was so long ago that one of our primary concerns was room in the cargo area for a stroller; Lucas was barely over a year old at the time, and Simon hadn’t even started JK yet.

That little blue car served us well over the years. I loved it so much that when Beloved needed a new car, we bought a 2012 Mazda 5 to make a his-and-hers matching set. Alas, after 10 years and 175,000 km, it’s time to trade it in.

It’s been about five years since our failed attempt to get the car detailed, and I can’t say I’ve been scrupulous about keeping it clean since then, aside from an occasional swipe with a vinegary paper towel or $1 worth of gas-station vacuuming. Cleaning the car out for trade-in has been like an archaeological excavation of the past 10 years of our lives. I expected the crayons, goldfish and the Starbucks stir sticks, smiled at the acorns, sea glass and installation manual for a forward-facing car seat, and laughed outright at the three (three!) lens caps and the Apple charger cord – so that’s where they went. I can’t remember the last time someone needed a baby spoon, but there was one of those, and a rainbow Pride flag, too.

I’m super excited about the new car, but I’m nostalgic about trading this one in. I’ve never owed a car this long before, and the kids have gone from babies to teenagers begging to sit in the driver’s seat. It’s been to every province east of here save Newfoundland and Labrador, and down the 401 to southern Ontario more times than I can count. It gets cranky in the deep winter mornings and won’t always open the windows when I ask, and I’ve learned not to pull out of the driveway until I’m sure the window won’t freeze-fog over on me. It never once broke down on me, though, and I’ve only had to put a post-it note in front of the pesky check-engine light a few times when I just didn’t have the spoons to deal with it. It has been our family car as our family grew up, and like the rest of us, it has a few eccentricities that we mostly overlooked because it was otherwise a good friend.

185:365 My new Mazda 5!

We both have a few more miles on us now!

And about that new car – holy smokes but cars have changed since the last time we were in the market. Stay tuned for the big reveal on the next-ten-years car!


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Longtime readers of the blog know that we’ve been obsessed with sea glass for many, many years. I was first introduced to the idea when we visited Bar Harbor, way back when we were a family of four. My bloggy friend Phantom Scribbler introduced me to collecting tiny pebble-sized bits of glass as we wandered along the sea shore.

By sheer chance, our next major family vacation in 2010 brought us to a beach near Lunenberg, Nova Scotia that was so rich in sea glass that we filled our pockets to overflowing each time the tide went out, and an addiction was born.

Four of the last five years, we’ve scoured the beaches of Prince Edward Island, and especially the coastline near Souris, picking bits of joy out of the sand. I’ve made sea glass jewellery, key chains, mobiles and even a sea glass lantern, and I’m sure we have more than five kilos of it stashed in various containers around the house. By some weird fluke, though, this is the year that we found our most unusual and precious pieces.

The first was this purple coil. Purple is a rare colour for sea glass, and this crazy curl is quite unusual. In fact, we couldn’t help but enter it into the “best shard” competition at the Mermaid’s Tears sea glass festival that happened to be taking place in Souris when we were there last month. It took honourable mention, and the judge said its only drawback was that it was a relatively young piece and didn’t have much pitting or other signs of aging. We wonder what it could have been?

sea glass

It wasn’t until we got home, though, that we realized the other treasure we’d found. Beloved was scanning through our haul with a black light flashlight and one piece glowed unmistakably: we’d found not one but TWO elusive pieces of radioactive sea glass, also known as UV glass, Vaseline glass or uranium glass, because it is in fact made with trace amounts of uranium. Yes, THAT uranium, the one they use to make nuclear bombs! It’s not overtly visible to the naked eye, and we had no idea these were a pieces destined for my ‘favourites’ jar until it glowed smartly and obviously when Beloved skimmed the black light over them.

Uranium glass, or UV glass

Apparently, uranium used to be a commonly used ingredient back in the day to add certain colours to glass tableware. In doing a little research, we found out that the flourescence of UV glass is totally unrelated its radioactivity, which is actually measurable with a Geiger counter. However, since only small amounts of uranium were used during the manufacture of the glass, the amount of radioactivity in uranium glass is not considered harmful.

Isn’t it amazing how it looks completely unremarkable under normal light (left photo), but glows neon bright under the black light? Note to self, bring black light flashlight to PEI next vacation!!

comparison between UV uranium glass and sea glass

From a long but fascinating delve into the science and art behind Vaseline glass: “Regardless of who did what first, we know that [uranium] itself was identified in 1789, when German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth named it after our solar system’s most recently discovered planet. Back then, uranium was seen as just one more mineral to color clear silicon dioxide, the main constituent in the sand glass is made from. Chemists like Klaproth knew that cadmium turned glass yellow, cobalt made it blue, manganese produced violet shades, and certain compounds of gold went red when heated, blown, and cooled.”

So now we’ve added to our collection a small fragment of red (one tiny fragment in boxes and boxes of sea glass!), a lovely frosty marble, a bit of milk glass, quite a bit of the more rare cobalt and purple glass, and now this fun discovery. Isn’t that the coolest thing? We just love wandering the seaside like magpies, looking for shiny bits, and treasures like these make the search that much more fun — and addictive!

Have you collected enough to have a favourite shard of sea glass or a fun story to tell about how you found some? And now for the really hard question: WHAT should I do with it???


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Have you checked out the newly renovated and freshly amazing Canada Science and Technology Museum lately? We went last week on an adventure to celebrate my birthday, including a stop at the special Leonardo da Vinci exhibit and it. was. AWESOME!

Ottawa’s Science and Tech museum has always been one of our favourite places to while away a Sunday morning. You might remember that it closed in 2014 due to mould and structural issues, and somehow we missed getting back into our routine of regular visits after the grand re-opening in 2017. It was great to see old family favourites (Simon in particular spoke with great fondness of the famous Crazy Kitchen) and the locomotives, but the whole museum feels fresh and new and full of things to discover.

You could say Lucas flipped over it!

Photo of a child upside down in a classroom

If you’re looking for something to do in the waning days of your summer vacation, I can’t recommend the special travelling Leonardo da Vinci exhibit highly enough. I thought I knew a lot about da Vinci – I knew he was of course the painter of some of the world’s most highly regarded paintings, like the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, and I knew he dabbled in science and math. I understood that he contributed to massive leaps in the understanding of the human form, architecture and technology, and yet I never really understood the scope of his genius until we spent an hour submersed in this exhibit. It’s a wonderfully modern presentation (give yourself time to sit and enjoy the multimedia SENSORY4 immersive experience) that was as fascinating for me (eager to learn but by no means knowledgeable) as it was for Beloved with his degree in fine arts, and all three kids with their very different appetites and attitudes enjoyed it as well.

I’m sure we’re one of the last families in Ottawa to finally return to this amazing local treasure. The kids did admit that they missed the old fibre optic crawling tubes, but that the new permanent exhibits more than made up for it.

Child playing with gears at Canada Science and Technology Museum

Have you been yet? What did you think?

If you go:
Canadian Science and Technology Museum
1867 St Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, ON
Leonardo da Vinci exhibit ends September 2, 2019; additional fees apply.


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