December 2010

2010 in pictures

by DaniGirl on December 30, 2010 · 6 comments

in Photo of the Day, Photography

Yesterday, I showed you a bloggy review of 2010 in words — and today, it’s 2010 in pictures!

I think it was through Angela that I first heard of Pummelvision, but suddenly it’s everywhere. You simply link up your Flickr or Facebook account, select which pictures you want to use, and it mashes them together into a video that it automatically loads on YouTube.

Here’s 2010 in pictures, all in ninety-some seconds:

If you’d like to see any of that in more detail, here’s the set on Flickr.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting another 365 photo-a-day project. From Halloween through Christmas this year, I only added about a dozen pictures to my Thousand Picture project, and just in the past week I’ve started carrying my camera with me everywhere again. I remember how much I loved it. (When I wasn’t hating it, that is.)

When I mentioned that I’d been noodling the idea of another 365 to Beloved, he guffawed, but not for the reason I expected. “I don’t think the Nikon will survive another 365!” he said. Um, yeah. He may be right. I checked the exif of a recent photo, and I’m well over 31,000 shutter clicks on the old girl. But I’ve recently downloaded Instagram, and I am really enjoying using my iPhone as a camera for the first time now.



A bloggy year in review

by DaniGirl on December 29, 2010 · 7 comments

in Meta-blogging

I must admit, I am not a huge fan of year-end retrospectives. However, I am a bit of a nostalgic fool. (And apparently a bit of a confused hypocrite to boot.) I’ve done this year-end meme a couple of times, and I like the way it manages to tell the story of our year in broad strokes, so here it is: the first sentence of the first post in each month this year. 2010 in bloggy review.

January: Wow, only three weeks to go in my year of photos!

February: Wow, can you believe it? Five years ago today, I dipped my toe in the Internet Ocean and have been dog-paddling madly across the sea ever since!

March: Does it get any more Canadian than this? We go to bed on a wave of Gold medal fervour and wake up to Roll Up the Rim to Win. It’s Canada’s Best! Day! Ever!

April: In years to come, they’ll talk about 2010 as the year that Easter fell in mid-summer.

May: Holy cats, it’s been more than six weeks since I posted an update about my thousand picture project!

June: My boys are getting to an age now where despite their inherent adorableness, maybe I shouldn’t exploit them and their personal stories for the blog in the same way I once did.

July: Happy Canada Day from Lunenburg!

August: “Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death” ~Hunter Thompson

September: This whole house-selling thing? Is way too much work. Way, way too much work. I haven’t been this tired since there was a newborn in the house.

October: So I’m changing the toddler terror’s diaper the other day, and of course as soon as the diaper is open he’s got his hand down there groping his bits.

November: Today’s post was supposed to be the next in my fledgling series on accidental environmentalism, and how moving to a well and septic system and a larger plot of land has helped one family become more aware of its environmental footprint.

December: Beloved will tell you, there is no living with me right now. Not since I found out that Postcards from the Mothership was shortlisted as one of the five finalists in the Humour category of the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards.

See? Fun, eh? Not all the highlights, but enough to give you a taste of the year that just flew by. In all, I’d call it a chaotic and stressful but ultimately happy year. And you?


We’ve just put the final bit of shiny wrap and silky ribbon on our first Christmas in our new house. It was, by all accounts, a lovely Christmas.

Now with the insanity of the season more or less behind us, I thought I’d bring you up to speed on the ongoing saga of the house of our dreams. Oh, this house. Like a mischievous child, it finds ways to vex me and endear me in equal measures, so I can never quite give in to adoration or exasperation, and instead vacillate rather constantly between the two.

In the love column, we’ve discovered we’re a quick five minute walk to a lovely river-side park with not one but two outdoor rinks that are very nearly ready for seasonal (and free) skating. A five minute walk the other direction is the public library and a ten minute stroll is most of the rest of Manotick, which I love more every time I venture outside the house.

Also in the love column is the way the light bounces off the snow and into the house, radiating from every window. Truly, the way the light floods in is like a love letter from the house to me, a song sung in the key of my heart.

And truly, how can you argue with a house that allows for a winter afternoon of tobogganing right in your very own front yard?

Frontyard sledding

Oh, how I love this house. At least once each day, I find a reason to love it all over again. The house, the property, the community — it makes me happy.

And yet, it finds ways to vex me. We’ve pulled out the mouldy drywall, and installed more vapour barrier. We have a pretty good understanding of why the old vapour barrier failed, mostly due to problems the previous homeowner caused when he rebuilt the walls. Once we get someone to rebuild the walls properly, and put in new insulation, we can finish installing the carpet, and Tristan’s bedroom will soon be habitable and in fact practically new. That, together with a new dehumidifier (which died last week – a blog post for another time) seems to have taken care of the musty smell in the basement.

The furnace is fixed, and we have a new dual system sump pump with backup and alarm. The electrical eccentricities that some former owner installed have been rewired. We’re well on the way to being back where we started — in fact, better than ever. Beloved has taken to calling it the Six Million Dollar House, not so much for financial reasons but because of the Steve Austin “We can build it — better, faster, stronger” reference.

In fact, I’d be downright content about things — if I hadn’t just been completely unnerved to discover a big square of melting snow exactly overtop of our septic tank. The melt over the tank is in itself not so troubling — were it not for the faint but discernable scent of sewage wafting up. Sigh. I’m afraid to even think about it.

Apparently, this house needs a whole category of its own on the blog, as this is a saga that shows no sign of ending. I’ve been ruminating on it for a while, but haven’t come up with anything clever. Postcards from the Poorhouse, maybe? This Crazy House? See, not so much. What say ye, my clever bloggy peeps?


Last Christmas, inspired by Andrea, I took one picture each hour from 8 am to 8 pm on Christmas Eve — the Christmas Eve photo project. And I loved the results.

This year, since we’re having a quieter Christmas (my brother’s family only joins us every second Christmas) and because I had to work for a few hours this morning, I was going to skip the Christmas Eve photo project. But it’s a lovely day and I think it’s going to be a wonderful Christmas. With the big boys at an afternoon movie with Beloved and the little boy napping, I find myself with the choice between cleaning and posting my pictures. Guess which one I chose? 🙂

The prequel:

Tried to be kind and bring doughnuts for the skeleton team at work today, but the wind caught the box just as I was stepping out of the car. Grandma’s not the only thing that got run over by a reindeer on Christmas Eve!! It’s Christmas crueler carnage!!

Not just Grandma got run over by a reindeer

12 pm: I’ll be home for Christmas!

12:00 pm Home for the holidays

1 pm: I love my porch, and I love my porch decorated for Christmas even moreso!

8 hrs of Christmas 1 pm

2 pm: Aaaand the wrapping is done. Finally!

8 hrs of Christmas 2  pm

3:00 pm: There’s always time for Christmas cookies.

8 hrs of Christmas 3  pm

4:00 pm: The calm before the storm of Christmas crazy!

8 hrs of Christmas 4  pm

5:00 pm: Granny and her elves.

8 hrs of Christmas 5 pm

6:00 pm: They look so grown up to me here — but still not too grown up to sit in Dad’s lap.

8 hrs of Christmas 6 pm

7:00 pm: Papa Lou is adjusting his antenna to make sure the alien signal comes through clearly.

8 hrs of Christmas 7 pm

8:00 pm: A favourite Christmas tradition — the viewing of the annual family photo calendar.

8 hrs of Christmas 8  pm

The post script: Christmas morning!

8 hrs of Christmas post script

And finally, the picture that I was going to post as my Christmas greeting to all of you to make the project an even dozen photos:

Happy Christmas

From all of us to all of you, Happy Christmas! May all your dreams come true.



A bedtime conversation

by DaniGirl on December 23, 2010 · 6 comments

in Ah, me boys

It’s beyond bedtime, and I’ve gone downstairs to say goodnight to the big boys, who are temporarily sharing a room again while we reconstruct the bedroom recently divested of its mould problem.

The boys are giggling.

Simon: “Mom, Tristan is telling me how far away things are!”

Me: “Is that right? Well, just be careful what you believe. Your brother is occasionally full of bananas.”

Simon, with admiration in his voice: “He says Mars is 99 kilometers away from the Earth.”

I decide against launching into an explanation of the vagaries of measuring the distance between two celestial bodies orbiting around a common point, and instead simply say, “Um, not quite. It’s more like 100 million kilometers.”

Both boys, in unison: “Whoa!”

*small pause*

Tristan, still sounding impressed: “I did not know that.”

I laughed all the way upstairs. I hope the day never comes that I’m not smart enough to impress my boys.


Katie’s story

by DaniGirl on December 20, 2010 · 14 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything, Loss

A couple of weeks before Beloved and I got married in the summer of 1999, a friend who knew that I was desperate for a dog called me up. “I hear you’re moving from an apartment to a townhouse when you guys get married,” she said. “A friend of mine has a litter of puppies who need homes. Are you interested?”

Was I ever! Katie was the product of a chance encounter between a purebred Golden Retriever who escaped from his yard one day and the German Shepherd-mix mutt who lived at the farm next door. When we set out to see the litter of puppies out near Sharbot Lake one gorgeous June afternoon, I had my heart set on a black and tan pup, but sweet Katie stole my heart from the minute we met her. She was only four weeks old, and my friend agreed to foster her until we returned from our wedding and honeymoon and moved into our new townhouse.

Katie was about 11 weeks old when she came home to us in August of 1999, and our lives haven’t been the same since. She was the oddest combination of submissive and stubborn. To this day, at 100+ pounds, she’ll drop to her belly in submission when a bite-sized dog the size of a Yorkie approaches. And yet she was so stubborn and so mischevious that she failed puppy obedience class the first time, and I clearly remember bawling on the phone to my mother that if I could not tame this wild dog whose antics had me at my wit’s end then there was simply no way I’d ever have the stamina to raise children.
362:365 Peekaboo Katie

In the darkest days of our infertility, I used to joke in an “it’s not really funny” sort of way that if we didn’t have kids soon, you’d find me at the mall pushing a pram with Katie in it, a bonnet on her lovely yellow head.

In many ways, she has been our first child. As each baby arrived, she adopted him into the family with good grace and patience, never begrudging the need to share her space in our home and our hearts. She has endured boys who lift her lips to examine her teeth and tongue, who yelp and yip and gambol like puppies while tumbling over her, and who have on more than one occasion used her like a step-stool to clamber up onto the sofa. She is part dog, part sister, part babysitter, part mama bear.


She is the world’s worst shedder. I simply cannot fathom how she has any hair left on her body at the end of the day, so much of it is left in tumbleweeds under every piece of furniture in the house despite daily and sometimes twice-daily swiffering. And she is the most prolific pooper you have ever seen, pooping out her own body weight at least thrice weekly.

She has mastered the fine art of Jedi mind tricks, and can induce any of us to feeding her simply by looking at us. I’m sure she averages four meals a day, not including the toddler high-chair buffet.

Poor Katie

And now, Katie is old. As she passed her 11th birthday this past May, I tried not to think about it. There is a chart in our vet’s office that shows the lifespan and equivalent age in human years of small, medium and large dogs. The graph for the large-sized dog actually ends just past eight years, but if you follow where the curve leaves off, when you cross 11 years it is equivalent to more than a hundred years of human time.

That’s old, no matter how you slice it. She’s aging with remarkable grace, and has virtually no significant health issues despite a family history of and breed tendency toward hip displasia. That is, until now. At an appointment last week, the vet found a lump near the joint in her back leg. They did an aspiration that came back inconclusive, but his recommendation is surgery to remove what he suspects is a “mass cell tumour.”


Given her current vitality, there’s no reason to believe she doesn’t have two or maybe even more good years. But the surgery is not free, of course. The cost for the surgery alone is in the range of $1,000. How can I possibly put a value on this dog’s life? It’s the ageless dilemma of the pet owner. Will I pay $1,000 to spend more time with her, to try to make sure that she remains healthy and vital and lovely for as long as possible? Of course I will. I simply couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t. It’s a pittance compared to the value of what she’s given us over the years.

468:1000 Doggy love

But even if the surgery successfully removes all of the tumour, at best it buys us just a little bit more time. I’ve seen this day coming for 11 years and have been denying it ever since. This will be the boys’ first face-to-face encounter with mortality, and I don’t think any of us are ready, nor will we ever be.


Some random thoughts on snow

16 December 2010 Life in Ottawa

I‘ve been watching the reports of the snow that continues to pile up in and around London, Ontario. Last I checked, they’d had more than my height of snow fall since the beginning of the season. Yikes! I grew up in London, and while they’re in the so-called snow-belt, this is still pretty much unprecedented. […]

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The one with her annual reindeer rant

14 December 2010 Happy holidays

Hmmm, something’s just not quite right. The tree is up, the stockings are hung, the malls are filled with frantic holiday shoppers and Magic 100 has switched to all-Christmas-music-all-the-time format. I’ve blogged about Santa parades and the Portable North Pole. I’ve got all my bloggy holiday traditions covered, but it feels like something is missing. […]

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It’s a 21st Century Christmas

10 December 2010 5 things

This post was inspired by a CBC article about how Shaw Cable moved its beloved Yule Log channel to a Video On Demand channel. The previously free stream featuring nothing but a Yule log burning in a fireplace, now entering its 25th year, will now cost 99 cents. The fee, plus a matching amount from […]

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Five ways to enjoy an Ottawa winter with your family

9 December 2010 How I love the Interwebs

My bloggy buddy Guillermo writes two blogs for families that have recently immigrated or are planning to immigrate to Canada – one in Spanish and one in English. You might remember his hilarious guest post here called “32 things about Latinos in Canada.” Now Guillermo has asked me to return the favour with a guest […]

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