a day of domestication and geek-dom

i spent this sunday pretty much all on my own. well, except hobbes was with me.

with the kid at the grandparents’ place and doug on shift, i had actually a pretty busy day.

mind you, a part of it was catching up on the big bang theory, the walking dead as well as uploading the first 92 the walking dead comic books series from my hard drive to my ipad (see? geek-dom). i also hit some sales online for a bit of spring/summer clothes shopping for chaeli and i.

but it was a busy day making this delicious breakfast (and yes, it was very delicious), doing dishes both by hand and by dishwasher, doing three loads of laundry, finally taking down all our chinese new year decorations (i completely forgot they were still up) and preparing lunch for next day. oh – and running to the grocery store to stock up on veggies and fruit for the week.

so no – not exactly an exciting day. i didn’t even talk to anyone aside from the lady at the cashier. and that was only because i had to give her a coupon. other than that one moment, i was at the self-checkout stations. in a sense, i really didn’t talk to anyone.

what a huge contrast from yesterday – where we first went over to tai and B’s place for their boy’s 4th birthday party. ada, hoa were there, as well as tai’s cousin and B’s sister, BIL and neice.

it was such a great way to spend the afternoon! there was so much going on but peaceful in a different way from hearing people having conversations here and there – either as a group or broken up to smaller groups – and of course, the kids playing and laughing.

in fact, when we got there, we hung outside first to give hobbes a chance for a potty break. the little birthday boys saw chaeli through the front window. with their faces all lit up, they motioned chaeli to come in. it was such a blessing to see the huge joy in their little faces!

following the party mid-town, we went north-east to my parents’ place for dinner. we didn’t get home until 10pm, which might as well have been 11pm since we lost an hour last night.

you know what? i highly recommend everyone do this from time to time. while the tasks of getting food, preparing food and other house choirs does not seem fun, there is an extreme sense of accomplishment not just from being productiv, but to be in complete solitude for the whole day.

no interruptions – just alone with my thoughts, of which i tried to keep light as i took this mini-me-vacation.

i’m about to go downstairs, empty the dishwasher, get the last load of laundry to fold and then make a snack as i watch tonight’s latest episode of the walking dead.

random chaeli updates

i know my last bit of posts have all been pretty deep – and very much about me.

the intention of this blog was for me to document a variety of aspects of my life as well as just an escape for creativity and fun.

and so… some random updates on my offspring!

  • we woke up at almost an hour earlier today (5:30am) because we had to be at school before 7:15 am for chaeli to change and get ready for her varsity team tryouts. what is she trying out for? co-ed badminton. i’m not at all sure where this interest came from but both doug and i thought it was a great idea. the catch, however, is that she is trying out against kids from grade 4 to 6. most first time grade 4 students have a difficult time making it since they are up against bigger and more experienced kids. but doug and i had told her to just try her best and have fun. i’m sure if it was for alpine skiing tryouts, chaeli would probably be jumping at the chance – but badminton is not her main focus so this is just for fun. and she did have fun, as i learned after picking her up from school.
  • walking around her school, i was amazed at all the team canada, olympic posters hung on many of their hall walls. every corridor i turned had 2 to 5 of these massive posters, each one focusing on one of our olympic athletes. between them, were class projects, each focusing on a different athlete and their sport. they even were pulled out of the class to watch the last half of the women’s gold medal game and the men’s semi-final game against the US. on certain days, they got to ditch their uniform and come in red and white colours to support canada. chaeli’s class focused on the Dufour-LaPoint sisters. quite fitting as she’s now quite the skiing addict:

 

  • she is reading the secret garden; therefore, i am too, which makes this my third book in my new year’s resolution of ‘ten books.’ my mind has been distracted though, so it’s nice to be able to ask her about the book whenever i require clarification. and i think she gets a kick about knowing more than me as she is completely giddy at times to help me out when i’m confused about how some characters connect.
  • chaeli has this book about learning how to write in code and other ‘secret agent’ stuff. it includes an invisible marker where the words appear when you shine a black-light pen on it (included with the book). she’s been passing doug and i these messages in code (similar to pig latin) and we’ve been decoding them so we can answer her questions. yes – it’s a long way to something as simple as, “do i have time to read before bed” but i have to admit it’s also fun.
  • i suppose a quick update on hobbes is in order. a few weeks ago, we were having hot pot at my aunt’s and uncle’s. we left the table where the leftover hotpot sat in the centre to sit and digest in the living room area. i have no idea how long hobbes was being sneaky for, but basically, i got up to go to the kitchen for something and caught him standing on his hind legs on one of the centre dining room chairs, front paws digging into the plastic table sheets, which basically moved and gathered where the hot pot was, and lo-and-behold, his entire head was right in the pot. who knows how much he ate – but i gathered it was a lot. the next morning up to mid-afternoon, i was taking him out on the hour due to a crazy case of diarrhea. i would say, “serves him right!” but it was me who suffered along with him since i had to be the one to clean up after him. thank god for snow – you can at least use the snow to pack up the mess.

shy’s 41st birthday – hobbes’ loot

[this is part IV of my post-christmas posts - first post can be found here, second one here, and third one here]

yes, i will be posting about some of the things my dog got for christmas even though this post is really about my birthday. but all in all, hobbes almost got more than i made out this year. and definitely more than what i got for my birthday! though the value of my birthday gifts out-weighed his.

it’s just a little sad when your dog gets more spoiled than you!

anyway, the day was somewhat uneventful as it was yesterday (boxing day). we played more board games (mainly Mille Bornes which was from santa and doug taught chaeli some D&D from her gift to him – a beginner’s starter kit).

for dinner, we went out to a local pub (a true pub with traditional pub fare and proper selection of beer on tap) with my family. i did get some shout-outs from a couple of good friends plus my extended familly from thunder-bay. when you have a birthday that falls so closely to christmas, it’s one that’s usually over-looked.

i’m thankful of the family and friends that remember my birthday, though – year after year. there’s always 2 or 3 of the same friends whom never forget. at my age, the presents mean little but the action of remembering and wishing me a happy birthday is really all that it takes to make me feel good. it only takes two words – through text, email, voicemail… whatever. i don’t ask for much more because i really don’t need anything else to make my birthday special (other than spending it with my family, of course).

anyway – i had medium-spicy wings because their wings are tasty without being breaded (too much carbs) with a side garden salad. while i couldn’t indulge in fries, i ordered a veggie and dip platter for my apps and was full walking out (without being stuffed). afterwards, my family went to dairy queen. i went across the street and got myself a coffee from tim hortons, since i can’t have any dessert at the moment.

here’s a selection of hobbes christmas loot from this year:

dog christmas presents

hobbes’ 2013 loot

  1. Greenie
  2. Moose squeeky toy
  3. Pig’s ear
  4. Hide-a-Squirrel puzzle toy
  5. Smoked bone marrow beef bone
  6. Tennis ball with tail toy
  7. Various dehydrated sticks – venison, duck and bison

camping at bronte creek

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we spent this past cold weekend (the days were nice but our first night felt like it was just hovering above the 0 degrees mark – 2nd night was better but still chilly) camping at bronte creek provincial park.

thankfully, all sites were electrical, allowing us to use our little space heater in our trailer. we have one that has a safety feature – it automatically turns off if it gets tipped over. it actually had to be turned down to the low side – our trailer is so small, it doesn’t take much to heat it up! i ended up sleeping in just a t-shirt and underwear.

first of all, some photos of our weekend:

bronte creek campground dog park

leash-free dog park (campground side)

the leash-free dog park on the campground part of the park was actually a large area with trails that led us through a field, into a forest and a side trail leading down to the creek. a couple of loops around gives both dogs and humans a nice hike. it was very scenic.

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

sleeping piglets!

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

little goat resting – loved the backdrop of the wooden framed doorway and textured wall.

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

chaeli’s new friend

the day-use area is a separate entrance to the park. there’s no way to go from campground to the day-use area except by driving outside of the provincial park and entering through another entrance (campground vehicle permit will let you get in the day-use area but not the other way around; i suppose this does give us campers more privacy). there’s also no way to cross over from one to another by foot or bike as the two areas are divided by the creek with no bridge. we were a little baffled by this set-up – it’s a little bit of a pain to get from one to another but the beauty of the park does make up for this small inconvenience.

anyway, we visited just the barn with the petting zoo – chaeli got a chance to pet and feed different animals, including a lone cow hovering by the fence just waiting for visitors to fetch the fruits dropped by a nearby pear tree as a cow-treat. poor chaeli’s hands are so small that no matter how flat she made her palm, the cow engulfed pretty much her entire hand, leaving a trail of slimy saliva all over! it happened to me too when it was my turn to feed the cow. they don’t have any top teeth so the experience isn’t painful – just a little gross.

bruce trail - river side and ruins side trail

ruins along the bruce trail

bruce trail - river and ruin side trail

posing with uncle hoa (who we believe has 0% body fat)

sunday, after eating breakfast and packing up, we met ada and hoa at a nearby restaurant for lunch.

afterwards, they took us to the bruce trail’s river and ruins side trail for a 4.5 km hike which we completed in about 1 hr and 20 min. we’ve done one hike along another side trail of the bruce trail in the hamilton area which wasn’t too far from this trail – called the ray lowes side trail. i knew before the start of this hike, it would be a good one. not just because ada and hoa usually know how to pick the good ones, but because the trails around the burlington and hamilton areas are all just so gorgeous!

it definitely did not disappoint – the scenery and vegetation gradually changed as we made our way through the loop. it was still incredibly lush in some areas, especially parts of the trail that left the woods and was only small enough for a single file of hikers. i brushed through a lot of vines and floral-type, long stems and for awhile, felt like i was in some type of tropical rain forest.

the difficulty of the trail wasn’t too bad. i wouldn’t recommend it for those who are not in shape and/or beginner hikers as there are some inclines and declines with areas that can become quite slippery, especially if there’s been some recent precipitation. but it’s not too hard, either, as the tough spots are like short bursts followed by a steady plain for a longer stretch. the toughest part is really just the first decent down – which is always more tiring to climb back up at the end.

> view rest of our photos from our bronte creek weekend camping trip.

now about the park itself – it was kept really clean (well, it is in oakville) and definitely classified as a city park where people have the option of trying out camping without going too far from their homes. it’s perfect for this type of fall camping where we only go from friday night to sunday morning. the days are much shorter so we don’t have the luxury of arriving too late to set everything up. rather, it’s close enough for us to make it just as the sun starts to set, allowing us just enough time to stabilize and level off our 2-wheel trailer. barely enough time, though. just barely.

there are also grocery stores and restaurants all around the park within 5-10 minutes of an easy drive. we actually took advantage of this saturday morning where we were suppose to have cereal and fruit. but camping in the cold made us famished! i suppose all the extra energy went into our bodies trying to just generate heat to keep warm. luckily, our park map/magazine had a $5 coupon for coras. so… away we went.

i suppose the downside of this, as with all city parks, you risk getting the type of city people who don’t really understand park etiquette. i passed by one group that were throwing their water melon peels into the bushes surrounding their campsite. not only is this an act of littering (which one can be fined for) but it’s also leaving out edible trash for critters/wildlife (which one can also be fines for). luckily, we were not in bear country but still… it’s more pleasant to camp without the nuisance of racoons and skunks rummaging through the campground area.

but as oakville is a nice, family-style community, we were not bombarded with young (or older) city folks wanting to just come and find a place to party and drink excessively. most of our neighbours were families with young kids. so all in all, it was a successful camping trip. we would definitely use bronte creek again if we were looking for a close and quick get-away.

ball’s falls and beamsville region

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yesterday, we took a day trip down to ball’s falls conservation and local area around beamsville. the trip to ball’s falls was for a light hike. light, it certainly was. the website described the trail to the lower falls to be about 40 minutes and the trail to the upper falls to be about 50 minutes – both times were for to and fro from the parking lot/visitor’s centre.

i doubt both took longer than 60 minutes altogether.  which is fine if you are really looking for a very light hike. but given that we’re use to something with just a little more challenge at least in duration, if not the actual trail difficulty, it was a surprise for us. not that we minded the beautiful scenery. it was just an awfully long drive (construction) just for such a short hike.

still, we made the most of it. along the way back, we stopped at a small, road side farmer’s market for some freshly picked, niagara peaches, cold apple cider and a bottle of apple syrup. then we stopped at dillon’s distillery for some sampling of ontario vodka, whiskey and gin (she prepared the gin for me as a mini gin & tonic, bless her heart!) we brought home a large bottle of gin and two types of their bitters – lime and pear.

here are some photos of ball’s falls…

historical ball's falls

anglican church

ball's falls - old  stone oven

time to make some pizza!

before the lower falls trail, we passed by a historical area with artifacts from the mid-1800′s. this time capsul illustrates life of the ball family during their early settlement in the niagara area.

ball's falls - lower falls

lower ball’s falls

ball's falls - lower falls

falls model

the lower falls is what most people come to see – with the falls equal in both width and height.

ball's falls - ruins of woolen mill

ruins of where yarn was made.

along our hike to the upper falls, we passed by the ruins of what use to be a woolen mill.