Category: holidays (page 1 of 2)

So very tired…

A lot. The answer is, a lot.

the Trip

We booked the trip in April, exactly 3 weeks before I was let go from my teaching job. I can’t tell you how many time’s I’d thought we should cancel it as more and more resumes went out with less response. I did bring it up to Keith a few times, that we should maybe cancel it as there was no way I could pay for any of it, but he just smiled his Keith smile and said, that’s what nest eggs are for, isn’t it, and we found ourselves at Toronto Pearson International Airport on December 22, our 10th anniversary and also the day of one helluva ice storm.

I’m pretty sure you don’t care to hear about our flights that got cancelled (2), the lines we waited in (4), or the people we talked to (lots). We watched the departure board as flight after flight got cancelled and watched people being ushered through the doors that would lead them back through Canadian customs and then home again. I wish I’d taken a picture of the departure board – everything was cancelled except for our new flight to Cleveland. Which we got to just as the much-delayed flight to Vegas was boarding. Our luggage didn’t make the transfer in time, but we got to our room a the MGM Grand exactly when we thought we would.

All we had to do is swing by McCarran the next day to get our suitcase that had come in on the next flight, and the road trip started. So glad we had unlimited mileage on the rental car.

map

Our road trip: Vegas > Grand Canyon > Monument Valley > Zion National Park > San Luis Obispo > Half Moon Bay > Ridgecrest > Vegas

I’ve had people ask me when we got back, what was the best part of the vacation, and I try hard to answer it but it was all so great. Of course there were all kinds of standout moments, like drinking a nice stout while watching the sun set from our hotel room in Monument Valley, challenging my agoraphobia by standing 10′ away from the sans-guardrail edge of Horseshoe Bend, walking along Lone Rock Beach aka Lake Silencio from Doctor Who. There was the amazing Christmas dinner at Zion Mountain Ranch and the starlit walk back to our cabin, where we awoke to a view of grazing buffalo outside our window. The drive along Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo north along the coast was incredibly lovely, and was capped off in Half Moon Bay by the best sunset I have every seen and the best pizza I have ever eaten. The drive back to Las Vegas through Death Valley was surreal and stark, and we finished the trip with the after dark tour at the Neon Museum.

In the end, I’m glad we didn’t cancel it. We hadn’t gone anywhere together for a while, and we needed it.

Some of the trip photos; more can be found here

Some of the trip photos; more can be found here

December madness

Cross posted from goodaleandbeer.com, because I’m lazy right now.


I tell myself every year that this year will be different, this year I will be as prepared for the December holiday madness as it is possible to be.

I was on the right track; I realized early on that there would be no way to knit gifts for my nieces and nephews. This decision coincided with an email from the World Wildlife Fund, and the gifts were purchased and sent in record time. We are not going to be around for the holiday itself, so the usual travel itinerary between Stratford, Sudbury and Oakville does not need to be sorted, hostess gifts, presents and food do not need to be organized.

And yet, I am still discombobulated. Because of the misunderstanding in the due dates for my marks, I’ve had to drop the teacher-led class for a self-paced online grade 12 chemistry class. To say it has been difficult is an understatement; the frustration of not understanding it as quickly as I would like combined with the stress of the expedited timeline reduced me to tears in lesson two. Phone calls from far-off bff’s shook me out of it, and I have learned (again) to ask for help. I now know that I know not one but THREE people with chemistry-related degrees, and the science teacher at my old school has offered to help me with my homework.

Phew.

Then on to the application to Niagara College itself, and I am stressing out over every aspect of the portfolio submission. The little voice in the back of my head whispers that I am too old, too late and without enough relevant experience to get it. The little voice would rather I not try than be turned down. Words fail to express how much I hate that little voice.

I am also trying not to slip in to my usual winter hermit mode. Have met some former colleagues for lunch, and went out on Monday with Jen from Ltd Supply to check out the Indie Ale House. It’s hard to say which was more delicious, the burger or the Christmas porter. Like I said to Jen, a good burger should fall apart before you’re finished which this one did in spades. The porter had a lovely warn gingerbread taste going for it, making it a perfect dessert for the meal.

We headed over to the Hole in the Wall where it is very possible that I may have drank a little too much of the Yuletide Cherry porter from Barley Days Brewery. Good conversation over good beer in a good locale – definitely worth braving the cold for!

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And that is why I have not made my Mocha Stout yet. I’m going to take a look at the timing and plan it so there’s nothing that needs attention for the week we’re away on our southwest road trip. It might have to wait until we get back.

It’s that time again

It’s that time again, where like-minded individuals meet in Las Vegas and indulge in all manner of bad but very fun behaviour involving fine food, alcohol and poker. Others of the group are heading to New Orleans for the same kind of bad behaviour, minus the poker. Me, I’m staying home as the EI pittance does not allow for weekend trips to Vegas. I am going to spend the weekend trying to stay away from social media and the hashtags #WPBT and #WPBTeast.

I hope you all have fun. Bastards.

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The holidays are creeping up on me. While I don’t have marking and report cards looming over me any more, I’m still behind. I took an honest look at the calendar last week and tossed away any delusions that I could knit gifts for my three nieces and one nephew in time. Just then, an email from the World Wildlife Fund landed in my inbox. Perfect timing. Christmas shopping = done. Well, mostly done anyway.

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Getting most anxious about my college application. I have about two weeks left to pull together my portfolio, and another week has slipped by without me being able to start my online grade 12 chemistry course. Not exactly sure what the hold up is, other than something is wrong about the way they digitized the information from when I took another course through them IN 1980!!! 

Must take deep breaths. Do not freak out on underpaid woman on the help desk.

As of today, I have exactly 87 days to take the course, with all quizzes and unit assignments (there are 5 units), write the final exam and get my final mark to the college admissions department. I can’t think about it too much or my brain shuts down and basically does this:

kermit

Perfect day in pictures

Motorcycling along the Great Ocean Road between Warnambool and Anglesea. A perfect day in Australia with my beloved.

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge

 

At the Loch Ard Gorge

At the Loch Ard Gorge

 

Seen on the road to Cape Otway. The beginning of the Guess What Koala Butt jokes.

Seen on the road to Cape Otway. The beginning of the Guess What Koala Butt jokes.

 

Didn't see one, so they must have been active elsewhere.

Didn’t see one, so they must have been active elsewhere.

 

Cape Otway

Cape Otway

 

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

 

Path away from the lighthouse/

Path away from the lighthouse

 

Good view with our picnic lunch.

Good view with our picnic lunch.

 

The couch.

The couch.

 

Wild parrots outside our hotel room door in Anglesea.

Wild parrots outside our hotel room door in Anglesea.

 

Ending the day with a beer while waiting for an amazing Italian meal.

Ending the day with a beer while waiting for an amazing Italian meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembrance Day

My dad fought in World War II, as did my uncle. He did not talk about it, he did not glorify it or commemorate it on November 11th. When asked, all he would say was he did what he had to do.

So Dad, this is for you and everyone else who did what they had to do. I thank you for all that you have done and all that you have gone through on our behalf.

 

wpid-Photo-2012-11-11-817-PM.jpg

 

FUNemployment, Day 120

Oh hey! How are you?

Yeah, I know, it’s been a while. 92 days to be exact. No, I didn’t actually count the days; I used a website. I’m not that bored.

What have I been doing in the last three months?

Well, I did not accomplish much on my Summer List. I didn’t skate very much, actually twice if I’m honest about it. The first thing I did while unemployed was gain weight which made the knee hurt. And I was afraid to go to practices for reasons that only exist in my head. I didn’t learn Ruby on Rails or brush up all that much on HTML5, CSS or Javascript. I didn’t go to a drive-in. I didn’t do anything on my Pantone Project other than take one photograph with a red tomato. I joined the HackLab but haven’t been even once, afraid to go for reasons that again, only exist in my head. I did start the Flora Chameleon Scarf, but put it away when it didn’t work after the 12th try, to trouble shoot another time. I didn’t write anything of consequence other than a few half-finished entries in my journal. If only writing/blogging in my head counted…then I would have written tonnes!

I didn’t get to a drive-in or eat a hot dog over a campfire or go to Manitoulin Island or Port Dover. Keith was quite busy this summer and we did not get away even for a weekend trip. We did travel together to Owen Sound as Keith was working up there for a week, and I did get to see Moreland Place and its neighbour, Inglis Falls. I quite like Owen Sound; it’s pretty and has a great used bookstore beside a great coffee shop down the street from a great yarn store.

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound

Moreland Place, Owen Sound

Moreland Place, Owen Sound

We did get out on some day trips together, Keith and I. We explored different parts of the city on long walks, went out of town now and then, and spent a day at the Art Gallery of Ontario taking in the Ai Wei Wei and David Bowie exhibits (both were brilliant). We took a day and went to the US of A, where we were surprised with a friendly US customs border guard, delighted by the change in perspective by being on the American side of Niagara for the first time, intrigued by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright at Greycliff Estate on Lake Erie, satisfied by wings at Duff’s, and amazed at the work being done to restore Buffalo’s Central Terminal.

Road trip to Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

Road trip to Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

I did get out on the motorcycle a bit more, mostly back up to Tyson Lake, once in August, and again in October for Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m getting good at making a 4 hour highway drive last close to 8 hours on a motorbike. The August trip was a solo, read-reflect-and-write trip, where all I really did was read, drink beer and goof off. Thanksgiving was all about family, and I loved spending time with everyone. Highlights were watching my niece and nephew play hockey, and having Keith ride up to Parry Sound to join me for the 6-hour ride home on a clear and wonderful fall day.

Solo vacation

Tyson Lake, August. Solo time spent sitting around, drinking good beer and watching nature do what it does.

Thanksgiving with the family

Tyson Lake, October. Thanksgiving with the family

I also spent a lot of time making jam and bread, soups and stews for the freezer, and knitting like crazy.

from top: beret that I'm not sure I'll wear, cowl with art-deco wave pattern, cowl with stranded colourwork (frogged) and cowl with overly-intricate Irish cables.

From top: beret that I’m not sure I’ll wear, cowl with art-deco wave pattern, cowl with stranded colour work (frogged) and cowl with overly-intricate Irish cables. There’s more projects, but these were the prettiest.

I also volunteered at Toronto Mini Maker Faire, which was an amazing show-and-tell of Maker culture, and Cask Days. More on Cask Days later; know that it was beyond fun.

I think most of the time over the last 3 months has been spent trying to process my unemployed state. And to figure out what I’m going to next.

This is where I have to thank the fates for Keith. He has been incredibly supportive in his quiet, laid-back way. He seemed too quiet and laid-back in my panicky, oh-my-freaking-gods-what-the-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do moments, but I realized that he is like this because he trusts, he knows that I’ve got this (or will eventually). He is not rushing me to go out and find a job, any job, that might not suit me. Employment Insurance makes sure that the bills are covered, and between that, the settlement and Keith, I find that I actually have time to plan my next steps for the first time in my life.

Plan A: Brewmaster
Yes, you read right. Brewmaster. It started with a conversation with Keith:

“so what do you think I should be when I grow up?” I asked jokingly.
“Brewmaster Goodale has a nice ring to it,” was his reply.

And so the seed was planted. I’m putting together some research to present to Second Career in the hopes that I might be eligible to have my tuition and expenses covered for the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations course at Niagara College. I’ve gotten my high school and college transcripts, have emailed the admissions department to find out what I need to do, and have subsequently signed up for a grade 12 biology course, bought a one gallon kit to start making my own beer, and started a beer blog (goodaleandbeer.com, and no, it’s not quite ready yet) to act as a portfolio. I’m making contacts with brewers, teachers and beer sommeliers in different programs to investigate the growth of the craft beer industry and job opportunities within it.

I am realistic about this. I really want this, but know there is about  25% chance that I can get all the ducks in a row and make it happen. I’m not sure if I can get a student loan if the Second Career doesn’t pan out, and I know I can’t go there on my own dime as I am just not keen on dipping into my retirement investment at this age in order to pay for tuition and boarding. At the very worst, I don’t get into the program, but I will still have the contacts and plan on furthering my beer education through the Cicerone program or something similar.

Because beer is delicious. And beer people are wonderful.

Plan B:
Of course I have a Plan B. What’s the good of doing all this work for a 25% chance at Plan A without a fallback plan? There was a time I would have set all my energies to Plan A, but to quote Danny Glover’s character in Lethal Weapon, I am too old for that shit.

I have checked with Employment Ontario, and can apply for Ontario Self Employment Benefit and go back to running my own business again. I think I would focus on contract work in desktop publishing or web development at larger business as well as working with small business this time. We’ll see how that goes.

Plan C:
Get a job. I’ve been conducting a steady job search since IE started as that is a condition of the payment, and have been sending out 10-15 resumes a week. I have had a few interviews, but nothing that panned out into a second one. While my skill-set and education doesn’t look that great on paper (too general, nothing specific and in-depth), I am not discounting the chance that I might find a fabulous job that fits my skill-set at a fabulous place that fits my values and temperament. hey, it could happen. It did before, just when I was least expecting it.

There you have it. Three months of activity in 1200+ words. I feel…lighter. Writing only really counts if I commit words to paper or screen. Otherwise it’s just thinking, and I think too much as it is anyway. Going to aim for at least once a week, and perhaps try the NaBloPoNo. Maybe even NaNoWriMo since it’s not like writing an hour a day can interfere with work these days!

Summer list, 2013 edition.

Draft clean-up day, part 3: I started writing this June 26th. 

Last year, I read an article on Lifehacker about creating a summer manifesto. It seemed like a good idea, a way to perhaps not forget those few dozen cool things I want to do before they become like so many of my good intentions, filed under Hey, I forgot about that! 

And it worked. the only thing I didn’t do is go to a drive-in movie, so it’s back on this year’s version. Other things are back on it, just because they were awesome the first time around.

A List of Shit I Want To Do This Summer So I Don’t Forget, 2013 edition.

Make Shit

  • Knit the Nennir cowl. Small enough to be transportable, complex enough that I won’t get bored.
  • Knit some socks. Ankle socks for some instant gratification and knee socks because after summer comes fall. After fall, comes winter. And winter means cold feet and legs.
  • Get out the Flora soft circuit microcontrollers and maybe make this colour changing scarf
  • Dust off the sewing machine. Why pay $20 for knitting project bags when I can make my own?

Learn Shit

  • Learn how to do a proper crossover and jump on roller skates, finally. Learn and remember the rule changes, the ones that were put in place in January.
  • Update HTML, CSS and javascript skills. I’ve learned that knowing enough to teach 14-year-olds is not necessarily the same as knowing enough to actually program something.
  • Learn Ruby on Rails if time permits.
  • Learn about beer. While I am not sure just how practical it is in the long run, making beer part of my future career plans, I do want to learn more about it, to appreciate the flavours more and to make my own.

Read Shit

  • Read more books for fun this summer. I still have some to get through from this list, plus I’m finding I keep reaching for more books in the Culture series from the late Iain Banks. I’m currently 3 books behind in my 2013 reading challenge on Goodreads (4 books/month), but I hope to more than make that up when I’m away at the cottage for a week.
  • Try reading more non-fiction. Usually non-fiction makes me zone out, but I am hopeful that Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher will be an exception.
  • Read outside. In the park. On a dock at a northern lake. In a hammock. On a blanket in the park. In bed. Just read.

Do Shit

  • Be more active. Walk, swim or hit the gym around four times a week.
  • Picnic.
  • Stay in better contact with friends. Call them. Meet local ones on a patio somewhere.
  • Go skating! Practice stopping and turning. And not falling. (See first point under Learn Shit)
  • Write. Write new things. Edit some older things.
  • Cook hot dogs over a campfire.
  • Experiment with beer and food.
  • Do the Pantone Project on Instagram. I got the postcards a few weeks ago, and have yet to take even one.
  • Eat more fresh and local. Go to farmer’s markets and roadside fruit stands.
  • Go swimming. And even more importantly, don’t care about how I look.
  • Journal more. Wriitng by hand only hurts because I don’t do enough of it.

Go Places

  • Go to a drive-in. The one near where I grew up is still open.
  • Go to Manitoulin Island, Tyson Lake, Port Dover. Watch the sunlight sparkle on the water and ignore everything else.
  • Spend a day on Toronto Island by myself.
  • Go on directionless road trips with Keith whenever possible.
  • Visit Moreland House finally, rather than just driving past it.

Chill the Fuck Out and/or  Do Sweet Fuck All

  • Go offline for a week minimum.
  • Drink a cold libation on a patio and people watch.
  • Blow some soap bubbles. Wave sparklers around after dark.
  • Turn off everything and watch a thunderstorm should the opportunity arise.
  • Watch a sunset.
  • Spend time with Keith.

12 Cocktails of Christmas, 10 – 12

#10 – Yummalicious

I had Frangelico, Bailey's, chocolate martini mix and milk just sitting around, waiting to be made into something smooth and delicious.

#11 – Kit Kat

Heather posted a picture of a martini bar menu, in case I needed some inspiration. I decided to make the Kit Kat, a concoction of vodka, melon liqueur, triple sec and lime. It *sounded* like it should be good.

It was the second time in my life have thrown out a cocktail after only a sip or two.

#12 – White chocolate raspberry truffle

I had to make something delish to make my taste buds forget what I'd done to them in #11. Godiva, Chambord, whipped cream vodka & cream did the trick.

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So that's the 12 Cocktails of Christmas. I think I might make it the 15 or 20 Cocktails; I just have to go to the liquor store first!

 

My 12 Cocktails of Christmas, 1-6

This seems like a better way to celebrate my non-secular holiday…while I could do with some gold rings, who really needs leaping lords & milking maids? And who's going to clean up after all of that bloody livestock? I've heard turtle doves and partridges can be messy.

#1 – The Bloody Caesar.

What do you get when you mix vodka, clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt & pepper? A really good way to begin my Christmas break. It's not quite the same without the celery salt or stalk, but if the decision is enjoying one or going out for minor ingredients, well you know which way I'd lean.

#2 – Raspberry Cosmopolitan

This is nicknamed the Nectar of the Goddess when I'm quaffing one with Loud or the Martini Goddess, it's just that good.

  • 1 oz. raspberry vodka
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz. lime cordial
  • 2 oz. Ocean Spray cran-raspberry juice

Add ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Pour. Garnish with raspberries. Enjoy.

#3 – Happy Coffee

Dark roasted Mexican organic coffee plus Irish cream and a big dollop of Frangelico. Don't know about you, but it definitely makes my day start happier.

 

#4 – Spiked Eggnog

This was pure experimentation brought on by a twitter status from Brad stating he has never had eggnog. I pretty much opened my liquor cabinet door and wondered what would go good with the eggnog in my fridge. Take it from me, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur and Frangelico go extremely well with eggnog.

#5 – Moscow Mule

It's Christmas Eve. Keith and I are chilling out until I get too chilled and decide a bubble bath is in order to warm up, breaking out the expensive white ginger bubble bath. What better accompaniment than a ginger-based cocktail?

#6 – Drambuie

My father celebrated every Christmas Day with a bit of Drambuie. It's not a cocktail or my favourite spirit, but I carry on the tradition and raise a glass to my family and all they've given me.

 

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