B is for Biking

Photograph of bike

New bike!

Until this year I hadn’t rode a bike since I was a teenager.  Even as a kid my bike exposure what some what limited, I grew up on a hilly country road so going for a bike ride wasn’t something we didn’t do on an every day basis. There was one summer where I biked to the next concession every day for a couple of weeks to cat sit.  That was my first experience biking beside a highway and really turned me off biking on unpaved shoulders.  I also biked occasionally in town when visiting my Grandma.

Since our move into town in January Andrew and I have been talking about biking and this Spring I got a bike! The Soo has some surprisingly bike friendly areas – the bike lane on Queen Streets makes a bike ride to my work not so hazardous and the hub trail is a great way to explore the city on a bike friendly path.  As a family we’ve been using our bikes to visit local parks and playgrounds.  It’s been a joy to explore our neighbourhood via bikes and to find new places for us to play as a family.  I’ve also loved looking at the gardens on the numerous side streets we’ve been biking down.

Next week, while Little Miss is staying with her grandparents, I’m hoping to bike to work a few times.  I love the idea of an active commute and seeing the city from a different perspective.

Podcast Goodness: Archives As Activism

Cross-posted from Krista’s history focused site.

I’m on a podcast! Given my obsession with listening to podcasts it might not be surprising that I’m very excited to have been part of a podcast recording.

Recently Scott Neigh of Talking Radical Radio interviewed Skylee-Storm Hogan and I about the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, activism and archives, and more broadly about documenting social movements.  Our conversation was partially inspired by my recent Active History post on “Archives As Activism” which discusses some of the current trends around archiving and documenting social movements in Canada.

You can listen to the full episode online via the Rabble Podcast Network.

Kinda related: I would love to be part of an archives or Canadian history podcast — anyone want to team up to create some awesomeness? 

Chicken Soup: Spirit of Canada

With all the Canada 150 celebrations it might not be surprising that the Chicken Soup for the Soul publication jumped on this opportunity to publish a book dedicated to stories about Canada.  Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of Canada includes 101 stories of what it’s like to be Canadian.  What does that mean? Think snow storms, cottages, hockey, kindness, small town living, exploring nature, and all the other feel good moments that are associated with living in Canada.

My story “Temporary Town” about my experience moving to Northern Ontario, discovering Thessalon, and falling in love with a surprisingly vibrant rural community is featured in the book.

Doctor Who: Smile…or else?

Smile – there is new Doctor Who on a weekly basis right now.  Episode two of series ten was an off world, first trip to the future for Bill and the Doctor.  It included emoji speaking robots, snark, and Peter Capaldi smiling awkwardly.

Things I enjoyed about “Smile”:

  • Bill! (Okay, I think this might be a weekly thing that I’m happy about). But I specifically enjoyed her questioning nature in the early part of this episode – questions about the locations of the chairs in the TARDIS and question mundane things that as fans we probably have asked about at some point or another.
  • I like the equip about the English language having devolved into emojis and a number of the emoji jokes made me giggle.
  • The location of this episode and the scenery was gorgeous! *inset heart eyes emoji*
  • That  Frank Cottrell Boyce named the Vardy after Canadian scientist Andrew Vardy from Memorial University in Newfoundland who specializes in swam robotics.


Things I wasn’t so keen on:

  • The human reactions to the robots – the immediate desire to kill everything felt a bit off.
  • The ending of the episode and the giant reset button which fixed everything seemed like an easy way out.
  • This episode felt a bit unoriginal – it reminded me a lot of the vardy reminded me a lot of the vashta nerada and the plot reminded me of the nanogenes from “Doctor Dances” that simply misunderstand how the human race.  There were also a number of similarities between this episode and New Earth in terms of early Doctor/companion adventures.

New Doctor Who: The Pilot and a Whole Lot of Squee

So anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’m a Doctor Who fan.  And anyone who has spent any time with me in the last month probably knows I was mildly very excited about the fact that Doctor Who was coming back to television after a year long hiatus.  Andrew witnessed me jumping up and down in excitement over this fact more than once in the past week.

Last night “The Pilot”, the first episode of series ten aired.  I’m still on a bit of high from watching it – so much squee. So my initial reactions are definitely coloured by that, which I think is fine – it’s okay just to love something and not analyze it to death.

Things I loved about the episode:

  • Bill Potts! I am thoroughly enjoying her character so far and I love that they didn’t skirt around her sexuality but also that her queerness was presented as normal, as part of her, and in a conversational way.  It was obvious in the second line of her dialogue that she liked women however it was done tastefully.
  • The episode also reminded me a lot of Douglas Adam’s work — both in the never completed Doctor Who script “Shada” and in framing of his novel Dirk Gently.   Basically – both of those works open with a professor who has been teaching at a university for over fifty years, and no one quite knows what his actual job is – just like this episode opened. I’m all for more Adam’s references.
  • Bill reaction to the idea that the Doctor was going to wipe her mind was so spot on.  It linked back to Clara’s reaction and vocal discussion of her own free will.  It also reminded me a lot of Donna and the tenth Doctor’s decision to wipe her mind without her consent.  Bill has spark and she challenged the Doctor, stood her ground, and outright ignored him at times.  I hope the intensity, curiosity, and personality of her character continues.
  • I also loved that Bill made numerous sci-fi references early on the episode, she made her interest apparent even before she knew about the Tardis.
  • Nardole was given a back seat in this episode which I think was a really smart decision allowing for this episode to focus more on the relationship between Bill and the Doctor.

Things that fell a bit flat for me:

  • The “puddle monster” was a very typical of Moffat’s monster.  It’s an ordinary thing made scary.  And it was scary initially but by end of the episode the dripping girl chasing Bill around felt a bit like a bad horror movie.
  • I’m not a huge fan of the tutor/student relationship setup that was used to frame the episode.  The idea that Bill was bright enough to attend class but stuck in a job shoveling chips seems like a lazy plot device. I feel like this has the potential to bring in a very unbalanced power relationship into the mix.
  • The River Song and Susan photographs on the Doctor’s desk felt a bit forced/fan service to me – especially since they were referenced multiple times.

Overall I really liked enjoyed this episode and I’m super excited to see how Bill’s character develops over the season.  I also think that this episode would serve as a good introduction to anyone looking to watch Doctor Who for the first time.  The basics of how the TARDIS work are explained, it’s not tied directly to previous plot lines, and you get a fresh entry point to the series with Bill.

StoneHammer Brewing: Pilsner

I recently tried the Stone Hammer Pilsner brewed by Stone Hammer Brewing, which is a small craft brewery located in Guelph, Ontario.  I’ve previously sampled the Red Maple Ale and the Queen’s English Mild Ale as part of the beer of the month subscription Andrew and I were receiving. Based on my blogs from the other two beers I liked them both, with my preference being for the Red Maple Ale.

Disappointingly their Pilsner wasn’t nearly as tasty.  It poured a clear straw yellow with a full bodied head. There was a mild fruity and straw smell but both were fairly mild.

Taste wise it was smooth drinking. It wasn’t bad but it definitely didn’t fall into the “I would buy this again” category – it was more of your standard generic tasting beer that didn’t really stand apart in any way. It was smooth drinking and I could see it being refreshing on a warm day, however I doubt it will become one of my stables.

Stack Brewing: Belgian Quad

Instead of doing another year of the ‘beer of the month’ mail order beer selections Andrew and I decided we would take turns in 2017 buying random beers to explore together.  This idea has been helped greatly by our move and being closer to an LCBO with better craft beer selections, a nearby grocery store which has a surprisingly awesome beer section, and the fact that you can now order online via the LCBO.

Andrew recently picked up a handful of beers for us to try.  This batch of beers included “4×4 Belgian Quad” by Stack Brewing.  Stack Brewing is a Sudbury based brewing company, with its name relating to the well known mining stack landmark that towers over the city.  This beer is also essentially named after an ATV (quad is another name for ATVS, something I had no idea of until moving to Northern Ontario).

At 10.5% this is definitely a strong beer. It poured a hazy dark auburn brown colour with minimal head that quickly dissipated.  The smell was faintly sweet with a bit of a malt note.  Considering the alcohol content I was surprised by the smoothness of this particular beer.  There was a lingering fruit and spice note that hung on with this beer.  It was definitely a bit darker than my usual preference but it wasn’t bad tasting and I was surprised by how much I liked it.

Making A Mess In The Kitchen

Baking deliciousness. Used under CC-0 License

I am a messy cook and an even messier baker.  Regardless of what I’m baking flour and spices seem to end up everywhere.  And I mean everywhere. We’re talking flour all over the counter, floor, human beings in the near vicinity, and occasionally the cat.  Thankfully Andrew has grown accustomed to this and just shakes his head at the disaster I’m creating and hopefully knowing that it will get cleaned up eventually.

Cooking dinner and baking are things I enjoy however I found they had fallen off my plate with my former commute and trying to keep afloat with everything else. Since moving to ‘the new house’ I’ve gotten back into cooking and baking a lot more.  I’ve baked way more in the past month than I have in the previous year.  I’ve made muffins, loaves, cookies and found my way back to gluten free baking.  I’ve also managed to do a lot more cooking of dinner.  Eating tasty food I’ve made always makes me happy and healthy food makes by body feel a heck of a lot better. One of the neat things about this increased kitchen time is that I’ve been able to share my joy of cooking with Little Miss.

In the past month or so she has become the resident lettuce ripper for salads, the designated stirrer of all the things, and the one who dumps ingredients into bowls for me.  I love the idea of bonding over cooking and reinforcing the idea of healthy eating and where food comes from by spending time in the kitchen together.  She asks a ton of questions and I often find myself explaining how a recipe works or what a new ingredient is.  I could blame the kitchen mess on her but more often than not it is still me that’s causing flour to go everywhere or spilling things. Messes are part of life, and are definitely part of my cooking, and I think the mess is truly worth all the associated cleanup.

The Bushplane Revisited: A Parent’s Perspective

One of the plane's Little Miss loved climbing in and out of.

One of the plane’s Little Miss loved climbing in and out of.

Cross-posted from Krista’s public history blog.

I’ve written a few times in the past about visiting the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (locally known as the Bushplane Museum) for non-heritage events, namely for musical performances and a community craft show.  In both cases the admission to the Bushplane was either free or the proceeds when to the performing artist.  Those events were an example of a heritage space renting out their space to generate revenue.

A couple of weekends ago my family and I visited the Bushplane Museum during their regular operating hours as part of their “Family Fun Day.”  In addition to their regular attractions the day included half price admission and a range of additional activities such as a magic show, crafts, community tables, and special guests from the popular kids show Paw Patrol.  Basically it was a day designed to bring more people through the door.  Given the fact that at numerous points throughout the day there was lineup to get in, I think they were definitely successful in that regard.

This visit also marked the first time I visited the Bushplane with a child. My daughter wasn’t terribly interested in all the extra things that were going on as part of the day, but she loved the planes and some of the interactive exhibit pieces in the museum.  The Bushplane has a number of planes that are accessible to visitors and my daughter loved climbing in and out of them, sitting in them, and asking lots of questions about how things worked.  One of the nice things about her enthusiasm around the planes was that it meant it gave me some time to read description labels, check out some of the digital interpretation, and generally just take in the museum.

I’m still adjusting to how your experiences at museum and heritage site visits change when you’re accompanied by a child.  I am also becoming increasing appreciative of museums that do a good job of integrating child appropriate exhibits or special child focused programming into their services.  Having dedicated space for children or children friendly interpretation can be a huge selling point when families are deciding where to visit.  Sometimes this can be hugely elaborate programming but other times simply having colouring station or a touch/feel artifact section can go a long way.

What are some of your favourite examples of family friendly museum programming?

And Then There Were Chickens

Chickens!

Chickens!

One of the unexpected parts of our move from Oslicken Acres into the Soo was the acquisition of a small group of chickens.  The family we bought the house from had a small group of chickens they were keeping in their backyard.  Rather than moving the chickens in the middle of winter they asked us if we would be interested in having them.

When Andrew presented me with the idea of having chickens I was not all that enthusiastic.  I was thinking of all of the stress associated with moving and having one more thing to look after during the move. I’m also the kind of person who wants to learn a lot about an animal before getting one and I knew virtually nothing about chickens.  Enter Google and book purchases to help us up our chicken game.

The only black chicken among the seven might be my favourite...don't tell the other chickens.

The only black chicken among the seven might be my favourite…don’t tell the other chickens.

Despite my initial reluctance I’m really enjoying having our small group of seven chickens.  They are surprisingly friendly – though I am the one that feeds them so that

might be part of their friendliness.  And yes there is a little bit of extra work associated with keeping but hem I’m getting a whole lot of joy out of visiting them every morning and evening.  Plus they make tasty eggs!

I do realize that given the cost of their feed, bedding, and the time required to take care of them we aren’t really saving money on eggs.  But I think the enjoyment factor is

a pretty key reason to keep them.  It’s also teaching Little Miss about caring for animals and where her food comes from which I think is a really important life lesson.  We moved from the country to the city and became chicken owners in the process – a little backwards but definitely fun.

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