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.

Getting Back Onto the Yoga Mat

YogaBIn November during our trip south for a destination wedding a reconnected with my love for yoga by joining in some morning classes on the beach.  These were fairly laid back classes geared to all fitness levels but they reminded me of how much I use to enjoy doing yoga.

In January I participated in #yogarevolution a free 31-day program created by Yoga With Adriene.  Essentially it was 31 days of yoga videos on YouTube that I could do at home whenever it fit into my schedule.  I doubled up on the practice occasionally to make up for the odd missed day but I really enjoyed spending some time on the mat on a regular basis.  I liked the videos because they were a good mix of physical intensity, mindfulness, and occasionally had bits of quirky humor.  I’ve added them into the mix in addition to my gym schedule and they have been a great way to relax in the evening.

To keep up with the positive practice fostered in January I’ve started another yoga calendar that includes suggested videos for every day in February.  So far so good.  One of the fun bonuses of engaging in this practice at home has been experiencing yoga with a two year old. Little Miss loves the idea of pulling out ‘Mommy’s Mat’, doing stretches, and just being silly during yoga.  Her flexibility puts the flexibility of an adult to shame and it’s ton of fun to see her experimenting with yoga poses.

Listening: Wooden Overcoats

WoodenOvercoatsMy commute may have ended with our move but my podcast listening has continued.  I’m currently loving the Wooden Overcoats podcast. This comedic drama is set in “Piffling Vale” a small town on a island in the British Channel.  The podcast revolves around the owners/operators of the Funn Funeral business.  The premise of the show is that Rudyard Funn’s family funeral business is put into jeopardy when a new undertaker, Eric Chapman, opens across the square.  Chapman is charming, the village loves him, and he quickly surpasses Funn Funeral’s as the go to funeral home. For the first time ever Funn Funerals has competition and it does not go well.  Antics, plotting, and escapades follow.

For me, this podcast feels a lot like if Fawlty Towers had of been centered around a funeral home.  It’s great British comedy with a range of odd ball characters and small town charm.  An agnostic wavering minister, a candy shop owner who becomes a police officer, and a lighthouse keeper who writes erotica just a few of the imaginative supporting cast.  Personally, I love Antigone Funn’s character – a mortician that skulks around in the basement, stands in dark shadows and has a wicked sense of humor.

I highly recommend taking a listen if you’re in need of a laugh and have a fondness for British humour.

Packing Up and Headed Out

Overstuffed-LuggageRemember back in August when I wrote about my commute, community, and making connections? As might have been evident by that post Andrew and I had been talking for awhile about what possibilities might work best for our family.  After a lot of discussion (and more than one pro/con list) we decided to start looking at houses in the Soo…initially just to see what was out there.  In mid-October we put an offer in on a house and after what seemed like an eternity we found out in late November that it had been accepted and that the owners had removed their conditions on the offer.  We’re moving at the end of this month.

This has meant a few things – lots of packing has been going on in our current house, we’ve been looking at daycare options for Little Miss, and thinking about how our schedules will change with the move.  It’s definitely going to take some getting used to but I am relishing in the idea that I’m going to have two additional hours a day that were previously spent in a car.  I’m hoping this means we get to spend more time together as a family, that I won’t be as exhausted after the work/drive, and that we can explore new routines.  I’m also excited about exploring a new public library, finding new trails to hike and bike in the summer, and new places to walk.  I’m also hoping to cook more (I think Andrew is hoping for that one as well).

This was the first time I’d actually looked at houses – despite being over 30 I’d never bought a house on my own or looked for one.  It was an interesting experience.  We looked at around ten houses and that experience helped clarify for us our priorities and must haves.  The house we ended up picking still has a bit of a rural feel to it despite being within city limits, it has a decent sized lot with outdoor space, and is going to give us a bit more breathing room inside the house.  Adventures and new challenges are coming and even though the actual moving part is still a bit daunting I’m looking forward to starting something new.

Northern Ontario Beer: Swingbridge

swingbridge_can1Andrew and I recently tried Swingbridge, a beer crafted by the Manitoulin Brewing Company. I love the fact that this is a Northern Ontario made beer and is semi-local to our area. So far it looks like Swingbeer is the only beer brewed by the Manitoulin Brewing Company but based on the taste of this one I hope they venture into other offerings.

Swingbridge is a blonde ale and poured a hazy yellow colour with a small amount of white head that stuck around for awhile. This had a maltier edge to it that then most blonde ales which was a nice surprise.  The malt is well balanced with hops that have enough flavour to be noticeable while still being subtle enough to be enjoyable. Smooth drinking, well balanced, and full of flavour this one was a huge win in the local beer category.

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