Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Being brave enough to suck (thoroughly) at something new ;)

Alright, so I decided that w the start of Sept, I should get my life back under some semblance of control (my keyboard, however, disagrees and the letter 'n' stopped functioning a few weeks ago.  So it's a ctrl-v for me, but I'm a touch typist so super-frustrating as I'm often way past before I realize an n was involved.  All that to say, please ignore ridiculous typos.)

So school still exists.  Final term!  And it's a lot less than fun.  But I decided I couldn't let it be my WHOLE life anymore.   So two things - new fitness routine and a new hobby of some sort.  Fitness was easy - I have all the gear after several years of collecting little bits at a time, so I signed back up for Beachbody and picked a routine I've had reasonable success with.   Two key criteria: short workouts and short commitment.  I'm much better at doing three, three-week programs than one nine-week one, esp when starting out.  I accept this and move on.   Had a friend doing it with me but she had to stop due to injury :(  Sad.  Anyways - those are going very well and I'm quite happy with the results.  I'm not at all happy w how far I've slipped but at least moving the right direction now.

For the new hobby, I wanted to find something that I didn't have access to anywhere we've lived before.  Something that might make here slightly more appealing.  I tried swimming...  Fail.  I tried adult gymnastics - actually found one, but I really didn't love their coms, and couldn't get any concept of their program, and the only timeslot was 8-9 on Sat nights and it was a 14-week commitment.  So overall, I was less inclined.  Then I looked up the indoor skydiving, which C and I did in Niagara once.  I recall it being fun and a reasonable workout.   Yeah no - they are strictly for tourists.  Zero reasonable packages or groups for people actually wanting to learn or do on any regular schedule.  Sad.

And then I remembered Arial Silks.   I've tried this twice before (I just looked it up - in 2010 and 2012 if you want to see what I'm talking about), both times in Toronto and both times when I was uber fit.  Lol but I enjoyed it, so maybe?   So I googled and sure enough, there's a school in Niagara Falls.   At the time their website said they had adult classes, but had no classes listed, so I was afraid they might've been a victim of COVID.  But when I checked back a couple weeks later there were classes!  Woohoo!  And the website *really* wasn't working well but eventually I got signed up.  7 weeks on Wed nights.   Starting today.

This is on the home page of the school I signed up with.
We lear
ned this move today.  Suffice to say, it did not look like this!

So there were eight of us in the class.  It is definitely an all-levels class πŸ˜‚  One was far and away better than any of the rest, with two others being what I'm going to class as strong intermediate (how do I know what levels are for this stuff?!?!  Expert-chicky was doing super-impressive falling from the ceiling in the most graceful manner and stopping inches above the ground.  The other two were starting the spinning and dropping and impressive in their own right, just clearly not *quite* the same level).  Myself and two others were complete beginners, and the last two I'd say somewhere inbetween us and the int crew?  I get the impression they had done lessons before but several years ago.  So brushing off rust.

Warmup involved a series of back summersaults (on the silks of course!) and hanging upside down.  lol so let's just dive right in!  Us beginner crew had a knot tied in our silks, so this was not at all hard, just made me slightly dizzy!  But the others were doing it with no knot - thus nothing to flip over and needing to hold themselves up.  We then abandoned the silks to do some stretching and such.   All but one other person are vastly more flexible than I.  One of the other beginners is a gymnast.  I suspect 3/4 of the class are either gymnasts or dancers.  That grace and flexibility doesn't exist in adults who haven't had many years of training.

Then was on to learning stuff.  Our instructor set the people who knew what they were doing to practicing stuff and then came to us.  The first step was learning how to tie a knot around our foot, and then to climb. She acknowledged this is one of the more difficult ways to climb, but the knot around the foot is a base skill required for a lot of others, so she wanted us to practice it.  I really struggled to climb this way, but got reasonably confident with the knot at least.  

This is how you do the knot according to Wiki How
The fu
n part is doing it around the second foot, while in the air...

Then we did some weird twisty thing which I actually got?!?!  lol I'm still not sure how that worked but okay!  It requires a fair amount of back flexibility though, so while I could do 1 twisty-thing (I'm sure it has a real name but I'm equally sure I don't know what it is) the second one hurt, and there was no way I had the flexibility for the third (they're cumulative).   Getting untangled from that - esp the first time, was a whole lot less than graceful and left me laughing.     

This is the end result of the weird twisty thing at the level I did it;
Each time you repeat it, the back arch becomes more 
significant (see above pic).

Then the next one.  Oh dear god.  It started with put both your feet in their knots - okay, that's a skill in itself - one is doable, but the 2nd one is a bit of a challenge.   Then just go into the splits, then...   Well suffice to say this is when we learned I'm far too sarcastic for this group πŸ˜‚   Oops.   I had to tell the coach not to be concerned or take me seriously ;-P   But I also had to tell her there was zero possibility of me doing the splits successfully.  Ummm that is something I couldn't even do as a child.   So coach told me I could still do it it'd just be harder, the higher up I was and might restrict how many iterations (again, cumulative).  Sure.  lol I did manage what she was asking...?  Sort of ;)   But only one step worth and I'm pretty sure you need two just to start most of the moves *sigh*.   We'll see ;)   

Yeah no.

So we did a bunch of practicing of these new skills, in-between watching the brilliance going on on the other side of the room.  I'm surprised by how much my fingers hurt!  We were warned we might feel like we have horrible arthritis for the next few days.  Also the foot with the knot around it is the opposite of comfortable, and I'm sporting a lovely rope burn that I'm still not entirely sure how I  earned it (it had to be in the twisty-thing cause that was the only time my rope went behind my arm, but still).  And of course pure core and upper body to haul yourself up.  So yeah - might be feeling it tomorrow.  Apparently your feet get used to being squished pretty quickly, and C has grips to strengthen, well, grip, so I'll borrow those ;)

We finished by tying most of the silks out of the way and turning two sets into trapezes (I definitely double checked that plural with Google ;)).  Theory was and jump super high a couple times (with a back arch on then back swing) and then just flip yourself over.  lol now the flippy flippy moves were the ones I did best on earlier (turns out I like being upsidedown - not something that was ever applicable in riding!) and of course this *looked* super-easy when all the others did it...  Yeah, not so much.  I *could* at least get a good swing and rhythm going - which was more than the other beginners, so I'm deeming that a win, but there was *zero* chance I could get my legs anywhere over my head :(    I honestly thought laws of physics would've made it easier with the motion, but, well, physics has never been my friend ;-P   Anyways - I was also exhausted by that point so I admittedly didn't try that many times.   I'm sure there will be other opportunities.

Biggest downside is that evening activities for me mean I won't sleep.  I come home wired and am up for hours.  Oh well - this week a blog post, maybe next week I'll be productive and put effort into my paper.

The MBA Journey continues

Two more classes complete.  These were two of the top three I was looking forward to.  Managing Change last term was a horrible disappointment.  

Strategic Management this term was slightly better.  The instructor at least appeared to have an interest in instructing so that helped πŸ˜‚.  While the course wasn't quite as useful as I'd hoped since much of it was covered already in other classes, it was still interesting.  The first paper was a waste of time really, but the second one was a good learning exercise.  It may even have been practical in a smaller org, but by focusing on RBC it's highly unlikely I'll ever be determining RBC's overall strategic approach.  We could do it for a single line of business; arguably I could've used the PMO which I *am* responsible for.  But that's not nearly as much fun ;)   If you're gonna dream, dream big.  

The one significant objection I had to this course was being graded both on a forum post and our response to a forum post.  If you're going to grade me on a post, make it part of an assessment.  And responding to other people's posts is essentially a giant waste of my time.  It took a TON of reading of really pointless posts before I found one with enough meat to respond to in any worthwhile fashion.  And while there were several comments on my post, they were all of the "this is excellent" or "I hadn't thought of that" variety.  Which would be an ego boost if it was anybody I knew or whose opinion I cared about.  But it was complete strangers and not at all helpful in evolving or challenging my thinking.  So yeah - found that super ignorant, which in-turn made it very hard for me to engage with the rest of the course.  I understand what they were trying to do, but really - that kind of learning comes organically through the chat groups and random zoom chats.   And THOSE conversations really have helped my learning.   But that's not something profs have access to to mark so they do this kind of stupidity.   This paper took me twice as long to write as it should've mostly cause I was bored and dis-engaged.  Almost every aspect of it has been covered already in another class.

Side note - if you ever end up in a situation where you have to write the SAME thing a dozen times but can't repeat yourself verbatim -- Quillbot is awesome!  lol such a thing didn't exist when I was in uni, and I definitely can see it being used for nefarious purposes.  But I have zero issue with using it to rewrite my *own* writing.  lol.

The other course I was taking was Artificial Intelligence for Business.  It was the primary reason I chose AIB for my MBA and also the *last* course I got to take.  I was super-disappointed that my favourite prof so far, who was supposed to teach this class, left the school right before this term started :(   The replacement was good and enthusiastic, but nowhere near as good as the person who was supposed to teach it.  The course itself though was *excellent*.   Partially, to be fair, that's because I have a significant interest in it, but also partially because all the material was current, there was a wide variety of sources, and the assessments were relevant.  The only piece I didn't care for is part of one of the assessments included an implementation plan.  Now for me, this is easy marks.  But I would've greatly preferred spending those marks on learning more about AI strategy than writing up what was essentially a project agreement for a project that will never happen.  I didn't use the bank for this one - I don't have any line of sight into their AI strategy and I suspect in some areas its fairly advanced (I was somewhat surprised that the financial industry is one of the leading adopters of AI).   So I made use of a smaller semi-fictionalized company that I've used for other projects that similarly needed less-scope than RBC offers.   But yeah, this one was definitely one of my favourites.  Maybe not as immediately relevant to my real life as some of the others, but super interesting.

And now I'm done coursework!!!   All that's left is the mini-thesis.  It's nothing compared to my other Masters level work for sure (I mean really, it's an eight-week effort.  How big can it be?).  The biggest challenge for me will be picking a topic -- I know broadly it'll have to do with Leadership (we had to select the subject already, from a finite list), but more than that I really haven't decided yet.  Hopefully I'll think of something interesting so this isn't a completely horrible eight weeks.

AIB administration continues to be pretty horrific.   The very senior people are awesome and will go out of their way to solve problems.  But they seem to be one-off solutions unfortunately, and that attitude doesn't trickle down.  For instance - they still aren't able to provide webinar times that don't conflict with one another.  This isn't hard.  I did it for every class the entire term as an example last time around and it took me less than ten minutes.  And for reasons I don't understand, while every class to date has been during the work week, as per all schools ever, for this one it looks like it's going to be on the weekends?  It's either going to be Fri nights at 9pm or Sundays at 5:30.  And that's IF we even get a time that works for Canadian students -- that has been guaranteed for every class, but apparently not for this one.  So we shall see.  I will be very glad to see the end of this.

The new normal?

As some of you may know, I experienced a *few* issues with my eye a few years back.  As a result, I still have annual check-ups with the surgeon -- as much to make sure the good eye is still good as to check on the iffy one.   Anyways - today was that day.   But it's more of an adventure when I'm not downtown every day.  

And an interesting experience since *nobody* is downtown anymore.  Wow.   Caught the train at mid rush hour am.   In the before times, this would've been a sardine ride at best.  Definitely no seat.  And thankfully express from one stop past where I boarded.  

The world shut down in March of 2020;
this was a pic from Feb 2020.  
Note on this day I was lucky:
I had a seat and nobody I felt obligated to give it to.

Well I pulled into the usual parking lot...  And it was completely empty.   Like growing grass empty.   Drove over to the "main" parking lot, which, since I'm not an early morning person, I've never experienced before.  And it too was empty.  There were people on the platform.   I mean, a couple of them - not the packed several layers deep of the past, but signs of life at least.



You can't even really see the parking lot I used to park in from here;
yet still more empty spots than not.

Found my platform and waited for the train.  A little disconcerted because half the platform was closed for construction and because I couldn't remember where to stand so the doors would open right in front of me.  Not that it mattered - everybody on the platform could have their own car with many left over. 

Rush hour.  I'm not even kidding.

Express trains no longer exist and it's easy to see why.  Interesting balance of eerie and awesome to have the upstairs pretty much to myself (I think there was one other passenger).  Once I got downtown, same thing.  Even exiting the platform - while not social distanced, was nowhere near the overwhelming pack of people that made me hate commuting so much. 


Before times I rarely entered this tunnel in rush hour  because 
people were packed side to side and I found it claustrophobic.  
Today, well suffice to say I didn't bother with the slightly longer
outdoor walk that would let me avoid said tunnel.

So last night I had calculated what the last train I could get that would make me on time for my afternoon meetings was if I was planning to work at my parents, or if I was planning to go all the way home.    And I kinda scoffed at the all the way home one as not possible.

But then I got through the dr process super fast.  Doctor had seen me (all status quo - nothing exciting, nothing scary; we'll deem that a win), and I still had 15 min to check out and have enough time to make the train.  Their checkout is traditionally slower than the average sloth, but maybe?   Except the the doc took my paper and disappeared :(.  And 15 min later, reappeared.  So now I could go to checkout but now was when I had to be walking to the train.  Hmmm


Alright we’ll for the first time ever, not checkout AND the phenomenally slow elevators were aligned in my favour.  Okay so end up in front of the hospital, 11 min before the train will leave.  It’s a 15 min walk and a flight of stairs to get to the platform.  


I used to run for the train all the time.  And, well, there are no pedestrians to dodge, so sb good to go.  


I'm not exaggerating about the empty streets.
This was shortly before 9am.


Lol - used to run.  Used to.  As in, not currently.  But I gave it a solid effort - I still had drops in so couldn’t even see my watch to see if I was likely to make it.  And the worst - about 3/4 of the way there, some dude jogged by me like it was an easy stroll while I was huffing and puffing my sprint to the station.  Talk about demoralizing.  Sheesh


Had a moment of concern that I wouldn’t be able to read the platform board - and there were all kinds of notices on the way in that platforms have changed, but when I got there, I could make it out.  Win!


Had a moment of east or west?  Crossing the bridge has entirely f’d my sense of direction.  But I picked the right one and took the stairs two at a time, jumping into the closest car with more than 30 seconds to spare!


Except - heard the end of a message about “if you want to get off at *insert my stop here*”. Hmmm. So I walked through the train to the customer service person to find out that all was well - just certain cars weren’t opening there for consareuction, but the one I had randomly hoped into was fine.


However, by thiis point I was a hot mess.  Panting and sweating buckets.  Ugh.  So I went and found an empty car (ie - literally the first one I checked) so I could walk a bit till I cooled off.


All good, made it home in time for my call, but what an experience.  Toronto in pandemic time is a very different world.  Will be interesting to see where it lands once those people inclined / required to return to offices actually do so.

Procrastination: working tomorrow for a better today

Today I had exactly one thing on my list: write my paper for Strategic Mgmt.   This paper needs to be written this weekend and has a ridiculous amount of work that needs to happen before it can be written.  ONE thing on the list.  One.

Now, let's consider the things that *actually* happened today.

  • Went with Chris to pick up temporary fencing for our yard.  This was a FB marketplace pickup, so clearly had to be done right away.  And obviously took two people (narrator: it most definitely did NOT require two people).
  • Did some banking (this required the computer, so it was a good start)
  • Got caught up on some Spanish (also requires computer AND is educational!)
  • Decided to make cookies
  • Realized I had no unfrozen butter with which to make said cookies
  • Got groceries
  • Actually made cookies!
  • Took Tucker on multiple walks
  • Vacuumed 
  • Finally put the anti-slip mat under the rug in my office (this was more of an adventure than it should've been)
  • Folded and put away some laundry
  • Made up the spare bed in our guest room.  To put in perspective - we don't have an actual bed frame, or any furniture for that room, nor are we likely to have guests anytime soon lol.  But Tucker was pleased ;)
  • Had a nap.  I mean, it'd been a busy day so far.  And it was a *wonderful* nap - the kind dreams are made of.  The kind where several hours later you wake up wondering what day it is.
  • Did my workout for the day.  Side note: I'm loving the stretching program that's part of my current rotation.  Definitely the first time in my life I've said that, but it's awesome.  And it keeps moving so I don't get bored the way I generally do.  For the curious, it's here: Power Stretching.   Also - I will *never* be able to do the move pictured on that site, although it was in today's workout lol.  The beginner version, however, was easy (neither back bend nor splits required!).
  • Unpacked and organized a bunch of stuff that definitely won't be used before the paper is due
  • Am back in Oakville next week, so booked a few things there that don't exist in my new world
  • Deemed today a mental health day and walked to 7-11 for a slushy instead of using what little reasonable work time was available to actually work
  • Researched and purchased a few items that have been on the list for a while but clearly not important enough they also couldn't wait
  • Went down multiple online rabbit holes -- but hey, I now know and understand about the Olympic fencing rule changes.  lol the fact that I didn't know anything about fencing before this is completely irrelevant ;)  That's educational right?   Have to laugh that one of the rabbit holes included watching the TED talk about procrastination (I'm not even kidding).  
    Procrastinator's Brain, according to the TED talk (it's on the Internet, so it must be true!)  
  • Wrote this very long list.

Things that didn't happen today:  
  • Writing the paper.  Or even reading the requirements of the paper.  Oops.
I mean, to be fair, I also avoided both stabbing or reading (of non-educational material) - either of which has the ability to slurp an entire day away, and both are high on my "after MBA" priority list, so overall I'm deeming that today was at least somewhat productive procrastination.  That's a thing, right?

Anyways - future Lauren is going to hate me when the Panic Monster steps up, but today Lauren is happy, energized, and relaxed, so we're deeming it a win.

Grace, drama, flexibility... I see no way in which this can go wrong.

So I started a new stretching routine today.   While in most items, I will consistently pick an absolutely ridiculous challenge every time I decide to do something, this is the one area I don't generally do that.  I am one of the world's least flexible people.  I have been since I was a kid.  Like I can't even pretend "I could do that when I was 10" cause I couldn't.   πŸ˜‚ 

Okay so before the move, I had started a new ab workout that was *awesome*.  Insanely difficult (like I almost always stuck to level 1 out of 3 -- and 3 involves things like handstand pushups?!?!), but awesome.   Was definitely getting results super fast.

But then we moved and things kinda fell apart.  And in the new house, I really didn't have anywhere to work out.  But *finally* I've set up space again, so excuses are over.  Figured I'd start abs over from day 1 (it's a 30 day program), but the same group recently published a new workout that's stretching.  Same thing, 10 minutes per day.

Alright, says me, I know I desperately need to do some stretching.  I like their other program.  This one is on sale.  Maybe worth a try.  Sure why not?

So the first warning sign should've been that it's not the same coach.  One woman does all their other programs (strength based) but this one, flexibility, they hired sisters who work together in Cirque du Soleil.  lol I see no way in which this can go wrong.  But they have one demonstrating "level 1" so maybe?  

And you know, at first it was great.  But then there was one move that I was like wtf?!?!  And when I finally figured out what they were doing and tried to put my body in that same position...  lol well suffice to say I wasn't sure I was going to be able to untangle my body after.  

I'm not convinced I was meant to be a pretzel! Ow ;)

There were a few times I just laughed - like there is ZERO possibility my body will ever go in that direction.   One was sitting down, extend one leg one direction, and "point the other knee the opposite direction".   

It doesn't look like this when I do it.

Lol that is NEVER going to happen.  BUT - I could do the same exercise, just my knee pointed perpendicular *g*.  So unlike some other exercise routines where I literally couldn't do the exercise, these ones I can do, just lacking some range of movement, grace, and drama that the demo ladies demonstrated. The one that really made me laugh had to do with bending at the waist and "try to make sure your head is on the ground, if that's really easy you can . . . "  I literally laughed out loud.  Like I'm over here proud that I can *touch* the ground.  My head is nowhere near it.

Yeah no.

BUT - I have to say this is the first stretching routine that I was never bored in.  I actually enjoyed doing it and I was surprised when it ended.  So this is just Day 1.  We'll see how it goes, but a stronger start that I expected.  We shall see ;)








Somehow the MBA didn't deign to take a break just so I could move ;-P

So this term is Strategic Management and Artificial Intelligence.  Two of the topics I was most looking forward to.  

Strategic Mgmt is okay, but imo would've been better at the start of the MBA adventure as an overview/introduction since most of the topics have already been covered in other courses.  Also, I'm pretty annoyed that one of the assessment criteria is to write and respond to a forum post.  Which, in itself is a giant waste of time, but made worse by the fact that the forum posts are all on the same case study.  Super boring and very little to respond to.  AND they still require academic sources etc so not even an opinion piece.  Definitely not a good use of my time or learning.  If they want us to write a case study response, include it in the paper.  Mutter mutter mutter.

AI I'm finding fascinating, although the prof is incredibly dry.  Disappointing as until this term, the person who taught it was amazing (I was lucky to have him for HR).  I'm enjoying the modules and the learning, but omg classes are just dude reading ppts.  No discussion, no engagement...  Admittedly I have very little to contribute to discussion on this topic, but I was hoping to learn from those that do :)

Honestly, so glad I accelerated this program, as I'm just done.   But close enough that I can see the actual end, so it's all good.   Arguably, if I weren't doing it at such an insane pace, maybe I wouldn't have burned out so fast, but either way...   I have these two classes and then the thesis -- which doesn't appear to really be a thesis, but we'll see.

Happy birthday to me :)

Today was an early start due to things happening in the house that couldn't be scheduled any other time, BUT Chris dealt with all of that, so instead of sleeping in, I started my day with a lovely long bubble bath :)    Idk why, but to me the start of day bubble bath always feels like an amazing indulgence.  

After that, we went on a search for a birthday cake (strawberry shortcake for the win!) and then headed to Nickel Beach for a bit.  It was not exactly what either of us were expecting -- there was a $20 entry fee for starters, and then people drove right on the beach and parked facing the water where they would unpack their stuff.  No vendors of any sort (not even COVID related, just in general), which - if we'd known - we would've brought a cooler with some drinks and snacks.  But otherwise it was good -- water is shallow a long way out and all sand, no rocks, so that was lovely.  And the waves were turned on which was lovely to listen to (when people weren't playing their car stereos that is).   COVID restrictions still in place, so while there was a consistent line of people it definitely was not packed and the groups were quite social distanced.  I was still sort of shocked at how busy it was on a random Thursday, but yeah - fairly lovely way to spend the day.  At one point I even fell asleep on the beach :)   We didn't stay all that long -- C isn't much of a beach person, and the lack of food and beverage made it less fun as lunch time fell into the past.  But in the end just as well judging by how red my skin is now!  lol I was clearly not as careful as I often am with sunscreen since it is blatantly obvious where I screened and where I did not.

A fairly perfect way to spend the day

When we got home we changed and headed to neighbourhood taco night.  lol I'm not even kidding.  This definitely wouldn't have been my first choice for a bday dinner, but the woman who hosts invited us once before and we didn't make it, so when earlier this week she said she was having another one "on Thursday", I said we'd be there -- without cluing in that Thursday = bday.   Anyways - unlike the last neighbourhood thing, I actually had quite a good time at this one.  Even if we left about the same time the kids got banished.  lol apparently they send the kids in about 8:00 and then the adult party begins, but we went home for cake about then.  I'm sure there'll be another one.  It seems she does them every couple weeks (this is one of the people Tucker and I often see on our walks so I talk to her most days).   This woman has EIGHT kids?!?!  And most of the neighbourhood kids hanging out there as well as a result.  I can't even imagine.  But they were all well behaved, and the eldest (I'm guessing 16ish?) was lovely to talk to.  But yeah - I'm in awe of this woman's energy level; she never stopped.

We, however, definitely stopped :)  Home to super-yummy cake and just relaxed for the rest of the day.  Nothing super productive for sure, but bdays aren't about productivity.

Friends, ponies, and sunshine :)

R's text the other day: "want to go hacking on Sat?"  Yes, yes I do.  πŸ˜‚   Like zero hesitation, that is absolutely the best idea I've heard in ages.   lol wow it's been way too long, both for the social aspect and the pony aspect.

Arrange meeting time, weather is perfect - like 28 and sunny.  Amazing.  Even just getting dressed to go -- putting on riding pants made me feel so right.  Like wtf?  Riding pants are the least attractive most uncomfortable things ever...  But they've been a part of my life since I was in single digits so, I guess they're the clothing equivalent of comfort food ;-P   Unrelated - I was awfully glad they still FIT given the amount of recently consumed comfort food *g*   I didn't try the boots - partially cause they haven't moved here yet and partially cause... I don't want to know ;)   Paddock boots and half chaps for the win.

So yeah - was a little discombobulated when I got there as I don't know the barn or where stuff lives or any of the people, but R was well into having both ponies already tacked up (luxury!) so I really didn't have much to do...

Proof!  lol R snapped this completely unbeknownst
to me while we were on our adventure.

But yeah - went for a perfect hack in amazing weather wandering around areas I don't know at all and getting caught up :)  The year that wasn't definitely taught me how much I miss my friends when I don't see them for too long.  lol I don't necessarily notice at the time, but then when I do get to see them it's like yes, that.  That is what was missing.

Anyways - was just a lovely break from reality.   And THEN, I got to go to my parents place to meet Coco!  Mum's new puppy :)   Coco is from the same breeders as Bailey, and came home today.

Introducing Coco :)

Next Saturday will be term papers.  Far less fun somehow ;-P

Where ships climb the mountain

Apparently it's actually a figure 8 -- of almost 200km if you do the full thing!

So one of the selling features of the house was the trails nearby...  I've now had a few experiences with these ;)

The entrance to the trail system is about a km away.  Not bad, but not super ideal either.  And it appears to be a "there and back again" kind of trail, which is not usually my preference.   But still, better than nothing.

So my first day I headed out and randomly picked a direction.   I immediately noticed a loud noise -- less ideal but sobeit.  The trail itself was lovely - paved and wide.  Would be good for cycling.  Walk a very short distance and find the source of the noise, what appears to be a power plant.  Less appealing.  But, the moment I passed it, no more noise.   Why?   Well the whole trail appears to be a wind tunnel.  lol so awesome for controlling noise pollution, but made me think maybe a bike would be less ideal as peddling would be *very* hard.   

The trail is gorgeous

I wandered a km or so and then found a path off to the side -- looked to be a quad or maybe dirt bike trail? Idk, but it also looked like it looped around so of course I followed it.  Right.  πŸ˜‚   Well it *did* loop back around almost at the beginning of where I started so that was lovely.   However, it would be completely inappropriate for a bike (unmotorized) and was a challenge on foot.  Some very kind person had dropped a tree across the biggest mud / water challenge that I was able to traverse, but suffice to say there was lots of ducking, climbing, and traversing to get through it.   Honestly would've been entertaining if not for the attack-mosquitos!  I'll tell you - when I suddenly heard the power plant again, I was pretty pleased cause it meant I was just about out of my adventure trail!

2nd path was right on the water

Okay so the next time, also on foot, I turned the other direction.  This one also had a wind tunnel and no apparent side trails, but was also a prettier straight line (right on the canal).  It led to Lock 7 - which is apparently a *thing* in Thorold.  The trail continued well past there, but once I went there I saw signs for downtown, and decided since I knew how to get home from there, I'd go that way instead.  It spit me out the opposite end of town from where I was expecting, showing that I'm still very disoriented here!   But it did make for a lovely walk loop that did not involve "there and back again" so I was pleased about that.

Misc impressive graffiti 

THEN, on my last day of vacation, we got our bikes usable and went for a ride.  This was awesome.  We went the first direction again and after about 10k, the trail suddenly catches a ride on a ferry?!?!   

Seriously - you ring the triangle to summon the ferry...

... and the ferry arrives.
I couldn't make this up if I tried ;)

Yup, apparently in the 70s a ship hit the bridge and instead of rebuilding it, insurance paid for a ferry to run - for 40 years...   For those doing the math, yup - that contract is up.   So the city took it over instead.  There's a pub and an ice cream booth one the other side, aptly named Bridge 12.  πŸ˜‚   So yeah - really enjoyed that.

Look how many bikes are parked outside here!

But then the ride back...   You see, I didn't make that title up...  "Where the ships climb the mountain" is Thorold's thing.   Definitely catchy and moderately interesting.  But the piece that didn't register is that means Thorold is at the top of the mountain (with Lake Ontario at the bottom on one side and Lake Erie at the bottom on the other.   Water may not always be south anymore, but it's definitely still down!)    But what that means for cycling is that going away from home is fast, easy, and downhill.  Coming home once you're exhausted is ALWAYS going to be uphill.  No matter which way you chose to leave.  *sigh*   Ah well, at least I should get fit out of all this.


I have no idea why there's a polar bear here,
but figured he'd fit just as well in this blog :)


I may have misread our mythological creature.

So our unicorn clearly has some faerie blood.   And not the cute Disney fairy; the traditional, slightly horrifyingly, devilish faerie.   

Or maybe our unicorn just has a dubious companion...

For those just joining in (seriously - where did you come from?  How did you land here of all the blogs?), we recently moved.   The new house was deemed a unicorn because it was both A - new (Chris' preference) and B - had a large yard (my preference).  Since they don't tend to make new houses with large yards everywhere, it must be magic.  Right?

Perhaps.  But magic is not always used for good.

So let's play the unicorn vs faerie game...

Unicorn - new house!  woohoo!  It's only a year old!

Faerie - new house needs new floors.   Faerie squared - vents for new floors "will be in in a week" -- 3 weeks ago.   Which means we have 80% of each room done but can neither finish it nor unpack nor move furniture into the right places.

Faerie the second (faeries are smaller than unicorns) - the front door is randomly smaller than every other front door ever invented?!?!   Huge credit to our fridge delivery people who defied the laws of physics to get the fridge that measured bigger than the door, through said door, without significant disassembling.

Unicorn - huge yard!

Faerie - that we can't fence until the builder finishes their grading (that will be....?   Somewhere between Oct and next year according to the neighbour) AND the city assumes the property (which could take up to 5 years?!?!).   Now that's all very dramatic, but talking to the random people who were inspecting our back yard this afternoon, it looks like this is already in process.  The city has deemed their grading insufficient so they have to dig up some of the grass, put down more dirt, have the city review it, replace the grass, city review again.  I believe that last piece is when the city assumes the property (at which point, we can fence) and it seems like it'll be in the weeks or months timeline rather than years; however, that's still TBC.  So we shall see.

Faerie the second - the mosquitos are winning the war!   There's a vacant lot diagonally behind us with ALL the long grass and standing water, a pond next to them, and wetlands across the street.  The end result is mosquitos.  ALL the mosquitos.  Neighbours on both sides have said worse this year than last (lot is newly vacant) so we're hoping once that gets under control our mosquito problem should lessen.   We've also invested in an outdoor mosquito killer so we'll see if that helps.

Unicorn - fiber run right to the house!

Faerie - this is really a junior faerie in that the wiring is very short and limiting to where we can put our box.  Mostly though, this one is all unicorn.  We have better internet now than we've had anywhere.

Unicorn - I have an AMAZING bath tub.  It's almost exactly the right size, has perfectly located arm-rests, and the back slopes just enough that I read for over an hour there the other night.

Faerie - the tub faucet is on the side.  Np right?  Except it means while the water is running, it consistently splashes on the book :(    

Faerie the second - the washrooms have no drawers?!?!  Like how do you put in a vanity with no drawers.  And no light in the master shower (that's not glass, so kinda impressively cave-like - do fairies like caves?).  I've figured out how to live without drawers thanks to baskets and other such concepts, but meh.   We tried one light for the shower that didn't work, but the search continues...

Unicorn - our AC is amazing!

Faerie - it is also very loud :(   I don't think I've slept through the night yet.

Unicorn - living in the middle of nowhere, parking is easily available and either free or laughably cheap ($1.75/h lol or $100 for a monthly pass).

Faerie - a frustrating number of businesses (like actual businesses with store fronts even) are cash only.  C is fine with this but it drives me insane.  I really love not needing anything other than my phone to live my life.   Even cards are old-school.   Cash?  It's archaic, makes my bookkeeping exponentially more difficult, doesn't earn me any points or cash-back, and kinda gross physically.  So yeah - I'm learning what stores I can give my business to and which ones I can't.

Unicorn - a ridiculous number of pizza places to choose from (and tonight's had a marvellous invention of half pizza / half garlic bread.   Amazing).

Faerie - very few other food options.   There are a disproportionate number of hair places?!?!  Maybe some of them could be converted into other food.   We DID find *really* good donuts though, so that's a unicorn all in itself.  I see no problem with living off pizza and donuts. ;-P

Unicorn - everybody seems to be super friendly.

Faerie - every single person we've met has asked C what he does.  Not one has asked me.  In many ways this town is several decades in the past.

Unicorn - amazing cycling trails (this'll get its own post)

Faerie - everywhere is downhill from here, which means cycling home when tired is *always* uphill.

So yeah - I suspect our unicorn has some faerie blood...   All first world frustrations for sure, potentially of the slightly mischievous magical creature variety.