Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Drug

At least the migraines have stopped.

I'm still on a waiting list for surgery for my foot, still have no indication of how long it will take, and my foot is still deteriorating, to a point where I'm in constant pain, where only a few minutes on my feet results in hours of aches.

Until recently, I had been on a solid regimen of Tylenol and Advil, to ease the pain and reduce swelling. But when my stomach started to become upset, I eased off the Advil—limiting myself to one every three days—and cut my consumption of Tylenol in half.

It didn't help my stomach.

Some of you may remember that almost exactly a year ago, I developed severe stomach pains and had a total lack of energy. On Christmas Day, I spent most of the afternoon in bed, resting. As the pain and fatigue continued, I sought help from my new doctor. She ordered blood tests, ultrasounds, a CT scan and MRI. Nothing out of the ordinary turned up.

This condition lasted almost three months, and threatened my vacation to Arizona and California. But at the end of February, the pain stopped and my energy levels returned. A virus, perhaps, but there was no way to tell.

Two weeks ago, the stomach pains returned and the fatigue kept me in bed for two days. Once again, I met with my doctor, and we also talked about my foot pains and my reduction of medication. I was prescribed a new drug, told to stop using ibuprofen, and to increase my Tylenol to four tablets a day.

The new drug is Vimovo. I take it half an hour before I eat, so I pop one when I awake and another when I return home, from work, although I tend to forget that one and end up taking it with my evening Tylenol, before bed.

The stomach pain has not abated. The fatigue remains. And the side effects of Vimovo has me somewhat concerned:
  • Serious allergic reactions, including skin reactions, can occur without warning and can be life-threatening.
  • Active bleeding from any source. 
  • Hypertension or worsening of existing high blood pressure.
  • An increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Inflammation of the lining of the stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, abdominal pain, and nausea.
The makers of this pain medication failed to list one other side effect: increased stress from reading the list of side effects.

Funny that my doctor should prescribe a medication that is known to cause abdominal pain when I complained of that very symptom. But on the up-side, my feet hurt less, except when I stand for a prolonged length of time (like I have, lately, on a ladder, working on our kitchen).

And my migraines have stopped.

My doctor advised me to complete the prescription, as it can take some time for the meds to get in sync with my body. So for now, I trust her.

And check my sources for bleeding.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Taman Negara

It's the rain that I remember the most.

It fell solidly in the evenings, filtered through in soaking amounts from the high jungle canopy, rattled the rooftop of our barrack-like living space, and fell to the ground, the wooden walkways and concrete with a resounding splat.

Our window to the outside held no glass: only a dense mesh to keep the flying insects out but allowed the wind to circulate the moist air, cooling us at night. The eaves ensured that no raid could come in to ruin our rest.

Every so often, the gentle rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. Not close or loud enough to stir or disturb us. It was merely the base line in a soothing melody.

The rain was constant, filling our ears but landing with a calming, persistent pattering that surrounded us like a blanket. I could fall asleep to the pattering sound of the rain, as we lay in our bed, in that national-park shelter, in that 130-million-year-old rainforest, more than 120 kilometres northeast of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The morning call to prayer stirred us, but didn't disturb our slumber. We heard the song, rolled over, and let it lull us back to sleep. For just a few hours more.

During the daylight hours, the rain held back, leaving a Scotch mist, instead. Water dripped from the forest above, but we didn't mind. We climbed atop to the walkways in the canopy, sometimes catching glimpses of the rolling landscape of dense forest, the low-hanging clouds reaching down to stroke the topmost leaves. Looking down to the ground, lush foliage and every once and again, as luck would show us, the odd pygmy deer.

The monkeys were everywhere, watching us, seemingly amused by our presence. Wild birds, some in trees; others, flightless, flittered above and in the brush.

Down on the ground, we had to keep moving. Leeches were everywhere. As I stopped to photograph my surroundings, the muddy trail we took seemed to move out of focus. On closer inspection, we saw the tendril-like creatures moving around us, encircling us, looking for nourishment.

Back at the barracks, the rain fell again. As we changed out of our wet clothes, DW discovered a leech, firmly attached to her calf, partially engorged on her blood. She called for me to rush to the dining hall, to find some salt, but by the time I returned, the leech had reached its limit and its plump body had disengaged from her calf. We gathered it up and tossed it outside.

It was then, as I removed my boot, that I discovered one on my ankle, filled near to bursting. I sat, fascinated by this creature, and chose to let it continue to feed.

We all have to feed.

As darkness came, the rain returned in earnest, to repeat its cascade, to lull us yet again to sleep.

In an effort to counter the ringing in my ears, brought on by tinnitus, I've been encouraged by a specialist to set up a distraction by playing a constant audio sound. My ear condition is so bad that it can take me hours to fall asleep.

I downloaded an app, Nature Sounds, which can play an ocean, fields and forests, waterfalls, babbling brooks, campfires, and more. The one I settle on each night is aptly named "Perfect Rain."

The rain is solid but not torrential. It mimics falling through trees, bouncing off rooftops, and settling on the ground with a solid splat. The rain is constant, filling my ears but landing with a calming, persistent pattering that surrounds me like a blanket.

Every so often, the gentle rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. Not close or loud enough to stir or disturb me. It was merely the base line in a soothing melody.

Within minutes of hearing the sound, in my darkened bedroom, under my warm blanket, my mind travelled to the other side of the planet, to  that national-park shelter, in that 130-million-year-old rainforest, more than 120 kilometres northeast of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I set the timer for 40 minutes, but I don't really need than much time. In less than half that time, it seems, I'm long, fast asleep.

At least, this time, there are no leeches to worry about.

Monday, November 28, 2016


So close. We're so close.

And like a dream, where you strive to get somewhere, only to find something holding you back, like a horror film, where no matter how fast the victim runs to escape the slow-moving monster, the monster catches up, there is some unseen force working against us.

The second wall needed to be tiled. Last weekend, our friend helped us tile the important wall: the one that was to hold the range hood. That essential device was installed on Thursday and paved the way for the gas oven to be hooked up.

That happens today. As of today, our kitchen will be fully functional.

That doesn't mean finished.

This weekend, my chores were clear. Finish the tiling on the long wall, around the window over the sink. Five outlets to cut around. After that, paint the ceiling, which has been ready to go since the electrician has installed the lighting and the dry-waller has filled in all the holes. I looked at the old covering, still in the original builder's white, with the stains from applesauce after our young toddler learned what happens when you drop an open jar squarely on the floor.

The tiling took longer than expected, even after we learned, last week, that it takes longer than expected. Except, as we drew to the end of the wall, close to the back door, it became apparent that we had miscalculated the number of tiles we needed, that we had broken and wasted tiles that we could not afford to lose. One dozen tiles short.

When we learned of our shortcoming, we counted our remaining tiles, calculated the remaining outlets that needed custom cutting, and applied those tiles to the wall so that the rented wet saw could be returned. A dozen full tiles are missing from the wall. The tiling project was incomplete.

To keep the rest of the tasks on schedule, I focused on that ceiling. One four-litre can was enough to apply two coats, my calculations told me. I had worked in a paint and wallpaper store, in my late teens, knew the coverage for a flat surface.

A stippled ceiling is hard to calculate: The material that is sprayed onto that surface is porous, can soak up paint like a sponge. But a flat ceiling, I figured, would follow the same rules as a regular wall.

Many parts of this ceiling had been repaired after the electrical work had been completed. Some sections had seen water damage before our roof had been re-tiled. New plaster had been applied. Also, the paint that had originally been applied was cheap and did not provide a solid seal.

I stood on a ladder for two hours, holding the roller close, moving slowly to prevent spray. Two hours, craning my neck, arms up, shoulders strained. And it became clear, as I worked myself across the room, that this ceiling was a porous as the stippled section.

One gallon did not even provide a full coat. About 12 square feet remained uncovered, the roller tray sucked dry.


Today, I return to the tile shop to purchase more tiles. I'm getting a full box, allowing for plenty of spares. I also return to the Home Depot, to pick up another can of paint, maybe two. While the first coat was heavily absorbed, I'm hoping the areas that have already been covered have provided a barrier for the second layer. Fingers crossed.

We are so close. The grout will have to be applied on Tuesday evening, the paint sometime this week. If life isn't like a bad dream or a horror movie, we will make it to the end of the week, with an area that we can live in, where we can entertain and be proud to show.

So close. We are so close.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Photo Friday: Back to the Beginning

Almost 17 years ago, in November of 1999, when our house was under construction, the developers kindly gave DW and me unlimited access to check out the progress. It worked in our favour: we were able to ask for modifications before the work was done and we also saw minor problems that could be easily rectified before further work would have made it more complicated after all the work was completed.

As walls went up, floors were laid, and hardware was installed, I made sure to bring a camera to capture the development of what would be our home in a couple of months.

Looking back on some of those photos, I found some of our kitchen, as the cabinets were being installed. It was interesting to see the room in such disrepair, knowing that only a couple of months ago, this room looked almost the same. Only, the floor was being ripped up and the counters pulled off.

With less than a week before our home renovations are finally completed, it's nice to see it as the original configuration was newly taking shape.

It's nostalgia, but seeing what we've created now, I wouldn't ever want to go back.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Throwback Thursday: When My Kids Clung to Me

With my daughters firmly rooted in teenhood, attitude and all, it's sometimes hard to remember when they wanted to be with me.

These days, when they want to be off with their friends, or to be left alone in their rooms, I sometimes pine for the times when they heard me come through the door and came running to me, screaming, "Daddy's home! Daddy's home."

In November of 2008, I was to head to Chicago, on business, my kids plead with me not to go. I told them that I would be home as soon as I could, that I would be gone from Sunday to Friday night. That we would have the following weekend to spend together.

The night before I left, my kids clung to me, wanted me to read them stories, to sing them a song before bed. Heading upstairs, both girls insisted that I carry them, at the same time. I happily obliged.

DW captured us on our journey up the stairs.

They weren't going to be this size forever. I wasn't going to be able to carry them for much longer. There's no way that I could carry them upstairs, together. I'm not even sure I could carry them one at a time.

Every once in a while, my teenage girls still need to be next to their dad. They'll curl up with me, on the sofa, while we watch a movie. They don't say it, but there are times when I come home, I can see them look up from whatever was occupying them before I opened the door, and I can see in their eyes.

Daddy's home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Weather Haiku

Rain, then ice, then snow
In the worst order, it came
Shovelling begins.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Helping Hands

I have the best friends.

When DW and I started our kitchen and family room renovations, we thought we would save some money by doing the demolition stage ourselves. It was hard work, but when we saw the shell that had once been a busy kitchen, we felt pride in the sense of accomplishment.

But because I'm not much of a handyman, I knew that I wanted to leave the construction in the hands of professionals. We paid for skilled labourers to install our hardwood floor, build and place our cabinets and island, do the electrical work and plumbing, and do the counter.

Because I'm not entirely useless, I painted the walls, installed a ceiling lamp over the fireplace, and replaced our old baseboards.

There was only one problem with me doing the baseboards: I lacked the tools to cut the boards and to properly nail them to the wall.

Enter my friends.

When I needed an electric miter saw, I posted an appeal on Facebook and Twitter. Within minutes, I had several offers. I ultimately accepted help from my friend, Becca, and her saw reduced our time by hours.

For a nail gun, my friend, Shannon, and her husband lent us a brad gun, which, again, cut down the work time by about two ours.

Thank you so much.

One of the last major tasks of our renovation is the installation of the backsplash tiles in the kitchen. DW and I have been searching for the right tiles since we first started planning our reno, without much luck. Either she would love a pattern and I would hate it, or vice versa. Or, we would find a tile that we liked, only to get a sample of it home and discover that it didn't quite suit what we had in the kitchen already, or we would find we didn't like it at home as much as we liked it in the store.

Time was running out because we had a tile guy who was coming to install them and we also had another guy who was coming to install our range hood, which couldn't be done until after the tiles were in place.

My friend, Becca, when she learned that we weren't doing the tile ourselves, and then heard how much we were paying someone to do the work, talked us into doing it ourselves. She had done the tiles in her own kitchen, said she had most of the necessary tools, and was happy to help us put them on the wall.

Yesterday was the day.

I have the most amazing friends. Despite the snowy weather, Becca came and helped every step of the way: from the edging, to mixing the mortar and applying it to the wall, to working with DW to place the brick-shaped pieces into place.

All I had to do was cut the tiles to their specifications. When I wasn't cutting the tiles, I was watching, in awe, as these two women worked.

Mostly, I watched their butts. But that's just me.

The job took longer than we thought, and the day went like the wind. We didn't finish the whole job, but we at least finished the wall that will have the range hood attached to it.

Thanks, Becca! It looks great.

There's nothing like doing the work yourself, except when you have helping hands.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Photo Friday: Autumn in Prisma

It's an old photo, but it captures my favourite season perfectly.

Run through a Prisma filter, the old photo seems renewed.

That is all.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

America is Dead to Me

I have been meaning to write this post since before the American election, before I ever would have believed that Donald Trump could ever win the presidency.

Words failed me. Words still fail me, but I'll struggle through. Please bear with me.

My daughters asked me what I would do if the Republican candidate won over Hillary Clinton, the only person in that election who had any credentials for the office. They had asked me a similar question, more than a year ago, when Canadians were in the midst of our own election.

The campaigns had similar issues: tougher immigration laws, steeped in racial profiling.

During our election, I told my girls that if the Conservative Party won another majority, we would leave the country, maybe move to Scotland or Ireland. My daughters were excited at the prospect: I was terrified.

Luckily, it never came to pass. Canadians spoke out against the incumbent political party with an overwhelming voice, and that party of hate and division was shown the door.

It doesn't mean the prejudice and intolerance went away: it just wasn't allowed to lead the country.

So, my daughters asked me what I would do if Donald Trump became President of the United States. "I would never set foot in that country again," I said, "but it won't come to that."

And, as the election day drew near, and as the polls were showing that Hillary Clinton would easily win the Oval Office, I started to think: did I really want to visit a country that was that polarized? Where hate and intolerance was that pronounced?

No, my inner voice told me. I can't, in good conscience, go to a country that is that messed up, is that dysfunctional. Even under a Democrat leader, the United States has shown itself to be full of more racist, uneducated, and violent people than I ever imagined. My American friends and family are in a minority, are a rare example of what can be great for that country. But if I were to ever see them again, be with them in the same room, they would have to come to Canada or we would have to meet in another country.

I will never return to the United States. Never. Ever.

And then, the seemingly impossible became reality. Trump actually won the election.

I felt like Charlton Heston, as George Taylor in Planet of the Apes, when he came across the broken Statue of Liberty. “You blew it up!" I cried. "Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” 

America is dead to me.

And as the hatred in that country is given legitimacy, as the new administration is assembled like the orcs in Lord of the Rings, I turn my back, as I do with North Korea, with any other country led by an unstable dictator.

To sum up my major reason for turning my back on our neighbouring country to the south, I will let the late, great George Carlin speak for me:

America is lost. I grieve for my friends who remain in the fallout.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Supermoon Sky

That's right: I missed the bright moon rise over a crystal-clear sky on Sunday.

I saw that huge celestial satellite lift off from the horizon. But I was driving and my camera was at home. I told myself that it was okay: I was living in the moment and enjoying the spectacle with my own eyes, instead of though a lens and digital screen.

Monday night's super moonrise was supposed to be as glorious, possibly bigger, possibly brighter. I knew I would be at work and would be leaving right around the time of the next moonrise, and I always have my camera and tripod on me.

Too bad the sky didn't come prepared.

Behind my office lies dense Gatineau forest. The leaves on the trees are almost completely laid bare; only the lush evergreens hinder a view through the dense brush. I could see cloud in the sky but couldn't determine how thick it was, whether it would allow the light to shine through.

It did, and it didn't.

I swapped my 70-300mm lens for my 10-20, and focused not on the giant globe that was lifting itself up, but the tattered blanket that stretched between the sky and my camera.

There was a supermoon last night. It helped light up the sky.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Other Part of the Reno

Until last weekend, this part of the house had been largely ignored.

When we pulled all of the furniture from the family room, we were making the area available for the folks who were laying our hardwood. Naturally, nothing could be left on the floor, and all of the baseboards needed to be removed. We had a blank slate, ready to start over again.

With the carpet ripped up, I took the opportunity to repaint the stippled ceiling and to apply some fresh paint to the walls that hadn't seen a coat since the house was built, when the builders had applied a cheap white. Every year, as I looked at and loathed those plain walls, I wanted to add a more-durable paint. The antique white that we chose made the walls look clean and added a touch of warmth.

The two walls that I did paint, back in 2000, when we took possession of our first home, I covered in a bold, burnt red, and while DW and I loved the colour, the renovations called for a change. And so, I painted the walls, then stepped aside for the flooring company to lay the hardwood.

When the floors were finished, the family room was used as a staging point for the design company to build our kitchen cabinets. As boxes were opened, the cardboard was flattened and laid down to protect our new flooring. As the cabinets went into place, the cardboard stayed and other things were put in the family room: the range hood, the exhaust vent, ladders and work benches, tools. Everything focused on the kitchen, and the family room took a back seat, so to speak.

Our family room, as a kitchen staging area.
 Last week, DW and I still hadn't come to an agreement on the backsplash tiles, and so, to keep the renovation moving, turned our attention to the family room. The last time we tried to move anything for the family room, we tried, unsuccessfully, to move a sofa into the house via the back door. The sofa seemed larger than to widest opening into our home, and we considered either taking the sliding doors out of their frame or selling the second-hand couch.

DW, not satisfied with the dimensions that we calculated, decided to create a miniature scale model of the door frame and the sofa. She played with all of the possible angles that we could turn the sofa, to make it fit through an opening that we previously figured was a half-inch too narrow.

In the meantime, last weekend, I borrowed an electric mitre saw from a friend and cut lengths of baseboard. Cutting the strips was easy, but I found that nailing the boards into place was a bigger challenge. The baseboards are made of compressed particle board, which makes them very strong, and also make them difficult to nail by hand: bent nails, nails popping out as others were hammered in.

I lose my cool when I'm stressed. After unsuccessfully securing my first strip, I gave up for the weekend.

This weekend, I found another friend who had a brad nail gun. My folks had an air compressor, and in less than a half of an hour, all the boards were in place. Some filler caulk, a coat of paint, and we were ready to move forward.

The cardboard coverings came off for the first time since the floors were finished. All of the tools and fixtures that didn't belong were moved out. Dust was cleared, floors were polished. Our entertainment cabinet was moved into place and our TV, which hadn't been hooked up to our cable for two months, was put back in place.

DW, in the meantime, had calculated an angle at which there was a good probability that the sofa would fit through the door. It would be upside-down, with the back perpendicular to the floor, and had to come in straight, and high, to clear our island counter. The handle for the sliding door had to be removed, so that the door could be slid all the way open, so that it would fit inside the fixed panel.

That sofa is really, really heavy, but we got it through the opening. Feet removed.

A trip to IKEA was our reward. New area rug. New leather covering for our Poang chair. Covers for the two throw cushions that came with the sofa. End tables.

I wrote this post, sitting at the kitchen island. Lights dimmed. DW was lying on the sofa, watching episodes of The Grinder. And though there are still tasks left to complete—the tiles, the range hood, the gas-stove hookup, the kitchen ceiling paint—life seemed to be returning to normal.

A new normal.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Photo Friday: The Beard

It was the moustache that killed it for me.

It kept touching my upper lip. It kept curling into the corners of my mouth, getting covered in saliva or, worse, getting food caught in it.

I've had the sniffles for the past couple of weeks, and I dreaded blowing my nose, felt I needed to wash my face after, to make sure there was no goo caught in the whiskers.

I don't think my face suits a beard. It rounds out a face that already is starting to show the extra pounds I've put on over the past few months. I don't mind the gray, so much. It was the shagginess.

I kept it for 37 days. I trimmed it twice: the second time, too close for my liking, and I felt that I was starting all over again. In Montréal, a couple of weeks ago, I met with a friend who has been growing his own beard for quite some time, and we looked more like brothers, with our gray coming through around our chops, like twins.

That wasn't a bad thing at all, but I felt his beard suited him, while mine did not suit me.

And so, last Sunday, I shaved it off. I had been working the entire day in our kitchen and family room, cutting lengths of baseboards. I was full of sawdust, I smelled of sweat, and I looked like a homeless person. To add to that look, I pulled my hood from my sweater over my head, trying to look anonymous.

I decided to take a picture before I cleaned myself up, before I returned the mitre saw back to its owner.

The beard had to go. I took an electric shaver to it, hopped in the shower, and removed the rest with my razor, which had been largely neglected for more than a month.

My friend didn't notice, when I returned her power tool, even though I had spent Friday evening with her, had seen her again on the following day. My wife, who saw me briefly as I foisted the tool into the trunk of my car and she pulled into our driveway in hers, and who had a conversation with me, in our kitchen, on my return, didn't notice. Not even our youngest daughter, who was sitting at our new kitchen table, seemed oblivious to my shag-free face.

It wasn't until my eldest child came into the kitchen, for dinner, and saw me, that the discovery was made. "You shaved!" she exclaimed, joyously. Though everyone in my family had a dislike for the growth, it was DD15 who liked it the least, who would ask me every couple of days when I would take it off.

I'm back to my normal, clean-shaven self, again. I don't think I'll grow a beard again. Not on purpose. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw someone I didn't know. Now, I see that familiar face. It ain't pretty, but it's mine.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's Like Spam

My mom says I can't get 1,000 likes because handicapped people aren't beautiful.

People who abuse animals should go to jail, just like they do when they abuse children. Like and share if you agree: ignore if you're heartless.

On December 25, I say "Merry Christmas," not "Happy Holidays." I don't care who it offends.

I know who will share and who will not.

Can I get an Amen?

Fuck. That. Shit.

I was reluctant to join Facebook because I heard that the weirdos would come out of the woodwork. Some of my friends told me that people that they barely knew and hadn't seen in decades would suddenly reach out to become online friends, like lost puppies.

I didn't want that.

I joined the popular social network because it was a good way to feel like friends who were far away weren't that far. I could share in their travels and watch as their kids grew up. And sure, I connected with some people who I hadn't seen in decades, but these were people with whom I was close in my youth and had never stopped caring about.

I'm really glad that I have those re-connections. I no longer have to wonder, what ever happened to...?

And while I do enjoy seeing what my good friends and loved ones are up to, one of the things that I see, that makes me want to walk away from Facebook, are the posts that my connections share, which are from people that they don't know, or are messages that make me want to give those dear friends a loving slap across the face.

It's the spam-like messages that I posted at the start of this rant.

I'm sorry to be so blunt to the people in my timeline who post this, but I'm saying this with all the love that I have for you: cut that shit out! In the early days of e-mail, when many of my friends sent nothing but these spam-like messages, when jokes and pictures of kittens were forwarded like hot potatoes, I ended up blocking some of the people with whom I wanted to keep in contact but only sent that useless shit.

I want to know about what's going on in your life: I don't want to view crap that other people—people that neither of us know—shamelessly asked to have spread around like a venereal disease at an orgy.

Just stop it.

The most useless post I saw, recently, is one that just made me mad because it seemed to spark the kind of divisiveness that was so evident in the last Canadian election and, most notably, the division and hatred that has bubbled to the surface in the recent American election. It was this post:

Seriously, who has ever been offended by the sight of a poppy? Who?

Do you know who? I know who: no one. No. One.

This kind of rhetoric comes from the same right-wing nutjobs that think people get upset when they hear "Merry Christmas," rather than "Happy Holidays." When really, it's those people who have this belief that get upset when the reverse is uttered, like it's a huge insult.

I'm so tired of it.

Wear your poppy. Wear it proudly as a symbol for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that made this country free, that made this country such a welcoming home for those who had far less. No one will be offended.

No one with a loving conscience thinks that a handicapped person can't be beautiful. And I don't need to share that message to care.

People who are cruel to animals should be punished. Abuse is abuse, and those who treat animals with such inhumanity tend to pass that on to people. Lock them up.

And please, stop the spam on Facebook. Whether you know it or not, I'm not going to share.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

LIV Apartments

No, that's not the Roman numerals for 54. I did that number last year.

Rather, it's the solution for yesterday's Where In Ottawa location: the LIV apartments on Bell Street, at Gladstone.

This building was once known to be a shady, low-income apartment building in a dodgy part of Centretown West. But the building has been totally overhauled and now offers modern short-term accommodation (at, no doubt, higher rent).

I didn't get a chance to leave any clues because Jonathan Snook came up with the location within hours of the contest starting. Congratulation, Jonathan!

The next Where In Ottawa is Monday, December 5.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Where In Ottawa LIX

That's 59: not some cutesy way of writing licks. That wouldn't even make any sense. Not for the 59th installment of my photo challenge.

Never played Where In Ottawa before? That's okay, the rules are simple:

Below, you will see a photo that I shot somewhere in Ottawa. Your job is to simply identify the location and leave your guess in the Comments section of this blog post.

Leave your guess on this post only. Do not try to contact me through Twitter or through Facebook, or even by e-mail, as I need all answers to be transparent to all players, and not everybody has access to me through other social media. This blog post is one place where everyone can play along.

Plus, the comments are time-stamped, so everyone can see when an answer is submitted.
If you try to guess by any other means, whether you're right or wrong, I won't respond to that guess and you can't win.
For every day that the challenge isn't solved, I'll leave a clue in the top-left corner of my blog. Above the This is Me section.

The first person to correctly identify the location wins the challenge. You can guess as many times as you like. Only bragging rights are claimed by the winner: there is no actual prize.

Ready for this month's photo? Here we go...

Think you know Ottawa? Prove it!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Photo Friday: Autumn Dancers

I felt sorry for these girls and being a former dance dad, someone who looked out for all the kids in the dance school as you did for your own, I wanted the weather to be warmer.

But autumn being autumn, and after a couple of cancellations for the rain, we took this sunny day and headed out for our photo shoot, despite the fact that the temperature was about 5°C.

We explored all that the setting had to offer. William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada's tenth prime minister, had commissioned various ruins from the Ottawa area be artistically placed around the surrounding lands of his residence, in Kingsmere, Québec. Today, countless tourists flock to the gardens and structures, shooting countless photos.

DW and I were married on these grounds, our ceremony taking place under the colossal arches that once welcomed customers at an Ottawa bank.

With the glowing yellow leaves on the other side of the doorway, it was impossible to ignore on this fall noon. Especially with the girls in their black tutus.

Sitting on the cold stone steps, however, couldn't have been pleasant. But these girls didn't show it. Not when the camera was snapping away, anyway.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Gochang

I miss my Korean friends.

Their generosity knew no bounds and they were happy to take DW and me on day trips, to visit parts of their beautiful country.

The Cho family primarily met with us to introduce their two sons to Westerners, so that they could become familiar with us and our language. We didn't teach them English: only the mother in the family could converse directly with us.

But in time, they became good friends and we enjoyed our time together, sharing our varied cultures.

One day, in the summer of 1997, the six of us ventured to a small fortress town, about an hour south of Chonju. The name was Gochang. Mr. Cho was an avid photographer, and captured this image of DW and me, was we walked along the top of the wall that surrounded this fortress.

We saw the Cho family only once, after we returned to Canada. They took a Canadian tour with a busload of fellow Koreans, and their journey had them stop for only 12 hours in Ottawa. We met them when they stopped for dinner, and we took them back to our house for a brief visit, to see our first infant daughter.

That was in 2001.

We exchanged a few e-mail messages after then, but then we lost touch.

I miss my Korean friends. I wonder how they are doing today.