Another Chunk of Staining Done

It’s been a wet week, stymying any further work on the deck. Yesterday wasn’t very sunny but it didn’t rain. Today it was sunny and 19 degrees so everything was dry enough to stain after lunch. Tammy, Ian and I worked for a few hours, and got most of it done, including all of the “top” parts.

Mostly stained

What remains is the outside of the rungs, from the middle of the far rail around to the right, and the bit near the house on the right. Just ran out of energy and patience today. Still, getting the top part done was a real victory. It’s time to start thinking about staining the bits that keep the lattices in place. Not too many days of work left now.

Famous last words.

Birthday #47

I’m 47 years old today. Yay! Life’s a little upside down right now, but we’re keeping on. Like I said in the Skype call with Colin and Carol this morning, I’m taking the “downtime” for the Bow Cyclist Club to work on the deck. When life gives you 🍋…

But that’s not to say I’m not riding my bike. I was out and on the road this morning at 6:30. Partway into the ride, I decided to do 47 for 47 (kilometres for years).

It was a beautiful morning, if slightly chilly. I stopped near Glenbow Ranch Park to take this.

Rocky Mountains in the spring morning

Good thing I did, because this was waiting for me for 2nd breakfast when I got back.

Buttermilk pancakes and bacon and creme fraiche and blueberries and cherries

I couldn’t finish it, so I switched to opening cards and prezzies. As is the norm, everybody made cards.

Miranda ensured that I would be raising my game when it comes to cycling socks this year. Ian asked me which pair was my favorite, and I guessed either Botticelli’s Birth of Venus or maybe Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanugawa. What’s yours?

Art socks. Posting this picture to WhatsApp spurred an epic debate about who has the better socks: me or Wing…

And my main present was my monitor but Tammy’s other gift spurred yet another Scotch taste test. We waited until after noon for that, though. The new one, McClelland’s, was Tammy’s 2nd favorite after the Game of Thrones Dalwhinnie.


We had a Skype call with Colin and Carol, and FaceTimed with Dad and then with Stephanie, Brianna, Zachary and Tristan. It was great to see everybody. Sounds like the weather was wet in Victoria, but it was 31 degrees in Mexico. I guess Calgary was the happy medium at 21 degrees and sunny.

We’re hoping for a nice warm afternoon for a barbecue. More pictures later!


Our enormous breakfast tided us over to an early supper (3:30). The weather was lovely, so barbecue was the order of the day. Tammy did the honours: burgers, smokies and hot dogs. Lots of leftovers, so we’re set for tomorrow working on the deck!

We had Murphy out on the deck in his harness. Let’s just say he had… emotions… about being there. Did a great job of climbing the old lattice trying to get away from his lead, in between playing dead and rolling around. Eventually he jumped up on Ian’s chair and settled down.

Dessert was a triple-layer carrot cake. It was delicious and moist, although very difficult to cut neat slices. I managed to blow out all the candles with one puff.

After dinner and cleanup, we sat and watched The Meg while rubbing our full bellies. It was a fine day from early start to end. Thank you, everybody.

Happy Birthday selfie

We Have Doughnuts!

Today, we have done two activities, upgrading the deck and making doughnuts. Today, I will be talking about the doughnuts we have made. We made cake doughnuts using a doughnut-shaped waffle iron. We made the batter, using the nutmeg as the main flavour, put them in the waffle iron, took them out, milked them and covered them in cinnamon sugar. We have tried the doughnuts and they were delicious! I really hope that this post won’t make you feel jealous. Here are the photos:

Me making the batter for the doughnuts
The lovely doughnuts
Num, num

Board Games over the Internet

A couple of weeks ago, Mark in our Vancouver office reached out to me.

I remember one Tech Trek that you mentioned you enjoyed board games.  There are a small group of us in Vancouver who get together for online board games every Thursday evening at 8pm.  Would you be interested in joining us?  I believe that will be 9pm your time.  We normally play for just two hours at the most.

The games are played on Board Game Arena, and we use WebEx to have voice and video while we play. Esri Canada’s IT department has relaxed the rules for using WebEx for personal calls during the pandemic during non-office hours. It’s a surprisingly good experience. I sit downstairs at Tammy’s desk with my work MacBook.

Now I’ve joined in two Thursday nights in a row. The first night we played Puerto Rico and I really had no idea what I was doing. This Thursday we had agreed that we would play the game 7 Wonders so I was able to watch an instructional video on YouTube.

Evidently it paid off, because I squeaked out a win in the second of three games!

Mark, Naoko, Dave and Oli

My one complaint with the system is that the card/board artwork can be pretty small. I often find myself with my nose a couple inches from the screen trying to interpret the little icons.

But the fact that all of the rules and turns are governed by the system means that the games move really quickly and the scoring is all automatic.

Something Old, Something New

Time in the new work-from-home reality rolls on. Long days of being on conference calls is the new norm, it seems. Next week, I have two half-day meetings with Ville de Gatineau and the week after that is virtual Tech Trek. I will be “plugged in” for about 5 hours per day there.

Esri Canada doesn’t expect to have people return to offices until September 1st at the earliest.

Today’s company update conference call

Me being me, I am always wondering if there is some way to make things better. The new monitor has been amazing. I’ve experimented with using the older Logitech webcam to see if changing angles, etc. is an improvement, but that wasn’t as successful. The webcam built into the MacBook is just so much better.

Yesterday, I upgraded my conference call audio.

Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone and Apogee Duet FireWire audio interface
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Happy Mother’s Day

It’s early May in Calgary, so that means it’s snowing this morning.

Not out of wintry weather yet

But that won’t dampen our spirits as we enjoy this Mother’s Day. Tammy was the one who was doing the most planning for today. She bought all the groceries we needed for our breakfast (eggs benedict) and our lunch or supper (steak). She’s a woman who knows what she wants. And she’s the only one shopping, so it makes sense.

Breakfast, cooked by me

Eggs benedict is her favourite, and the one thing that she would have missed terribly since we’re not able to go out and get a restaurant breakfast.

Everybody made Tammy a card:

And she also ordered her own present.

A book that she’s wanted to get her hands on for years

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!


Lunch has been made and consumed. Let’s just say Tammy is in steak heaven.

Virtual Recital

Ian has been attending his piano lessons at Viva Musica again this year, continuing in the RCM level 5 group lessons. Of course, when everything shut down in March things changed. His classes were now over Skype, and the year-end recital was in jeopardy.

We got an email last week from Miss Jessica indicating that the recital was going to go “virtual”.

For Group classes and private lessons’ student [sic], Please consult your Teachers for a piece that you would like to record along with an OPTIONAL couple lines speaking about your experience you would like to share with fellow students and your introduction.
We will do the video editing from our end and a private password access page will be available  for your friends and families to watch on our website. We will also be mailing a Recital Year End package to students. Please let us know if you need any update on your address on file or login to MyMusicStaff to edit your information if needed.

The virtual recital won’t be until June 14-21 according to the email, but with the weather being sort of iffy this weekend, it was an opportunity for Ian and I to have some fun.

Here is the finished result. Ian playing “Fantasia in C Major” by Georg Philipp Telemann.

For those who are interested in how we did it:

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Lesson Learned

Yesterday, it took Tammy and I about four hours to stain three sides total on two 4×8 foot lattice panels.

Today, I spray-painted two full 4×8 panels (one side only) plus the deck structure around them in about 20 minutes. And that was as a novice.

The test bit after 10 minutes and before I called Tammy and Miranda to see

Needless to say, I sort of torn now.

  • Part of me wants to jump with joy and hug the new paint sprayer.
  • Part of me wants to kick myself and apologize to Tammy for not getting the paint sprayer a day earlier.

It’s not a particularly expensive one ($176 at Home Depot), but it sure worked well:

Wagner FlexIO 2000 sprayer

It took about 25 minutes to tear down and clean it after I was done, but that’s okay. I’d rather do that than the alternative, and now it’s clean as new again. After lunch, Tammy and I will make short work of the remaining lattice, I think.

I stood in line at the Home Depot this morning. There were about 20 people lined up outside, all being orderly and distancing. I’d say only a third had masks on, including me. Inside, I don’t think it really was that much slower getting the stain. I knew what I wanted, so I had to wait in line at the paint department and then I could ask for what I wanted and then wait. There originally was only one employee in the department taking orders and mixing paint, so I thought I would be a while but then two more showed up and the line moved briskly. I had time to look at the paint sprayers and I’m glad I did.

Also weird factoid: the sprayer seems to be more efficient than brushing. The entire bit I did outside took about half of the paint reservoir. Considering I bought a 5 gallon pail of the terra cotta stain for the deck, I might have a wee bit too much. Oh well. Maybe I’ll make re-finishing the deck a more regular thing.