Friday, September 30, 2011

E- First Class dinner

There's little that fire fighters like more than a free dinner or dessert we have lot's of traditions to make sure that this happens.  Last week my shift's probie, Booker Hobbs, made us a dinner to celebrate the end of his first year on the job.  Tonight dinner was on me, a belated celebration of reaching the status of first class fire fighter.  This means that I am now at 100% wage and considered a fully trained fire fighter.  

I decided to go with a seasonal dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower, carrots and onions, corn on the cob, finished off by pumpkin pie and whipped cream.  I managed to pull it off surprisingly well..... which I guess proves that I actually have learned something in my 3 1/2 years on the job.  

We also trained for our high angle duties, something we regularly do pretty regularly at this hall.  Although it seems like a big jumble of ropes, carabeeners, harnesses, anchors and pulley's, we have enough experienced guys that we can do some cool rescues.

I am not a huge fan of heights but don't mind them too much either.  However, this stage of the evolution, before the line is weighted and I can feel secure knowing the rope will hold, is definitely my least favourite part of the whole thing.

So it's pretty natural to hang on until the rope catches.

This is the last major milestone on the job for quite a while.  Apart from some driver training for the engines and ladder trucks,  my role on the job will stay pretty much the same for the next 10 years when it will be time to train for being an officer.  It sounds like a long time but everybody says the same thing as I have felt so far....time at the firehall goes by so incredibly quickly.

E- End of summer days at Montague

As I am writing there is a cool fall rain coming down and it feels like a long time since these pictures were taken.  However, it was just last week that the family headed for Montague harbour on Galliano Island and the water was warm enough to swim on this very appealing beach.  

However, the next morning the wind picked up and it would have taken a lot to get me to jump into the frigid waters in the middle of the bay.....but the kids couldn't care less...they just wanted in.  

And then out as quickly as possible.

On our way home we stopped at Sturdies Bay for burgers and ice cream.

We had to rush home in time for me to work my night shift.....Molly didn't want to go though after finding a bookstore she really liked.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All kids aboard

Ahhh, the mixed feelings of an empty house. Midway through our baby years, with three kids four and under, it was impossible to imagine a day when they would all be out of the house for the bulk of the day. 

After a flurry of activity in the mornings (by far my least favourite part of the day), lunches packed, clothes station completed, breakfasts prepared and mostly ignored, hair tortured into compliance (or a semblance of...), I come back to silence. 

I practically sprint to the radio and turn it on to fill the empty space with the familiar voices of the CBC. But they aren't the kids. It isn't the same.

Lukey's first walk to Kindergarten
I am so proud of Lukey and his transition into Kindergarten. The best way I can describe it is that he is a very whole and complete person. He takes things in stride, but not in an unconscious or thoughtless way. He just deals with things.

From his very first day of school, he has barely flinched. His only hiccough was the night before the first day. I snuggled up into his bed in a quiet moment to gauge his mood. He was stoic. I pried a bit. His chin quivered and he confessed that he was scared that in the middle of a full day of school, he might fall asleep. Then the other kids would laugh at him.

We talked about how every kid in his class was starting something new for the very first time, not just him. We talked about how he has never been a napper (or sort of sounded like he thought he might just collapse sound asleep in the middle of a game in the gym). We talked about everything I could think of to reassure him.

All summer, he talked about this fire truck in the classroom. He beelined for it on the first day to check it was there, just as he remembered. 

Who needs reassurance? Mostly me. The toughest part of this whole, big transition for our family is mine to navigate. Until the kids start school, the majority of their life experience is controlled and filtered by our family lens. For four years, Lukey has been home with us. He goes where we take him, he eats what I give him, he deals with his sisters as his friends. I find it hard to share my kids with the bigger world of school sometimes, because the margins expand so quickly.

At home, Lukey is surrounded by people who love him. Not just a little bit. Big, crazy love. Now, he has to head out into a world that isn't unconditionally in love with him. A world populated by other kids and teachers. He's just another boy on a crowded playground.

I want to keep him home. Cuddle him a half a dozen times an hour, like always. Instead, I have to share him. It is the first step in gently letting him go.

It turns out, that's pretty hard.

The five of us on our walk to the first day of school.
Lukey has been great. He has adapted to all day school with barely a backward glance. He's only come home at lunch time once. It was the day of the Terry Fox Run. After running, he was overheated, overwhelmed, overtired and overstimulated. He asked me to take him home. And I did.

The next day, with some trepidation, he asked if that run happened EVERY DAY. He was relieved when I said no.

I wish this little guy a great journey through his school years. I am happy that he is in this place, with these people. I hope that the heartbreaks (which are inevitable) aren't too devastating and that the triumphs (inevitable too, I hope) are thrilling.

In the meantime, I just have to bring him home after school and cuddle him extra to make up for the six hours I've missed. Because I really miss them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

E-first hockey practice

Lukey and his friend Henry just before getting the ice for their first hockey practice last week.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Second to last CSA box from Sagewood Farm

The only way to deal with my sadness over this matter is the mass consumption of organic veggies...

And Finny harvested her only tomato on the season. She's so excited someone else eat it. She doesn't care for tomatoes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 9, 2011

The view out my rear view window right now

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Basketball, Tennis, Baseball

As it probably should be, the basketball seemed almost secondary to the trip itself.  As defending gold medalists in the last WPFGs, there was a pretty good argument for our team to stay in the open division.  However, because of some injuries and not wanting to beat ourselves up so badly we wouldn't be in shape to enjoy New York, we decided to go in the 35 and over division.  We figured the competition would be strong with so many east coast departments within a couple of hour drive from New York. 

We were wrong!  We ran over everybody and probably the best basketball for us was our inter team scrimmage.  In the finals we played some big, strong guys from New York corrections, however they couldn't keep up with us.  We were up by 20 points by the middle of the first quarter and never looked back.  I had a great tournament, and together with Navi did the bulk of our scoring.   Everybody contributed in different ways and we actually played really well as a team, making the competition look worse than they were.  

Our lone American AJ had to listen stand and sing the Canadian national anthem with us in front of a mostly US crowd.
We celebrated our victory with a long night of drinking at Nelson Blue bar and on the roof top deck of a 42 floor apartment building on Wall Street.  

On Thursday I had a very slow day until I headed off to the US open to see Novak Djokovic destroy Carlos Berlocq in straight sets.

On Friday I walked from 125th in Harlem down to 34th street, which took me through Central Park, 5th Avenue, Park and Maddison Boulevard.  About 6 hours later I hopped on the subway to meet 17 of the guys from Delta Fire to watch the Yankees beat the Blue Jays.  We ended up partying into the early hours of the morning at Legends sports bar.  

I arrived back at the flat at 3 am and got 2 hours of sleep before leaving for the airport and barely making my plane.  

Les and the kids picked me up at 1pm on Saturday in Seattle and, despite heavy traffic, managed to get me to work by 5 pm for the start of a 24 hour shift....such an incredibly supportive and understanding wife.


New York to New Zealand

Trying to write about a 10 day trip to New York is like being a tourist just arriving in the city…..where the heck do you start?  I chose just to start walking, and kept it up the whole trip.  

After my tour of Soho, little Italy and Chinatown on Thursday, I went on a walking tour at ground zero of New York, lower Manhattan on Friday.  Although everything was brand new to me, the places and names felt familiar to me…Bowling Green, Battery Park, Wall street, the NYSE, Broadway and the former world trade centre.   There were tons of people out walking and eating in outdoor cafes (I don't know why Vancouver doesn't close streets like this in the summers), huge security everywhere and surprisingly clean and orderly.  

I then hurried off to the WPFG opening ceremonies in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  The organization was fairly poor and thousands of us stood in the heat for a couple of hours with no clue about what was going on, so a bunch of us eventually decided to leave.  Apparently Dave Matthews eventually played a couple of songs, but I was happily back on a self guided walking tour up 7th avenue, Flatbush and Borough Hall in Brooklyn by then.  

There were so many things to see and people to watch that I found myself at the Brooklyn bridge in no time at all…and figured I might as well keep walking into Manhattan.  By the time I got to midtown Manhattan my feet had had enough and I hopped on the subway back to our Harlem flat.

On Saturday, everything became about preparation for hurricane Irene.  Our games were postponed for at least two days and the city was practically shutting down.  When the MTA, New York's transit system shuts down, the city shuts down.  One of the guys on my basketball team has a friend who is part owner of a bar, Nelson Blue, that is the low lying ground under the Brooklyn bridge.

It's a cool place with a New Zealand theme that the locals seem to really support (it's like a living room for people living in 400 sqft studio apartments in the area) and Wall street people come to for lunch and dinner.   

 As great as the area is right in the heart of lower Manhattan, it is known to flood quite badly there even without hurricane force winds and rain.  However, we decided with our team of 8 firefighters plus bar staff we should be able to prevent any  damage to the bar.
 With the help of many sandbags, roles of plastic tarps and some staples, we managed to protect the bar from the flooding that other local places were hit with.

 The grateful and generous people (Michelle, Rick and Frank) who run Nelson Blue provided us with countless drinks and plenty to eat all day Saturday and again on Sunday when we came to clean up after the storm.  It meant was a great way to ride out the time while New York was shut down (when the transit system stops, the city mostly grinds to a halt) but was pretty tough on the liver.

 When the storm got too close to go out any more, we returned to our flat for a game of poker that lasted well into the night.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

E- Living off the land

It's that time of year again....lots of blackberry pies and crabs (for the rest of the family) and time spent at the beach.

While the girls goofed around playing seaweed monsters with their friends, Lucas honed his crab cleaning skills, much to the delight of all the crab eating adults.