If you have ever wanted to step up your fitness routine, I suggest you consider adding Interval Training, doggie style. Training, according to Tucker:

Segment 1: WALK! OMG we’re going for a walk! Let’sgolet’sgolet’sgo! What are you waiting for? Distance: 50m; time: 9 sec; pace: 4:00 minute/mile.

Segment 2: WAIT! Something smells good! Distance: 1m; time: 47 sec; pace: 21 minute/mile.

Segment 3: OH RIGHT! WALKING! Distance: 50m; time: 23 sec; pace: 5:30 minute/mile.

Segment 4: FIRE HYDRANT! Distance: 0m; time: 19 sec; pace: 43:00 minute/mile.

Segment 5: SQUIRREL! Distance: 50m; time: 37 sec; pace: 5:14 minute/mile.

Segment 6: SOPHIE YOU BITCH I KNOW YOU PEED HERE YESTERDAY! Distance: 0.68m; time: 31 sec; pace: 38:00 minute/mile.

Segment 7: Watch out mailman, the woman on the other end of this leash is MY woman! Distance: 53m; time: 14 sec; pace:6:23 minute/mile.

Segment 8: Make way, gotta poop! Distance: (circular) 6m; time: 92 sec; pace: 27 minute/mile.

Segment 9: OMG THAT’S ROVER! I NEED TO GO TALK TO ROVER! Distance: 84m; time: 9 sec; pace: 3:25 minute/mile.

Segment 10: Hey, Rove. ‘Sup? Sorry, can’t talk. Gotta wait while my person puts her shoulder back in the socket. Distance: 8m; time: 23 sec; pace: 23 minute/mile.

Segment 11: SQUIRREL! Distance: 50m; time: 37 sec; pace: 5:14 minute/mile.

Segment 12: Oh hey, that’s my favorite tree! Better make sure everyone knows it’s mine! Distance: 0.75m; time: 42 sec; pace: 19:42 minute/mile.

Segment 13: Ooh, that lump of garbage on the sidewalk up ahead looks delicious! Distance: 75m; time: 9.5 sec; pace: 8:34 minute/mile.

Segment 14: Mmmm, sweet delicious puddle water! Distance: 0.5m; time: 48 sec; pace: 24:35 minute/mile.

Segment 15: Ooh, I sense something died in those bushes over there! Distance: 28m; time: 14 sec; pace: 5:42 minute/mile.

Segment 16: Jackpot! Fresh rabbit carcass! Nothing scratches the back like rabbit bones! Distance: 0.2m; time: 42 sec; pace: 34:02 minute/mile.

Segment 17: Hey, human, I wasn’t done wearing my new friend! Distance: 14m; time: 22 sec; pace: 10:55 minute/mile.

Segment 18: OOH, SOMETHING SHINY DOWN THE ROAD! Distance: 75m; time: 9 sec; pace: 4:52 minute/mile.

Segment 19: What do you mean, I stink, human? I smell better than you! Distance: 200m; time: 63 sec; pace: 10:00 minute/mile.

Segment 20: No bath, thank you. I think I’d prefer to stay here. Distance: 0m; time: pace: stopped.

Segment 21: OMG we’re going in the car! Letsgolet’sgolet’sgo! Hey, other human! Where did you come from?

And that is why running with Tucker is always on average at least 2 minutes/mile slower than without him.


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I have not been particularly interested in politics for quite a while. To me, it all seems to be the same corrupted shit in different piles.

I do want to be righteously outraged about things. I like to torment political candidates when they come to the door. Problem is that when I am faced with a real, live candidate, I can rarely remember what it is that I’m righteously outraged about.

So this time, I am keeping a list of all the examples of thing that show Harper is actually causing damage to our country, and during the next campaign, which can’t come soon enough, I will trot them out and ask for explanations of each.

So here’s my list so far:

The Senate. It is the laughingstock of the free world. The only place you can be appointed for life and  even charges of sexual assault only get you suspended with pay.  Between the corruption that allows senators to expense out whatever the hell they want, and “resignations” of Duffy and Wallin (nice work, if you can get it – they are still being paid!), it seems like the Senate has accumulated a pile of people who are either bereft of a moral code, or colossally stupid. How many MRIs could we buy, how many clinics could we outfit north of the 56th parallel, with the money the Senate costs us each year?

The whole Mike Duffy situation deserves its own heading. First, how could he and Wright not realize how bad this would look, even if it is all above board. Second, how can he still be getting paid? Third, what did he ever do to earn a Senate appointment, anyway, and why is he still there? A $90,000 “mistake” would get anyone else in the country fired. Why are we still paying him? Even if it is proven that he has not been double dipping, claiming expenses when on vacation in Florida, or refusing to participate in an investigation, there is a stench hanging around him that is certainly infecting Harper. Simply resigning from caucus will not fix it, either. He needs to go, quick, before he’s eligible to collect a pension.

The National Research Council situation. The government has decided that the only research that deserves funding is research that might have a commercial application. If we can’t make money from it, it’s not worth it. Sounds shortsighted. A focus on business and prosperity devalues humanitarian and environmental projects, but it seems they are not worth funding because no one makes money from those. Who needs to worry about human dignity? What difference does palliative care or quality education for Canadian kids make? Well, maybe the “new direction of the NRC” will benefit someone who wants to research road paving materials that can withstand the freeze-thaw cycle of a Winnipeg spring without disintegrating. You can sell that.

The enforced silence on Canadian scientists and researchers. The government’s media access policy has resulted in restrictions on researchers speaking to media. The policy seems to be enforced particularly strenuously when the research results are contrary to the government’s position on various matters. Which means we, the voters, never hear what the scientists are finding out. Good for the government, who probably doesn’t like the data, bad for voters, who never get to make an informed choice.

The CBC. Harper wants to plant a member of the Treasury Board in the bargaining process for the CBC’s collective agreement, eliminating the arms length relationship and forcing the CBC to secure government approval for decisions. While the CBC, like any news outlet, has no particular claim to being objective or even unbiased, this is direct interference by a government that can only affect the news we are dispensed.

Somehow, Canadians re-elected the government with a majority, after the only example in Canadian history where a government was found in contempt of Parliament. Granted, that was the fault of those who voted for him, (and those who didn’t vote at all), so we probably got what we deserved. Hopefully we are smarter next time. I’m not yet sure we have much in the way of options (remember, same shit, different pile?), but at least this time I have a few good reasons to cite when I tell my Conservative MP why I won’t be voting for him.

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This is a column I wrote as a “Community Correspondent” for the Canstar Metro weekly newspaper on April 3, 2013. I have had a fair amount of feedback on it (and surprisingly, no hate mail, either) so thought I would post it for those who don’t get the community newspaper.

Debate over Bill 18 is a question of whom to protect

Bill 18 is provincial legislation intended to prevent bullying. For its proponents, it is an extension of laws that protect vulnerable members of society from physical and emotional abuse.

Its detractors fear it will force religious schools to permit the formation of groups that promote equality for all, including gays and lesbians. Accommodating such a group, they claim, is an attack on their constitutionally protected religious freedom, as it would force them to compromise long-held doctrinal beliefs.

This feels like this is a choice about who is more worthy of protection: vulnerable children, or organized religions.

Few would dispute that, at least most of the time, government has no place legislating the practice of one’s beliefs. Neither would many people disagree that we have an obligation to protect our children from violence and neglect. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms already protects our rights to freedom of choice and non-discrimination.

Problems happen, though, when one’s free choices meet another’s right not to be harmed by those choices. And anti-gay rhetoric is harmful. Whether it is as overt and organized as hate literature, or as subtle as a ban on support groups, permitting such intolerance can be more harmful to a vulnerable teenager than forcing a Catholic school to provide birth control for its students would be to that school or its philosophy.

Thankfully, the schools in the St. James School Division support the kinds of clubs and groups that this bill is meant to protect. Our public schools make efforts to ensure students are welcome and as comfortable as possible. For a young person who is already feeling different from everyone else, peer support could be a lifeline. I am pleased that my children are able to attend schools that promote and encourage tolerance of all kinds of people.

Forcing a religion to support or endorse something that goes against its fundamental beliefs is wrong. But forcing a child into the closet hurts that child. And discrimination in the form of intolerance is a sin that is especially grievous when the victim is a child.

Perhaps the government should not be legislating tolerance. But the discord over Bill 18 proves that it is necessary, if only to give the most vulnerable in society protection that is not already recognized as a moral obligation.

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Letter sent to the customer service address today.

Dear Stalwart Appliances:

I would appreciate if you would forward this cautionary tale to all staff at Stalwart Appliances.

I wanted to let you know why I will never again make a purchase from Stalwart and why I will actively discourage friends and family from shopping there. Stalwart Appliances has provided me with one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever had.

In December 2012, we came into the showroom looking for a fridge and dishwasher. We ordered (and paid for) both. The estimated delivery for the fridge was January 7.

Around January 9th or 10th, we started emailing Zenon (our salesman) to find out when we might expect our fridge. No email was returned. We called several times. On the occasions we reached a human (never Zenon), we were promised a return call with an estimated delivery date. No call ever came. Finally, after a full week, I happened to reach Carla by phone. She told us our fridge would not be available until February. When I expressed disappointment that we had not been notified of a delay, she suddenly “found” one for us. It was delivered the next day. Problem #1 – It took an angry phone call to get any information about when we could expect the product for which you had already taken our money. Please note – My anger was not about the late delivery. It was about your staff’s refusal to provide us with any information.

The fridge arrived as promised, but it looked like it had been dropped in transit. There were scratches and dents and parts that did not work. When we called you to report this, we were told, “Sorry, we don’t deal with repairs.” Problem #2: you delivered us a defective product and refused to take responsibility for fixing it. Instead, after spending thousands of dollars with you, we had to take time to deal with something that was your fault, but somehow our problem.

Unfortunately, before we realized the dearth of customer service we could expect from Stalwart, we gave you even more of our money for a special order beverage fridge. We were told to expect a wait of 4-6 weeks, and promised we would be informed of the estimated delivery date. We never received this information. After six weeks, we started calling and emailing. Again, your staff could not be bothered to respond. I had to go into the store and request my money back before Colin got around to investigating the delay. Problem #3: Same as Problem #1.

I hope you understand that notwithstanding Problem #2, the issue was never the wait for the products we had paid for. We were well prepared to wait, and would have waited longer, had you, who were in possession of our money, the courtesy to let us know approximately how long it might take. Any information would have been appreciated, and would likely have resulted in much more patience.

I don’t know why it was such a fight to get information from you. Maybe you were particularly busy over this period. I would think, though, that someone could find five minutes to figure out what was happening and let us know. And considering the money your customers spend on the high-end products with you, it surprises me that any of them would put up with such a lack of basic service as dealing with pre-delivery problems like damage or delay.

Perhaps basic courtesy is not an expectation of your business. Perhaps you don’t need repeat business. If that’s the case, you have been successful with us.

In any case, I’m sure you can see why we are choosing to take our future business elsewhere, and why we will openly share this opinion with others, so that they might be spared similar frustrations.

etc. etc.

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I have great kids. I have always thought so, but today, I saw more proof.

Jack’s hockey team had a do-or-die playoff game. A win meant another game, a loss meant a very good season was over. They played really well, too.

Well, the team played well. Jack, unfortunately, took a minor penalty in the first period, and, for some inexplicable reason, the ref gave him a game misconduct and threw him out. No one, Jack included, was quite sure why. Jack was upset, but changed out of his gear and watched the rest of the game from the other side of the boards.

His team tied the game in a very exciting second period, but a couple snuck past in the third, and lost, ending their season.

It may have helped that after the game, the ref apologized to the coach for a mistaken call (good for that ref – that must have been tough to do), but Jack still didn’t get to finish the last game of the year with his team. I would have thought it would be a bitter ending. And yes, after the game, Jack was upset, a little bummed that they were out of the playoffs, and disappointed about the bad call, but he handled the whole thing really well. In fact, by the time he got home, it was like nothing had happened. Within fifteen minutes, he was playing ping pong and laughing like a maniac.

I am pretty proud of him on this one. He let a crappy situation just roll off, and still had a pretty good day. He didn’t let it get him down. He might even have learned something from it. I hope that skill continues to serve him well, because there will be times in his life when he will need to call on it.

He taught me something, too. It’s an odd reversal of the usual parent-child relationship, but in the future, I am going to try to remember how he handled himself whenever something rotten happens, and let it roll off me. Or I’ll go play ping pong, because that’s usually good for a few cathartic laughs.

In any case, Jack quickly got over his disappointment, I got more proof that I’m raising great children, and overall, it turned out to be a pretty good day.

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It’s all done. No more “except this” or “except that”. It’s all finished.

Remember the before?


North-east, looking at the back door


West wall


East wall


South, looking into dining room

And now…


West wall


Looking east/south


Looking south into dining room


Looking North

This kitchen also makes really good food, which is good, because we won’t be able to afford to eat out for the next ten years. I am currently roasting a bunch of vegetables for my lunches this week. The house no longer smells like drywall dust or paint, just good delicious things to eat.

It accommodates a lot of people, too, which is exactly what we were hoping. The old kitchen was not a gathering place. I can see spending most of our main-floor time there now.

The whole process was surprisingly less stressful than I expected. I expect that the main reason for that is the fact that Trevor dealt with the noise, mess and people all the time while I trotted happily off to work. It meant I was essentially insulated from the whole thing. The only time it intruded into how I would normally run my life is the day the stairs were being refinished and I had to use the ladder. Otherwise, the construction was a minor inconvenience. Also, the temporary kitchen left us with running water and the opportunity to wash dishes without carting them upstairs to the only bathtub in the house.

It also helped that we had a great contractor that kept everything on track. Everything was done exactly as he predicted. Although the flooring was late, it turned out to work better that way. Interestingly, the only things that were a real problem were the appliances, which Trevor and I were responsible for (I will post my rant about Stalwart Appliances once we have received the last piece of our order, which is currently three weeks late). Anything else that went wrong was not our problem and was fixed promptly. If you need a contractor, let me know, I have a recommendation for you.

So even though we will not be able to winter in Mexico for the foreseeable future, I would say, from my perspective at this moment, it was totally worth it.

And now, we’re ready to receive guests. Come on over! We have a stool at the counter with your name on it!

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It is Kitchen Eve in our house. The flooring is done (and already scratched). The cabinets are in, the lights are installed and functional. The living room and dining room furniture is back in place and being used regularly (I had no idea how much I would miss having a couch to sit on and music to listen to). Tomorrow is Kitchen Day!


Tomorrow, we get counters. Actually, maybe tomorrow is Kitchen Eve, because Thursday is plumbing and, barring anything going horribly wrong, the house should be ours again by the weekend.


I especially like this little mud room area at the back door. And also the tile floor that goes from front door to back door. I like the tile, mostly because it was hard earned – three days of inconvenience necessitating a trip up – and down – the famous ladder (hear me roar – although I did require significant support or the descent phase) – but it looks damn good.

So Kitchen Day pics are coming soon, I hope. We’ve been surviving, although last week became a little trying for some reason. I plan to do the before and after reveal, just like on the home decorating shows. I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat – stay tuned. And feel free to harass me if I take too long.

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