Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A weekend in DC

9:23 sunrise
18:04 sunset

I just got home from four days in Washington, DC.  Good times.  It's a place that's a bit like Ottawa on steroids in terms of being a "government town" but I like Ottawa so it shouldn't be surprising that I really enjoyed the US capital.

In addition to getting some awesome museum time, I spent the weekend in the company of some pretty fun women for Steph's 40th birthday.  Here are some highlights - of DC but also of travelling through the US, which I almost always enjoy.

Extroverted people in public, but not really interactive, places
I love uber-friendly retail clerks.  This one at the cvs on Pennsylvania Ave near our hotel went on and on with the guy in line in front of me about his yoga practice and how he was really hoping to be able to get Obama into meditation

A woman I met at the National Archives, when I told her I was from the Yukon, wanted to know if I lived a life like on Yukon Men.  I had no idea what this was (hint: it's a tv show that documents life in a small Alaska village).  She explained that I would have to chop wood "to survive "  I told her I have both indoor plumbing and central heat.

The security guard, also at NARA, told me I had awesome hair.  Like, he engaged me in conversation about my hair - the shade of red, how it looked against my black top, etc.

Three guys from Ohio wanted to know "how I liked my healthcare up in Canada."  I have no idea if they were ready to rip the concept apart or if they were looking for support of Obamacare.  I told them that it's an issue I don't spend a lot of time thinking about because it's just there for me and has been my entire life.

The cultural spaces
I had to wait in a line, yes, a LINE, to get in to the National Archives to see the country's founding documents (Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights).  Way cool.

The Hirshorn was *amazing* - the exhibition of Ai Weiwei's work blew me away.

Again at the National Archives, I listened to audio recordings from the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I was so impressed with the basic, but still insightful and important questions Kennedy was asking his advisors about the situation.  Listening in on what was, at the time, a totally private, top-secret conversation gave me chills.

I love all the giant monuments - oversized Abe Lincoln, an obelisk to the first president, a castle for the nation's museum.

At the Museum of American History I got all verkelempt at the star spangled banner and while I had to ignore the narrative about how first ladies make "contributions to their husband's administrations" (*vomit*), I did find it really interesting to consider how their choices have influenced fashion on a national scale.  And plain and simple - I liked looking at the dresses.  I was torn between two favourites: Lady Bird Johnson's inaugural dress and an evening gown owned by Grace Coolidge.  That said, Nancy Reagan's inaugural gown was up there with my faves too.

Photo from the Smithsonian. Visitors can't take photos in the exhibit
Lady Bird Johnson, image via L.B. Johnson Library and Museum, #33637
Grace Coolidge's flapper-style evening gown.
Had to dig this one up via pintrest: http://pinterest.com/pin/135389532518107990/

The politics
Unlike most Canadians, Americans seem to wear the political leanings on their sleeves.  Not only do I enjoy the exchange of views that people (ie: my taxi driver) seem ready to engage in, but also I love that you can buy things like Romney bobble-head dolls in gift shops.  I restrained myself by purchasing only two fridge magnets (1 elephant and 1 donkey) at a museum gift shop (and yes, they were made in the USA) and 1 shot glass that says "Proud to be a Republican."  I just found it too funny to resist.

The weather
It was awesome.  While it was snowing at home, I enjoyed temperatures in the high teens/low twenties and I could have worn flip flops if I had been smart enough to bring them.  And I missed Hurricane Sandy by about 12 hours.  Perfect timing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Becoming a mom in the UK in 1943

8:45 sunrise
18:47 sunset

I mentioned fit for 40 in my last post.  I do plan to post my list of goals for my 40th year on the planet but I haven't managed to finish the list off yet.  I'm stuck somewhere between trying to actually set and train for a big fitness related goal or two in 2013 and taking a year to focus on other, more broad life ambitions that include some athletic pursuits.  Tied to entering middle-age is the realization that even though I have never planned for or wanted to have kids, now is the time that I am actually facing that reality: the child-free/childless life.  As my friend Monika says, that ship has already sailed even if I am sort of pretending that it hasn't.

In addition, three good friends have had their second babies in 2012.  Two of these have happened in the last 6 weeks.  So it's another round of having babies on the brain.  With aging, children, parents and family on my mind, I wanted to share this very cool little note that I picked up from my father's house this summer. It is my grandmother's writing and D.C.R. are my father's initials.  It's a record of my grandma's experiences in the month or so following the birth of her first and only child: my dad.

Did the archivist in me just about lose it?  You betcha.  This is awesome.

Born 12:25pm Sunday Nov. 21st 1943 after
a Caesarean section operation at St. Luke's
Maternity Hospital.  The operation performed
by Doctor [Rippener]. Nurse: Sister Boews
Weight 8lbs 8oz. Height 20 ins
[Came] out of St. Luke's on Monday Dec. 6th at 3pm
Was fetched by his father and grandmother
in standard [a] Y.C. 7070 and after a trip to
Bradford arrived at 10 Sandywell Road about
First seen by his father on Nov. 21st at 7:20pm
              great grandmother Dec 6th      maternal grandmother Nov. 24th at 2pm
                                                                aunt Annie                         "
                                                                "   grandfather           Nov. 27th at 7:30
                                                                 aunt Kath                     "
                                                                 paternal grandfather    Nov. 28th at 7:30
                                                                 paternal grandmother
                                                                 aunt Myra                   Dec 10th
                                                                                                   Bradford from [Giggleswick]
Comparatively quiet & sleepy
Dec 12 first ride in pram (Lilian’s) by Kathleen
Dec 13th 2 small [?] showed in his right ear
“  15th tongue slightly cut by Dr. Beverley
who had attended him and his mother
Dec 19th 1st photograph
Dec 21 Circumcised by Drs Beverley & Shaw at

Unfortunately, I don't have page 2.  Who knows, maybe my grandmother wrote a whole notebook full of thoughts as a new mother. I find so much of this fascinating.  First of all - so little of the description has anything to do with how she is feeling or what my dad is like (aside from the brief note that he was "comparatively quiet & sleepy.")  It's no surprise to me that my grandfather wasn't present for the birth but I find it bizarre that she has recorded the dates that my dad was "seen" by the relatives.  Perhaps the most interesting thing to me though is to note that the first photograph of my father was taken 28 days after he was born.  Times sure have changed, haven't they?

Here's one of my favourite photos of my dad.  Not quite a newborn but still pretty cute.  This outfit would be considered pretty girly these days, I would think - formal portrait or not.   I wish we put babies in more gender non-specific clothes.  As Ben would say "toss 'em in a pillowcase with space cut out for the head for the first few months. That's all they need."  Sigh

Sex, gender and babies - that's another post entirely.. for someone else to write.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Winter Bike Gear

8:37 sunrise
18:56 sunset

The days keep getting darker and darker and after one last burst of fantastic, beautiful weather last weekend it appears that winter is here.  It may not be -30C yet but there is snow on the ground and the fireplace in our house is being deployed on a semi-regular basis.

I'm working on a list of goals as part of a "fit for 40" plan which is already being put into effect even though my list is not complete.  The list includes things like "40 push-ups" and  "drink a bottle of real champagne."  Some of these "to dos" are to occur by the time I turn 40 next spring and some of them will be commitments for the year as it unrolls.  Outside of this list, however, I still want to have some adventures this winter.  Ideally, I'd like to experience them on my bike.

A small but imporant piece to experiencing the world at sub-zero temperatures came home with me today: the insulated pogie.

Do I look excited or what? These are bigger than my head!

I may not be in focus but the pogies are the point anyway

I am SUPER excited abut these (as you can see from my grin).  Made by a small company in Two Rivers Alaska (Dogwood Designs) that also makes gear for dog mushing, these are going to be AWESOME for longer hours out on the bike this year.  I may regret my decision to go with the white  fabric but I can't help it. Matches my bike seat :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Snow

8:07 sunrise
19:32 sunset

Feeling just a wee bit as though my post yesterday about the glorious weather has somehow directly caused this:

View from my office window at around 4:30pm today

Hey, October, just because I said I was getting ready for you did not mean I was ready for a snowstorm on October 1st.

Thankfully, it has mostly melted.  But still.  I am not impressed.