From personal

New Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5

While the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 II coming out, Olympus slashed the price on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 which is still an amazing camera.  After researching, debating, agonizing over the purchase, I decided to make the upgrade from the Olympus PEN E-PL2 to the E-M5.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 12-50mm lens

I ordered the camera from Don’s Photo in Saskatoon and I hope to have it in a couple of weeks.  Thanks to Jordon who is using his Christmas money for this purchase.  Actually thanks to Jordon who bought (and surprised me) with the Olympus PEN E-PL2 and some amazing lenses since then. 

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Jordon is working today but I am not.  He did get up early and gave me a new “Canada” spring jacket, a chocolate rose that I wanted and a chocolate rose (my favourite kind of rose).  He also took me down to the CP Rail Bridge in Saskatoon and put a love lock on the stairwell.  The wind was howling and it was unbelievably cold by the time that we climbed the three flights of stairs.  By the time we got back to the car our ears and faces were frozen.  I’m glad he did it.  It was a great romantic gesture.   He does this romance stuff well.

I got him a new hat by Under Armour.  His old hat was stolen out of our Mazda.  It’s not the same but it is close enough and I think he looks good in it.

Under Armour Hat

Think of it as lingerie for bald guys.  Before you comment that I am horrible at this Valentine’s Day stuff, I actually am and this is what Jordon wanted.

For tonight, we are ordering in.  We have tried to go out many times over the years and the food sucks on Valentine’s Day in so many places.  They seat us late, rush some food out, and rush us out.  Not exactly romantic.  There are better nights for us to go out and enjoy being a couple.

We aren’t sure where we are ordering in from yet but I could go for some pizza or Vietnamese food.  After the kids go to bed, we’ll chill out over some gourmet coffee and music to chill out to.  There is a reason why we have a 60 gig iTunes library.

I hope you are having a good day as well.

Gear Check

With the hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin feeling a little closer, we picked up some gear for it this week.

  • Jordon and I both got some toques to sleep in.  It will get down to 6 degrees at night so we needed some toques and glove to sleep in.  Jordon has a couple pair of lightweight gloves but I still need a pair of those.
  • We got some travel containers for liquids.  I have bio-degradable soap but I needed some bottles to carry it in.  I can also pack up some bio-degradable shampoo.  We all like clean hair.
  • Along with some containers for the liquids, Jordon picked up some pot scrubbers.  I wasn’t even thinking of those but since we are cooking out of the same pots and don’t want to carry dirty ones, the couple of ounces it weighs will be worth it.
  • Dawgs has an outlet store in Circle Centre Mall so we picked up a pair of their men’s Spirit Shoes for Mark.  Jordon and I have a pair and they will be comfortable to slip into at the end of a day of hiking.  We picked up a pair for Oliver as well.  At $8, the price can’t be beat.
  • Finally we picked up what will the start of our First Aid Kit.  It has the essentials but I am going to put them in a larger hard plastic waterproof case that will hold some Extra Strength Advil and Tylenol, some moleskin and other things that will come in helpful if we need it.

It’s freezing out, time to escape

With it being so cold this January, we couldn’t help but plan out a summer getaway.

We have two trips planned for this summer.  One is our long delayed micro adventure to Grey Owl’s Cabin.  We are doing that in June just after Mark’s 15th birthday (Jordon has the gear guide for the hike here)

The second is a summer vacation to Calgary at the end of July.  Jordon was born in Edmonton but still considers Calgary his hometown despite only living there for less than a decade as a kid.  I think it is a combination of childhood experiences and memories combined with his one way bromance with Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi.  Oh yeah, the Rocky Mountains.

When we started to think about a trip this summer, I realized that we have a lot of AirMiles accumulated.  AirMiles are the only reason why we continue to be treated poorly by the Bank of Montreal (which took a year to fix Jordon’s debit card so it would not randomly lock him out of his account).  We are using the AirMiles to pay for our hotel which makes for a really cheap trip.  

I just booked our hotel rooms at the Best Western Plus Calgary Centre Inn on Macleod Trail.  We have stayed there before and liked it.  It’s not the Delta Bessborough or anything but it’s new, clean and is in easy walking distance of a C-Train station, is just down from Chinook Centre and has a pool, hot tub, and pool for small children.  It also has an early morning breakfast buffet that the kids like.  It is the definition of a family hotel which is great for us as we are a family.

The plan is to take off in the early morning of a Friday and let the kids sleep in the back of the car.  We will take the leisurely drive to Drumheller and take some photographs of their rather scenic downtown and give the kids some time to stretch their legs.   Hopefully be in Calgary by early afternoon and book into our hotel.  As soon as we get settled in, we will grab our cameras and head downtown on the LRT and explore downtown Calgary, find the Peace Bridge, check out The Bow, and wander around downtown Calgary.  If I know us, we will be right back down there to do some night photography.

The Peace Bridge in Calgary an HDR photo

Mark Cooper in downtown Calgary

The next morning the plan is to get up early and take the scenic route to Banff and then head straight to Johnston’s Canyon Trail and walk the trail along the seven waterfalls.  Knowing us, we will have cameras in tow and I am really looking forward to doing this again and with the boys.  It’s about a two hour hike which will leave us lots of time to explore Banff later on in the day.

Lower fall johnston Canyon

After the hike, the plan is to continue up the Bow Valley Parkway to the Chateau Lake Louise where we will grab lunch and head back to Banff.  Hopefully we will see some wildlife along this section of the park.

 On the way back to Banff, we will grab lunch at a wonderful picnic spot at the start of the Sawback Trail.  It has some quiet picnic tables, a babbling brook, and amazing scenery.  The first time Jordon took me there, a large herd of elk surrounded our car and licked all of the salt off it.  It was covered in Elk saliva, even under the door handles.  Gross.  I hope that doesn’t happen again.  If it does, I’ll get the boys to open my door.

The brook in Sawback and water running off the canyon walls of Johnston’s Canyon have a rich history with Jordon.  He has drank both of them and gotten really sick from Giardia as a kid.  Hopefully he has learned something since then but it’s Jordon so expect him to be hospitalized in Calgary.

After Johnston’s Canyon, we are off to Cave and Basin National Historical Site which in all of my trips to Banff, I have never been to.  The last time we were in Banff it was being renovated and updated.  It’s now open, improved, and dirt cheap to explore.  Jordon loves it and can’t wait to take the boys and myself into the cave and see the glowing water.  It should be amazing.  Since we are there on a Saturday, we may stay late and return there for a lantern tour of the caves.

If we have time, it will be up the Banff Gondola again.  I have been up a few times in winter but never in the summer.  It will be a long day but there is always time for the Bow Falls in Banff.  July weather will mean a little more green than in this photo Jordon took in 2010.

Bow Falls in Banff

To end the day, Mark suggested we will head to the Upper Banff Hot Springs for a hot soak in the pool before heading back to Calgary.

After soaking in the hot tub that night, the next morning should find us at Heritage Park.  I have never been but it looks amazing and a lot of fun.  Jordon won’t tell me why but he says to bring some extra small change along when we go.

Finally on our last day there we will take in the Calgary Zoo.  I’m not worried about Jordon in Banff, downtown Calgary, or even in Drumheller but he has this fear of birds.  Calgary Zoo has a bird house.  Jordon kind of freaked out the last time he was there.  We’ll have our cameras out this time.

As always we will connect with some friends, family, and MEC and since it is right next door, The Camera Store.

I can’t wait.

Resolved, 2015

Here is a list of things I have resolved to do better in 2015.  Wish me luck.

Invest in better pens

I like to write things on paper. Paper smells good, I like the way my hand feels moving across the page, I like how my handwriting unfurls while I think. And I particularly like to write with a uni-ball® Vision Needle™ Rollerball Pen. Anyway, this is not a crazy expensive pen. Why do I own anything else? I hereby refuse to purchase any other pen. Up yours, inferior pens. 

uni-ball® Vision Needle™ Rollerball Pen

Carry less crap.

They make enormous purses now, which is convenient if you need to transport a giant canned ham or a human head. But do I need a mirrorless camera, a book, a notepad, and three kinds of lip balm to grab a cup of coffee?  I need to cut back on the stuff I am carrying and stop being a pack horse for Mark and Oliver (who are old enough to carry their own crap around).

Of course that may mean I will need to upgrade to a new MEC shoulder bag.

MEC Globetrotter Shoulder Bag

Light more candles.

Mason Jar Candle Holders

I’m writing this by candle light. You feel sexier just reading that. Candles in 2015.

Listen to More Music

I love music, but in the past I rarely made time for it. I can’t get much done if there’s music playing, because I stop what I’m doing to listen. So lately, I’ve just been listening to music and failing to get stuff done. Worth it.  Here is to getting less done in 2015.

Sennheisser HD201 Headphones

Hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin

Hike to Grey Owl's Cabin

We were going to do this in 2013 but with Jordon quitting his job at The Lighthouse and trying to figure out what we wanted to do when we grew up, it got cancelled.  In 2014 I wasn’t feeling that great so here we are, 2015 the year that Mark, Jordon, and I walk the back country trails to Grey Owl’s Cabin.  It’s not quite the same as Wild but it will be fun.

Friends

I have some great friends that I do a horrible job of reaching out to.  It’s been a long term failing of mine and it sucks but I am going to be a better friend in 2015 than I have before.

Friendship

So what are you resolved to do better in 2015?

Jordon posted his resolutions here and Mark posted his over here.

A Year in Review

It’s hard to look back at 2014 yet in some ways I am glad it happened.

At a certain point this summer, after making a mess of almost everything including my marriage and having my two kids despise me, I figured 2014 would end every differently.  I honestly didn’t think that I would be married by the end of 2014.  I figured that I would alone and living in a small suite somewhere.

What saved things was Jordon and his stubbornness.  Despite hurting him badly, he put it aside enough to work through things and help me get help.  He has an amazing ability to hit “reset”.  It has saved our marriage more than once.

Jordon has a big belief in doing the right things.  He took me for long walks.  At the start I couldn’t even talk about what I was thinking which wasn’t making things much better.  Over time things got better.  As usual it is Jordon figuring things out rather than me doing things.  I am so glad he did.

He also helped the boys, especially Mark figure out what he was feeling and work through that.  At a time when I couldn’t talk to my kids without them seething, Jordon helped them and me communicate again.

At work things were slightly better.  I applied for and got a full time position.  I was hoping there was a full time employee lounge and underground parking but nope.  I get no perks other than consistent hours and better benefits which is good.  I also find myself getting better shifts.  With better shifts means more flexibility in trading shifts.

My relationship with my family is still non-existent.  My parents haven’t cared for decades.  This year they were pretty open about that.  In the end, they really like sending me a Christmas card that says, “Aubrey & Marsha” and nothing else.  When I tell them not to bother sending a generic card, there is no communication at all.  Its a weird choice of token communication or nothing at all.

As an excuse not to talk, they need to “figure out my depression” and “me being molested”.  They have spent 16 years without talking to me as they “understand” things.  Their insight of 2014 and after 16 years of working at it.  Depression is hard, my mother didn’t value me because I am a women and my father blames me for being sexually assaulted.  He also finds it embarrassing that I was molested.   I don’t think we are making progress folks.  

Sadly I don’t think they care and that in many ways they are glad I am no longer around.  Like my dad said to me, I am an embarrassment to them and as my mother said, not worth much being a women.  The joys of growing up Guyanese I guess.  It’s an experience many Guyanese women have felt.

It’s been an up and down year.  The highs have been friends and the guys.  The lows have been chaos that I have created in trying to hide the depression.  I am hoping 2015 has a different vibe.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve everyone.

We often spend Christmas with the Reimers (we celebrated Christmas dinner with them back in November) and with Lee and Brittany (we got together with them last night)  It was just us this morning and we had a nice morning around here.

The boys were up early and after the Christmas stockings were handed out and opened, Jordon handed out some gifts to each of us.  Now that Jordon has written about Christmas Eve, early Christmas morning, and Christmas Day, I thought I would write a bit about my day here.

Jordon gave me a Sigma 19mm Art f2.8 DN lens.  With my Olympus Pen camera, it means that the focal length is 38mm which is still a bit wider than Jordon and Mark’s 35mm’s (their lens is wider but Pentax cameras have a magnification factor of 1.54 which means their focal length is 48.5mm).  It’s a prime lens which means that it doesn’t zoom but the images will be sharper and the bokeh will be pronounced.  Sharpness and bokeh are both good things.  An aperture of f2.8 should let me do some more early morning and evening photography.  While not as bright at the 45mm f1.8 I used at the Atlas Coal Mine and Nuit Blanche, it should let me get some good low light shots.

Sigma 19mm Art f2.4 DN Lens

Oliver gave me a set of Oster Baldwyn knives to replace my old crappy knives that I have accumulated over the years.  He also got me a J.A. Henckel chef knife that should last me for decades.  I am really excited about both of them.  Not only are they an upgrade to my existing knives, I get to get rid of my old ones which means more space in the kitchen.  More space is a good thing.

Oster Baldwyn knives

Mark gave me a pair of Sennheisser headphones.  I was pretty shocked to get them and happy with them.

Sennheisser 201HD headphones

To go along with my lens (and living in Saskatchewan) pair of Thinsulate photography gloves that will make winter photography a lot easier.  He also gave some cheese knives that I am excited about.

Walmart Cheese Knife Set

Along with the cheese knives, he gave me two bamboo cutting boards.  One will go into the kitchen for daily use and the other  will go great with my charcuterie board I am making today for lunch.

Santa Claus gave me the same pair of binoculars that he brought Oliver and a super bright 130 lumens Police Security LED flashlight to go inside my go bag.

Bushmaster Binoculars

Pink Maiden flashlight by Police Security

I know the flashlight is pink.  I think Santa Claus was trying to troll me this Christmas.  The flashlight is great and Jordon, Mark, and Oliver also got them.  That is okay but I would have preferred a 1000 lumen spotlight and them having a 4 lumen penlight.  I’ll take this up with Santa in the New Year.

Maggi and Hutch bought me a pair of moccasins to replace my old and worn out pair of slippers.  Maggi also promises to chew them up later.  At least she is being honest.

Moccassins

The plan is to head downtown this morning with some new camera gear.  Jordon, Mark, Oliver and myself got some new gear that we all want to check out.  Exploring downtown Saskatoon on Christmas Day is a lot of fun as the only ones that are out are the occasional beat cop and those outside taking advantage of the quiet that only comes on Christmas Day.

Hope your Christmas is a good one.

Turning 45 today

I turned 45 today.  It was a quiet day because a) I am now as old as dirt and b) I am sicker than a sick dog.

I woke up to some great presents.  Mark and Oliver gave me the new Taylor Swift album 1989.

I didn’t think I would like the album as much as I have.  Then again I’ll just shake it off.

Then Jordon gave me a new Fitbit Flex.

FitBit Flex

So now I can track every part of my life.  When I am walking, how much I am drinking (water folks), and the quality of my sleep.

Since all of us are still quite ill, instead of going out, we ordered in and watched Guardians of the Galaxy which I picked up at Red Box.

Instead of a teddy bear growing up, Jordon had a toy raccoon.  I guess we know what happened to it.

After that we all of to bed.  Jordon and Oliver are partially deaf and I am still battling this cold/flu.  I have laryngitis but have avoided what Jordon and Oliver have had.

It is my party and I can go to bed early if I want to….  thanks for the nice wishes and birthday greetings.  It’s appreciated.