Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

A water engineer babysits toddlers…

April 15, 2015 Leave a comment

My water bill came in. During the last billing period, we used 66 L/day more than we have ever used in the past. Over the 95 day billing period, that’s 6,270 L of water!


It would take two of these trucks to hold all the water my nephews consumed in 8 days. These trucks weigh 12.5 tonnes each. My nephews weigh less than 100 lbs combined. I’m going to start bringing them to fires.


At first I thought that there must be a leak. I checked the meter, no leak. Perhaps the volume was estimated? Nope, it was an actual read. Maybe they underestimated the previous period so this period was compensating? No.

Then I pondered what was different during this billing period… the nephews! We had the wife’s nephews over twice during that billing period for 4 days each time. I had to figure out how two wee toddlers could consume 6,000+ L of water:

  • I did 4 extra loads of laundry = 175 L x 4 = 700L
  • We didn’t have spare sippy cups etc so hand washing/rinsing those, rinsing toothbrushes and other running water tasks = 10 L / minute x 5 min/day x 8 days = 400 L
  • Input: They drank maybe 5 servings of water per kid per day = 250 mL x 5 x 2 x 8 = 20 L
  • Output: One toddler is toilet trained resulting in 6 L / flush x 8 flushes / day x 8 days = 384 L

At this point in the tally, we accounted for 1,504 L. That just left bathing. My wife was in charge of baths and she was looking pretty guilty. As it turns out, she bathed them twice a day at full volume. A standard tub can hold about 250 L so even assuming she only filled it to 225 L x 2 baths / day x 8 days = 3,600 L.

Now the total is 5,104 L. I still have over 1,000 L of water still unaccounted for. I suspect they are selling it to my neighbours while I’m at work. The guy across the road has been washing his truck a lot lately.

My wife is no longer in charge of baths. And the older child is going back in diapers.


My brother Joe.

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

As most of you know, my brother passed away unexpectedly on April 1. It was a very sad event for me and my family and I thank you all for the support we have received this month. Sincerely.

I did learn a few things during this experience:

  • My wife is amazing in a crisis. I cannot express how much I appreciated her presence there… especially when on the Great Buddha Hunt.
  • My family, which has an unusually large number of control freaks, showed incredible flexibility. Even the funeral director commented that he doesn’t usually see that kind of cooperation in planning services.
  • Sympathy cards seem to come in only two colours: lavender and mint green.
  • I never tire of sandwiches.

Seriously though, my brother will be greatly missed in my family and his community. The school district he worked in flew their flags at half mast and one of the teachers drove around town taking photos of all the schools so we could see it. There were 300+ people at his memorial despite the snow storm (cursed Albertan springs) and the speeches made by his friends, family and co-workers were very touching. It was very apparent that Joe had made a lasting impression on those who knew him. Even friends of mine were emailing me with their fond memories of my brother from when we were younger.

He will definitely be missed by many. I have copied my eulogy below as that seems to sum it up the best for me. Thank you again for your support during this difficult time… especially you Rebel.

What do you say about your sibling? How do you adequately express your sibling relationship? I didn’t know so I did what I always do, I Googled it. The results of a search on “brother sister relationship” produced a list of birth order studies that said older siblings (ie: Joe) are on average 3-5 IQ points smarter than their younger siblings. So I threw that out and started again.

I read what other people were writing on the condolences website and in the sympathy cards we were receiving and the emails we received. “He’s a kind and gentle man.” “He was a wonderful and kind man.” “He was intelligent and one of the kindest people I knew.” I highly anticipate that you will hear a number of people speak about him today and they will all say that he was a good person, kind – yes, gentle – yes, intelligent – yes. And sincerely, this is true. But these people are all talking to you about Joe as an adult. I’m here to tell you about Joe as a child.

When I was still in diapers, Joe fed me Lite Brite pegs. Honestly, I don’t personally remember this. I wasn’t hurt and it was likely more traumatic for my mother who was changing my diaper and trying to figure out how the little plastic pieces got in there.

And that was it. That is really all I can think of that Joe did deliberately to torture me and he was probably five at the time. The truth is that Joe as he’s described as an adult, is how he was as a child.

I’ve heard endless stores from my friends and even strangers that detail the infinite ways that they tortured or were tortured by their siblings. At some point, I stopped thinking of these people as isolated cases – I started realizing that they were the norm and that I was insanely lucky to live in my family and have Joe as a brother.

Joe was four years older than me. Most older brothers, when not torturing their younger siblings, were busy ignoring them. Joe never did. Joe mentored me throughout my school years and befriended me in adulthood. I attribute any success I’ve had in life, especially scholastically, to my family and specifically to my brother. Starting in Junior High, Joe would help me study for my exams. He would read through my textbook and notes and ask me questions on it. If I couldn’t remember something, he would create a joke or acronym or something to help me remember it. He would also ask me to help him study in the same way. I would look through his texts and notes and ask him questions. Being continually exposed to academic materials four levels higher than I was at had to have had an influence on my scholastic achievements. And studying was actually fun – who knew?

When I went to my first day at high school, it was Joe who took me. He showed me around and introduced me to the teachers. I tried hard to emulate him – I even joined the Reach For The Top team like he did, although it certainly wasn’t as easy as he made it look so I didn’t last terribly long at it. I quit and joined the soccer team.

My first year in university, my brother walked me through the course selection and registration process. He arranged it so my first class started no earlier than 10am, my last class finished no later than 2pm and I had an hour for lunch. Those 8am classes were for other first year suckers who didn’t have a brother like mine.

Joseph also tried to teach me to drive. I had heard somewhere (not from Joe) that the point of a traffic circle over a traditional intersection was that you didn’t have to stop. Of course that meant after safely entering the traffic circle and yielding to the people already in it, but I didn’t get that part. So after I took Joe through my first traffic circle, Joe decided to leave further instruction to the professionals.

Aside from driver education, Joe was instrumental in most of my firsts. He forged the trail for me by getting me my first job at a poster shop in Kingsway Garden Mall where he was working. He conscripted me to play on his slo-pitch team and patiently whacked balls at me until I got over my fear of being hit in the head.

He took me to my first concerts (Tears for Fears and Howard Jones) and introduced me to music that none of my peers were listening to – and he taught me the finer points of making a mixed tape. There is an art in how much time to leave between songs and how to arrange the songs so that they are properly “mixed”. He even told me which RUSH song to pick for my school project so that I would get an A, and I did.

Joe was the first person in my family that I came out to. I’m not sure the majority of you can appreciate how big a deal that is, but it’s almost impossible to communicate the significance of that and how excruciating and terrifying that moment can be. But Joe, as usual, made it no big deal. In his eyes, nothing at all had changed about me or about us.

My life has been easy. Almost every step I took was supported by my family and guided by my brother. I have achieved success because Joe was not my sibling rival, but because he was my ally and friend. And to have an ally that you respect and admire as much as I respect and admire Joe is a privilege that I have been lucky to have had. I know without a doubt that Joe would always be there for me – I didn’t have to be afraid of any unexpected life hurdle as Joe was just a phone call away.

I always thought Joe would be the one constant in my life – They say that your sibling relationship is the longest one you’ll have. It’s hard to comprehend that he will no longer be a part of my life – that we will never laugh together or watch tv together or just be silly together again. I will miss him every single day.

“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.”

Categories: Family

Catching up on blogging.

May 15, 2008 Leave a comment
I’ve been busy so I’ve been late giving a summary of the wedding. So here it is:
The church service was the shortest one I’ve ever been to. I read the poem I was supposed to read without incident (although I had to hold the microphone and I was so tempted to pick it up and start singing werewolf showtunes).
At the reception, I was seated at a large round table with my parents, my brother and his wife, my grandmother and my great Auntie Jean. My Auntie Jean is 90 years old and very chatty. The first thing I heard her say was "who is that boy?" meaning me of course. My grandmother replied "that’s no boy, that’s Soncha". ("Soncha" is what my name sounds like when a Ukrainian farmer says it.) My Auntie Jean got it.
Then I changed seats and she forgot. So she asked my grandmother who I was again.
This occurred every time I changed seats.
Finally, she pulled me over and chatted with me for several minutes. She told me about how she thinks I’m a boy because I look like my dad (which I do) and in the old country, if a girl looks like her dad, she has good luck. So apparently I have good luck. Then she told me that she wanted to be a carpenter all her life and she got her dad to show her how to build a house. She did the shingling on the roof and her husband couldn’t help because he was afraid of heights. I thought that she was telling me in her own way that she’s a tomboy dyke too! She was telling me we were kindred spirits!
Then I changed seats and she forgot who I was again.
Categories: Family, Uncategorized

God bless Alberta

April 30, 2008 Leave a comment
OK – it sucks that it’s cold and raining. But my mom made me a mondare sausage sandwich and my dad is bbqing some alberta prime rib tonight fir dinner (or "supper" as they like to call it here). Yeah baby.
(And yes, I’m technically on vacation and I’ve sent three work-related emails. It’s true.)

How much creative license do I get?

April 28, 2008 Leave a comment
My cousin, Mark, is getting married in Calgary this weekend. I am flying home for it.
Today he asked if I would do a reading at the church service. I pondered the fun I could have as a lesbian – I would pretend there was a force field around the altar that wouldn’t let me through, then touch the bible to open it and pretend that it burned me. And then I would speak in tongues. My mother would be appalled.
But it turns out I’m reading a poem. It rhymes. I’m having trouble with that. I asked Mark if he was married (pardon the pun) to the rhyme and if so, maybe we could go with something more now like something from Freddy Mercury. Imagine the impact of "thunderbolts of lightning, very very frightening". I could pull that off. It would rock.
Of course, there is always danger of the blasphemy of being a lesbian in a church reading something that reaks of gay camp. I told my cousin I’d wear something non-flammable in the case of divine retribution. He was fine with that. He also said he hoped I wouldn’t be struck by lightning but would bring marshmallows and hot dogs just in case.
<Aside: I used to be better behaved in churches but I personally blame the new pope. I’m sure it has something to do with him. Don’t even get me started on the sin of pollution. What about the sin of improper lane changes or taking two seats on the subway?! What about those sins?>
Categories: Family, LGBT

Christmas in the prairies.

December 27, 2007 Leave a comment
It’s been fun here in Edmonton. Many good Christmas things happening.
It started with a gathering of ex-fort people. (Well, mostly ex-fort people – one is not an ex, she’s still there.) That’s the picture in the restaurant. By the way, that restaurant had the best pancakes I’ve ever had in a restaurant.
Then there were family gatherings a plenty. My dad’s family came over on Christmas Eve. We went to my borther’s on Christmas Day. The second photo is of us at my brother’s house (I’m the one in the antlers). My brother keeps his house at 64 deg – that’s 17.7 deg for we Canadians. That is so wrong. Normally, I keep my house around 23. At my brother’s, I was wearing two jackets and freezing! My sister-in-law’s mother was wandering around the house in bare feet and my nephew was in shorts and a t-shirt though. Very odd that.
Finally we did the annual Cribbage Tournament at my mom’s cousin’s house. I can’t find anyone to play crib with out east so I only play once a year at this tournament. My mom won the tournament last year. I came in second last this year. But it was great fun. A house full of crazy indians is always fun 🙂
Oh and for all those people wondering who still uses iceberg lettuce – it’s Albertans. Both my mom and my sister-in-law have it. Must be a prairie thing.
Now I must go and pack my luggage to come home. My stuff fits fine but the DS’s will be difficult. I think she got more stuff than I did.
breakfast 2007 12 22Shooting Range 012
Categories: Family

I’m a true redneck now.

December 24, 2007 Leave a comment
My mother has a new hobby: target shooting. She took me to her rifle club (she’s a card carrying member) with her friend, Jim, and we shot paper targets all afternoon using bullets that my mother made herself (she so butch sometimes).
It was great!
It was loud and smelled like gunpowder but I shot very well for a first timer (although there was the shooting gallery at fort edmonton park…). My mother was very proud. We shot a 38 357 Magnum (I have no idea what that means).
If I’m ever attacked by a paper target, I’ll come out on top – I’ve been trained.
Shooting Range 005Shooting Range 011 
Categories: Family