Magic And… D&D

After last weekend’s Order of the Stick gaming, I didn’t think it could get any better, but this weekend Miranda wanted to try playing Magic: The Gathering, and then we tried our hand at playing a simple D&D-style roleplaying game as a family today. If this is a phase she’s going through, I’m glad it came and I hope it stays a while.

The last time I got to play Magic was in 2002. I’ve had the cards since then, and a couple of years ago Miranda got them out and was interested in looking at the artwork and sharing and trading with some boys at TMC, but didn’t want to play. Out of the blue, she asked to play on Saturday morning. She made a green deck and a blue deck, and I made a red deck and a white deck. We had fun and each of us won some and lost some. Her green deck fared pretty well, while my white deck went undefeated.

Today was another miserable day, just above freezing and wet. I had had a bit of a worry about my left calf since Friday evening: it had been feeling tight like when I had the thrombosis back in 2014. I was cramped in a middle seat on my way home from Winnipeg, and was worried that I was facing another clot. Today it was fine, but I was wary of taking a risk. With time on our hands and Ian suffering with a cold, I decided to act on something that Jeff had talked about when we visited this summer.

Jeff had mentioned that he had tried a bit of Dungeons and Dragons with Katya and Alyosha. My antennae twitched at that: D&D was a game I’d tried to interest Miranda and Tammy in a few years ago. I’d even bought the red box starter game, but it hadn’t gone anywhere. He explained that he hadn’t tried to play by the rules. He just started telling them a story with a cave and some treasure and the kids had been encouraged to role play. He rolled a die every once in a while to see if something random would happen, but not doing “hit dice” or anything like that.

I’d thought about that and mentioned it at the dinner table last weekend. And today I put it into motion. I had a bit of a story to start with, and we spent quite a bit of time helping everybody develop some characters for the game. Maybe I tried too hard with Ian to come up with a compelling back story, because he cried a bit as he was imagining it. But in the end, Kaz, Astrid and Steve started their adventure in the port city on the Inner Sea.

It went pretty well, but it was clear when it was time to put it aside for next time. Ian started being a bit goofy. Too bad, because they were just about to find the treasure after defeating the bandits.

It was enough to make me not feel too bad about not riding for the second weekend in a row.

Hello from Winnipeg

That’s another major city in Canada off the list of places I haven’t been. I’ve flown over Winnipeg too many times to count, but never even landed here. The closest was Brandon.

View of the Canadian Human Rights Museum and Downtown

I arrived mid-afternoon local time, so went out for a walk down to the river. I could see the museum from my hotel room. It was featured in an architecture documentary that we watched a while ago as a family. Unfortunately, I got there only 15 minutes before it was closing, so I settled for walking out onto the bridge over the river and getting a picture or two.

I’ve had dinner and caught up on my email. My co-worker Chris should be landing any time now. I imagine I’ll meet him tonight to discuss tomorrow, but he might just be ready to crash. Sounds like he had some trouble getting here from Ottawa. Nice easy 1.5 hour flight for me. The bad part was I watched 95% of the movie Baby Driver before the plane landed. I literally haven’t seen the last 10 minutes. I will have to watch the rest on the return flight.

That Was Fun

This morning, the weather meant that the Bow Cyclist ride was a bust, even for me. Some of the club members did a ride but at zero degrees with wet snow on the ground, I wasn’t willing to risk it. After all, I’m flying to Winnipeg tomorrow! Don’t want to do that in a cast.

Tammy met up with two of her former Swiss students for a late breakfast this morning. They went to the Denny’s in Crowfoot and had a good chinwag.

Daniella, Tammy and Susi

That meant I was sitting at the table after breakfast, pondering a second cup of coffee and I used my Watch to message the kids:

It wasn’t long before Miranda came downstairs with The Order of the Stick. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I got that game for Christmas so many years ago, and I think Tammy and I have played it twice. I enjoy the heck out of it, but it takes a long time to play. Like over three hours. Not to mention that when you play it twice in ten years, it’s not easy to remember the rules, and constantly looking them up slows things further.

But we did it. Miranda, Ian and I got part of the game played before lunch, then finished it by 3:00. Everybody really got the hang of the rules and things were going much more smoothly by the end. Still, it was probably five hours of playing.

Miranda at the game table


Snowtember 2018

After many forecasts threatening us with a substantial snowfall, we finally got a skiff this evening. There were some scattered flakes on our deck this morning, but we’ve had hail-fall worse than that. This Snowtember is nowhere near as bad as our 2014 one. The temps have been between 3 and -3 the last two days and the next few days will be a mix of snow and rain with temps between 8 and -3. It should make for hellish driving if the snow actually sticks to the roads. Very few people, myself included, have swapped over to the winter tires. I usually wait until late October, but I may have to reconsider this year.

Not in the Mood to Post

Sorry about there being a lack of posts lately. It’s been a week and a half back to work and it’s been exactly what I worried it would be. The Solution Architect Team was going to be busy, and then we found out that Mohamed was departing. His last day is this Friday, and he gave us a lot of notice and he has done everything I could have asked for to make it easy. But the fact is that we’re losing a valuable person and I will be shouldering a lot of the work he would have done.

I haven’t felt like even looking at a computer in the evenings, let alone taking the time to make a post.

The kids are starting their new grades and there haven’t been bad experiences or really any amazing stories coming home, either. We have started to talk to Miranda about starting International Baccalaureate in high school next year. She has been excelling at school and I think she would like being challenged by other gifted people. She would have to go to a different school, but it’s probably not any more difficult to get to, thanks to the C-Train.

Ian and I are about halfway through reading The Eye of the World. We’ve kept it up, and it’s going well. He had his first piano lesson of the new year on Monday night. Miranda and I walked up to the Royal Oak school with him. She and I had a pretty good talk about The Lord of the Rings while we were waiting. She has started reading the books. She bought her own softcover copy: she was intimidated by my massive, illustrated hardcover edition.

With Tammy stopping working on Saturday and the kids not having piano on Saturdays, I have taken part in the Saturday Bragg Creek ride the last two weekends. They really challenged me, pushing me to the limit.

Tonight, we are seeing some snow mixed with rain. It’s supposed to turn to snow proper tonight. It’s the first taste of winter. ❄️

End of the Summer

It’s Labour Day. Also would have been Mom and Dad’s 52nd anniversary today. I go back to work tomorrow and the kids are starting grades 6 and 9. It’s the start of the long run into winter. I am hoping for a pleasant and long autumn like (mostly) last year, but this summer has ended with rains and chilly weather.

If I had to sum up the last few days of vacation in one word, that word would be


It started with Tammy getting the kids to pick the lower branches of the tree mid-week: they were bent under the weight of lots of apples. In previous years, I had used the peeler/corer to make the apples usable for baking, but these this year were plentiful but smaller. The peeler would be useless. So that got me searching for other uses, and together, Tammy and I made

  • Jelly,
  • Freezer jam
  • Applesauce (three ways: with orange & spice, apple and cinnamon, and cranberries).

Today, we harvested the rest and there are about 20 gallons of apples waiting for our attention. Not sure what we are going to do with these. Tammy also cleared out the spent cornflowers and when she did so, she discovered that we have three hops vines, not one.

Hops with Tammy for scale

We’d previously mis-identified the vine as a grape, but now we’re wiser. Looks like a bumper crop of yet another fruit that we don’t know what to do with. Going to need to talk to a local U-brew place to get some ideas. Hate to see them just rot like last year’s much smaller crop did.

Arts, Extra Ferries and the Trip Home

The last few days of our vacation were spent with Dad and Stephanie and family. Stephanie did a fantastic job of coming up with some things to do while we were there. The weather wasn’t cooperating (smoke, cooler) for sitting outside with BBQ. The kids’ camping sleepover was moved indoors, and they didn’t go biking together. In fact, after the ride with Ian, I didn’t ride at all. That tells you something about the conditions. And I’m hurting for it: my back seized up just as we were loading the bikes on the cars for the return trip and I’m laid up today. Not enough working out for a week.

On Thursday, we met at 4Cats Studio in Uptown and everyone selected a clay figurine modeling kit.

That was our activity for the afternoon, and everyone was very successful. Ian made sushi, Miranda and Stephanie both had the same whale set. Miranda then made a bunch of tiny items, Zachary made a dragon, Brianna made the otter family, and I made a garden gnome.

The figures made by Ian, Miranda, Brianna, Zachary and I

Tammy didn’t have a spot at the table, so she went after, making a cat offering a box of chocolates.

Working title: “Please clean my cat box”

The kids tried to make the best of it, but the air horribleness rating was 10+ for much of the week.


Friday we were up early and off to Swartz Bay to walk onto the Spirit of British Columbia for a trip to the Tsawwassen Mills mall. I didn’t really have much of an agenda for the trip: the CrossIron Mills mall in Calgary is almost identical. I was just happy to have an outing. Tristan wanted to go to the Bass Pro Shops store, and I am always happy to check out the big fish tank and amazing store dressing.

Ian was the biggest winner of the day: he got two more trips on the ferry, and we shot a couple more time lapses. He also got to experience virtual reality at Virtual-Land. He has been on about VR for a little while. I think his school friends think VR is cool, and Ian thought VR was cool because of that. We went into the store, and sat in the little egg-shaped pods and strapped on the goggles for a “roller-coaster” ride. It was a lot more wild than a normal roller coaster (as you might expect), including with the ride falling apart and you plunging into a canyon, as well as a dragon and a giant spider. About halfway through, I was starting to feel a bit of motion sickness, but I was okay. When I pulled the goggles off at the end and Ian did the same, he was grey. 🤢 Let’s just say that:

  1. We just walked around the mall for a while and he had some water to drink.
  2. He’s not that excited about  VR any more.

The last day was a veg day: we slept late and had a appetizer and hot dog lunch at Stephanie and played video games. We got to see Walter the bearded chameleon.

As close as we got to a group photo

Then it was back to Dad’s for dinner and starting the packing process.

Everyone’s in the car and ready to go

The trip home was wet. We made good time: 15 hours door to door. We left just before 6:30 am and caught the 8 o’clock ferry (the Coastal Celebration). We enjoyed the Pacific Buffet for breakfast; Ian had been “suggesting” it for weeks. But even he commented that it was pretty expensive. Oh well, it fueled us up for the day of driving.

It started raining in Surrey and didn’t really let up at all. From Rogers Pass through Golden and Kicking Horse Pass, Yoho and Banff, our speed was lower because of the water standing on the road. We lost daylight in Banff and then it was dark and wet, with sometimes torrential rain. It was a white-knuckle drive for the last three hours or so.

Misty mountains in the Fraser Valley

At least it wasn’t smoky… We stopped at Petro Canada in Hope, Subway in Kamloops, Timmy’s in Salmon Arm, Petro Canada in Revelstoke, McDonald’s in Golden and a rest area on the BC-Alberta border. It was raining in Calgary as we unloaded the bikes and the luggage from the car, then crashed into bed.

Tammy has fetched Squeak from the kennel. She seems okay, if somewhat unsettled. My back is killing me today. I can barely make it up and down the stairs. Perfect for writing a blog post, though.

The Next Few Days

It’s been pretty busy the last couple of days, without long stretches where blog post writing would make sense. The biggest story has to be the smoke, because it has been wreaking havoc with any plans we might have had. The last real outdoor activities that happened before the smoke level went to 10+ and stayed there were Tammy and Miranda walking down to Penelope’s Book Stop and Ian and I went out to Sooke for a bike ride. We parked on Amethyst Drive, across from our old house. Ian wanted to have a look and so did I.

We went for a ride around Otter Point Road and Kemp Lake Road. It was 17 km but with a lot of up and down. And not a lot of paved shoulder. My bad.

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Rest Day… With a Car Show and Lake Visit

There’s nothing like taking a relaxing day on vacation. We were tired from the bike ride and so today was a less energetic day. But that didn’t mean that we didn’t have some fun.

Last year, when Dad was looking after Ian during the Tour de Victoria, they went to the car show in Langford. This year, with the bike ride moving from Sunday to Saturday, that meant that the whole family could check it out! It was held on Goldstream Avenue and the side streets off it, just a short walk from Dad’s place.

There were probably about 100 cars, as old as from 1903 and up to more modern cars like a Dodge Viper and 2000-era Ford Mustang. There were tons of Camaros and Firebirds and Mustangs. We wandered around, taking in the steel and paint and chrome.

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Alleged Scenery

Never before has one family driven so far and seen so little on the road from Calgary to Vancouver.

Yesterday, we made the trip to Victoria to begin our summer vacation. It was the typical early morning start, but the kids were excited to be on their way.

We had four bikes to take with us this year. Ian’s bike was strapped to the roof, and Miranda’s, Tammy’s and mine on the rear. The air quality in Calgary has been horrible due to forest fires in BC, and even through there was no cloud cover last night, there were no stars visible when we left. Just a blanket of smoke.

Even though we went through Banff and Yoho National Parks, we only saw the vaguest outlines of mountains.

The view on the highway

The traffic was less, and the construction resulted in a few slowdowns but nothing more. We made great time, getting to Tsawwassen by 4:00. Figures, that this is the year that we made a BC Ferries reservation for the 7 pm. We were checking the status on the ferries throughout the day, and there were consistent two-sailing waits.

Given that, when we got to Tsawwassen, we elected to stop and have dinner and do a bit of beer shopping before making our way to the terminal. Tammy and I had been listening to The Incomparable episode Tastes Like College, wherein a panel was tasting a selection of brews, provided by a California microbrewery brewmaster. It is an entertaining episode, with lots of interesting information about how beer is made and how it changes the way beer tastes. So Tammy was on the hunt for a sour, a saison and a milk stout.

Our ferry ride was very nice. Ian was thilled, of course. We were on the Spirit of British Columbia, and got to see the Queen of New Westminster and the Coastal Inspiration leave their births.

We made it to Dad’s a little after 9:30, and were hitting the hay by 10:30. It was a long day, but very good.

Today was the day to prepare for the Tour de Victoria. It was a bunch of little things, but made for a busy morning. Tammy and I kicked it off by walking to Tim Hortons for coffee while everyone else was asleep. After breakfast, I went over the bikes and everybody test-rode their bikes. Then we all got in the car. Danny the barber wasn’t busy so I got a haircut while everyone else went for a short walk. Then we drove downtown and drove the outbound leg of Ian’s ride so that he could see it. Then it was going to Trek Bicycles for the checkin. It was busy there, but in 40 minutes we were all ready.

The numbers are on the jerseys and bikes. Time to relax and visualize tomorrow’s ride.