First Taste: Homemade Cider

When Tammy was taking me home after my cycling ride today, I asked her when we wanted to crack open the first bottle of our cider. I know that I’ve been a bit nervous about it:

  • Would it taste good?
  • Would the yeast work with the sugar tabs to make the cider sparkling?

Well, the first good sign was the psht of escaping CO2 when the bottle cap came off.

Fizzy cider

As for the taste, it’s quite dry. I don’t mind it, but Tammy prefers a sweet cider. We’ll know for next time to take steps to enhance the sweetness. But I’d say that the cider is a success!

Stampede Activity: BC/DC at the Wildhorse Saloon Tent

For the second year in a row, Tammy and I had a night out during Stampede courtesy of Bow Cycle. Kurt secured a bunch of tickets, and the BCC Ambassadors had the first crack at them. We had fun last year, so I put my hand up.

First step was heading downtown on the C-Train. We walked up (it was a lovely evening) and met with the group at the Oak Tree Tavern in Kensington. Tammy and I shared a “Date Night” pizza (blue cheese, bacon and roasted garlic) along with a couple of ciders. We had a good time talking with Hannah and Ashley, who were sitting across from us.

Then we all walked over to the Wildhorse Saloon tent. Tammy wasn’t too happy about that part: her boots aren’t made for walkin’, and so we ambled rather than strode.

Phil, Hannah, Ashley and Tammy on the Peace Bridge

We got there, and it was the same as last year: nice and airy (it’s a huge tent, the size of a gymnasium) but loud with the music and people’s (shouted) conversations. Expensive drinks. There was the obligatory people-watching. As a couple of people who have been in a committed relationship for 27 years… we don’t envy people trying to find love at Stampede.  😝

But we were there for the band. The band was BC/DC, an AC/DC tribute band that has been playing together for 20 years from Nelson, BC. They went on at 9:00, but not before the canned white-bread country music that was playing switched to some Queen and Bon Jovi first to warm up the crowd. 🤘

View of the stage before the show

It was loud. The sound was not nearly as good as when we watched the Scorpions in 2010, but more in line with the opening band (Dokken) at that concert. But we had a great time anyways. We ended up on the floor, about 20 feet back from the stage. Tammy couldn’t see much, since I didn’t hoist her on my shoulders. But they had a number of cameras and were projected on the big screen.

The show

Ian asked me to list all of the songs they played, but that was difficult. Highway to Hell, Back in Black, You Shook Me All Night Long, If You Want Blood, You Got It, High Voltage, Hells Bells, Shoot to Thrill, For Those About to Rock, Thunderstruck, Bad Boy Boogie… It was an hour and a half at high speed.

When the encore was over, Tammy and I headed for the exit. We were both sweated out and ready to hit the hay. I had a bike ride in the morning and neither of us had slept well the night before thanks to my stuffed up nose and snoring…

I caught a little bit of the concert. It’s the intro to Hells Bells, which is one that Ian and I sometimes play with him on the drums and me on guitar.

Finally, Calaway Park

With the weather being a crock more times than not and the fact both weekend days are taken up by cycle club rides, we hadn’t had a chance to get to Calaway Park this season – until today. Last night I said that if the weather today were tolerable that I’d take the kids. Well, it was tolerable. We had moments of “oh, those clouds don’t look too good” throughout the morning, but by 10 we were off. TDF had recorded for the day and we had a full tank of gas. We got there about 10.45 and stayed until 12.15. It was a short day as I have to get things prepared for class tonight. I went on 4 rides and the kids on 6 each. It was a pretty good time to go. I think the combination of the weather and Stampede kept the numbers low. Let’s hope for more better weather so we can go again.

 

Canada Day 2019

I am not sure how to summarize Canada Day this year, other than it was a good day spent together (mostly) as a family. Mother Nature had a spoiler role to play as well. The original plan (if you can call it that) was to hop on our bikes and roll downtown. The festivities are spread out across Prince’s Island Park, the Riverfront and Fort Calgary. When we went downtown for Canada Day when Stephanie and the kids visited a few years ago, we really got footsore trying to get to everything. There had been alternate suggestions of spending part of the day in Banff, Cochrane or even Drumheller.

But we’re a family of homebodies. And the suggestion was made that we stay home and play board games instead. As the Canada Day Activity Coordinator in Chief, I suppose I was a bit disappointed, but I couldn’t fault the desire to spend time together. We walked out to Sobey’s for some groceries (buns, pickles, snacks). The weather was perfect.

All of us in red shirts. Good thing this isn’t Star Trek

We extended the walk a bit just because it was so nice. We played Rainbow Towers (a version of Jenga) before lunch, and had some hot dogs while watching the National Film Board of Canada film The Sand Castle. You can’t get more Canadian than that. The Miranda’s friends Dennam and Jordan showed up and all the kids went for a bike ride to the playgrounds over in Watermark. When they returned, we picked up the games with Castle Panic (we won-the castle withstood the invasion) before sub sandwiches.

But it was during the late afternoon that Mother Nature showed up and wasn’t happy. The weather turned foul, with hurricane force winds, light rain and the temperature dropping from 20 degrees to 8 degrees. We thought that there was no chance of fireworks, but the weather leveled out a bit after dinner. It was still chilly, but just overcast. Tammy wasn’t feeling well (she’s on some iron pills from the doc) and Miranda wanted to stay home. But Ian wanted to see the fireworks in Cochrane.

He and I bundled up and spent a few hours at the festivities in Cochrane. We walked around for a bit, and managed to find a frisbee to play with for a while. We watched the headline band Daring Greatly from where we were playing and later from up close.

A thin crowd under a threatening sky

In the end, Ian got his wish and we saw the fireworks. We were up close.

Happy 🇨🇦 Day!

Luging at COP

A couple of days ago Sepideh texted me about setting up play dates and activities that we could do with the kids over the summer. At some point next week we’ll set up some cycling playdates for Ian and Ilia.

Today was our first group outing. We were going to go to the Rec Room, but since it was a nice day it was changed to luging at COP. It was a new experience for most of us.
At first it was just going to be the kids luging. We got them a ticket for 3 rides each. They got fitted with a helmet, got onto the chair lift, and went to the top of COP. Sepideh was dolled up in a dress, so she had to buy a t-shirt and sweatpants in the ski shop before we could go. We bought ourselves a ticket for 2 rides and followed the kids uphill.

From above it seemed like the people were going so slowly, but once you were on the track that was not the case. Everyone got a mini lesson on how to “drive” the karts before you set off.  Some people drove like bats out of hell and others were very cautious. There were no collisions.  It was fun, but the vibration was hard on your hands and butt.  Two times was enough for me.

Afterwards we went for refreshments at McDonalds before being dropped off home.  The kids shared a pop and had a chocolate waffle cone each.  I had a sugar-free iced coffee.  Sepideh had a smoothie and poutine and Ilia had a McFlurry.

Last (half) Day of School

Not that this week has been overly taxing (except maybe for Miranda) at school, but now it’s over. I took the standard “last day of school” photo before they headed off today. It’s actually Miranda’s last day of middle school (Ian has 3 more). It’s off to Sir Winston Churchill High School this fall. Now what to do with them over the break…

Piano Recital 2019

It’s the end of the piano “season”, and that meant our annual pilgrimage to downtown to watch the Viva Musica recital. This year was the first that Miranda was not in classes, so it was Ian’s opportunity to impress.

I noticed this year he was somewhat apprehensive and was doing quite a bit of practicing in that days leading up to this. But you know what they say: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!

Here we are, ready for the show.

Ian killed it. If you watch the video, you’ll see him stop, focus, and then nail it.

Congratulations, Ian. I’m very proud of you.

All the kids who played in the recital today and their teachers

And they’re outdoor cats!….sort of

It all started with an idea that formed pretty quickly when I saw a youtube video on DIY cat runs. Discussed it with Tristan and a plan was formulated. The cat door goes through the dinning room window and it is well blocked off and wedged so no intruders can get in (or bugs). The cat run has many levels with artificial turf and wire mesh so they can’t get out and nothing can get in. We added a door so if they refuse to come in we can grab them.

Boooom ⛈

We were woken up at five this morning by a thunderstorm going over. Nothing like the weird sensation of someone taking flash photography in your bedroom followed by an explosion of sound.

Hope the weather improves before Saturday’s Gran Fondo Badlands.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. My day has been good: maybe awake a little early, but nothing unpleasant. Everyone was up by seven. It’s Sunday so Miranda had a BCC ride at nine. We were all going to ride down with her and then go for a little ride and stop for coffee on the way home. The kids and Tammy all got me some cards and some gifts.

Miranda’s card to me

I got some new shaving gel, some beard oil, deodorant and a new shower puff. Some half-caf coffee, too. As a joke (not really, but okay) they put some ribbons on my new wheels out in the garage. 😄

We were getting ready for our family ride, when I saw that on WhatsApp, Tara was calling for more ride leaders today. There were two different cycling events on today: the Ghost of the Gravel ride north of Cochrane, and the Branch Out Bike Tour in Panorama. Add that to Father’s Day, and we had only two confirmed leaders and one was sick. So as Tammy said, I “did the honourable thing” and volunteered. We ended up with four leaders and about twenty or so riders, and it was a beautiful morning. I led one group and Miranda was in the other one. Tammy and Ian went for a ride together.

Lunch was special: Tammy made some homemade pizzas and a ridiculous four-layer mint & chocolate fudge cake. I’m doing my best to digest that now.

All in all a good day. Now to relax with a beverage. 🍺

I made Dad a card this year. Here was the feature picture. 1978, just outside of Sealand in Oak Bay.

A couple of stylish gents, by 1978 standards

Updated

At 7:30 pm, I got an automated email from Mark’s Work Wearhouse with a final gift from Ian: a gift certificate. I need some new shorts in the worst way.

We also watched Megamind at “dinnertime” (we were still full from lunch, so popcorn was on the menu). And later, Tammy, Miranda and I finished watching Good Omens on Amazon Prime Video. Both are quality shows…