Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How to have winter fun (10 yr old version)

Put camera on winter helmet, grab toboggan and walk waaaay up to the top:

Slide down - aim for the mogul!

See what happens next:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bug photos

I love it when I have time to bring out my good camera and play around with it.
Here are some faves from the other day.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

This is what 65 years of marriage looks like

I took some time out to celebrate, with my parents, the 65 years they have been married. Wow! 65!
Here's what you do when you've been married for 65 years:
Your grandchildren make fancy cards...

Your daughter(s) deliver your groceries. Apparently sons don't do this ;) Which worries me because I'm going to have to borrow daughters if I ever make it that far!

You have tea with your honey...

You truly enjoy those good wishes from your grandchildren and you talk about how special they are...

You pull out the bible that the minister gave you when you got married, and you admire it's art and it's intention, even though the spine is barely cracked (guess they didn't open it much!)...

And you remember how you actually got married TWICE. Once at the stadhuis (town hall), like everyone did on Wednesdays in Gouda (August 18, 1948 was a Wednesday - this is the day my parents have always celebrated), and again at the church 10 days later in front of the entire congregation, per the orders of the groom's mother...

 And you watch your favourite sport on TV: Voetbal! Manchester United vs Swansea...

Through the window, you admire the sunflowers you first planted many, many years ago in your garden...

And you get to eat cake, a decadent, delicious, european black forest cake, at two in the afternoon...

You are completely blown away as you check out your old neighbourhood, a few time zones away, thanks to street view...

You cook dinner for your love bug...

While he watches the birds at the feeder...

And stops to eat a blueberry or two from the backyard thatch...

And then you keep smiling because this adventure isn't over yet!
Happy 65th Anniversary Janny & Izak!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A bit of Jager musical history

This is a photo of my Grandfather and his orchestra in Gouda, taken likely around 1934. My father, who is 91 now, figures this photo was taken when his father was 45 years old.

My grandfather, Johannes Josephus Jager, is that serious looking fellow right there in the middle. I never knew him, he died before I was born, but this is what I know about him:

He began playing violin as a child and was a gifted player right from the start.
He was temperamental and a perfectionist.
A life lived entirely in and around music, he studied at the Dutch royal conservatory.
He married a deeply religious woman, my grandmother, yet he wanted nothing to do with God.
A master at chess, he often played well into the nights with friends, filling the room with a blue hue of smoke because he smoked so much.
He didn't drink much, but enjoyed a glass of 'jenever' (Dutch gin) every now and then.
He was a music teacher but refused to teach his own children music.
Speaking of which, he had seven kids, one of them was my Dad.
Johannes suffered the heartbreak of the death of one of those children, my Dad's sister, who died at the young age of 17 of a heart problem (my Dad was 18 at the time). Her death was an extremely sad event for the family and it was in the middle of the Second World War to boot.
My Grandfather lived in a grand Gouda home downtown with his family, teaching music while my Grandmother managed their music store on the main level.
Johannes, or Jo as he was called among friends, started his performance career playing music in the theatre during silent movies.
He later founded his orchestra, possibly called the Gouda Symphony Orchestra and conducted for 7 years. I believe he did that in the 1930s but I'm not sure.
While he and his family survived the war, he later died of a stomach ailment, likely cancer, at the age of 65, in the 1950s.

I have a gazillion cousins in Holland on both sides of the family. There are many Jagers who pursued music and inherited my Grandfather's violins. I would love to connect with them to learn more and there has been some talk of getting cousins together soon - I hope so.

Perfect motivation to really learn Dutch, and not just the swear words!

Consider this the beginning of Operation Jenever -- Gouda in 2014?

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

20 minutes with my kids

On a recent drive home from Scotiabank Place, the kids peppered us with questions. You know those moments when you barely have time to answer, and another completely unrelated question is fired off?

Yeah that.

It's the marvel of childhoood: Kids live in the moment, don't they? It's adorable!

It's also one of the more challenging aspects of parenting: The distractions... the Mom, Mom, Mom (etc), Hey Mom...MOM!

We've learned to laugh at those times when a thousand "Moms" are finally answered by spaced-out-me, and the boys respond with a resounding, "I forget." Around here, we call that "pulling a Stewie," a nod to this.

It gets a bit better as kids get sniff! older, but the distractions still make me spacey.

The constant interruptions, not being able to complete a thought, the questions, oh, the questions.

So here's an example of 20 minutes with my kids. In the car. Where there was nowhere for me to go.

And when my answers just fizzled into the next question on their minds, I simply shut my mouth and started taking notes.

Distracted much?

And yes, these questions are in the order of their asking.

Think fast!

"Do you think that people have gone to the North Pole to look for Santa's workshop?"
"What happens to the poo and pee after it goes through the treatment plant?"
"How does an earthquake happen?"
"What age was I at when I started walking?"
"Why is Scotiabank Place so far?"
"Is Dalton McGuinty the tax man?"
"Is that K on the new Ikea bigger than our house?"

Now excuse me as I find a comfy corner and enjoy some silence.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

2012's secret weapon

Happy New Year everyone!
Have you lost the holiday pounds yet?
hmmmnnwhhnnnnnnnnnnuuuummmmmmm I haven't.
For me, it's not really holidays pounds as much as winter pounds writ large. Um, literally.
There's also my ever-present chicane with cholesterol. It's a genetic thing, can't do much about it. But I can and must exercise!
So what's my secret weapon to battle the bulge & the LDLs this year?
Check out this stationary free wheeler:
Vintage CCM baby!
I scored it from my parents' place. They've had it for years and their mobility is so limited now, they can't use it anymore.
My Dad was happy to see it go and put to good use. He said he had it in his room and looked at every day and every day it was a reminder that he never got on it.
That's not to say it didn't have a life before me. According to the odometer, my parents had logged 1,408 km! And that's just when they were in their 70s!
So now the bike sits in my bedroom. It works like a charm and I've been happily spinning when I get the chance - 20 min here and there, 30 min at most so far. It's a perfect winter activity (read, indoors) and great for this time in my life when I have to be around with my kids and can't leave them to go exercise.
I like the way it looks. I checked out the newer ones and they have a lot of plastic moulding around them, for whatever reason, I'm not sure because it's not like it has to be aerodynamic or anything. Maybe a nice way to collect dust?
But oh no, this classic hunk of metal has minimal plastic, and good 'ol fashion dials.
No buttons, nothing to plug in. I can move it easily around in any room and I love it!
Now I need more cycling tunes to keep me unbored while I'm on it. Feel free to share!
My arteries will thank you.
And so will my Dad.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A last conversation

A good friend died suddenly last week.
It was unexpected and devastating.

Mike was 42, not sick nor sickly, and in a really good place in his life.
He and his wife and two young daughters, age 5 and 1, had just settled into a house they bought, in a neighbourhood they loved, in east Ottawa.
Mike loved the house for its big backyard, the friendly neighbours, and the street where he could eventually teach his girls how to ride a bike.

Since he died, it's been a week of denial, shock, and the funeral.
The sadness, unfortunately, will continue for some time.

In quiet moments since then, I've taken some time to reflect on our friendship.
I've read over some recent emails from him, looked at photos, and thought about our last conversation.
This is how that conversation went:

It was a Wednesday night, a few days before he died. He'd called to see how the Prince concert went.
He was a huge music fan and was regretting not having gone to the concert when he had been so close to buying tickets.

He'd wanted to hear all about it. So I told him how great it was, and how I got busted by security for taking a short video.
He told me that the only band to allow photos at their concerts was the Grateful Dead (he was a big fan of them so I took his word for it and learned something new).
From then on, whenever I told my "busted by security" story, I also shared that Grateful Dead fact, thanks to Mike.

I had a smile on my face the whole time I was talking to him, it was a really pleasant conversation.

It was interrupted by his daughter, who was thinking of every excuse not to eat her dinner. Mike would pause to urge her to finish her food in that Daddy-means-business deep voice of his.
He told me that they were worried that she wasn't eating enough, not gaining weight, and then he said, "Oh, there she goes. The 'I gotta go to the bathroom' excuse again."
I said to him that he shouldn't worry too much about it, kids come 'round, etc.

He also told me about how his wife had been in a car accident. He said he was talking to her while it happened. A car rear-ended her car on the Queensway.
Luckily she was fine and the car was fixed.

2011 was a challenging year for them - there were some health issues that led to Mike not being able to drive. There was Cindy's knee injury, a nasty neighbour at the old place, and the big move into the new place.

Because of all that, I'd said to Mike that night that not one more bad thing could happen to them, "okay?" He laughed and said, yes, OK, as if he was promising me that he'd do his best.

And then he was off to paint the family room green - one more step in settling into their new home and making it their own.

And that was that.

A regular conversation, friendly and easy.

When I handed the phone to hubs after that, I was thinking how Mike had really become such a pleasant and wonderful guy.

I think a lot of that had to do with him becoming a Dad.
He was both humbled by parenting and thrilled with it.

It feels so raw and unfair that so much has been taken away with his passing.
I'll miss him lots.
My husband is missing a best friend.
Nothing about this is going to be easy.

After his own funeral, I was gathering my things after saying a bunch of goodbyes. I was going through who I still had to say bye to and thought to myself, "OK, I said bye to Tom, and Kim, and Cindy, and oh wait, I have to say bye to Mike."
I stopped myself and caught my breath.
I wept.
I got it together for a few more goodbyes.
Then made my way out into this "new normal."

Here's one of what is now one of my favourite photos of Mike, taken last summer on my back deck, with his youngest baby girl barely a month old at the time.
Just look at him being a cuddly Dad and a fun friend!

We're all better people for knowing him. It's a privilege cherished now more than ever.
Bye, Jenkeye.

In memory of Mike and in support of his daughters Lucy and Violet, donations to a special Trust Account at any RBC location would be appreciated. Please provide the branch with this information: RBC 5085287, branch/transit # 02124, RBC 003. The account is open until mid-January.