Tag Archives: manitoba

12 Days at the Ponderosa 2018

Cousins 2018
We spent the first 12 days of August in Manitoba visiting my family. Astrid had a blast playing with her cousins, running around pantless, eating peas and raspberries from the garden, and riding the tractor with Gigi.

Day 1
In-flight entertainment
The flight went pretty smoothly into Winnipeg. Astrid was excited when Gigi picked us up at the airport. We were the first ones to arrive at my parents place (affectionately called the Ponderosa) so Astrid had first choice of beds and picked the room with a bunk bed hidden behind a bookshelf.
Bunk Bed

Day 2
Holding Hands

Kelsey managed to get Jacob and Nora to Winnipeg from Kamloops all by herself. Jacob and Astrid were quickly running around together and Nora was crawling around a few feet behind them.

2018-08-01 18.25.39

Potty Training Partners

Astrid and Jacob both saw huge leaps in their potty training as they spent the 2 weeks running around without pants and copying each other.

Day 3
Sunflower Family
Kerry, Megan, Katie, and Tyler arrived from Winnipeg completing the family gathering.

Katie and Tyler were quick to setup a workout bootcamp for everyone to follow (except Emily who somehow managed to nap through it with Astrid)

Day 4
Beach Family Time
We spent the morning at Sandy Lake enjoying the beach. Unfortunately the lake was dark green from algae bloom that has plagued the lake all summer and sadly has become normal due to fertilizer runoff from the nearby farms.Green Lake Paddle
Manitoba Rash
We went swimming anyway and the next day my arms broke out in rashes that lasted until I got back to Vancouver. I also started suffering from hay fever symptoms (itchy eyes, runny nose) which I’ve never had before. Although that could have been from an accumulation of allergens like dust and pet dander.

Swimming was also not good for Baba. She hurt her foot after falling off the paddleboard onto a rock and spent the rest of our visit hobbling around with a walker or cane.

Rolled Ankle

Day 5
Forming a Band

Tractor Ride
The kids spent the day running around the Ponderosa – playing music, having a tea party, riding on the tractor, helping in the garden, building a blanket fort.

Toy Room

There is lots to keep them amused, including the most amazing kids room full of the best toys from my childhood and some new ones. It also has a little slide, cupboards to climb in, clothes to dress up, and chalkboard panels to draw on.

Day 6
Christmas in August Dinner
It’s Christmas in August. The whole point of getting everyone together in August was to replace our normal Christmas gathering. My parents live off-the-grid in Manitoba and winters are not only harsh but a time of scarcity. In the summer they have abundant solar energy, hot water, and a garden full of produce.

Perogy Making

So we made perogies and cabbage rolls, and ate a Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner (the borscht was served at lunch).

Day 7
Ponderosa Picnic
We had a nice picnic until the mosquitoes found us. They weren’t bad near the house, but you got eaten alive in the garden and trees.

Tent Scramble
We set up a tent, so Emily, Astrid, and I could camp one night. It wasn’t as comfortable as sleeping in the house, but Astrid had fun. It also served as another play area for the kids.

Day 8
Kinosao Lake
Emily and I left Astrid with the grandparents and went into Riding Mountain National Park to do a little hike. We saw the bison herd, a momma bear with 3 cubs, and a crystal clear Manitoba lake (so they do exist).

Gigi Singalong
Meanwhile the grandkids enjoyed more quality time with Baba and Gigi.

Day 9
Trans Canada Trail
Another day trip for Emily and I. This time we did a long bike trip along the Trans Canada Trail from Elphinstone to Sandy Lake.

Day 10
Mixing the Dough Rising Bread Mom Baking Bread Fresh Bread
We got to watch Baba make bread in the traditional clay oven at the Sandy Lake Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Museum.

Day 11
Ponderosa Paddle

Astrid paddling
We went for our second canoe ride on the lake, this time with Astrid. It took a few tries to get her into the boat but once she was in she loved helping dada row row. The Ponderosa has a surprisingly large lake with lots of little bays and inlets to explore. We thought we could circumnavigate the whole thing, but after 2 hours of paddling we explored less than half of it.

Coulson Family Gathering
My extended family had converged in Sandy Lake for Western Days and had a reunion and bonfire at the farm.

Day 12
2018-08-10 15.17.45
We caught the beginning of the Western Days parade before we had to hurry to Brandon to catch our flight back to Vancouver.

We had a great time in Manitoba. We love spending time with our nieces and nephews, and seeing Astrid bond with them. The food, weather, and company were excellent. Astrid misses the peas, being Baba’s little helper, jumping on Gigi, chasing after Jacob, and running around naked.

More photos
Logging Protest
Astrid staging her first naked logging protest.

Watering the Garden with a Firehose
Watering the garden with water pumped from the lake.

Gigi want a carrot?

3 generations doing dishes
Astrid helping with dishes while standing on the helper stool that Gigi made.

Full photo album

A Week at the Ponderosa

Family Photo

It was great spending a week with my parents at their off-the-grid home in Manitoba (read their homesteading blog). It was the first¬†visit for Astrid and Emily’s first time being there in the summer (I think she prefers the mosquitoes to the -40 C and snow). The house is still under construction, but is looking great. Since Christmas, they’ve¬†added gorgeous wood railings that my dad made (you can imagine how much work it is to sand and install all those spindles) and cork flooring on the main floor.

Handmade wood railings
Now there is lots of room for kids to play.
And still plenty of hiding spots for a game of sardines.

Continue reading A Week at the Ponderosa

Christmas in Manitoba

Hoarfrost Skyline
Brrrr…. A few weeks ago I thought Vancouver was cold when the temperature hovered around 0 C. I’ve become soft and forgotten what real cold feels like. A week in Manitoba with -30 C temperatures quickly reminded me.
Frozen Lake Panoramic

I had a great Christmas visiting with family but I’m grateful to be back in relatively balmy Vancouver. Emily and I spent a week staying with my parents in their somewhat winterized, off-the-grid retirement cabin in rural Manitoba. The new additions this year were a wood boiler for heat and a composting toilet. The composting toilet made the washroom smell of hamster cage, but it was way better than trekking to the outhouse.
Frosted Ponderosa Composting Toilet Chilly Outhouse Boiler Room

Christmas was pretty quiet this year. My cousin and their newborn baby ran into car problems in Yorkton and had to turn around on Christmas Eve. So the only noise and excitement was provided by the puppies. My dad spent most of Christmas Eve dinner yelling at Hanna to sit and my mom kept telling my dad to be quiet. It was amusing.
Ponderosa Family Kensi and Sheryl Lazy Dog Hanna Frisbee Queen

We had a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner with kutya, perogies, borscht, cabbage roles, and the other meatless dishes. With all the dietary constraints in the family (vegans, celiacs, and nut allergies) there were lots of variants this year. We made vegan, gluten-free perogies and red rice kutya.
Perogy Making Bee Gluten-Free Vegan Perogies Baba Perogy Boiler Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner

When it was cold out, we spent the time inside relaxing, playing board games, doing puzzles, and cooking.
Puzzle Time Frosty Morning Meditation Salad Role Making Skinny Jeans

When the temperature went above -20 we bundled up and strapped on the snowshoes or grabbed the toboggans and went outside for some fresh air. There wasn’t a lot of snow, but the trees were all covered with hoar frost and looked beautifully eerie.
Frosty Walk Porters Winter Jump Frosty
Manitoba Snowshoeing Hoarfrost in Manitoba Snow Angel More Hoarfrost

We built a giant bonfire, but the wood was too icy and the flames never got very high.
Bonfire Acrobat Bonfire Builders Big Bonfire Burning Bonfire

More Pictures of Christmas 2012.

Mandating Helmet Debates

Biking the Blossoms
Get ready for the great helmet debate, round 243. If you’re just joining us, Momentum Magazine has the best article summarizing the reasons for and against helmet laws, and explaining why we’re still arguing about it.

Today, the NDP government in Manitoba announced that soon it will be illegal for anyone under 18 to ride a bike without a helmet. I couldn’t be more disappointed. I have nothing against helmets, I wear one every day, but mandating their use won’t make cycling safer, it will just discourage some people from cycling at all.

I learned to ride in the mean streets of Winnipeg and often biked around the city, including to my co-op job when I was 19 – from Meadows West to the Exchange District. For a large portion of that ride I used the sidewalks because there were no bike lanes and biking along Keewatin was (and likely still is) suicide. Most cyclists I know in the Peg (other than my hardcore Aunt) ride on the sidewalk sometimes. Everyone knows it’s a bad idea (including Ryan fu*king Gosling), but helmeted or not, Winnipeg lacks safe bike routes.

Only hours before the Manitoba government announced it’s new helmet law, a cyclist was killed biking to work in Winnipeg. No word if she was wearing a helmet, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered. She was hit by a car and pushed under a semi-trailer that crushed her without even noticing. The area where it happened is a bike lane deadzone. There is a bike route (the laziest form of bike infrastructure – a sharrows) for a few blocks on Higgins, but it disappears before it gets to Main (where she was hit). Bike routes in Winnipeg frequently just stop. There is not network or grid.

The lack of infrastructure is the biggest safety problem, not lack of helmet use. If the Manitoba government was serious about cyclist safety, it would help the City of Winnipeg fix the damn bike lanes. There’s only so much a styrofoam lid can do when you are hit by several tonnes of steel.

Here in Vancouver, we have a good grid of bike routes, separated lanes downtown, and cycling is relatively safe. There’s a push to get rid of the mandatory helmet law, or at least add exceptions to it, because it is making a public bike share system unworkable. It’s not going to be an easy change to make, and I’m pissed off that Manitoba is falling into the same trap.

Spinning My Wheels

On Friday, I went to a rocking Joel Plaskett concert at the Commodore. I didn’t realize how dorky he looked – but the toons were sweet and I had a blast.

Then, on Saturday Emily and I decided to ferry over to Vancouver Island and spend our Victoria Day weekend in Victoria. It rained most of the time, but we explored the city and ate some amazing vegetarian food – I would have made the trip just to eat at rebar. I was amazed at how easy (and cheap) it is to get to Victoria using public transit. A 90 minute bus ride from downtown Vancouver to the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen ($1.80 bus ticket), then a 90 minute ferry to Swartz Bay ($11.95), and then a 60 minute bus ride into Victoria ($3.00). The scenery on the ferry rides is breathtaking – especially when you’re weaving through the islands.

Emily and I noticed a few weird things about Victoria. Downtown was packed with hemp clothing stores and athletic gear shops. Most people we saw were either super fit or super fat (maybe those were the tourists). We kept seeing roving gangs of moped riders. There are teenagers everywhere (maybe Vancouver is just devoid of teens). Even on a tourist infested long weekend, shops closed early on Sunday and didn’t open at all on the holiday Monday.

Cycling Lanes

What “bike friendly” looks like – “What if the occasional street had a three-foot-wide “walking lane” painted on the asphalt, between the moving cars and the parked ones?”

Is the SkyTrain the Limit? – Analysis of public transit in Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle.

NDP wins historic 3rd majority in Manitoba – Huge victory. 6 new NDP MLA’s elected – including 5 women and 2 visible minorities. 3 new PC MLA’s elected – all old, white men.

Lament for a nation – Former Conservative MP describes how Harper is destroying our democracy.