Defining moment: Popeye/Olive Oyl at Gizzy’s

Back in the 1980s sometime, I cannot remember my exact age, I stumbled upon a Popeye poseable PVC figure at Gizzy’s convenience store.  I remember wanting this and being told that I would have to save my money to purchase it.

This was a good lesson that Mom was trying to teach me.  Save your money and you can afford the things you want in life!  As a kid, I don’t remember really understanding it at first but the realization quickly came in the form of “Oh man, I have an allowance of 25 cents a week and it costs $1…this will take forever!” (in kid time, of course).

But I diligently saved up my coin and was super excited when the day came that I had saved up enough money to purchase Popeye the Sailor Man.

We went over to Gizzy’s and to my dismay, there were no Popeye figures left to purchase.  There were only Olive Oyl.  Who wants Olive Oyl?

I remember being disappointed, but I also remember leaving with the Olive Oyl figure so I guess I just thought my money needed to be spent on something.

It would be interesting to know if Mom even remembers this moment.  I wonder if she felt disappointed to see that the figure I had saved my money for was long gone.  Or perhaps it wasn’t that big of a deal.

This was a defining moment in my life as it shaped my actions today…I tend to need to get something THE DAY IT COMES OUT in fear of missing out on it.  I remember collecting comic books and walking in -40 degree weather to the corner store on the Wednesday instead of the Thursday in fear of having an issue sold out on me.  I still have a tendency to order things immediately when available on Amazon.  I guess I can trace my behaviour back to this moment in my life.

I always wonder what I’ll do if this experience comes back to haunt me and Sierra asks to buy something in the store but we want her to save her money for it.  I suppose my fear of losing out on this item will make me, the parent, purchase the item secretly in case they do run out of stock.

Sierra’s Sixteenth Month

Honestly, the month kind of flew by for us with some travel, some concerts and the biggest heatwave we have ever experienced.  It was over 30 degrees with no rain for about 17 days here in September.  For all the rain we received throughout the summer, I think Mother Nature decided to give us a break during the month of September.

This helped progress the deck quite a bit and I’m happy at the rate that we are working on it.  But I mustn’t become lazy…I need to get the deck to the hot tub finished before the snow hits!

I’m not sure what to think of Sierra in terms of development in the past month.  I honestly need a book to read to figure out if there are things we should focussing on in terms of brain development.  She hilariously knows where her ‘nombri’ is (bellybutton) but can’t tell us where her nose or ears are.  But she laughs maniacally when ever she touches her bellybutton or my bellybutton or Vero’s belly button so at the end of the day, as long as she’s having a good time, that’s what counts, right?

We don’t really have any complaints with her.  She seems quite sociable around other people and kids, she now goes to the highchair or cupboard to tell us if she is hungry, she sometimes grabs her towel off the wall to show us she wants to have a bath.  She still loves having bath time.

Her hair is finally getting to a point that we need to tie it back.  Barettes didn’t exactly work out yet but that will come along.  She loves Facetiming with family and playing outdoors.  When we get home from work, she’s pretty upset with us if we don’t bring her to her swing in the backyard.  In fact, yesterday I was unlocking the door and she ran away to go to the swing!  I’ve never had to drop everything to chase after her until today!  I’m sure that’s something that will be happening more and more!

She really likes music and particularly likes Arcade Fire’s song “Everything Now”.  She really likes the piano that starts with that song.  She dances up a storm.

She’s been starting to eat yogurt this month and enjoys it immensely.  There are a lot of times where she isn’t a happy camper sitting in her chair while eating but maybe she just doesn’t like to be tied down?

Overall, she’s a happy kid, and we’re happy parents and I’m sure when I start reading a book it’ll put my fears at ease in terms of her development.  Part of me knows that it’s silly to worry about things like that….she’ll learn to do everything in due time.  I just want to make sure she gets a good opportunity to grow up and learn things.  I don’t want to find out that my time just horsing around with her at night could have been better spent by putting some paper and crayons in front of her.

Lynn and Sue had us up for an afternoon.  I think this one of the ten days they were actually at their own house this summer!

Lynn imparting some wisdom on Sierra.

Sierra really likes clips so we came up with the genius idea to have her wear the lifejacket and play with the clips around the house.

It was great to have Mom and Dad visit for a few days on their way back from Gaspe.  Sierra sure loved the visits to the park!

Seriously, there are about 20 variations of this photo because it’s quite impossible to get a decent photo with a kid!

Sierra showing Poppa and Grandma the way home.

Sierra having a conversation with the grandparents.  She’s a talker!  Grandma seems to be the only person who can understand her.

At a rest stop on the way back from Toronto.

Here’s Etienne posing for a picture on our daily walk while we tested out the camera on some new phones.

Our daily ritual of picking up Sierra from daycare.

Testing out a new camera.  She seems to like the flash.

These slo-mo videos are always fun

Uncle Mike over for a quick visit

First time eating cheese! Next up: the grilled cheese sandwich!

Sierra does love her slides.

Sierra’s daily routine of playing in the driveway before supper time.   I love how I decided to keep filming instead of coming to her immediate aid. Woops?

She’s getting pretty good with the spoon!

Dance time!

Sierra helping to wrap up Mom’s birthday gift.

I’m not too sure if Vero liked the fact that I allowed her to play with scissors!

Hanging out after a successful wrapping job

Here’s the cake Sierra baked for Vero

Sierra wearing Mom’s birthday gift!  Perfect fit!


Vero was quite happy with Sierra’s cake

Not too sure what to think about yogurt…

Success!  She loves the yogurt!

Google did a great job pointing out that six months later, Sierra still loves bath time!

Sierra showing me what mulch is all about.

Even in the evening, Sierra pulls this out of the closet and wants a ride!

She’s starting to get the hang of these!  Soon enough she’ll go to her first concert.

I went on a tour of Parliament and this was the best shot I got.

Perfect day for a swing in the backyard!


Review: CityFolk (Corb Lund, Royal Canoe, Matt Mays)

After working all day on the deck I headed into town for my favourite festival…CityFolk!  Bluesfest used to hold the torch for my favourite festival but now that CityFolk has a better beer selection and better overall vibe, this festival now wins the key to my heart.

They changed the layout in recent years so there is a stage set up inside the Aberdeen Pavilion (this used to be the case as well but for the free Marvest concert series, not the paid concerts).  I arrived and went directly to the Ravenlaw stage where Fred Penner was playing.  I never grew up knowing Fred Penner but I know that Trish is a fan so I figured I would stay for a few songs along with Andre and Karilee.

Fred!  Photo taken from

We then headed out to the Great Lawn where I completely forgot one of the reasons I had to come tonight….to see Corb Lund!  Mike introduced me to Corb a few years back and while I don’t generally gravitate to the country genre, he definitely has convinced me that it’s a genre to listen to.  He was playing some tunes along with Ian Taylor.  Andre pointed out that he’s a Canadian icon in the country/folk circles that I would have to get to know.  It’s crazy to think that there are still some musicians in Canada that I don’t know anything about!  It was a great set with each of them trading off singing duties and throwing some good jokes out to the crowd.

Pretty darn close to the stage!

Great shot –

We then headed back to the Ravenlaw stage to check out this band called Royal Canoe.  Now, before I start talking about them, I have to tell you about a feeling that everyone has experienced in their lifetime.  It’s that moment that someone puts on a song, or you see a band and you instantly connect with what they are playing.  You don’t know what it is, you’re not familiar with the tune they are playing, but it’s a moment of instant attraction.  The last time I had that feeling was seeing The Weeknd at Bluesfest back in 2012.

Well, I got sucked into the tractor beam of awesome when Royal Canoe started playing.  It was crazy what was going on musically as well as physically on stage.  I was impressed.  We were all impressed.  I loved how they had two drummers.  I loved the double mic setup with the vocalist.  I loved the clipped on lapel mic for autotuned vocals from the guitarist.  I don’t even know what genre of music this falls into, but it doesn’t matter, I love it.

Pretty darn close to the stage!

We ended up leaving about halfway through to go see Father John Misty and then Karilee and I decided to head back to catch the rest of their set!  Fantastic show and I encourage everyone to take a listen to these guys from Winnipeg.  Also, the singer kind of looks like Prince Harry!

Prince Harry indeed.  Photo from

After the Royal Canoe show I hit up the merch booth and picked up a couple of their albums and we met up with Andre and Dave to watch Father John Misty.  I’m not entirely sure what to think fo this act.  I see his name in the headlines across many music sites in the past year so I know he’s a big deal.  From what I heard, I wasn’t really blown away, but maybe I was just trying to absorb the kinetic energy I had just witnessed on the previous stage and wasn’t in the mood to hear anything else.  I’m sure Father John Misty fans can tell me what I was missing out on!

I left the show a few minutes early to ensure myself a good spot for the main event of the night…Matt Mays!  Yes, he’s back!  He also has a new album coming out next month so I was hoping to hear a few new tunes.  The place was JAM PACKED and Andre and Karilee couldn’t even make it back to where I was standing.

Rocking it.

I love the look of this incarnation of the band.  I feel they were ripped right out of the 80s.  I mean, check out that guy on keyboards!  Andre said he thought it was Wheels from Degrassi.  While we can joke about how he looks, that guy was fantastic on the keys.  He also had a moment to let loose and play a solo that sounded like Eddie Van Halen erupting from whatever keyboard-type instrument he was playing up on stage.  These guys were top notch.

They are loving life, and we were loving it with them.

If you frequent arena shows, then you’re not used to the rock n roll sweat.  That’s what happened at this show…it was jam packed with BTUs emanating from all the human beings in the house and it was sticky, sticky sweaty.  It was awesome when you see Adam Baldwin’s hair just soaked with it and you can see it flying off his hair into the crowd.  The guys were putting on a solid rock show and the people were loving it.  We even got to hear a couple of new tunes which were fantastic and I’m stoked to hear the new album.

The main set ended with Terminal Romance, only my favourite song ever.  I also love the guitarist looking to the heavens in the back of this shot!

The band were on fire all night long and the crowd was into it as well.  Perfect show!

Matt Mays agrees!


Matt Mays setlist

Tall Trees
Sentimental Sins
Drive On
Queen of Portland Street
Take It on Faith
City of Lakes

Cocaine Cowgirl
On The Hood



Review: Arcade Fire at Scotiabank Place

If the crowd at U2 in Detroit ruined my concert going spirits, Arcade Fire brought them back from the brink!

Etienne, his Dad and I headed down to check out Arcade Fire on their Infinite Content tour.  Disclaimer: Upon the first few listens of their new album Everything Now, I really didn’t care for it.  But like most great albums that I don’t like at first, they creep into your psyche and become one of your favourites.  Man, there are some catchy melodies there!

The show was severely lacking in terms of the size of crowd…we even heard some friends who were up in the 300 level were put down into the 100 level as an upgrade to make the place feel more packed.  They closed off the entire 300 level.  That’s a bummer.  Arcade Fire on the Reflektor tour definitely brought a big crowd but maybe with the lacklustre appeal of the new album, lots of people bailed on seeing them.

Oh well, their loss.  This was Arcade Fire at their best.  They had a 360 degree boxing ring style stage and within that stage the center piece would rotate.  Also, with this particular floor layout, it allowed me to go to any side to check out what I wanted to see.  If I wanted to keep an eye on the lead guitarist, I could.  Am I hearing a wild percussion piece going on?  Let’s go check it out.  I really love these types of stages because the viewer a better view.

Check out this stage setup!

The lighting rigs around the arena were insane and resulted in great effects like this.


Who doesn’t like a disco ball?

Drinks weren’t allowed on the floor and I’m not sure why, unless it was to entice us to dance.  Dance we did!

Not sure why the audio crapped out for this video of Reflektor, but at least it gives you a visual of what was going on.

Win giving the crowd at the back some love.


I quite like how this photo turned out.  It encapsulates a little of everything that was going on that night.

My favourite part of the night was when Etienne said “I think they will come out on the floor.  I’m going to get my camera ready.”  Meanwhile, Win does indeed come out on the floor directly behind Etienne.  So while he is busy filming the stage, he completely misses the fact that he waltzes behind him.  It was neat to see him sing a song within the crowd before tearing it up for the last couple of songs back on stage.

If you have the chance to catch the band on their Infinite Content tour, do it!


Review: U2 in Detroit

Labour Day weekend was upon us and it was time to hit the road!  After hearing how amazing the Joshua Tree show in Toronto was in June, I decided to get some tickets to see U2 in Detroit as they had added a few additional tour dates.  Was it foolish to not go to the Toronto show with Claude?  Perhaps!  But that foolishness was soon rectified as we hit the road for Detroit rock city!

Vero, Sierra and I hit the road to head to Ajax on Friday.  We had traveled with Sierra the year before so we thought it was due time to return to see some family.  We’re still trying to see how Sierra is as a traveler.  She pretty much slept all the way to Kingston which was great and we decided to pick up some food and head to a park so she could get out and stretch her legs.  I loved how we met this other family who told us that this park wasn’t exactly in the greatest part of Kingston and that they needed to sweep the area for needles before their kid could crawl around.  Yikes!  Good to know for next time!

But Dad, I don’t want to go back in the car for another couple of hours!

We arrived in Ajax early afternoon and hung out with the Palmer clan.  It was good to see them all without guitar in tow as I find that while I thoroughly enjoy a night of music, I don’t get a lot of one-on-one time with everyone while doing that.

Troy and Connie picked up Sierra’s new favourite toys for the bathtub!

Sierra showing Wendy how to eat corn on the cob….raw!

I didn’t realize what bag I gave Nanny at the time to entertain Sierra!

Of course out of 20 takes of a photo of the three of us, I had to be the one who messed up the best take.

Nanny has her eye on you at all times!

Nanny and Sierra heading out for a stroll.

The next day we headed out to Barrie to see Mackenize, Carson, Ryan and Emilie.  I hadn’t seen all of them for a few years and they have moved to a new house  I wanted to check out.

Best friend forever and still having a great time even if it’s dealing with three kids in a tub.

Sierra checking out what school is all about.

Sierra discovered Madame Emilie’s box of ‘now it’s time to be quiet kids’

Having fun!  It was great hanging out with these munchkins.  They have a lot of energy and it made me realize I need to mentally prepare myself for kids who just want to horse around all the time!

Arriving in the big city!

The next day was the main event…U2 in Detroit!  Claude and I decided to meet at the Yorkdale shopping center which was convenient for him coming off the 401 and convenient for me taking the GO Train from Barrie.  It was the perfect road trip other than a bout of construction on the 401.  But other than that, the four hour trip to Windsor flew by…mostly because we can chatter about every topic like a bunch of ladies knitting for hours on end.

We arrived in Windsor, threw our stuff into the hotel and got the bus over to Detroit.  I find it interesting that you can’t walk over to Detroit considering it’s 2 km from our hotel.  This proved to be quite horrible when we had to get the bus back and it took us nearly 2 hours in traffic after the show.  Ridiculous!

Arriving at the Ford Field, we didn’t check out the downtown core because we didn’t want to miss Beck opening up for U2.  It was pretty smooth sailing throughout the entire night…no lineups for beer, food, or getting down to the floor.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in a US football stadium before and it’s quite amazing how it can fit upwards of 70,000 people.  Most of the people are in the first level.

That second beer was a bad idea considering we knew we would be stuck on the floor all night with no hope of getting back to our spot.  One time in Toronto Claude had to go to the bathroom and I didn’t see him for two hours as he just couldn’t get back to us.  

We had a great spot on the floor for a view standpoint.  I really like how Ford Field feels like you are in a warehouse.  

The stage for the Joshua Tree tour is quite awesome considering that yellow thing you see in the photo is a screen!

Overall, I have to say that the concert was fantastic.  I really enjoyed how they structured the setlist with a few older tunes, the entire Joshua Tree album and then tunes from later in their catalogue.  It was incredible seeing some songs played live for the first time compared to others that I’ve seen 5-6 times.  However, there is one gripe that really affected me during the show.

Man, the Detroit crowd kind of sucks.

Sure, I’m in the extreme for liking to rock out at a concert as my friends can attest, but when the people around you don’t even chant on Pride (In the Name of Love) you know there’s something wrong.  I have this sneaking suspicion that we were sandwiched between what I like to call the hardcore fans…the ones that travel the country to catch every show.  Well, the thing is, if you go see a band 20 times and they play virtually the same setlist every night, I don’t think you’re going to be excited.  I felt like we were surrounded by these people.  There was no excitement around us.  As Claude put it “I think we were the only two people singing along and clapping.”  Let’s just say the religious experience of hearing Streets and having the entire stadium shake beneath your feet did not happen and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Days later I managed to gain a little perspective and realized that it was still probably the best U2 show I have ever seen.

We were just to the right of the small tree stage on the floor.  I quite liked the stage design of the Joshua tree casting a shadow stage on the floor.  Or is it the other way around?

Witness the most powerful stage experience I have ever witnessed….when the black screen sprung to life with this incredible red.  It really hit me.

You know it’s going to get good when this happens!

Our spot on the floor gave us a really cool perspective as the screen would have films that would sway and it made it look like the band was moving across the stage while standing perfectly still.  It’s hard to describe.  I need to find a video to show you.

Always a moving experience when the entire crowd lights up their cellphones at a show.

Other than Patti Smith and absolutely destroying a song, there weren’t many hiccups for a band that was on vacation for a few months.  We left the show immediately feeling upset from the lacklustre crowd and headed back to our hotel which took us 2 hours…then a ride home for 8 hours the next day….but in the end, I feel that it was the greatest U2 show I had witnessed but the best experience still is from the U2 360 tour as the show and the crowd merged into an amazing experience.

Sierra’s 15th Month

The month of August has flown by and that is probably because of thinking of the deck rebuilding project.  However, Sierra has been tons of fun as she walk around quite well these days.  Here are some things Sierra has been doing in the past month:

  • She now goes to the fridge or her high chair if she is hungry
  • She babbles with the words “ma ma ma ma MA!’ quite a bit.  Some other words make an appearance once in awhile but that is the major word that she uses for everything.  I’m not sure how close she is to coming up with a new word
  • I am pretty sure we have given birth to the Incredible Hulk.  She takes pride in finding the heaviest toy in the toy box and carrying it around.  Actually, she just carries the entire box around, that’s how strong she is!
  • She is enjoying daycare quite a lot.  The boys at daycare seem to like her as well.  I picked her up one day and they all gave her hugs and kisses when she left the building.
  • While she doesn’t particularly like sitting down and reading books (she doesn’t stay still all that long in general), she does enjoy ten minutes of cuddling in the morning after her bottle.  I think she is just still half-comatose from waking up!

Enjoying a pickerel dinner!  Thanks Dad!

Rob’s birthday had the most candles I have ever seen on a cake.

Sierra loves going up and down stairs these days, including the ones at the playground.

She also loves the slide!

In the middle of our week off, Sierra came down with some kind of stomach bug on my birthday.  Vero caught it as well that night!  What a horrible night for us all.  I don’t think Sierra went down until 4am!  I managed to catch the bug 24 hours later which was a miracle in a way so at least one of us was functioning!

She definitely was in better spirits the next day as she brought out the birthday balloon!

Hanging out

Ont brosse les dents

Sierra sure loves going around in her car.  This is a daily ride.

I can’t recall why Vero was so excited!

Sierra decided we should stop at Harvey’s for lunch.  She didn’t have any, but she enjoyed the change of scenery.

She also enjoyed the visit to Sears Home Store.  Plenty of room to run around


Training her young!

We all had a fantastic time at Jon and Chantal’s corn roast.  While it poured rain for most of the afternoon, the rain let up for a few hours when we arrived.  They were well prepared for the event with a tent and a portapotty on the premises!

The hood isn’t just used to cover your head!

Chantal dropped off a tricycle she found on the side of the road.  Either Sierra found a better way to ride this thing, or she still has a few months to learn.

Sierra Potter in the house!  Unfortunately she had an encounter with the vanity in the bathroom.

Sierra is quite the fan of corn…she doesn’t even wait for it to boil!

A rainbow

A dragon (?)

A ketchup explosion

She sure loves the swing in the backyard!  This is quite the shady spot.

Looked who dropped by for a quick visit!  Sierra was happy to see her Aunt and Uncle from Hearst.  Guillaume managed to give us some good tips on building a deck.

Sierra hilariously blows bubbles all the time.  I was showing her in the selfie mode what she looks like.

Sue told us that she used to carry Shawn around like this while mowing the lawn.  Sierra seems to like it!

JF and Marie-Claude had a bunch of us over for a bbq.  It was truly my favourite day of this summer.  I even got to fly a kite!  Please note that the kite in this photo was quite ridiculous.  It never got airborne.  It was some weird parasail practice kite.  I switched over to the classic kids kite that looked like a dragon and had fun with that.

Waiting for a miracle to happen

Still waiting for a miracle to happen

Vero managed to get it up!

Hanging out with Victor

Sierra trying to negotiate a sip of apple juice from Jonas

Jon pretty sad to see that he didn’t get to eat any of this great food in front of Sierra

Fun at the kids table

Clearly I need a better phone/camera.  At least it captured the fun moment.

This is an adult sized Adirondack chair.  Sierra grew a lot in the past month!

Having fun in the grass

Having fun with Mom

Some wild hair made an appearance on the ride home!

Chef Boyardee made an appearance at home

I love how Sierra loves how to dance.  However, her use of the tea towels makes me believe that she wants to become a cheerleader.

BAM.  Fifteen months over!

Rebuilding the Deck

This year it was decided to embark on the ultimate renovation project…rebuilding the entire deck off the back of the house.  It was getting quite rotten in spots and after we tore it down, you can see it was even more rotten in other spots!  Here’s some photos documenting what was done so far.

July 8 – The deck as it was.

July 8 – The first day of tear down.  I think I made the mistake of taking up each board carefully and taking out/hammering each screw so that Sierra wouldn’t hurt herself on them.  It took me the entire day to get 75% of the ground level deck torn apart this way.  The next time I went to tear down the rest of the deck, I decided to take the faster method.


July 26 – Check out the rot under these boards!  I saw a few carpenter ants crawl out of there at the same time.  I think it’s very odd that this section had so much rot considering how much airflow it is getting.  I’m assuming it has to do with the deck being 15+ years old, me not sealing it every year, and ants.

July 28 – The old ledger board.  After some thinking, I decided to build a free floating deck in Version 2.0 of the deck so I took this ledger board off.

July 29 – The deck next to the hot tub.

July 31 – Vero tearing it up!

July 31 – Know how I was mentioning how I would find a quicker method to tear down the deck?  Yeah…this is quite the large woodpile that has accumulated next to the firepit.  Sierra doesn’t play in the back yard much any more unless under direct supervision away from this pile.  For the first few weeks of garbage collection, I had sawed them up into manageable pieces and left about 20 pieces each week.  However, a month later, I received a notice saying they aren’t going to take any more pieces due to it not being bundled and there are nails/screws sticking out of them.  I can’t blame them. 

July 31 – A diagram of the proposed deck.  There isn’t much changing other than we are extending the ground level portion for an eventual gazebo.

August 1 – Vero and I took the week off to work on the deck and left Sierra at daycare.  Muscles Palmer hard at work!

August 1 – Instead of pouring concrete footings, we decided to try out these screws that you put in deep enough to go past the frost line.  The only issue that we might encounter with these is the potential to hit a rock on the way down.  If you do that, you’re screwed.  So we pound a four foot piece of rebar into the spot first and if we found a spot which was too rocky, we just tried another spot a foot away.  Actually, I can’t remember having to change the spot too much.  Overall, it was a pleasant experience other than me smashing my finger between the rebar and the sledgehammer.  Ouch!  These screws will hold the posts that will hold the beams for the upper portion of the deck.  We figured we would put these in before we started the ground level portion.

August 2 – For the ground level, we decided to use deck blocks.  Still not sure if this was the best idea, we but  didn’t want the deck to go past the bathroom window (seen here in the photo).  So we basically had six inches to play with which kind of eliminates the option of putting cantilever beams into the design.  So deck blocks is it.  Time will tell if it’s a pain to level these suckers out.  Here is Vero putting down the sheet to help with eventual weeds.

August 2 – Muscles Palmer makes another appearance!

August 2 – The screws after they were all put in place for the posts.

August 13 – Working on the deck hit a few snags with a bout of the flu running through the house and then we decided to redesign a few elements of the ground level deck.  Originally we were going to build a giant rectangle about 12 feet wide but then Vero pointed out that it would be smarter to go a full 16 feet long.  With that idea in mind, I needed to figure out how to get 16 foot long 2×6’s back home.  Rob’s truck was up to the task with a lot of straps!  Check out that overhang!  That thing was surprisingly solid.

August 19 – My setup in the garage to create the rim joist.  Let it be known that Mike’s framing nailer is the greatest invention known to man!!

August 19 – Setting up the frame.  I was on a roll this day.  I was super excited by how well everything was working.  Let me put something into context…while I feel I’m a handy guy, I also have trouble doing things for the first time without some guidance.  There’s a ALOT of information on the internet to keep track of and sometimes it becomes a black hole of information.  That being said, after Vero saw the frame, she said “Nice frame.  So…why is it a full 16 feet long when we said we would make it 15 feet 2 inches?”  OH MAN!  I totally forgot about that.  I was pretty upset so I left the project for the day.  The next day I sawed off the joist and rebuilt the thing.  What a pain!

August 26 – All was going good on a Saturday morning!  I was excited that it was a beautiful day out and the frame was looking to be quite level.  I was just making an adjustment to one last post and in the middle of my cut the blade on my mitre saw stops working.  I look up and there is smoke billowing out of the motor and there is this horrid burning smell!  I quickly look at my piece of wood wondering if that was what was burning, but nope.  It was the motor on the mitre saw.  AW MAN COME ON!  This project is definitely cursed.  Well, the mitre saw gave me a good life over the years of many renovation projects.  The rest of Saturday was spent going out and picking up a new saw.  LUCKILY Canadian Tire had a 40% off sale this week on a saw I couldn’t pass up.  Sure, Dewalt and Bosch are nice, but I wasn’t going to spend $700 on one when I could get one for $400 and would work well for me (fingers crossed!).  I set the saw up while Sierra slept on Saturday night.  I have to say there are quite some interesting improvements on the saw…it has dual bevel which I have always wanted when working with trim.  It also has less of a footprint in the back of the saw which means I can move it closer to the wall.  This is handy for when I park the two cars in the garage in the winter.

September 9 – The first ten foot section is nearly built.  I made some errors along the way that I will learn from.  Example: don’t bother cutting all your joists ahead of time, because they will come up short.  Also, I built it in a U-shape and then added joists and THEN added the rim joist to complete the frame.  That probably wasn’t the best idea.  Next time, build the outside rim joists completely and put a center joist and then add joists from that.  Also, we spent WAY too much time making sure the thing was perfectly level all the way along.  We should have got the joists in and then worked at leveling the thing with the deck blocks.  In the end, I would cut posts to put into the deck blocks (for the frame to rest upon) and later on in the process the frame would raise somewhere and I would need to redo some posts.

My helper.

September 17 – While the first ten foot section took a month to build, the second one took a weekend to finish!  We were stoked!  It helped that our neighbour Claude came over one afternoon to lend a hand.  He had some experience and passed along a few tips and also reassured us on a few things that I would have spent an hour fussing over wasn’t that big of a deal in the end.  I feel we are on a streak…it’s been incredible weather here in September…maybe a little too hot with days feeling like 40 degrees with the humidex!  But we haven’t seen a day of rain to hold us up in close to two weeks now.  The wood pile is slowly going down which is great to see as well!

September 20 – Here’s a tip.  When you go to Rona to pick up $500 in supplies, make sure you check to see if they will be having a tax-free weekend BEFORE you pick up the supplies.  I was at the cash after putting in my lumber order and sifting through the aisles of deck hardware and I spied a flyer on the counter just as I was putting my Visa down.  “Is that tax free weekend for this upcoming weekend?”  “Why yes sir.  Oh, I suppose I should have told you that beforehand.”  I returned everything to the shelves and decided to come back on the weekend to save a few bucks.

September 22 – My friend Claude (not neighbour Claude) graciously came over on Saturday to help out.  I went to Rona to pick up supplies and we settled in for hot work day.  Luckily we had shade for most of the day.  I’m not sure if it helped that we had a roaring fire next to us which increased the temperature by 20 degrees.  🙂  We were tackling the hot tub deck and I would say that for the most part, we didn’t run into many major issues.  Vero did note that we were smart to put the rim joist with the nail heads on it facing inwards so we don’t see them on the outside.  Yes….we were smart, or lucky on that one.  Honestly, I didn’t even think of that and I realized that we didn’t do it for two of the other sides so we’ll have to come up with some creative solution to make it look nicer.  Something to keep in mind for the next deck.  I’m pretty sure without Claude there it would have took a month to build that deck, but he was a great guide in squaring things up with posts, 2×4 and whatever else we could use to help us on our quest to make a square deck.  I was pretty excited after our successful day.

Always appreciated when my mentor in life can come and show me how things are done!  Note that the only time he had a hammer in hand was for this photo.  

September 23 – All that was left to do on Sunday was to put a couple of beams in and lay some joists.  I have to say it’s way easier to build a deck with beams instead of a ground level deck where you have to hold the joists in place.  With a beam, you just set the joists on top of them and they are like an extra set of hands.  Vero and I were blessed with a napping baby in the morning so we managed to put in two beams using deck blocks and these adjustable pylex…thingies.  What’s the term for them?  Brackets?  We didn’t even need to cut any posts because there were only three inches in between the pylex bracket and the beam. 

Vero adjusting the beams.

After lunch, Duncan showed up to lend a hand and we put in the rest of the joists.  I started running out of nails at this point not realizing how many nails 2×10 joist hangers take so we ran into Rona to pick up some lumber and supplies for the upcoming week, while saving on the tax free weekend once again!  There are some 12 foot deck boards I’m eyeing up currently as they are 50% off.  I’m not really ready to put deck boards in so I’m not sure if I would be jumping the gun just to save a few bucks.

Duncan lent his construction expertise to the project.  He’s currently working under downtown on the Light Rail Tunnels for the O-Train.  Awesome!

It’s definitely been another productive weekend.  Vero’s parents are coming up in two weeks so hopefully we can finish up the upper patio door level deck when they come up.  That will be the tricky one as there are some angles involved.




Review: Guns N’ Roses at Lansdowne

In the annals of rock and roll history, there are a few events that fall into the ‘until hell freezes over’ category.

First there was the Eagles reforming back in 1994 with the literal ‘hell freezes over’ theme.

Then in 2007, Led Zeppelin reformed for a one-night gig.  Let’s not talk about that one, shall we?

Now, we have the joining of Slash and Axl….no one ever thought we would see the day, but here we are!  They are hot on their ‘Not in this lifetime’ tour and they decided to hit up Ottawa along the way.  Saweet!

Guns have a big spot in my heart.  I remember countless road trips listening to Use Your Illusion in the cassette deck after Marc’s brother introduced us to it.  It was a whole other world in terms of music.  What are guitar solos?  Why are they swearing so much?  Why do I find this so freaking awesome?!

So when they got back together, it was literally a dream come true.  After missing out on Zeppelin in 2007, I wasn’t letting anything stop me this time around.

On Monday, I made my way down to Lansdowne Park to pick up some merchandise.  In true Guns N Roses fashion, the merchandise booth that was supposed to open up around noon ended up opening up near 2:30.  I was smart and sat on a patio with a few pints of beer and just when I was leaving, they decided to open up the truck.

Sweet wheels bro.

I managed to pick up a pretty cool tour poster and a couple of t-shirts for Vero and I.  Man, the GNR machine is a merchandiser’s dream…the only had like…25 different shirts to choose from!

Looking pretty clean before the crowds show up!

After heading home to have some pizza with Chantal and Maelle who were babysitting, we headed back downtown and were walking into the venue to the sounds of Our Lady Peace playing Naveed!  I felt bad for my buddy Martin who hadn’t seen OLP yet and wanted to see them play Naveed but he managed to show up late.  Bummer!

Rock on!

I have only been to Lansdowne Park one other time and that was for AC/DC a few years ago.  I really enjoy Lansdowne on a beautiful evening like this.  Open air festivals rule!  They also rearranged the beer tents compared to the last time we were there and I found it was a pleasant experience overall.  I ended up spending more time in line getting a bottle of water for Vero than I did getting beer from the guys walking around the joint.

The guys behind us were pretty cool and offered to snap a photo of us.

I had a vague idea of where we were sitting but I was blown away by how close we actually were when we finally arrived to our seats.  Total score!  I also like how we paid half the price of the people sitting about five rows in front of us.  Can’t complain about that!

OLP always put on a good show! 

Our Lady Peace got the crowd going with a greatest hits filled setlist, along with a new tune off their new EP which was pretty good!

Look who found us!

Martin and Vero ended up scoring free tickets to the concert which was beyond amazing.  They ended up about ten rows in front of us but they dropped by to party it up for the end of OLP’s set.


Unbelievably, the band managed to show up on stage at 7:28PM instead of 3 hours late which was common practice for the band (read: Axl) for the past 30 years.  I’m pretty sure him joining AC/DC for a stint smartened him up a bit.

Good stage shot.

The entire show as a dream come true.  Duff, Slash and Axl back on stage together…come on.  They know how to put on a show.  I literally felt like I was at a Use Your Illusion tour back in 1992.  They played so many songs from those albums.  The previous tour which promoted Chinese Democracy had ONE song from Use Your Illusion.

The really good looking photos are from the Lansdowne official Facebook page.

In terms of vocal ability, I would have to say Axl is around 80% there.  He definitely got better as the night went on and he has definitely said that he needs his voice to warm up (hence those 3 hour long delays in years gone by).  But for the most part, he could really nail those notes and there were only a few songs near the beginning where I was cringing a little.

Slash during his 3 hour long guitar solo.

But Slash….SLASH!  We all know the guy can play, but when you have three hours in front of him, you really gain an appreciation for what he can do.  That guy can just set his guitar to vertical and play that thing all night long.  It’s magical!

I had no idea what was really going on here.  Camera vs. video mode is hard to tell sometimes!

Good night!

We were definitely not disappointed with the show.  It was a perfect night, beers were flowing well and we sang our hearts out.  Go see them on this tour, you won’t be disappointed!


It’s So Easy

Mr. Brownstone

Chinese Democracy (this was a little strange seeing Slash play on guitar…he definitely seemed out of place with this song)

Welcome to the Jungle

Double Talking’ Jive

Better (pretty good rendition of this Chinese Democracy tune!  They changed it a bit to fit more the guitar style)


Live and Let Die

Rocket Queen

You Could Be Mine

New Rose

This I Love (Axl was nailing this one!)

Civil War


Coma (OH MY GOD THEY PLAYED COMA.  All time favourite tune.  Amazing to see live!)

Slash’s 20 minute guitar solo including some Johnny B. Goode and Godfather theme)

Sweet Child O’ Mine

Used to Love Her

My Michelle

Wish You Were Here (no vocals, just an awesome duet on guitar)

November Rain (with Layla piano exit)

Black Hole Sun (quite appropriate for the solar eclipse that afternoon!)

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door


Don’t Cry

Whole Lotta Rosie


The Seeker

Paradise City