Friday, November 12, 2010

I will not call it a "tuke"

That about sums it up. Apparently, a ski cap is called a toque in Canada. According to those around me, it is not called a hat. When it gets cold outside, it can be "toque weather" not "hat weather."
For some reason, I cannot bring myself to call a hat a toque (except a chef's hat). Perhaps it is because I lived my life thus far thinking that a "toque" was some kind of a joke name for a hat due to the fact that the only people I ever heard say the word were Bob and Doug MacKenzie on SCTV.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The kids were very happy to learn that they celebrate Halloween in Canada. However, we had several inches of snow the night before Halloween. But no worries--we made snow zombies for the yard!
At night we took out the potatoes and put flickering tealights in the eyes. Our street has no streetlights so it was actually really spooky!

Sam wanted to attend the Ottawa zombie walk 2010, so we got Sam all undead and took the bus downtown.

Unfortunately, I realized that even though Sam is OK with zombies, he is afraid of undergrads, so we went home early.

On Halloween we went over to Joseph friend Owen's house for a delicious dinner and trick-or-treating. (Owen's street has streetlights!)
Joseph was a ninja, and Sam augmented his scarecrow costume with a scythe and additional scary stitching.

Goodbye Subaru!

Our beloved 1993 Subaru Legacy failed the Canadian safety inspection. Rather than paying $1500 in repairs, we decided that we actually didn't need a second car. The problem: according to Canadian customs, we are not allowed to sell, donate or junk the car in Canada. Our only option was to leave Canada and not return with the car. The IL plates expire Oct 30, so we also had a deadline. After many failed attempts to sell the car or give it away to someone we knew, we found a guy who runs a garage in NY who was willing to take our car.

Here is Danny saying goodbye to the car!

Sigh. That car has been from coast to coast at least four times. And we had that car longer than we had Sam!

Cruisin' the Rideau

As part of my birthday present, Danny bought tickets for a tour of the Rideau River. There were many splendid views and corny jokes. (Imagine with a French accent: "People often ask what kind of fish live in the Rideau River. There are two kinds of fish: the fish that are dead and the fish that are wishing they are dead")

Parliament Hill

The Rideau Falls


The Canadian Museum of Civilization ("The Museum of Civilization was built with no corners to ward off evil spirits. That's why politicians can't go in.")

Tween-aged boys just love to be hugged by their mother in public!

Danny's new beard

Sam and Joseph

The Ottawa Locks for getting boats from the Rideau River to the Rideau Canal. ("People often ask why everything is Ottawa is named 'Rideau' this and 'Rideau' that. Rideau means 'curtains' because the beautiful falls reminded the founder of curtains. So we are lucky that he was French or it would be 'curtains' this and 'curtains' that.")

Joseph giving me a heart attack by messing around on the locks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not quite evil enough

So, we were out walking by the canal and I saw a building that could only be an evil supervillain fortress. It was grey with sinister slatted windows and a volcano on top. Sam and I had a good laugh, and then we went around the front to see what it was.

As it turned out, it was the U.S. Embassy. Glad to see that the U.S. is trying hard to maintain favorable relations with our neighbors to the north.
Apparently, it is not a volcano: the building is meant to look like a submarine. (Again, what a friendly gesture!) Another gift: on the other side of the embassy the new anti-terrorist blockades permanently snarl downtown traffic.

Rideau Canal walk

A few weeks ago we decided to spend Sunday afternoon walking the Rideau canal to the Ottawa River. It was a lovely day, too!

The kids take a moment to meditate.

The kids running around the giant egg-engorged spider at the National Gallery of Canada.

Many excellent views of the Ottawa River. (That's Quebec over there!)

Scenic view of Parliament.

A rare good picture of Sam smiling!!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I admit that Smarties are only a half-step above Valentine's day hearts and Necco wafers with respect to edibility, but for whatever reason, I like them. I like them a lot. And I was shocked to discover that in Canada, Smarties are a different candy entirely--nasty waxy plastic candy shell disks covering dry stale mocklate (rather like M&Ms left in the damp footspace of a car for a year.)

However, as the Halloween candy started to arrive in stores, I was delighted to find that indeed there are Smarties in Canada--they are just called "Rockets" here. Hmm. This reminds me that maybe I should start looking for a dentist here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

edited for Canadification

TV programs and ads in Canada are often subtly tweaked from their original U.S. content.
On the Simpsons, Bart and Lisa learn Canadian history in school:
Bart: Quiet nerds burp only near school.
Lisa: Bart, I'm doing my geography homework.
Bart: I know. That's how you remember the 4 original provinces of Canada. Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia; quiet nerds burp only near school. And here's how you remember the principle exports; dogs eat barf only on Wednesday, Mable.
Lisa: Stop! I want to learn on my own.
(Bart walks out of the room)
Bart (hanging from a vent): Canada's govener's general; clowns love haircuts, so should Lee Marvin's valle.
Lisa: Get out! (attempts to hit Bart with her book)

Also, in a case of clever wind-turbine migration, "Iowa Lakes" seem to have moved to somewhere in Canada because the Canadian version of a Duracell ad claims that Iowa Lakes College students help Canadian wind turbines.

And of course, noodle ads say "paysta" instead of "pasta."

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Ottawa has an awesome museum of aviation! As opposed to all of the other (many!) airplane musea that we have visited, Canada Aviation and Space Museum is completely indoors and is immaculate. Also as opposed to most U.S. aviation museums that tend to focus on war planes, this one focused mainly on the history and diversity of those small airplanes with pontoons that Canadians use to get into the areas of Canada with no roads.

There were some excellent flight simulators. Both kids got a turn. Sam did very well.

Joseph managed to crash his plane 10 times in 5 minutes--several times before even leaving the runway.

There was also a gallery on the Canadian Space Agency. As near as I could glean from the display, the Canadian Space Agency consists of about 16 astronauts, one of whom is actually a Greenlander and half of whom have never been in space.

Monday, September 27, 2010


The kids and I took the bus to ByWard Market and they sampled their first Canadian beavertail. They had a traditional cinnamon sugar and pronounced it delicious!

Wee Watley

Check out the new link to "Wee Watley" to see some satirical articles by the kids.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pasta imposter

OK, once and for all, its paaaaasta, not paysta. Just saying.

Science and Pirates

Because Ottawa is the capitol, there are plenty of museums. The kids loved the Canada Museum of Science and Technology.

Old tech: the kids loved the outdoor exhibits, including the rockets and trains.

Apparently it is pretty hard to ride an old-timey bike.

The seizure-inducing internet demo.

We have also been to the "beach." at Mooney Bay. Not too bad! The sand is nice, and there is enough of it to pretend that it is an actual beach.

The kids excavated holes and waterways. I eventually went in and swam laps. It was not too bad--low visibility and lots of algae, though.

Also, there were pirates. Inexplicably, someone runs a pirate ship up and down the river. A ship full of 10-year-olds enacted an elaborate scenario in which they used water cannons to battle a lone pirate in a rowboat.