A Perfect Day

Its not reasonable to expect warm summer weather in the middle of October, but it sure is wonderful when you get it. This weekend we hosted our first family get together — Nicole’s immediately family, plus Nanny all hiked up, with turkey and other delicious food for Thanksgiving. Benjamin could not have been more excited.

We worked fairly hard leading up to their arrival, so Monday we decided to just relax. The kids let us sleep in almost until 8:00, and we decided to take them apple picking. This is what Benjamin thinks of apple picking:

But, we beat the crowd there, got a couple bags of apples, and a yummy jug of apple cider. The orchard was about 25 minutes from our house, and the road trip took us through some beautiful countryside and along a river lined with brilliant trees. We rolled the windows down, and breathed in the warm fall air.

When we got home, we decided we weren’t ready to be in-doors yet, so we packed a picnic lunch and strolled to a little park, where we ate left-over turkey sandwhiches and sipped hot apple cider from a thermos. When he’d finished most of his sandwhich, we left Benjamin down to run around and play.

Then we tried to take a few pictures. This is what Abigail thinks of taking a few pictures:

I’m teasing them both. They had their fits, as babies often do, but mostly they were great all day, and there are some good pictures in the side bar. The kids seemed to love the family time, and both napped fairly hard in the afternoon. While they did, Nic played some Viva Pinata, and I messed around with car stereos — with about 80% success.

In the evening we BBQed and ate dinner out on the deck while the sun set behind us. We sipped a glass of wine (spoils from the Thanksgiving dinner) while the kids worked happily on their desert. When they went to bed, almost without complaint, we sat ’round a poorly built fire that smoked more than it burned (it was the paper, I tell ya, it was damp) watched a little TV, then went to bed ourselves, smelling of outdoors, and apples and camp fire…

It felt good to be free.

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Election Day

This is a scheduled post, intended to go live while I’m voting. Today is election day, and I’m happy that I’m home to do something about it. I’ll be voting NDP, not because I agree with what the party stands for, but because I agree with what the local MP (Member of Parliament) promises to work on: fixing telecommunications in Canada, and making sure the 5 million Canadians who don’t have family doctors get one. These things are critical to me, so I’m voting for those issues — not for the party.

In truth, I don’t know enough about Canadian politics to be passionate one way or another. This site has an interesting (although difficult to read, because of the awful color scheme) primer on Canadian politics, but I can sum up some key points for our American readers who may be curious:

There’s a total of 308 seats in Parliament (roughly equivalent to Congress) and a party needs to have 155 seats to make up a Majority government — meaning they can get legislation through on their own, if at least two other parties don’t agree to stop them. If they get the majority of votes, but don’t reach 155, they’re still in power, but as Minority government. I gather that the party with the second highest number of seats is called the Opposition.

Canada does not have a two party system, although the party in power and the Opposition will obviously have the most sway. The other parties still play a significant role in governing.

Although there is a far right and a far left party, as in the U.S. (the Conservative party is the most right, the N.D.P party is the most left) there is a wide spectrum of view points in between. The Liberal party is a left-leaning center, the Green party is fairly left, but is generally less concerned with conservatism or liberalism then it is about being environmentally responsible. And the Bloc Quebecois thinks Quebec should be its own country, and is mostly pretty crazy (as far as I’m concerned.) And there are many, many more (there’s a Christian Heritage Party, a Libertarian Party, a Marxist-Leninst Party and even a Marijuna Party!)

From what I understand, we don’t vote for a Prime Minister (roughly equivalent to a President) we vote for our Member of Parliament, and the Majority government’s leader becomes Prime Minister. His party’s power is dictated by the number of seats they hold in Parliament. Some parties never get any seats.

Our current Prime Minister is one Stephen Harper, a Conservative, and I gather he’s not terribly well-liked. We were living in the States for almost the entirety of his time as Prime Minister, so I don’t know much about him. I do know that there’s a waiting list a mile long for us to get a family doctor, and that Canada is about 10 years behind the States on telecommunications technology, so I feel its time to swing toward a more progressive government.

While a Canadian Conservative and an American Republican may look similar in regards to their social and fiscal policy, I think that most Canadian Conservatives would be shocked and dismayed to find themselves compared to the G.O.P. — if they really knew what that party stood for.

I know I was.