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Happily Ever After…


Hello one and all. Some of you may realize that this post has been a couple years in the making. For those of you not aware, I took that ‘leap of faith’, proposed to Deanna in May of 2012, and have now carried through with the grand plan. I am now officially hitched. I’ve even got a fancy cobalt ring to prove it. The official date was October 5th, 2013, but things have been pretty busy since then, what with a fabulous honeymoon and a ramped-up work schedule which has had me traveling to Toronto a fair bit. I also really wasn’t sure how to summarize such an amazing, life-changing day in my normal fashion. Suffice to say, there were cameras rolling for the event, and plenty of pictures taken, but they can’t possibly capture all that I felt that day. The emotion was on a level I dare say I have rarely ever experienced before, but all in a good way! Read on for a bit more insight into ‘the greatest day of my life’! While the final, edited pictures are not completed yet, we have nonetheless collected quite a few from friends and family, which are now on flickr.

I think I need to get one thing out of the way up front. Yes. I cried. It was impossible not to. It was only once and it was during the ceremony, but I know some of you picked up on it. As soon as my beautiful bride stepped out of the Ark and began descending the stairs, I welled up. It was the culmination of an amazing courtship and friendship started many years back, and I was just overcome with the moment. Yup, I can be a softie, and I DO have feelings after all, for those who were in doubt. But of course, I have gotten ahead of myself, haven’t I? Let’s reverse this tale just a little bit and review how we got here, and how the day shaped up.

I will avoid the long-winded story, but for the record, Deanna and I met in 2006. It was at an adventure race. I was racing, she was volunteering. I had a camera with me (what else is new) on the race, and snapped her picture at a checkpoint, later labeling it “A Friendly Volunteer”. We talked later that night at the post-race party, and got along well. From that time, I saw her at a few more races, and we always chatted a bit and joked around with each other (some may even say ‘innocent flirting’). Regardless, both of us had different lives, in different cities, and didn’t really make any efforts to get to know each other on any deeper level then racer / race staff friendships.

Fast forward to May 2010. We happened to both be in a different phase of our lives. Both single. Some might call it fate. Either way, the flirting was a little deeper after that particular race, and we lingered with each other just a little later into the evening at the post-race party, even taking a stroll by the waterfront of the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. We went separate ways the next morning, but my curiosity was piqued. So, on the long drive home, while stopped in Dixie Lee Chicken in Barry’s Bay, I sent out a text that would change my life course. I invited Deanna to come visit me in Ottawa, from Toronto. Failing to come up with a decent reason why she shouldn’t, she agreed later in the week. The rest, as they say, is history.

In the following months, what started as a pretty innocent and adventuresome friendship / romance, grew in ways neither of us had foreseen. The weekdays spent apart felt agonizing to both of us, and I was soon setting up week-long trips to Toronto where I’d work in a local office. Of course, even with that, Deanna decided to make the big move, and in December 2010, we packed her up, and she started a new life in Ottawa! It was heady and exciting times to see where this would go.

The next year and a half were filled with endless fun and adventures, lots of talking and learning about each other, and a realization that we were both completely happy and couldn’t imagine not being together. So what was I to do? It was obvious to me. Propose to Deanna exactly 2 years after we got together, at the same race, in the same location, with her as a volunteer, and me as a racer. I didn’t win the race that day, but I won the greatest prize I could hope for. A lifetime of happiness, support, and understanding. And I do have to stress understanding. I’m so lucky to have found someone who doesn’t only understand me, but can relate and deal with it!! 🙂

Once the proposal was out of the way, the planning started pretty much right away. We knew immediately where we’d want to get married. At the ARK. This is a place where we’ve done snowshoe races, trail running, and is off the grid and in the middle of the woods. We could think of no better place to commit our lives to each other. Met outdoors, got to know each other outdoors, and now, get wed outdoors. It was perfect. Not to mention Mike, our officiant, was a good friend, and had known us for our ‘formative years’.

Being the slightly controlling / engineering / perfectionist -minded fellow, I had a pretty big hand in the process of planning our wedding. We wanted to make sure that all the little things were planned out, but even though we started a year in advance, I was amazed how many last minute things crept up on us. Through the whole process though, we reminded ourselves that at the end of the day, this was for US, and that if we were happy, our guests would be happy. However, to ensure that, we knew early on it would be open bar all day and night 🙂 To make that extra special, Deanna and I made two special batches of wine ourselves, and sub-contracted the Beer Baron (aka Best Brewmaster, aka Rob) to craft two special ales for the wedding.

The choice to go with an Oktoberfest theme was also pretty spur of the moment once we settled on a caterer. We looked at menu options, saw the ‘European Feast’ menu, looked at the calendar, and realized it would be perfect. Little did we know how amazing my Swiss cousins would be at playing the part, with some of them wearing traditional oktoberfest attire for the occasion. It was just so fun! We think most guests also agreed, with the first 2 kegs of beer pretty much gone before we even started the meal!! Good thing we had planned on 4 kegs AND lots of spirits as well. Happily, the bar didn’t run dry at all.

Of course, in my mind, music is also pretty critical, and early on, we also decided we should seek out live music. I was torn between live band all night or not, and ended up deciding to go with cocktail jazz for a couple hours, then personal music curation later in the evening (aka I decided to DJ our wedding myself, lol). We found an absolutely stunning 4 piece jazz band to entertain between the ceremony and reception, and they did a great job setting the mood while guests mingled, and we got our wedding photos taken.

This is probably a great time to also mention that we were VERY lucky with the weather. In spite of calls for rain on the day, instead, we were greeted by a perfect sunny day, with only chillier temperatures in the night once the bonfire was already raging in the back part of the property. This allowed everyone to enjoy the fall colours in the setting just as we’d imagined it. I think the smile was planted on my face the entire day, from the morning wake-up to the very very late bedtime.

The actual celebrating also started the day before, where we hosted a family and wedding party get-together at one of our favourite microbreweries, Brasseurs du Temps. It was a very laid-back evening, just giving a chance for everyone to mingle and get to know each other. With family and friends flying in from all over the world, it was a great chance to catch up without the big wedding day anxiety.

Wow, I have so many thoughts tumbling around as I type this. Big shout out also has to go to all the friends we had helping with the event. From the weeks leading up to the event, and through to the actual clean-up at the end of the wedding night, there were always people offering to help and give us tips and things to think of. In fact, now that I look back, I lied up above. I said I only cried once on my wedding day. In fact, I cried twice. The second came with my best man’s speech (Matt). He barely started speaking before he got choked up, which just got me all misty again. However, I’m pretty sure he made quite a few people cry that night with his touching words. Damn you mega-Matt!! 😉

Also, having Troy and Tanya fly up from Vegas was also pretty special. I can’t imagine having gotten married without all those close friends in attendance. We didn’t have a huge wedding by any stretch of the imagination, but every single person there was integral to making it a memorable day, and every one of them share a part in our story of coming together. They all mean the world to us.

I’m feeling a little disjointed in this post, so perhaps I should close it off. And how better than to talk about the end of the night for me. Don’t worry, this blog is generally rated G, so I’m not going to go anywhere crazy. BUT, I would like to send a special shout-out to all the ‘friends’ that helped prep our wedding suite. Rose petals and champagne? NOPE. Try: short-sheeted bed and a stack of 10 lawn chairs on the bed interlocked and stacked as a ‘puzzle’. Thanks guys! Add to that temperatures at freezing, no firewood or kindling, and you can see why it was a late night. We didn’t finish the clean-up till around 3am. THEN I had to somehow start a fire. Luckily, I’m creative. With only a box of wooden matches, a tiny bit of newspaper, and some logs that I pulled from the smouldering bonfire outside, I got things going. Deanna was a little worried when I stumbled in with two smoky logs, ember side up, staggering over to the woodstove to get things going, but I survived my caveman quest to bring fire to our wedding night suite.

3 hours later, when we had to get up, it was oppressively HOT in there. Ha ha. That was a good thing though, as it helped us get mobile, pack everything up into the car, then hurriedly rush off to a family brunch, before doing a really fast packing job and leaving for our European honeymoon!! But of course, that is for another blog post.

So, with all that, I close off with this thought for all of you. I have found love. Love has found me. Life has forever changed, and brought us both on a new course together, and the world is an even richer place than it was to me before. I couldn’t be happier or more fortunate to have all that I do in this life. I vow to never take that for granted, and in tough times, remember exactly what I have, and why it makes all other problems not matter. I love you Deanna. My love, my life, and now my wife!

Thanks to some great help from a friend at the wedding as well, I managed to get a fair bit of footage to help me edit together a few videos to commemorate the day. I’ve split them into 3 easy-to digest videos below. Enjoy :-). I promise you don’t have to sit through the WHOLE thing again!!

Wedding Video 1: Pre-Wedding

Wedding Video 2: Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Video 3: Wedding Reception

Fencing and ‘Festing for Fun

Darcy supervising

Good day friends. I bet you all thought you wouldn’t hear from me again until the winter race season started, right? Well, I’d hate to leave you all wondering just what it is that ActiveSteve does when he isn’t racing or training ;-). Hence this short little post to keep you all well informed. It’s not secret that I’m not really one to sit around eating bon-bons. If I’m not doing something, I get bored. So I guess it’s a good thing that I’m a homeowner, because there’s ALWAYS something to do when you own a house, even if it is a new house, as I’m learning. Also, given that my training and racing takes me away from home a lot, it also means that I don’t get to see some of my friends as much as I’d like, so this is also a chance to do a bit of catching up with some of my good friends, as well as spend more quality time with my best gal Deanna! This certainly won’t be a long post, so you should have no problem getting through the whole thing, as well as checking out my two sets of pictures, first being my fence re-building project, and the second being some pictures from this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.

As I’m sure you’ve already pieced together from my intro, the house project that has most recently kept me a little busy was the rebuilding of my fence. One of the reasons I had chosen this house was that it was already completely enclosed by a wood fence, meaning that Mr. Jonah could have the run of the backyard to play. Well, before the winter was even in full swing last year, I noticed that the fence was starting to lean. In the dead cold of winter, I attempted to straighten it temporarily with some metal spikes, but that was a band-aid solution. Truth be told, I agonized somewhat over what I’d have to do to fix it. Fences can be pretty finicky things, and I wasn’t looking forward to doing the work, so in my mind, I thought I’d just hire someone to deal with it in the spring. Well, spring became summer, and summer was winding down, and I still hadn’t dealt with it. Those contractors I did contact all seemed to want to charge a bucketload of money for the work. Essentially, I was going to take down the fence, and was looking for someone to just dig the post holes and set the posts for me, and the prices didn’t seem reasonable.

In fact, it got to the point that I decided I might as well do it myself. After all, I’m pretty handy with stuff like that, and it was just a matter of time and sweat to get it done. I pinpointed basically the one weekend where I could do the ‘heavy work’ of digging the holes and setting the posts, and set to work researching how to do it. I settled on this: Dig a 4 foot hole. Bottom 6 inches line with gravel, then sink the posts and level them with concrete footings (inside a sonotube). Plan seemed fair. Also decided to rent a hydraulic auger rather than the hard-to-handle two-man rigs. I enlisted a few friends to come over on the Saturday and Sunday, plus Deanna’s dad, although reluctant to help, was unable to stand idly by while we worked, as predicted by Deanna :-).

I learned some new skills that weekend. And learned about soil types. My soil, clay. HEAVY, HARD, CLAY! The 4 foot holes became 3 foot holes, and the 6″ gravel eliminated, but sonotubes kept. The gravel was for drainage, but given that there was so much clay, we were more worried it would serve as a place for water to pool, freeze, and heave (since it would be much more porous than the actual soil. Once convinced to dig shallower holes, I toiled 11 hours on Saturday to get most of the holes dug. I got 9 of 11 done. It was hard work. Darcy and Matt came out to help as well, thanks guys! The next day, up early again to finish the holes and get to work on setting posts. This was a less physical task, but required a bit of finesse and thinking. After all, my panels were all pre-made, so I had to get the spacing exactly right on the posts, which was a bit tricky. Luckily, for Sunday, I had the ever-precise Dave out to help Deanna’s dad and I out. We made excellent progress, and managed to get all the posts plumb and set by the end of the day, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

Over the next week and a bit, I added back all the hardware using a water level to make sure they’d line up. Deanna gave me a hand whenever I needed it to put up the panels. Most of them went in perfectly, with a nice snug fit. I had to trim two of them, and then completely re-bulid a couple of them. I had expected that though, since I also moved my fence line along the back to line up with my actual property line. Lastly, I cut the tops off the posts and capped them. It was awesome to be done and look out into the back to see a nice strong, straight fence that I’m confident will last for years to come. Hard work, but totally worth it!

Sampling Cask Stouts

So now we get to the second part of my post, the ‘festing! Of course I’m talking about Oktoberfest here. Deanna and I were a little sad that we wouldn’t be able to make it to Kitchener for this year’s bit Oktoberfest, but it turns out there are some good options right in our own backyards now. I’m referring in this instance to the Beau’s Brewery Oktoberfest celebrations that they just held at the Vankleek Hills fairground. They’ve held it a few years now, and it appears to just keep growing each year, and getting better and better organized. They go out of their way to make this event a true Oktoberfest party. Not only do we have the many delicious beers to enjoy under authentic large beer tents, but the whole grounds are teeming with activity. There was live oompah music throughout the afternoon. There was also more modern music in the evening courtesy of The Peelers, Cuff the Duke, and the Lowest of the Low. There was also a plethora of great food on offer from many local vendors. I stuck to mainly traditional; sausages, pretzels, and strudel, all of which was awesome!

They also had a lot of games on site, including keg tosses, stein holding, malt sack races, and a spouse carrying contest. To see some of that on video, you’ll have to check it out on flickr here and here. It was a hoot. There was lot of room under the tents, which was pretty critical, given that it ended up being rather cold and rainy while we were there. Deanna and I were joined by Dave and Meghan as well as Andy and Irene-Anne, but once on site, I couldn’t believe how many people I ran into that I hadn’t seen in a long time, including both of my bandmates from Comfort Station that still live around here. Of course there was much talk of music and reunions, and hopefully that’ll materialize at least in the form of a nice jam session over the colder months!

As far as the beer selection went, it was top notch. The only problem was that they eventually started running out of all the unique brews that they had on tap, leaving us only with their best seller, the Lug Tread Ale, not that there was anything wrong with that. There was also a whole separate area for ‘cask beer’ samples. Here, there was an entire showcase of different beers available for microbreweries in Ontario and Quebec. I sampled a couple really tasty stouts while in that tent. Beaus also arranged for bus shuttles to/from downtown for those that wanted to avoid driving, which we all took advantage of. All told, it took Deanna and I about 2 hours to get from our house to the fest, between the STO bus, and OC transpo bus, and the Beau’s shuttle 🙂 Oh well, still beats driving ourselves, and we didn’t mind at all.

I must say that after attending many Oktoberfest parties in K-W, and now attending Beau’s Oktoberfest twice, I’m rather fond of the Beau’s version. The all-day fun activities really fulfilled my Oktoberfest desires, and at the end of the day, I lay my head down in my own bed, rather than facing the prospect of a hung-over 6 hour drive home. I love them both dearly, but it’s great that we do have the option of doing something locally now.

I’ll end my stories there for now, as I have to get back to other little chores and projects. Exciting stuff happening in the next few weeks, but you’ll have to wait to hear and read all about it 🙂 I promise it’ll be fun (more so for me than you my dear readers, but I hope to share it with you in some way. Cheers!