Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas puzzle

Just wanted to show off a bit :) DH and I just finished a puzzle that I had started with my family on Christmas day. Those 3-d puzzles have become sort of a tradition for us over the years. This year, it's a puzzle of Sydney's Opera House. It was pretty challenging, but it looks pretty good if I may say so myself :) Here are two shots of it (not my best camera work, it's getting pretty late...).


And so it's done...

Christmas is officially over. The family has gone back home, DH is back at work, and I'm sitting on the couch in my pyjamas, blogging. The house is still a mess (though we had done a great job getting it cleaned up before the big day!), and hopefully I'll gather up some motivation to clean it up later this afternoon... But for now I'm just resting. It's been a pretty exhausting few days, a whirlwind of activity, and food and crazy family stuff.

In family news, FIL is out of the hospital, and seems to have stabilized. He still didn't get a proper diagnosis, and should be going into an epilepsy center in the new year (the clinic is closed over the holidays), and understandably the uncertainty seems to be taking an emotional toll. But January is around the corner, and hopefully he can get a proper diagnosis then. In the meantime we're sending him all the positive vibes that we can...

On my side of the family, things are going pretty well. I was impressed this week by how much both of my sisters have grown up. They're both adult now, and getting more mature and adult with every day. It's really cool! I am so glad to see them becoming their own people. Of course, that's not without some growing pains... Which made for an interesting Christmas for sure. Lots of clashing opinions, some of them irreconcilable. I think everyone left with some food for thought, on top of the actual food. I think we have enough leftovers to feed everyone until the new year :)

I've attached a picture of the tree we decorated. It's a little unconventional, since it is one of the bushes around our house that had been broken by the recent ice-storm. It was so damaged, we cut it down and brought it in and used it as our Chritsmas tree. Of course it fell down (seems to be a family tradition for us) right on Christmas eve, but we managed to prop it up again, and secure it, and it seems very solid now :) Should last us for a while, which it needs to, since the Polish tradition is to have it up until February!

Ok, time to start tidying up around here :D

Hope everyone is having a great time for the holidays!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas preparations...

First of all, the good (or at least slightly better) news: FIL seems to be doing ok, he's still at the hospital, but should be coming out soon. He was given some fairly strong drugs to stop seizures, and it's taking a bit of time for the drugs to wear out. It seems that he's now on the fast track to get all the required tests and doctors appointmnents... We're crossing our fingers, hoping to get the diagnosis soon. Thanks everyone for the good wishes!!!

And so it is the Christmas eve's eve (where did the time go?), and we've been busy preparing and preparing. Most of the day was spent cooking and cleaning, but it was pretty worthwhile. The house is pretty clean (mostly thanks to DH who ran around all day cleaning windows, vacuuming and washing floors etc), and there's plenty of food :) Well, it helps that my Mom is bringing lots of the requisite foods tomorrow, so I only had to make the traditional salad (even though that sounds easy, it's a big job, took me around 3 hours!), the traditional soup called barszcz, and I baked some cookies. I also wrapped all the presents (Yay!). Tomorrow I'm baking some breads, and some of the basic fixins, like veggies and simple salads. In no time it will be Christmas Eve dinner (traditionally the biggest celebration in the Polish culture). Looking forward to it!

In other news, I actually went to Montreal earlier this week, for a little less than 24 hours. I met up with old friends for dinner on Thursday night, and had a really great time. E-mail is nice, phone conversations are good, but there's nothing like getting together with friends in person, and talking the night away...

It's getting really late, lots of work still to do tomorrow, so I better go to sleep!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Life is full of zasadzkas...

Or in plain english, life is full of traps. Doesn't quite have the same ring ;)

So yes, there's a saying in Polish that goes "Life is brutal and full of zasadzkas". And at times it really seems like that is true. This morning we got news from my FIL (father-in-law). As expected, news that wakes you up is bad news. FIL was hospitalized overnight, with constant seizures. We don't really have much info, other than the fact that they gave him some medication IV, that basically knocked him out, so this morning SIL was waiting for him to wake up. The hope is that this will cause him to be bumped up in priority to get his next MRI as soon as possible. He's been waiting for almost two months, and was supposed to wait another month and a half. He had been put on new medication, and that seemed to eradicate the symptoms (seizures and blacking out), so we were hopeful that he would be able to make it until then without too much worry (well, except maybe for him getting restless staying at SIL's house - he's sort of an independent spirit). So much for that hope I guess...

So as you can imagine, our plans are currently in flux. DH will be talking to his sister tonight to get more information, and figure out a plan for the next few weeks. As of right now, I am on holidays until the 2nd (Yay!), so I am pretty mobile, but DH has to work until the end of this week, and then for 3 days next week, and he just started a new job this week, so it's a little more complicated for him to travel right now. Of course we'll do what we need to do, there's lots of options... but for now I know nothing, hopefully we'll have a better idea of the situation tonight.

So that's the zasadzkas for today!

Hope your day is going better!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas letters

So it is this time of year again when I start getting Christmas letters from people. I really like that, as it gives me a chance to catch up on things I may have missed, or get a new perspective on things that happened in our friends and acquaintances lives. So I look forward to reading the latest and greatest sent to us on pretty paper inserted into cute Christmas cards.

In fact, one year I even wrote our own Christmas letter. I think that was the year we got married. But I found it way too hard. How do you find the right balance of sharing great news with pride, without sounding boastful? Do you bring up the less pleasant parts of the year for the sake of completeness, or will that put a damper on the happy holiday season for some of the readers? And of course then there's DH, who's a lot more private than me, and doesn't really get this need to take advantage of the opportunity of sending a card to innundate our friends and family with information they either already have, or else they don't want to know :) I guess having a blog is the happy medium for me: people don't have to read it if they don't want to, and I can still overshare all of my daily thoughts and activities ;) Maybe I should just send everyone on my Christmas card list a link to the blog :) Not sure I am ready for prime time yet ;)

So here you go, my perspective on Christmas letters. I think I was pretty succinct (for my standards anyway) for once!


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Feeling better

So I am slowly recovering... I've been eating ok since Friday, but it's been a slower recovery than I anticipated... But next week I only have 3 days of work, so I'm not too worried :)

Despite it all, we had a pretty good productive weekend. We sent out the presents for DH's family (I spent most of the day Saturday sewing Christmas stockings for the twins), and finished and mailed all the cards that needed to be mailed. It turned out to be a really big job! We also got some new outdoor Christmas lights and installed them! So the outside of the house is finally ready for Christmas. We just need to setup the inside :D

Tomorrow I have another busy day: it's the last session of JA before the end of the year, and also another sampler at the work gym, called "Yogalates", some kind of combination of Yoga and Pilates. In between regular sessions, our gym puts on these samplers for free to get us to try something new (and hopefully get hooked on it). That's how I started doing yoga over a year ago. So this session I decided to try out all of the samplers available, just for fun. Last week it was Spinning with Djembe, then Body Burn and last but not least Latin Jam. I never thought much about spinning, it always struck me as a very static activity, but I thought that maybe with the Djembe drum it may be more interesting. But in the end, my initial impression turned out to be correct. Needless to say, I won't be registering for the regular session.

On the other hand, Body Burn was really good. It's basically a toning class, where the only weight used was our own body weight. Our instructor was quite pregnant, and it was amazing to see her do all of the exercises (well, except for the ones where you're laying on your belly :)). I could feel the burn for a few days after the session! The third sampler, Latin Jam, was the best one of the three. Latin beats, choreography, what could be better? It barely even felt like exercise (except for all the sweating ;)).

All that to say that I'm looking forward to the Yogalates tomorrow, since so far the trend has been upwards :) Here I go with my verbosity again!

So this week it's 3 days of work, one day in Montreal, then two days prepping the house, and then it's Christmas eve! My whole family is going to come and stay with us for a few days, and that should be lots of fun! Then DH goes back to work, and I will get a chance to do some more cleanup around the house. I am hoping to really organize our pictures, because we have thousands of them all over the computer, with no apparent order to them. Any good finds, I will post on the blog :)


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Food poisoning sucks!

So I was going to write a post about all the different exercise classes I've taken this week at the gym at work. But then last night I got a bad case of food poisoning (at least that's what I'm assuming). We had dinner at McDonalds - a friend suggested the place. The food seemed ok, if a little on the heavy/greasy side. I came home with a lump in my stomach, but figured I would manage to digest it by the time I went to bed. Turned out that wasn't the case: DH got really tired of my getting up every few hours running to the bathroom with McChicken and fries coming back up... Every time I thought I was done, and then a few hours later I'd have a repeat. A pretty unpleasant experience, all in all. I usually have a pretty strong stomach, so I am not used to such upheavals from my digestive system.

The good news is that so far I've managed to keep my breakfast down, so I think the worst is behind me. I'm just a little exhausted from the feverish and frequently interrupted night. And the lack of nutrients I suppose :)

So that's my story for today. When I feel a little more awake, I'll write up a post about the exercise classes...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Shopping mall weekend

This weekend the Junior Achievement companies are selling their wares at one of the local malls (St. Laurent mall for those familiar with the area). Which means that us, the advisors, have to drop by from time to time to provide some adult supervision. Which means I get to spend a good part of my weekend in a shopping mall... Yay...

But it's not all bad. Even though our company started the weekend a little shakily (3 hours late on Saturday), things seem to have picked up a little, and the sales seem to be going well. I'm looking forward to seeing the weekend's totals!

In other news, I finally got a few more pictures of the new batch of kittens. Aren't they just the cutest? Because they were weaned fairly early, and our neighbour still feeds them from a bottle, they are very friendly to humans. If you drop by, they walk over shakily (they're still learning this whole walking thing) and meow and start grabbing your ankles, hoping to get picked up and fed. So cute!!! Hopefully I can get the pictures up today (it's a little iffy from home), if not, I'll try to add them from work tomorrow.

On a completely unrelated note, for some reason, I've been listening to a lot of different music all weekend (multiple drives to a mall at the other end of the city will do that to you I guess), and was reminded of a conversation I had had with a coworker earlier this week. He mentioned he didn't understand why people quote music lyrics, as it mostly seems very trite and unoriginal. On the spot, I couldn't really think of good examples of why quoting music would make sense. I myself sometimes struggle trying to understand poetry. But when it comes to music, I have to say that I get the whole quote thing. Especially with the more thoughtful music (i.e. not so much pop). I just think sometimes what makes music so powerful is the ability of the writer to capture a thought or a feeling in a concise few words. It seems that it always takes me paragraphs and paragraphs to express what I'm thinking and feeling, so obviously I am awed by the ability to capture something like that in a few simple words. And listening to music over the weekend, I managed to hear a few lines that really resonated with me. So in the end, I think I feel sad for people who don't "get" music quotes, because they are missing out on a certain deeper level connection with the artist. Or at least that's what I think anyway.

On this note, I leave you, as I have to head back to the shopping mall! Take care!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

December came in with a bang

So Friday was December first. And also the day of my company's Chrismas party. This was the first time we had an actual Christmas party for the company since the year 2000. But as DH remembered, every time we've had a Christmas party, the weather has been horrible. And so true to the form, Friday we had a great big storm. Nothing too terrible, but our road had a few feet of slushy snow. I went home after work to get changed, and found out that our house had lost power. I had less than 30 minutes to get ready, and it was already dark. It was quite an interesting experience doing my hair and makeup by candlelight... But I managed to get ready and drive downtown to pick up DH, and despite all the slowdowns on the road I got there on time.

The party was really nice, there was a good band from Montreal playing (jazzy standards during dinner, and then disco, dance and rock classics for the after-dinner dancing). Dinner was delicious, and so were the coctail time appetizers. We danced for hours, leaving just around midnight. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera (power outage and all), so I there are no pictures :)

Today we installed a set of lights on our deck. We've had the lights for a few years, and this is the first time we actually managed to get them set up. I think we need to buy another strand, because they look a little lonely! Once we get the other set installed, I'll post a picture.

And now the weekend is almost over, and it's time to get ready for another work week. We just watched our weekly dose of "Amazing Race". I'm never happy to see anyone be eliminated from the race, but I have to say I wasn't too heartbroken over the elimination of the "blondes", as they had been pretty arrogant during the race, and very manipulative. Still not sure who I want to see finish in first place... The model guys have been playing a fair and good game, so I won't be upset if they take first place. And statistically speaking they're most likely to win. If the ladies from Alabama took the top prize, it would be the first all-female team to ever win on the Amazing Race, so that would be cool too.

Anyhoo, gotta go, hope you all had a great weekend as well. The holidays are just around the corner!!!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

As long as one keeps one's expectations in check...

So, today was the day where the Junior Achievement company I am involved with came to my workplace, to try to sell their products to our employees. All of the Ottawa JA companies were invited. This happens every year, and the last two years our companies did very well. This year turned out to be a wee bit disappointing... Our company only sold 2 products, for a total of 10$ in sales. Sigh... I am not much help in the marketing department, so I feel partially responsible for not reminding them of the importance of getting things done right and on time. Case in point, some of the achievers showed up wearing jeans. This is a fairly big no-no, as they're supposed to look professional. And they had all the training and documents reminding them of it. But I didn't remind them :(

Oh well, at least it gave them some motivation to make some changes, and maybe be a little better prepared for the next sales date. Time flies so fast, it's hard to believe that we're way past the mid-point of the program. Our sales in general are going fairly well, but our lackluster performance at group sales is certainly not a good sign.

I think I take this stuff way too seriously ;) I don't really care whether our company gets awarded company of the year or anything like that, but I would certainly like us to achieve full potential, and not miss opportunities because of fotgetfulness.

Monday will be a new day, and hopefully we iron out some of this stuff then...

Now it's on to volleyball (yay!).

Catch up with y'all later!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Weekend? What weekend?

And just like that, the weekend is over. I was really looking forward to a nice weekend (the weather was unseasonally nice), and to getting lots of things done. As it is, I am not sure where the time went. Well, when I think about it, we went to a concert where my choir (the Ottawa McGill Alumni Choir) sang a few songs on Friday night, I went to a dance show on Saturday night, and we had dinner with friends on Sunday afternoon. The rest of the time, I did a few batches of laundry (we were running behind), and a bit of cooking and cleaning. I guess the major accomplishment was replacing bulbs in the christmas lights that are installed on the barn. There were lots of burned out bulbs, and the top of the barn is over 40 feet tall, so this was a big job. But now we can have a fully-lit barn:

The Friday night concert went pretty well, it was quite a long show, with all sorts of performers. It put us into the Christmas spirit, since many of the songs were seasonal. I think we managed to sound pretty good (although my voice was at times squeaky, not being properly warmed up). We messed up in a few spots, but I don't think the audience noticed. We have three more performances before the break, so we'll get a chance to iron out those little issues.

On Saturday night, the show we went to was by a Belgian group called "C. de la B.", which is ostensibly a ballet troupe, but the performance was very modern, and so much more than just ballet. I was reading the biographies of the artists after the fact, and many of them have a circus background, which showed. There were many moments where we were shocked to see what these people were able to do with their bodies. I was mostly impressed with how accessible the whole show was - I am not usually one that "gets" dance shows all that well, but I actually felt all sorts of emotions that (I hope) the choreographer was trying to invoke. It was a very stirring, and at times even disturbing performance.

Hoping all our friends on the West Coast are somehow digging themselves out of the piles of snow! I can't believe the weather reports I'm seeing from out there!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Buy nothing day

So tomorrow is apparently the International Buy Nothing Day. I won't have time for shopping anyway, since I'll be at work all day and then singing in a concert with my choir, so it won't really be much of a stretch to not go into a store :) So I guess I will buy nothing on Saturday. I don't think I can stretch that to the whole weekend, because I suspect we will need some kind of food before Monday :) But I will try to not buy anything other than food all weekend.

On Saturday I am going to the NAC to see another ballet! Really looking forward to that.

Gotta go, hope to write a little more very soon!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back to the grind...

Long time no post (or at least it feels like it). Another weekend is behind us... My folks were here and helped us re-build the wood pile. It's back to its former glory of around 7ft hight. Lots of work, but also lots of fun...

In other news, I have a bunch of pictures for you... Mama-cat had another litter (yes, I know, don't get me started, she's getting "the operation" this week). The neighbours called us over on the weekend to show us the 3 week old kittens. They are pretty cute (very fuzzy), although they still look so tiny and helpless... Unfortunately the lighting in the barn was pretty poor, so I didn't get too many good pictures (either they're washed out, blurry, or too dark to see anything...), but I can show you the few that worked out :)

There are five new kittens: one orange one (just like Mommy), one grey one, and two white ones (which we suspect is the colour of the Daddy-cat, as we've been seeing a white cat hanging around...). We now have to try and find homes for at least 6 cats... The neighbours certainly don't need 8 cats hanging around the barn :)

I also snapped a picture of one of the other kittens (I think this one is the boy-cat, Tim). The older siblings are getting so big, they're outgrowing the Mom. They need to visit the vet as well, otherwise they will soon be having their own litters... But they're becoming very friendly and they're as curious as ever, so they like to hang around people. Even when we were chopping wood, which causes a lot of loud banging noises, the girl-cat (Bits) came over and didn't seem bothered by any of the wood noises at all. Now on the other hand rustling leaves or grass gets her attention right away. Go figure :) I even managed to pick her up a few times - can she ever purr! But she's an independent cat, and jumps out of my arms after a minute or so :)

I also managed to snap a picture of our neighbour getting a kidss from his youngest horse. Isn't this cute? The picture is a little fuzzy, but it was the best I could do with the abysmal lighting (as far as photography is concerned anyway). I'll try to go over sometime this week, and snap some more pics so I can post them here. I need more kitten pictures for sure!

Aside from that, on Saturday we went over to our friend's place for the 20th annual Beaujolais Nouveau potluck. As always, it was an excellent evening, with awesome food and great company. After we got home, we played a few hands of bridge with my parents, to end the day with a bang (as usual, we lost, but I think we played fairly well).

It all made for a very busy weekend, but a very enjoyable one, with lots of time spent outside, great food and company.

And now it's back to the grind. I have to go chasing after a problem that seems to be really hard to reproduce, so I need to put my thinking cap on :)


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Found profound...

So today in my yoga class I had a flash of insight. I came up with a "profound" quality: compassion. It's not my highest quality, so I will not be using it when the instructor asks us to think of our "highest, most profound quality", but at least it tells me that there are qualities that I consider profound (as opposed to the shallow ones, like good sense of humour). From now on, my mission in yoga class is to come up with a new profound quality every time, until I find one that applies to me :) I like a good challenge!

On the good news side, had a chat with my manager yesterday again, and things are back to good :) He was surprised at my disappointment over the last meeting, as he thought he'd given me mostly positive feedback. And he agrees with MB (see comments at last Friday's post) that he needs to give me more visible/important work in the future ;) So I am feeling slightly better on that front as well.

Things are pretty busy at work this week, so I think my posts will be short and sparse!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A new city

Well, it's a new day in the city of Ottawa. Yesterday we had the municipal elections, and we now have a new mayor: Larry O'Brien. He's a former high-tech CEO, which could be great news or terrible news. We'll just have to see.

I am happy to report that I voted in the elections, though we barely made it to the polls. My Junior Achievement meeting ended shortly before 7, and DH picked me up. We didn't have our voting cards, but figured we could just head to the voting place. Unfortunately they couldn't find our street there, so they sent us to another place, which was a bit closer to our street (but further from our house). They couldn't find us there either. So we ended up going home, finding our voting cards, and making it back to the first place (go figure), with something like 10 minutes to spare. Well, at least we did our civic duty :)

Today also marks the release of Stephan Moccio's new album "Exposure". I saw Stephan a few weeks ago, and really loved the music. I have the CD sampler (signed by the artist himself), but I will definitely be picking up the whole album as well. It's good, moody piano music. You can hear a sample on the website.

Aside from that, not much else is new. Our JA company is finally catching up. We doubled our total production yesterday, and things should go smoothly from now on. We also had 2 executives drop out, but two other students stood up to take over. So the company lives on, though in a slightly different format :)

That's it for the news today! Later!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quiet weekend

Well, it's Monday, and the weekend is over. This was a quiet one, since DH was feeling quite a bit under the weather, which meant he slept half the weekend away. It also meant no work got done outside (most of the jobs that are left are two-person jobs). So we stayed inside the house, and I did some much overdue house cleaning. On Saturday we did manage to get out of the house for a few errands, and to go to a party hosted by a coworker of mine (it was a blast). On Sunday, we just stayed in all day.

The good news is that we finally started cutting the baseboards for the basement. They've been lying around the basement for almost 2 years now, just waiting to be cut, painted, and installed, and now we've almost completed step 1 (there's probably around 7 cuts left). Hopefully sometime later this month we can pick up a can of paint, so we can finish this job. It would be so nice if we could get it all done before the holidays! Not sure how realistic that is, though :)

Aside from that, last night we watched a movie (Catwoman - wouldn't recommend it), and of course our weekly installment of "Amazing Race" - it's down to 5 pairs now, and that's when it starts getting really exciting!

And now it's back to work. I have a pretty full plate today, but it's all stuff I like doing, so I expect the day to just fly by. Of course there's JA this afternoon (we finally have a
!), which makes the day even shorter :) And today is municipal elections day, hopefully I can get to the poles in time...


Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday blues...

Sigh... It's Friday, and you would think that is a good thing (what with the weekend being just around the corner and all). Instead, I seem to be all gloomy...

In our Yoga class, our instructor always asks us at the end to think of "the biggest, most profound quality" that we posess. We do this every session, twice a week, and usually I can come up with something (and it's not always the same quality). Today, I just drew a blank. For the first time in a year of yoga classes. I mean, I can think of qualities, maybe even come up with a most important one, but "profound"? I couldn't think of anything that I would qualify as profound...

Maybe I'm taking this a little too seriously (probably). Maybe I am still getting over my so-so performance review yesterday (very likely) - well, it's not like it was bad, just not as good as it could have been I suppose. Maybe I just need a swift kick in the behind so I get over myself (definitely!). Being depressed is definitely no fun :(

On the plus side, we're going over to a coworker's house tomorrow afternoon for a party. The Christmas related festivities are starting early this year :) That promises to be lots of fun, and it should at least get my off my gloomy couch...


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Musing in multiple dimensions...

So I was driving home last night, coming back from my choir practice, and I was thinking about blogging. Trying to figure out why I find it so useful. I mean, of course there's the whole aspect of keeping a record of what's going on in our life (cool), keeping friends and family up to date on what's up (very cool), and generally keeping in touch with people (very cool). But I realized there was an additional aspect to this, that's really beneficial to me. It's kind of weird, and it's possible that it onl makes sense at 9pm on a dirt road in the dark, but I'm going to try to explain it anyway.

I think writing in the blog forces me to linearize my thoughts. When I write here, I try to keep a certain flow, a logical progression of things. Which I believe is the easiest way to communicate something to others. Unfortunately, it looks to me like the thoughts in my head are multi-dimensional. It's like I have multiple processors in my head, all taking my thoughts in different directions. Which is why I tend to use (and abuse) parantheses all the time, just to capture a fleeting thought that's going in a completely different direction. It reminds me of my university days, when in conversations with my friend J-L, he would keep track of the nested parantheses that I introduced. I think he once got to 10 parantheses (or 10 different subjects, all originated from the same starting point). I would always close all the parantheses, and eventually bring all those separate thoughts to a conclusion, but I can imagine that kind of conversation may be a little hard for people to follow. Just because it makes sense in my head, doesn't mean it's interlocuter-friendly :)

So I am hoping that writing in the blog, being an exercise in thought linearization, will improve my conversational skills. Maybe it's wishful thinking, or maybe I'm simply a little crazy (I'm wondering if the description above makes sense to anyone else - I guess we'll see).

This concludes today's peek into my crazy brain :)

Take care!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back to the wood pile

Yay! Yesterday in the mail we received a few chainsaw parts that I ordered online a few days ago. This is my first "real" online purchase, from a small company somewhere in OHIO. There are only two local places that sell Ryobi parts, both with very short hours, and when I actually dropped by, the guy working there was extremely patronizing. I suppose they don't get women showing up there very often... So instead of going through the whole rigamarole of trying to order parts locally, I just looked them up on the web. All I really needed was a little rubber cap for the oil tank - it's gotten worn out over the last year, and it kept falling off the chainsaw (hard to find a little thing like that in a mountain of sawdust). This part costs less than 3$ on the website, so I grabbed 4 of them, and a replacement chain as well, just in case. We should be good for a few years to come.

Which means we will probably get back to wood pile maintenance on the weekends. Since late September we've been burning wood as our only source of heat for the house. It's great because we don't have to run the oil furnace (which hasn't had its yearly maintenance done yet), but it also means that we're putting a dent into the stacked wood pile. We still have plenty of logs to process, though :) So as we burn the stacked wood, ideally we should be replacing it by cutting up and chopping the big logs. And now that the chainsaw is back in operation, we can do just that!

In other news, last night I went over to visit our friend with the twins. They are so cute!!! They're now crawling, and are learning to walk with support (like a coffe table, or preferably an adult whose hand you can hold on to). I think they vaguely remember me, as they seemed intrigued by my face, but it may just be wishful thinking :) I had a lot of fun playing with them (well, mostly E), walking, jumping and crawling on the floor. I have a feeling that their first words are coming soon, which is a good sign that they're adapting well!

That's it for updates for today. I'm about to go to my choir practice (Yay!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Busy busy weekend

What a busy weekend... As you can see in the pictures, today we decided to clean out the loft in the barn. There was a thick layer of 5 year old hay all over the floor, and we'd been planning to get rid of it since we bought the house. But those things take time, I guess :) Even though they were predicting rain today, it turned out to be a fairly nice, pleasant day, so we figured this was our chance. Plus, for once there are no cars in the barn - the neighbour who usually stores his cars with us has taken them out for a few weeks.

So we suited up into our hazmat suits (we were covered head to toe, with eye protection and breathing masks). Since there always seems to be some mice in the barn, we just wanted to be safe. And we were really glad we did after the fact - the breathing masks were just filthy with grey-brown dust, and we would have breathed it all in otherwise. Yuck! Of course all that clothing and masks made us really hot and sweaty, and it wasn't very easy to breathe, but that's just the way it goes...

We made a lot of discoveries in the hay of the loft. Newspapers, plastic bags, abandoned hornets nests, weird old Halloween masks (?). We were raking everything out through the big opening at the front of the barn. Once thrown out, the hay ended up in a huge pile, that we carted out into the woods, one wheelbarrowful at a time. We were hoping to get everything done today, but unfortunately we only managed to do half of the loft. Hopefully, next weekend will be nice enough to continue the work (and maybe even finish it!). We've been talking about this for so long, it would be awesome to have it finally done.

But that's just the story of Sunday. Friday night and Saturday were just as busy, if not busier. Friday night we dropped by Home Depot to pick up an electric fireplace for the basement (no payment and no interest until 2008 - yahoo!). The thing came in two boxes, which we were hoping would fit in the wagon... Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, only one of them fit at a time. So DH had to go home with the one car (and one box), and come back with the other car to get me and the second box. Luckily we live fairly close to the store... Once we got both boxes home, we realized we weren't able to carry the big box up the stairs into the house (and then down the stairs into the basement). According to the figures on the box, it weighed 193lbs... No wonder we had trouble carrying it... Luckily DH suggested we open it then and there, and it turned out there were smaller boxes inside, much easier to carry... But after getting all the pieces into the basement, we were pooped, and just went to bed.

Saturday morning, we put the fireplace together. It turned out to be a pretty easy job, just 8 pieces and 20 screws. It's electric, so there is no chimney, and it has a granite top, which makes it look really sharp. We already placed a couch and a coffee table in front of it, and it creates a nice cozy corner in the big empty basement room. We've also tested that it will warm up the room pretty well (it can get a little chilly down there in the winter).

After the big assembly job, we had a quick lunch, and then I left the house to go meet some friends for coffee. We had a fantastic time catching up and having very interesting philosophical discussions. We talked about finding purpose and meaning in life, while at the same time staying true to oneself, and taking care of what matters most to us. It's a pretty vast topic, really, and we probably could have discussed it for days... Well, maybe not in a coffee shop ;)

After the get-together, I ran a few errands, then re-convened with friends for supper. I had sushi for the first time in my life (the real thing, raw fish and all). I wasn't too adventurous, and didn't touch the octopus, but the stuff that I had wasn't nearly as weird as I was worried it would be. In fact it tasted kind of nice. I guess I am finally growing up (when it comes to food anyway), and I can finally appreciate the more exotic cuisine. I used to always be very much a "meat and potatoes" kind of girl, but I am glad I can be a little more adventurous, at least from time to time.

After supper, we went to see a concert. We saw a young jazz singer by the name of Sophie Millman, performing songs from her self-titled debut CD. It was a very nice assortment of songs, Sophie has a great voice and lots of talent, and she's very beautiful to boot. But for me, the opening act stole the show. Just a guy with a piano, Stephane Moccio managed to capture my imagination and tug at my heartstrings with his haunting melodies and lively delivery. The anecdotes between the songs were great too. His debut CD is coming out on November 14, and I certainly plan on getting it.

Before I sign off, here's a picture that DH snapped of me, writing this blog:

'til next time!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thoughts about parenting

Yes, I know, I am not a parent, and I'm sure it's a lot different than anything I may imagine. But that doesn't prevent me from having some opinions on the subject (though I do try to keep most of them to myself). And sometimes I can't help but voice my thoughts :O Last night DH showed me an article that made both of us shake our heads in disbelief. The article was written by a teacher complaining about the current trend in the Ontario school system to force all the students to pass their class. In the particular case described in the article, the teacher recommended that a student who had missed 2/3 of the school year (and hence did not master the knowledge required) should repeat that grade. But the parents of the teenager insisted that repeating a class would be damaging to the kid's self-esteem, and he was allowed to pass to the next grade.

So basically, the message being sent to kids these days is "you can't do wrong - skip classes, ignore your homework, and if your parents love you enough, they will make sure you still make it to the next grade". Sometimes I have to wonder if people really think that self-esteem comes from having everything in the world handed to you? Somehow, I don't think it's that simple :)

So today DH sends me this gem of an insightful thought: it seems that a lot of parents nowadays justify their behaviour by saying "I want my kids to have the best/everything they can". But shouldn't we be focusing instead on "I want my kids to BE the best/everything they can be"? It would seem that those two goals are almost orthogonal in the way you would go about to accomplishing them. Not saying that either is easy, or obvious, but I think that DH really hit on something if not deep, then at least interesting to ponder.

After all, the saying doesn't go "Have all you can have!" :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Interesting article

I just came across an article about recent research on the self-awareness of elephants. Thought it was pretty cool! I'd love to be doing some research like that. Not that I completely hate my job now, it's certainly got some positives and negatives, and I really get into some of the day-to-day stuff (debugging? I could do it all day and night, and you wouldn't even have to pay me :)). But I think most people fantasize about changing carreers from time to time. DH actually made it happen. Going from software geek to english geek really worked for him :) But again, even in his new job there are good parts and bad parts, and you have to take the good with the bad... All that to say that I am not going to change careers any time soon, but I do find psychological research fascinating, especially when it involves animals. They are so cute! I bet the pay is pretty low, though...

This concludes my work day dressed up as a Christmas tree. Most people seemed to get it, although some looked really puzzled. Can't wait to go home and put my comfy clothes on :)


Weekend summary

I kept meaning to post an update on the weekend, but I just kept running out of time! I guess we had a pretty busy weekend :)

Friday night we had some friends over for a Halloween-themed double bill. We watched the movieThe Ring, and the sequel The Ring Two that one of our friends brought over. We had already seen the first one, but it was fun to watch it again. As far as horror movies go, I think it's a pretty good one. The sequel was a little disappointing, it didn't seem to flow as effortlessly as the first one. Still, it was fun. We had ordered some pizza, and had some munchies on hand, which was enough food to sustain us through over 4 hours of movie watching (those movies are crazy long). Then, to allow us to actually sleep that night, we popped in a DVD of TV Funhouse sketches that another friend had brought. It was a late night, but a fun night.

On Saturday, DH remembered that he had to check something at work. So we went downtown to his office. On our way back, we stopped at a bunch of furniture stores, looking for a new couch for our living room. During the kitchen renovation last year we moved our big couch into the basement, and I'd like to leave it there (it's a big pain to move it). But we need more lounging furniture upstairs, so I am trying to find another couch. I have some clear ideas in mind, and there doesn't seem to be that much choice out there. So this was mostly an exploration trip, to see what's available. I'm sure we won't be buying anything anytime soon, still not "there" yet.

Saturday night, I went to the NAC to see Swan Lake by the Kirov Ballet. It was very nice. Unfortunately, we were late for the performance, because we had forgotten that it was an early start time. All performances at the NAC usually start at 8, but this one was at 7. There were three of us going, and none of actually looked at the time on the ticket until it was too late... Luckily it's a long ballet, and we only missed a small part.

The funny thing about this ballet is that back in high school, my friend M was in ballet, and her class performed parts of Swan Lake in a big production. I was helping M with her hair (she's got a lot of gorgeous hair that is hard to convince to stay tucked in a chignon), so I saw a lot of rehearsals and the performances, and a lot of the steps became really familiar. So much so, that when I saw the show on Saturday, at times I could have sworn I was seeing my friend M dancing on the stage in front of me. I had sort of a weird nostalgia thing going on there for a while :)

On Sunday, I prepared for Junior Achivement for Monday, and we ordered some parts for our chainsaw, which meant we spent a LOT of time on the computer - everything is slow at dial-up speed. I am really getting ready to try again to see if the new high-speed alternatives will work at our house (last time we checked, there were slim pickings, but things change pretty quickly). Sunday night we watched Rent on TV. And just like that, the weekend was over.

Yesterday (Monday), we had another production session at our Junior Achievement company. We managed to get lots of production done, and didn't get out of there until around 6:30 (the whole thing starts at 2:30). It was a long meeting, but that's pretty normal, since we're still getting used to actually running the meetings. The executive is doing a good job staying on top of things.

And today it's Halloween. A bunch of us dressed up at work, but the great majority of the people didn't get into the spirit of things. I'll let you guess what I am dressed up as:


Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Ok, so big news: I have officially switched the blog to the new blogger beta. Or google-blogger, or whatever you want to call it. Should have no impact for the readers of the blog (AFAIK it'll still look the same), but it looks like there are some new options I may take advantage of as I build up the blog. I wasn't particularly attached to the existing blogger interface, so it probably won't impact me much. So far so good, anyway.

I got to thinking about yesterday about blogging, and how it's pretty much impossible to have a blog with substance without offending someone. For some unknown reason, I am usually pretty sensitive to the fact that there are always two sides to a story (i.e. if you tell me "A", I can probably make a compelling argument for "not A" - I should have been on a debate team!). So whenever I post something, I am pretty much always aware how someone might get offended by it. Which is probably the reason why I haven't advertised this to too many people...

As I was thinking about all that, some thoughts crystallized in my head. These are not new or revolutionary thoughts, more like concepts I'd been dealing with for a long time, but all of a sudden they became really clear. Not only is it impossible to please everyone, but you should not ever even attempt it. Byt trying to please everyone, all one can accomplish is lose oneself completely. Now that doesn't mean one should not be aware of others, or considerate to others, or civil or courteous. You can be all that, and still firmly stand your own ground. And you will probably insult or offend some people just by having your own opinions, but as long as you're not being obnoxious about it (feeling superior, or bringing up the subject constantly etc), you can't really be blamed for other people's feelings.

Of course that's a big caveat. I think it's hard to draw that line of obnoxiousness, because it's different for different people. I guess you have to decide for yourself where it lies for you. And revise it over time, as new evidence comes up, and you discover the sore points of people who are important to you (or maybe even strangers who bring up valid points).

I'm not quite sure exactly where my obnoxiousness line lies yet, as I am still fine-tuning it...

OK, next time I post I promise to write about something more upbeat. Maybe my new JA company :)


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


OK, so I really try not to get onto my high horse too often, because I know how annoying that can be. Plus, I know very well that I am not a saint by any stretch, and just like anyone else, I'm not too crazy about hearing sermons from others. However, this
article deals with an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Canada is sitting at the coveted #4 spot as one of the biggest over-consumers in the world. It bugs me that we, as a society, are such uber-consumers. And clearly, I am not completely immune to this, after all, we do have 2 cars for 2 people, and just this year we bought a laptop and a digital video camera. But we do make a concerted effort to:
1) minimize the amount of garbage we produce each week (by composting, recycling and re-using as much as possible)
2) if at all possible, avoid buying overpackaged, disposable and single-use items
3) always resist the urge to buy on an impulse
4) resist the hype!

I really get quite annoyed at all the commercials that try to convince us that we absolutely *NEED* and *DESERVE* the latest and greatest in _fill-in-the-blank_, especially when it comes to disposable stuff. The latest trend in cleaning supplies is single-use stuff, that you keep buying every week (lining the corporation's coffers), and throwing out every week (lining the city dump). And yet it seems to make sense to many, many people. Is it just a case of "out of sight, out of mind"?

Also, it seems to me that everything is being designed for obsolescence. As an example, when we bought the light kit for the ceiling fan on the weekend, it turned out that they didn't carry the same colour for this brand (and they have over 20 different colours). They have similar colours, but just different enough that they would clash. My cynical side tends to believe this is done so that we would buy a whole new set (fan + light kit), since we can't match our existing fan anymore... We ended up going with a complementary colour instead...

And don't get me started about the "keeping up with the Jones'" syndrome. It seems to have been getting progressively worse (caused by easy credit? mass media? spiritual emptiness?) over the last few decades. Sometimes I wonder if it can even be stopped...

Anyway, I will get off my high horse now... But I would like to encourage everyone to take one small step to lower our over-consumption. Who knows, you may even save some money! One thing that I heard one couple do, was take a look at their weekly garbage at the curb, and try to minimize or eliminate the high runners. Too much styrofoam? Try to buy things in other types of containers. Cardboard? Maybe that can be recycled. Food scraps? Consider composting... You get the idea.

Ok, no more ranting for at least a month, I promise!


Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekend update

So we had another busy weekend... But lots got done. The first major accomplishment is that the huge pile of logs under the lean-to is no more: we've finally managed to cut and chop all of the wood, and it is 90% stacked (and the remaning 2% will probably get burned over the course of this week). Luckily Saturday was really nice, so it was a pleasure to be working on the wood pile with the beautiful sun an pleasant breeze. Now we only have 3 more piles to go ;) But at least we now have some room to move around under the leanto and re-arrange the remaining wood. The original wood pile seemed so daunting for the last 2 years (at least), so it feels really good to have it gone.

So that was pretty much our whole Saturday. On Sunday, the weather turned out to be miserable. Hail, rain, icy winds, in one word "Bleh!". But we had some tickets to go skating at the local NHL arena, which we do each year, so we had to leave the house. We left early, and even managed to get DH a new pair of skates (he's never had a new pair). I think we may have been the only adults without children there, though we were having fun just like a pair of little kids, so maybe that counts ;) After skating we went to a lighting store and picked up a light kit for the ceiling fan in our living room. And we managed to get the light installed when we got back home, together with a handy remote, so now I have an actual light in the ceiling (it's only been 5 years...). So now if we have friends over for dinner, or to play cards, we can entertain in the living room, with the fire going, and with actual lighting :)

Oh, and another accomplishment this weekend: I made my first borsht (or as we spell it: barszcz). It actually tasted decent, and we're still alive, so it must not be poisonous ;) It's kind of a complex soup to make, with a lead time of a few weeks, which is why I never made it before. But now I know I can!

Anyway, that's it for the big news today :)

Till later!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

CARS (part 2)

Ok, so where was I? Oh yeah, cars I never really get a chance to drive :) ...

Well, after we left Algeria and came to Canada, my parents really didn't have any money for cars. But we needed some kind of transportation, so they bought an old and decrepid Plymouth Horizon, that had recently been in an accident. Poor little car, I think it was held together by duct tape and sheer power of will. The driver's side mirror was held in place with chewing gum... This is the car in which I eventually learned how to drive, and I vividly remember my friend always bringing an umbrella into the car, so that she could whack the dash with it whenever the radio started cutting out :) The wiring in the dash must have been a little used up as well... For one of the
turn signals, you had to keep depressing the lever, because it always wanted to get back into the "off" position. In other words, the car would always keep you on the edge of your seat when driving. On the positive side, I don't ever remember getting stuck anywhere, the little beater always took good care of me. I will always remember this car fondly, and to this day, whenever I see one drive by (which is becoming an increasingly rare occurance), I have to smile :)

Once my parents found work, and there was some money coming in, they bought a second vehicle. This time, we were riding in style: a 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon. This car may be the single reason why I have a soft spot for wagons. I borrowed this car many a times, and I was pretty much always the designated driver of our group (a pretty easy choice given I don't drink). I also fondly remember driving my baby sister to her skiing classes out in Rigaud. This car almost let me down a few times, stalling in the middle of traffic for example, but certainly the good outweighed the bad. I really discovered the wonderful sense of freedom that you get when getting into a car with the wide open road ahead of you. Even though my stepfather kept a close watch on the kms I put on it every time I went out, I still had the feeling I could go anywhere and do anything... Great memories :)

The third car my parents bought (once we said goodbye to the trusty old Horizon), was a 1993 Oldsmobile Achieva. I didn't get to drive this car nearly as much as the other two, since it was the new car right until the time I moved out. I don't have too many memories of it, except that it was the car in which i had my first accident. Totally not my fault, although if I had a bit more experience I might have been able to either avoid it, or lessen the impact. It was one of those things, huge snow storm, blowing gale, reduced visibility, and I had driven all the way across town, with my Mom in the passenger seat. We were just 3 streets away from home, when a city truck decided to ignore a stop sign and drive right into my path. I wasn't going to fast, but with the snowfall, and the ABS engaging, I wasn't able to stop in time, and ended up hitting him. Believe me, it wasn't a nice night to be sitting inside the city truck filling out the paperwork and freezing to death. The only casualty ended up being our bumper cover, but to this day I am leary of that intersection (one-way stop with poor visibility). Maybe that's the reason why I was never as attached to this car as the others...

So after that I moved out, and my parents' cars stopped being my rides. I commuted by bus, metro and bike, until I came to Ottawa for my internship at Nortel. That's where I met my DH, and around halfway through my stay here, I got introduced to his car, a 1994 Cherry red Ford Probe. I have to say I was very impressed. I think I instantly became a fan of sports cars :) This became the car on which I learned how to drive a standard (thanks to the immense patience of DH), and it's the the only car we had for a few years after I moved up here for good. In fact, we're still driving it today, though it's a little faded, and the sunroof won't open anymore... But it's still as fun to drive as ever! If the Horizon hadn't convinced me that hatchbacks are where it's at, this car certainly would have :)

Which is why our next car had to be a hatchback. A 1999 ferngruen (a.k.a. green) BMW 318ti was our little princess. We ordered it in Canada, and went all the way to Germany to pick it up, drive to the port of Bremerhaven, and ship it back to Halifax. Then we went to Halifax, we picked it up at the shipyards, and drove it all the way home. It was a great big adventure, and so was owning the car. When I say the car was a princess, I mean it both in a good and a not-so-good way. The car had great handling, was a pleasure to drive, looked amazing and made us feel at home. But it also required a lot of pampering, and really didn't enjoy it when we bought our house on a dirt road. It was made to drive on the smooth pavement of the autobahn, and all the gravel and potholes made it cranky...

So when we decided to go on a cross-country trip, we decided we would trade the 'ti in for something a little bigger (so we could fit all our trip gear), and maybe a little less refined. We ended up getting a second hand 2002 Volkswagen Passat Wagon. Aside from a flat tire, the car behaved flawlessly throughout the trip, and back home as well. It convinced us that wagons are great, and that we do like german engineering a lot! Our only complaint about the car was a certain gutlessness, a lack of pep when driving it.

So.... when DH noticed that the value of the car was starting to drop quite quickly (he's an appraiser, and knows this kind of stuff), we had to make a decision: either we're driving this car to the ground (sort of what we're doing with the Probe), or we trade it in on something a little newer, and a little peppier. We decided to trade it in on a very similar, yet peppier vehicle, a 2003 Audi A4 Avant. Again a wagon, in a similar colour, but a little smaller, with a bit better handling, and all wheel drive. This car we will probably drive to the ground, it seems like the perfect compromise: it has the driveability of the BMW, combined with the utility and versatility of the Passat.

So that's it. My life as a passenger and car owner :)


Friday, October 20, 2006


Ok, so today I am going to try something different. I want to talk about the cars in my life. Why? Well, because I am a bit of a car nut, and I think cars have always been an important part of my life.

So to start with, I have to dig deep into my memory... So the cars of my childhood. I only remember my parents having one car, and that was a trabant. I've scoured the web for some pictures, and here's the best picture I could find. In Poland, we affectionately called them soapboxes. The body of the car was made out of plastic, which may explain the nickname :) You can find lots of information about the trabant at the following website. A very typical Polish car. The other two cars that I remember very well from that time, are the polonez driven by my
grandfather, and the little FIAT, or maluch (i.e. tiny one) driven by my other grandfather. I think these three cars probably represent more than 50% of the vehicular population of Poland at the time :)

So once we left Poland, we went to Algeria. There, we mostly drove Peugeots, the mainstay of cooperants there. Ours were the 504 model, a good workhorse. I really enjoyed those cars, though I am sure today I would find them quite unrefined. We took ours all over Western Europe and Northern Africa (ok, just Marocco, Algeria and Tunisia, but still), and they served us well. We had one different car in Algeria, though: an old Mercedes Benz, my first experience of a "couch on wheels". The seats in that car were so mushy, it was very very easy to get sea-sick in the back seat on winding roads... In fact, I really disliked being driven in that beast, although I am sure it was fun to drive :) Of course I was way too young to even start thinking about a driving license at the time (though I do remember being allowed to steer the Peugeot on a remote road once - a good memory!).

But the one good thing about the MB is that it saved our lives. We once had an accident so bad that the front axle broke on the car, we had three flats and the witnesses told us that we "need to kill a sheep and have a meshoui tonight" because we were very lucky to have even survived it... I remember the shocks coming out through the wheel wells, it was an unbelievable sight. But we got the car towed to a mechanic, who somehow managed to solder the axle, and promised us it would last us the rest of our life (though he made no promises as to the length of said life). I don't think we kept the car much longer after that, but we were certainly very thankful for the quality of its original built. There's no doubt in my mind that in a lesser quality vehicle we would have not survived (a few centimeters was all that was separating us from dropping down onto a highway into the path of big trucks). So if only for that reason, this car certainly deserves a special mention. And that may also be the reason why to this day I have a soft spot for german engineered vehicles... Though for the life of me I do not remember the model number of the car (the colour was something light and soft, like caramel or something). I'll have to ask my Mom if maybe she remembers.

Unfortunately, I have to conclude this episode of "down memory lane... the car version", because I have to get going. But stay tuned, part 2 will follow shortly :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Speed of life

Isn't life just crazy? I can't believe how fast it goes! I was reminded of that on two separate occasions today. Once, when we went out for lunch for a coworker, who's leaving on her maternity leave tomorrow. And I swear it seems like just a few months ago she told us she was pregnant for the first time (and this is her second pregnancy). Her first daughter is going to be 2 very soon...

And then another friend sent out the picture of her niece that she adopted. The whole adoption process was a mess that somehow got really mangled, and ended up taking forever. The little 12 year old girl that we saw in pictures has now become a 16 year old young lady. It doesn't seem like all that long ago when we first heard of her, but the pictures from then and now seem like two different girls. And as much as I'd like to delude myself, I am sure the passage of time can be noticed in my pictures as well ;)

This year was our 5th wedding anniversary. I find it hard to believe we've been married longer than we had been dating before our wedding. We've known each other for 10 years now, and the 10th anniversary of our first "date" is coming up in around 2 months. And yes, at times it does seem like we've been together forever (and then some), but most of the time it just seems like we've barely scratched the surface in our relationship. Either I'm married to a very, very deep guy, or I'm very slow at getting to know people, or there's always something new to discover because we're still constantly growing as people. Most likely, it's a combination of all three. And I really like it. When I was growing up, I used to wonder how people managed to have a simple life (especially without kids), and not get bored with the routine and each other. But now I understand better the whole concept of "the more we know the less we know", that with each discovery/understanding we only find out more to explore, whether it be about life, about the world, or about our spouse. How can one ever get bored, as long as one keeps their thinking hat on?

Anyway, I've got more musings on that, but I have to go, it's almost time for my volleyball game.

Keep exploring!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kitten pictures!

Ok, so here it is, the promised "part-two" of the story of our long weekend. Also, for your viewing pleasure, I am including some shots of mama-cat (Tiger) and one of the kittens (Tim - the neighbours decided to call the little ones Tim and Bits in honour of the donut holes you can find at Tim Horton's). It's hard to still call him a kitten, as he'll soon outgrow his Mom. His paws and his head are already way bigger than hers!

Anyway, so aside from being visited by the cats, we had all sorts of other excitement on the weekend. We went to visit friends for dinner twice, and we also spent a whole bunch of time working on our wood pile. I think we have maybe half a face cord of wood all nicely cut, split and piled, ready to be used. It's fun work, but it's still a lot of work. One of these days I'll post a picture of our growing (so far) wood pile :) We also did some repairs to the barn, because one of the logs supporting the lean-to had rotted away, and in the winter the roof was looking like it might collapse under the weight of ice and snow. So we found a suitable log, cut it to the right length and shape, found a suitable cement support and nailed it into place. Not a really big job, but one that badly needed to be done before the winter. And now it is off the to-do list :)

So on to our other activities of the weekend, namely visiting with friends. Saturday we visited my friend and coworker and her family. We really had a blast. The food was extra delicious (ham stuffed with chicken and cheese - how can you go wrong?), and the company very enjoyable. My friend's kids entertained us with many magic tricks (very well rehearsed), and after dinner we played a few hands of Uno. DH had never played the game before, and he was getting confused about the rules, to the delight of the kids. I think everyone had a lot of fun, and it's always refreshing to see such well-behaved and polite, yet still lively and vibrant children :)

On Saturday we had the traditional Thanksgiving get-together with DH's childhood friends (from here on I'll refer to them as homeys). As every year we were invited to the mansion that J owns, which is nestled in the woods just minutes from where we live. It was great to see everyone as usual, and the weather was so beautiful we went not just for one but for two walks in the beautiful surroundings. We must have been quite a sight, a 5 year old, two dogs and a bunch of grownups (some of us behaving still like 5 year olds) :) It was a riot. The dinner was a potluck, with the hosts providing a full Thanksgiving dinner and the rest of us just bringing a few incidentals. Because our vegan friend can't really eat the traditional turkey, I was bringing a vegan meal. DH suggested I try something indian for a change, so I made a chana masala (a recipe I found on one of the vegan forums on the internet). I think it turned out quite ok, although I was amazed at how long I had to boil the chickpeas (2.5 hours boiling at home, and then another hour in the oven!). This is one of the billions of great things about the internet - the ability to have all these recipes at the tip of your finger! And now that I've bought all these exciting new spices (turmeric and curry and friends), I can't wait to try some more indian recipes. I think something with potatoes and peas is going to be next :)

So I think that's it for our gastronomic adventures on the weekend (though we're still eating some of the leftovers). Hope you've enjoyed the totally unrelated pictures :)

Here's one of a grasshopper that landed in DH's hand and just didn't want to leave!


Monday, October 09, 2006

More kitten news

Just had to post this this morning. Cats are just so darn cute :)

Yesterday we were hanging out on the deck drinking smoothies, when the mama-cat came over to visit. BTW, it looks like the neighbours are going to keep the cats, so we should be seeing them around for years to come :) So mama-cat was hanging around, walking between DH and me and being all friendly and purring. So I dipped my finger in the smoothie, and let her lick it off. She really seemed to like it. I figured it was probably ok for her, as it's mostly soy milk and blueberries. I usually leave a small dish with clean water on the deck, so that if she gets thirsty she can always have a drink, and she often does, so I figured she may now come looking for water and smoothies ;)

In the evening we went to visit some friends (it is Canadian Thanksgiving after all). We came back around 10pm, to be greeted by Tiger (aka mama-cat), carrying a mouse in her mouth. She dropped it right at our feet, very proud of herself. I guess one treat deserves another ;) I think she ate the mouse overnight, because there was no trace of it this morning. We were pretty happy about that, as we're not too keen on starting a dead mouse collection in the driveway. So we're eating breakfast this morning, when all of a sudden Tiger appears behind the patio door, drops another dead mouse on our deck, and meows proudly in our direction. She also tried to shove the mouse around a bit, looked like she was trying to prove that it was freshly killed... I know the intentions were very sweet, but it's kind of hard to eat breakfast with freshly killed mice at your door...

Now I have to let DH use the computer, so I'll have to finish the whole story of the weekend another time.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Random thoughts

So here it is, I am starting to feel guilty again about not updating this thing. Really, it's cause it feels like nothing is happening. But in fact things are happening. Just nothing exiting enough to make me want to shout from the rooftops. Which is quite unusual, because it doesn't usually take much for me to want to share my thoughts with whomever is willing to listen...

I guess I've just been a little tired and worn out. Last weekend was great, but very busy. We spent a lot of time chopping wood for the winter. We keep a pile of wood on the left side of the barn, under a lean-to. Every fall, my stepfather likes to scour the land in search of fallen/dead trees, and we drag them back to the barn. After they've had time to dry for a year, we cut them and chop them into burnable pieces. Then, when the cold winter months come, we can burn them in the woodstove, for rustic charm but also to heat up the house. It lessens our dependance on the oil company :) We have a little rechargeable chainsaw, which works pretty well on the small-diameter logs we have, and we also have a kick-ass splitting axe, so the whole job of cutting, splitting and stacking is a lot of fun. But it also exercises some muscles that I don't normally use. So after the first wood chopping session of the season, I am always sore in funny spots.

As luck may have it, I also started a new session of Yoga last Friday (after a whole summer off), so I could feel that in my muscles too :) As a result, when Monday rolled around I wasn't the most rested person out there. And as everyone knows, once you start the week tired, you'll probably be tired all week... Luckily, the coming weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving, so we'll have a long weekend. We already have lots of social plans, so it should be a hoot. And hopefully I can get some rest somewhere in there too :)

Hmm, I was going to put some actual random thoughts into this post. But it's getting kind of late, and I want to be on time for my volleyball game! I'll have to save my deep thoughts for later :) Maybe on the weekend I'll have a chance to sit down and ponder online ;)

And again, I have no pictures for you. The other day, my cubemate used his cellphone snapped a picture of a small snake on one of the paths at work, but when I went looking for it, it was obviously gone... That would have been a great addition to this blog, I think :)

Anyway, that's it for now!

Happy trails,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Poker, poker and more poker

So this week we have a Texas Hold'em Poker tournament at work (for charity). Being an occasional poker player, I registered, just to see what it would be like. On the weekend we had a few friends over and had a friendly game, which was good practice. I was still feeling a little hesitant about it, given that I had never really played according to the official Texas Hold'em rules. For example, when we play with friends, we always play that Aces are high, so a hand of A-2-3-4-5 would not be a straight. But in the official rules, it is.

So Monday afternoon rolls around, and I head to the cafeteria, where the tournament takes place. A few of my coworkers were coming with me, but when we drew our table numbers, we were all located at different tables. There were 20 tables, with pretty much 10 players each - for a total of 197 players! Imagine my surprise when I found out that one of the guys at my table was a good friend who we play poker with regularly. It made me feel better to have a friendly face at my table, as I was still a little worried about not being able to keep up with all those serious looking poker players. But then something happened. I was getting really good hands (2-pairs, A-K flushes, etc). After the first half hour, I was the person with the most chips at the table ;) When you have that many chips, it makes it easier and easier to bluff people off, and I should have taken advantage of that. But I was playing a little timidly, and in the end that cost me the game. I finished a respectable 4th at our table, but only the top 2 advanced. My friend finished first, so he advanced to the Tuesday round, where he was eliminated as well (by a hand with three 8).

So my Texas hold'em carreer at the work tournament was pretty short lived, but I am determined to learn from my mistakes and do better next year. I still have some memorization to do, as I sometimes confuse the ranking of hands, and I have to hone my bluffing skills. But overall I had a blast, and I am definitely going back in next year. Though I still can't imagine playing this for real money (not the nickel-ante we play at home).

In other news, this week marks the start of the JA Company Program in Ottawa. This is a program I have volounteered with over the last 4 years. It's a program ran for high-school students to give them some exposure to the world of business. The idea is to setup, run and take down an actual company. They have to come up with a product or service, create a production line, a marketing strategy, produce and sell the product, and hopefully come out of the whole process having generated some profit. They get exposed to the concept of break-even point, capitalization, share price, commissions etc. At the same time, they get to learn about leadership, teamwork, competition and such things. And they need some volounteers to introduce the program to them and serve as resources while they run the company. For more information about the program, you can go to the Ottawa JA page. This week we met with the students at our designated high school, and did some introductions, and next week we will be trying to settle on a product. I'll keep you posted on how that goes :)


Friday, September 22, 2006

More work critters

Ok, so things are pretty busy, and I don't have all that much to say (no time for idle musings), but I thought I could at least post a few pictures again. This time, it's little chipmunks that we see around work. A coworker fed this little one a bit of his chocolate danish... Apologies for the quality of the pictures, they were again taken with my PDA/cellphone thingy...

It's already Friday, and next week starts the busy season. I will have something going on every day of the week until February or so. Volounteer work with Junior Achievement, choir, volleyball, yoga twice a week. Surprisingly enough, I am looking forward to it all (I guess otherwise I would really be a masochist...). But it will make the weekends that much more precious :)

Ta ta,

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Musings (or is that whining?)

Ok, so this has been bothering me for a while, I think I have to get it off my chest. I religiously follow our friends' blog about the twin girls from China (see our China blog). Anyway, it's really an interesting read, and I check it often (sometimes a few times a day) to see if there are any updates.

Well, this weekend, a surprising conversation followed the hilarious entry on the blog. I have to take exception to that conversation. It's still bothering me a little (yes, I know, I have no life!).

First of all, note to self: never call anyone an idiot in your blog, it may upset some people (I blame that one on mommy-brain). Just because some people decide to make choices in life that are different than what you would choose, doesn't mean they need to be insulted for it.

Here's what I take exception to: the concept that "equality" in a marriage means the man doing everything that the wife does, or more (equally splitting all chores and duties). I am not a parent, so I understand that I am not all that qualified to comment on the roles of mothers vs fathers and all that, (even though I've spend the last week interacting with new parents, and analyzing what they do and how it works for them). But I get really annoyed with the whole premise that a full partnership must involve a full 50-50 split on all responsibilities. Just as I get annoyed when people say "cooking is a woman's job", or "a man has to make more money than his wife". To me, these are two extremes in the spectrum, neither of them very healthy. My philosophy is one of sharing responsibilities and duties according to abilities (maintaining an eye on fairness obviously). Maybe the husband who doesn't take care of poopy diapers is a hard working surgeon, who brings in lots of money so that his wife can stay at home and take care of the kids and the house (and maybe she even enjoys it-g*d forbid!). Or maybe the partnership is such that the husband takes care of the outside of the house, and the wife of the inside.

And sometimes what happens is that the roles that were defined earlier on in the relationship don't seem appropriate anymore, and that's when one of the partners may start to wonder "how can I get my partner to change xyz". Doesn't mean that the original arrangement was bad, it's just that people change. You can't always prepare for what the future holds.

Personally, for example, I love cooking. So it only makes sense that I would be the cook for our family (not because I am "the woman", but because I like to cook). DH does all the dishes, though (I wish I could say it's because he likes, but in this case it's more a case of the fairness thing). We share most of the other housework almost 50-50 I would say. It works for us, but I am sure there are plenty of couples for whom it wouldn't work at all. I know plenty of men who are excellent cooks, and plenty of women who dislike cooking for example :)

Anyway. gotta go! It was good to get this off my chest...

Back home

We made it back in one piece :) I've been procrastinating with the blog, mostly because of lack of time and opportunity. I only have a little bit of time, so I thought I'd just post a quick summary of the remainder of our trip.

The last two nights in Halifax we played cards with DH's Mom and her beau. We learned a new game called Push, and we had a lot of fun with it. We also played some cribbage, an old favourite. When Thursday rolled around, we didn't really feel like leaving. But we had to go if we wanted to get a chance to meet up with friends on the way, and make it home in time for the Opera on Saturday (wouldn't want to miss the Barber of Seville!).

And so we left Halifax on Thursday morning. Uncharacteristically, we had had good weather all week, and this was another gorgeous day. Our first stop was in Fredericton, where we met up with a high-school friend of DH's. I had never met her before, so it was nice to finally put a face to the name. We had a nice chat at Timmies, and went on our merry way. Oh, before we got to Fredericton, we stopped at Magnetic Hill in Moncton... What a big disappointment that is! I'd been warned about it, but wanted to see it for myself. Unless you have kids and you will be going to the Zoo and associated other amusements in the area, I consider it a waste of the 5$ admission fee. At least it didn't cost us all that much time, since it is right off the highway :)

Leaving Fredericton we weren't sure how far we would go. But with the low volumes of traffic and nice weather we just kept on going and going, until all of a sudden it started getting dark in a hurry. We stopped at a Mike's for supper, and ended up spending the night in the beautiful town of Kamouraska, made famous by a 1973 novel that was part of our mandatory reading material in high-school. It's a very pretty town, with apparently an abundance of picturesque sunsets, as you can see on their homepage.

Friday morning, we had a nice breakfast at the local greasy spoon, and headed out to Quebec City. That's where we met up with my friend A whose baby J is only a month old. That's her in the picture on the left. Isn't she precious? A and her husband just moved to Quebec City this summer, and they are renting a beautiful condo with breathtaking views. It was really a lot of fun to see where they live, and to meet baby J. We've only seen A once in the last 3 years, and that was at her wedding, so it was nice to have a few hours to catch up and just chat.

From QC we headed straight for Montreal, where we stayed overnight with my family. After brunch, we headed for home. We spent the rest of the weekend catching up on chores (laundry, cleanup and the dreaded yardwork), having dinner with friends, going to the Opera, you know, just the usual stuff ;) Then on Monday it was back to work...

And that's how our Halifax trip ended. In all likelihood, this will be our last trip this year, since we've already taken 4 weeks of vacation :) But certainly next year we will have some more travel adventures!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More visiting

So our stay in Halifax is coming to an end... Yesterday we spent some time on the town, and today I went back to visit with the niece and nephew. Had a chance to snap a few more adorable pictures :)

The kids were taking a bath again, so we have lots of towel-hooded shots :) The last shot that I am posting here is of our nephew doing one of his many adult impersonations, where he looks totally like a grownup stuck in a baby's body. He's so funny! He does smile a lot, but doesn't like to do it for the camera! As soon as my face disappears behind the cam, he gets this puzzled frown, wondering what's going on :) It's really funny to watch!

Anyway, that is it for the updates from Halifax. Tomorrow we're heading out, destination Fredericton and possibly beyond. Then the next day we should be able to stop in Quebec City to visit my friend with her newborn (more cute pictures!), then on to Montreal, where we will spend the night, and home on Saturday! I may not be able to update the blog until then!


Monday, September 11, 2006

Here are the pictures

So we did get to see the babies yesterday, and even scored some decent pictures. The first picture is DH with his nephew. Don't they look cute together? This morning I also dropped by to help out SIL a bit, though I'm not sure she really needed all that much help. She's very well organised, and seems to have everything under control. I guess you have to be when you are dealing with twins all day every day! I got to see both babies get a bath, and I gave both a bottle. They are so cute, though squirmy! I am amazed how interactive they are too, being only 3 months old. And they both have a great disposition. They seem to love to smile and giggle, and they don't cry or fuss for very long.

The second picture is of my nephew after a bath. It sure seems like a lot of work, taking care of little twins. They take a while to eat, so it seems like at any time there's either one of them eating, being burped or being changed (and sometimes bathed). Luckily they seem to tag team quite a bit, so when one of them is eating or being fussy or something, the other one is sleeping :) But it also means that the parent in charge gets no respite at all, they have to stay on top of things all day. On the bright side, both kids seem to be sleeping trough the night by now, so that's nice. As long as SIL can get some help during the day, they should be fine. Everyone seems to have a decent routine going on :)

The last picture is my niece after the bath. She's got an infectious smile! If you can believe it, both babies actually seem to enjoy having a bath! They're getting to be too big for the little baby tub, they will soon have to be washed in the big tub, as they tend to splash all the water out onto the floor :D

Gigglingly yours,

Got here...

OK, so I'm a little late with this posting. I just couldn't get connected to the internet until now. I've composed an entry yesterday, though, so I am posting it now. Then I'll create another post with some pictures :)

So we made it to Halifax. We managed to make it all the way from Montreal to Halifax, and in pretty good time too. We managed to cover 1300km in 12 hours of driving, plus 1.5 hours of stops, including a full hour stop for sit-down supper. We still got here before 10pm, because we left Montreal at 7am :) There was really little traffic, but the weather was pretty crappy. It rained for the first 8 hours, at times a little, and sometimes pretty hard. The AWD of the car was pretty useful in the spots where water was accumulating in the ruts and causing us to aquaplane a little :)

Overall it was a very nice drive down. I drove the whole way (yay!), so it went pretty quickly, for me anyway. Saw lots of nice sights, but we were in a hurry so I never took out the camera to take any pictures. So you will just have to take my word for it :) But thanks to the PhatBox(tm) that we got installed on Friday, we had all our music with us, which was really great. We had been really missing having all our music at the touch of the finger. We didn't even realize how much we were missing it. Sounds a little silly, but we both like our music a lot! The weather here is really nice, and we're having lots of fun. Haven't seen the babies yet, but we're hoping to drop by today.