30 December 2008

And so that was Christmas


And what have I learned?  That I’m glad it only comes around once each year!

I’m not certain why I always fool myself into believing that the holidays will be relaxing.  When I blindly began my 12-day break from work, I assumed that I would be lolling around the house and reading books in my pajamas for the duration.  Sure there has been ‘some’ lolling, but mostly I find myself rushing around trying to visit with family and friends.  Imagine trying to lump a year’s worth of visits into a two-week period; it makes for a busy schedule!  Don’t get m wrong though, I’m glad for the time off and I can certainly say that hubby and I have been enjoying ourselves.  Here’s the Coles Notes version:

December 24
Dinner at my Father-In-Law’s house.
  He cooked a giant roast and spoiled us rotten as usual.

December 25
Hubby and I opened our gifts in the morning and enjoyed our annual brunch and mimosas.
  In the afternoon it was off to my parent’s place for the family dinner and turkey.  Mom was hell bent on cooking the big spread – I think it was her way of signaling her “return” to normalcy after the surgery, even though her leg was the size of a tree-trunk after cooking all day.  Once again, Santa spoiled us rotten.  I’m always particularly excited to see what goodies Mom will get me.  She knows my taste perfectly and always finds something beautiful and original; I love how she appreciates my eclectic side.

December 26
Hubby and I visited his 93-year old Nana at the Nursing Home.
  I’m not entirely sure whether the poor old dear understood whether it was Christmas or not.  This year her mind has really started to wander.  She knows who we are and talks to us, but the words are getting jumbled and she often doesn’t string phrases together coherently.  It’s sad to see what age can do; I still remember her as a feisty and quick-witted little woman when Daniel and started dating years ago – we were fast friends and allies.  While she may be hard to understand now, I think that our visits probably do her a world of good.  She always seems to perk up at the prospect of reminiscing and talking about her memories; it’s good to get her mind working and I think she really enjoys it.  

December 27
I visited an old high school buddy who is in town for the holidays with her little one, Mr. N.
  We enjoyed a girly afternoon of catching up and watching the little one play.  It’s amazing how much he has grown in the past few months.  He’s crawling now and his favourite activities include pulling himself up to standing position using the coffee table, opening drawers and eating pretty much everything he encounters.  When I asked Mom how he enjoyed Christmas, she told me that Mr. N enjoyed eating the wrapping paper on all his gifts.  Poor little mite is teething right now, so you can’t really blame him.

Post visit, hubby and I braved the icy roads and drove to the mall for some boxing week deals.  I used some of the money that my Father-In-Law gave me to buy a new bikini for the cruise.  I would like to tell all women that bikini shopping is a frustrating and arduous task...especially if you have been blessed by the Bisson boob fairy.  Now tack on the extra weight gained over the holidays and you have a very depressing image staring back at you in the mirror. Ladies…NEVER, NEVER shop for a bathing suit three days after Christmas!  That being said, I was able to swallow my insecurities and ended up walking out of the store with a full-price (go figure) hot-pink bikini.  There’s not much to it and I fully realize that pink is a cardinal colour sin for redheads, but I figured I’ll go all out on this one and turn heads while I still can – haha!  In all seriousness though, this is probably the last time I’ll ever get to wear a bikini in a long, long, long time!  Now I just have to commit myself to a strict diet and boot camp for the next five weeks…darn.

December 28
I slept in until 8:30 am (huge accomplishment), prepared a Chicken Cassoulet in the slow cooker and baked a Cherry Clafoutis.
  I was planning an “Ode to France” meal in honour of the trip that hubby and I canceled and because I had a girlfriend that was scheduled to come over to dinner.  Sadly, my friend had to cancel due to another family dinner event so I was left with a truckload of food for two people.  Thankfully my brother and sister-in-law were available and came over t help us polish off the food and imbibe more than is healthy for four grown adults.  It was a fun evening and ended up howling like dogs along to a new karaoke game that I got for the Xbox…I’m sure my neighbours were thrilled to hear our drunken rendition of Aha’s “Take on Me” at midnight.

December 29
Exercise (a.k.a. skimpy bikini guilt), laundry and HOCKEY!
  Hubby and I went to see Canada vs. Germany in the World Junior hockey event.  Thankfully we snagged box seats again and were able to enjoy some breathing space and an awesome view.  The Scotiabank Place was packed at full capacity and, with the bus strike still on, parking was a bit hectic.  Thank goodness we’re both in good shape because we had quite the hike in!  I really enjoyed seeing the Junior’s because the crowd really gets into the spirit – it’s nice cheering for your country rather than a specific city or NHL team.  While the players still have a lot of learning to do, it’s decent hockey and many of them will go on to play on professional teams.  At this age they still have to prove themselves, so they really throw their hearts into the game.  Canada ended up winning 5-1.  Giant kudos to the German goal tender who was the game VIP with some  34 + shots on net.  Hope the guy helped himself to a German-sized beer after the game!

December 30
Finally, we have arrived at present day!
  Hubby and I made plans to go snowshoeing at Larose Forest today but it appears that the weather may keep us inside.  We got some fresh snow last night which would be perfect for the trails, the sun is shining and it’s warmer than usual, however I’m concerned about falling branches or trees  because of the high winds today.  I’m hoping that Mother Nature will cooperate soon.  I’m itching to try out this new 4 K trail that is, conveniently, only 15 minutes from our home.

Sports aside, I have plans to meet up with some girlfriends tonight at a Thai Restaurant downtown.  One of my friends is heading off to visit her family and attend a wedding in the Philippines, so we wanted to see her before she leaves.  It should a be fun night and I’m looking forward to trying out a new restaurant.  I love Thai food but unfortunately not all of their ingredients agree with my IBS.  Sadly, I think I’ll have to play it safe with a standard vegetarian dish…although I do have the next few days off work so maybe I’ll risk it.  Wish me luck.

So there you have it – my laughingly ‘relaxing’ holidays.  Congratulations if you have made it this far.  Hubby and I still don’t have concrete plans for New Year’s Eve, but the prospect of just staying home and relaxing is becoming more appealing as the days go on.

Wishing you and your families a happy and healthy holiday and all the best for 2009!

22 December 2008

Come sail away

Hubby and I have officially said arrivederci to our European vacation. On a positive note, however, I’m thrilled to report that we’ll be saying hola to Central America! In an odd turn of events, hubs and I are now booked on a seven-day Exotic Western Caribbean cruise onboard the NCL Spirit. The fun part - we leave in five weeks!

After deciding to cancel our over-ambitious European escape, I started searching for vacation alternatives that would scale back costs and allow us to still use our credit with United Airlines. Needless to say, I was very surprised to discover that a seven-day cruise is not only within budget, it’s also more economical than five days in Paris (our original fallback plan). Now I’ll get to see several different countries, with the benefit of living in luxury and having all my meals included. I can see how a cruise may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s nothing quite like be surrounded by ocean or waking up in a new port everyday. This will be my third cruise with NCL – I guess you could say that I’m hooked now.

It may not be what hubby and I had originally planned, but I’d say it’s a pretty nice alternative for our last “hoorah”.

Itinerary:

Day 1 – Depart New Orleans
Day 2 – At Sea
Day 3 – Costa Maya, Mexico
Day 4 – Santo Tomas De Catilla, Guatemala
Day 5 – Belize City, belizeDay 6 – Cozumel, Mexico
Day 7 – At Sea
Day 8 – Return New Orleans

I’m both excited and terrified by the idea of leaving from New Orleans. The crime has reached an unprecedented rate since Hurricane Katrina but it’s a city that has always fascinated me. Hubby and I decided to arrive in NO the day before the cruise departs. Hopefully we’ll be able to visit Bourbon Street in the daylight after we check into our hotel. Based on all that I’ve read lately, the city is still in dire need of development. I’m glad that I’ll be helping their economy out, even if it just a small amount. I hope that I’ll be able to take some great photos of the “Big Easy,” a deceiving moniker given the situation. High crime or not, however, nothing can keep be from venturing out to sample some “real” jambalaya!

Only 40 days left…
Now how to stay calm?

18 December 2008

Look out Santa

One week until Christmas and I’m certainly giving the big guy a run for his money in the “rotund” competition. With all the holiday goodies that have passed though my still-freakish lips, you may find me behind the sleigh this year. I even find myself uttering “HoHoHo,” not simply because I’m jolly, but more because I’m out of breath. I guess we all know what the rambling redhead’s NY resolution will be this year!

Despite the proximity to Christmas I still find it hard to muster up my usual holiday spirit. The economy is crap and, to make matters worse, the Ottawa transit union is on strike. The entire city is hurting because of this strike: businesses are dead, people can’t get to their jobs, and the lousy weather and additional cars on the road make for long and painful commutes. Thankfully one of my colleagues (I have named her Saint-Anne), has agreed to drive me to and from work for the duration of the strike. Yesterday’s commute took two full hours…horrible! I’m very fortunate to have such a kind coworker living near me; others are stranded and trying to find ways into the city each day. Merry Christmas indeed…

In other news, do you know what I really want for Christmas? I want my damn stitches to dissolve and I want my lips back! Aren’t I just a big ‘oul ball of joy? Bah Humbug!

14 December 2008

An evening with Anne

I ended up missing out on the holiday cheer last evening and decided to stay home while hubby went to his work group’s Christmas potluck dinner. My lip was still pretty swollen and dry by the end of the day and I didn’t relish the thought of being introduced to strangers with my clown smile. I also didn’t want to have to explain, in French, what the heck a mucocele is. Far better to stay at home and wallow in my own puffy misery. Actually it wasn’t all bad; the original Anne of Green Gables was on CBC last night so I enjoyed reliving my childhood. I always loved Anne as child because of the obvious redheaded and quick-tempered connection. I guess you could say that we’re “kindred spirits” and I too hated being called “carrots”.

I am pleased to report that my lip feels more human this morning, rather than a toughened piece of meat. There is still some swelling but I feel as though I’ve regained some feeling around the incision. Unfortunately, with more feeling comes more pain. I’m certainly not in agony, but I more ‘aware’ of area now. I think that things are bound to ache a little as the incision heals and skin starts to come together. I see one small bump at the end of the incision and I’m terrified that it may be another small mucocele. I guess I’ll have to wait until the skin smoothes out to know whether the doctor got everything out. At any rate, while the surgery and the healing really isn’t that bad, I certainly don’t want to have to go through this again.

Lip aside, hubby and I have nothing too excited planned for today. After being cooped up for the past two days, I’m starting to feel a little stir crazy. We may end up tackling the crowds at the mall to finish of Christmas shopping. We’re almost done with the family and friends list, but I still haven’t found some alone time to finish hubby’s shopping. I’m starting to fear that I’ll be rushing around with the men on Christmas Eve in a desperate bid buy something.

I
n closing, and because I’m just a wee bit strange, I’m leaving you with a “Day 3” shot of the lip. Keep smiling : )


13 December 2008

Puffer fish

Day two of the lip saga and I’m certainly looking a little puffier than yesterday. All of the freezing is out now and I can confidently say that I have lost some feeling in my lip due to severed nerves during the surgery. All in all, however, it’s a slight numbness and not too bad. I’m confident that I’ll regain full feeling within the week.

I’m pleasantly surprised that my lip doesn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. I woke up once in the middle of the night because I had rolled on to my stomach and planted my head down, face-first, onto the pillow. Not surprisingly, this caused my lip to swell and I awoke with a bit of pulsating at incision site. It took me about 20 minutes to fall back asleep but I was able to stay out on my back for the rest of the night. I only took a few Advil (no more evil Tylenol) this morning to help with the swelling but, once again, there really isn’t any pain worth mentioning.

Despite being relieved that the cyst is gone and that all seems to be healing well, I’m still feeling down in the dumps today. Hubby is going to his office Christmas party tonight at his boss’s house. I happen to love this guy because he is a fellow Bordeaux lover and did not hesitate to keep filling my glass last year. The party is also a potluck for all the employees who are encouraged to bring a traditional dish from their culture. Given the fact that the doctor told me to avoid alcohol and spicy dishes, that pretty much rules out the party for me. Go figure that I have to avoid my two favourite things in life – spice and booze – and all during the season that is typically replete with indulgence…damn! I suppose I could just go to party, starve, stare longingly at the table and stand at my hubby’s side, but the fact that I look like a mixture of bar fight and Botox recipient means that I’d garner more than few strange looks. We’ll see how I fare by the end of the day. In the meantime, I’m preparing my famous Irish Soda Bread (as cooked on T.V. last year). Despite the swelling, I’m bound and determined to have a piece!

I’m off to bake and wallow in my own puffy self pity now. And for your own curiosity, this is what the 'freak' lip looks like now. Believe it or not, this is not at the height of the swelling. So what's the consensus folks, think hubby's coworkers would notice? Hahaha!


12 December 2008

The adventures of lumpy lip

The day has finally arrived. I’ll be heading to the Montfort Hospital this afternoon to rid myself of this annoying mucocele. Current mood = bleh! I can’t say I’m looking forward to the procedure, but it will be good to stop biting down on this damn lump or having to rely on my Photoshop wizardry to fix photos.

I’m not entirely sure what to expect recovery-wise, but I imagine that I’ll get the full list of details and marching orders once I’m administered to the outpatient clinic this afternoon. I suspect, after reading a few articles, that I’ll be subsisting on a diet of mush and mouth rinses for up to a week. My mother, being the ever-wonderful nurturer that she is, has already made Jello and pudding for me to eat for dinner. I told her that hubby and I could make our own mush, but she seems a bit eager at the prospect of playing Florence Nightingale to her daughter – once a nurse, always a nurse; once a mom, always a mom.

Not much more to say for now. Cross you fingers and hopefully all will heal well with little scarring and, more importantly, no lump reoccurrence. The cyst will be sent for biopsy as a precaution, but I have no worries there because it looks like a textbook case. On that note, would you like to see what it looks like?

Before:
















As luck would have it (NOT!), I managed to take a volleyball to the upper lip last evening during our final game of the season. I bled like a bugger for a good 10 minutes. Looks like top and botom will match after all...

Stay tuned for drug-induced, post-operative ramblings and gory pictures. Because I know you want to see my stitched-up mummy mouth!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

UPDATE:

I'm back and all stitched up. The surgery went well is you exclude the fact that I almost fainted towards the end of the procedure. It did not hurt at all, good freezing took care of that, but I am simply prone to faint anytime I have a needle or some medical procedure out of the norm. I wasn't particularly nervous, I didn't experience any pain and yet the colour drained from my face and my blood pressure went down straight away. I wainted until the final sticth to mention that I fel faint and then I was rushed off to lie down in a recovery room. I hate that my body always does this to me, I feel like such a damn wuss.

Faintig scare aside, my lip looks decent. I have a total of 4 stiches and they don't look too gruesome. I have a good bit of dried blood on my lip, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to dab at it. I'm a bit puffy and get little aches and pains, but the Tylenol is working its magic. I have even managed to chew on some food, although I think that mush will be safer for a few days. All in all though, it's really not too bad. The most annoying thing, is not being able to close my lips naturally because of where the stitches are located. I have to be very careful not to suck on my lip at all while it is healing...harder than it sounds.

And now, to finally satisfy your curiosity, here is my lip. See I'm smiling and all. The doctor said I had about 3-4 small mucocele grouped together - that's what was causing all the swelling. I won't get the biopsy results backs until January, but all seems well. TTFN. I'm off to take a rest and grab an ice pack. My energy is still zapped from almost fainting, but tomorrow should be better.



11 December 2008

The Nation's Crapital

With the crippling global economy, the shaky national political situation and many threats of uncertainty looming, is it any wonder that people are feeling a little less than “holly jolly” this holiday season?

As if all the doom and gloom weren’t enough, Ottawa residents have been hit with a few extra tidbits of “fun” – a 4.9% property tax increase, a nasty snow storm and a completely ludicrous transit strike that has turned streets across the nation’s capital into absolute gridlock. Bah humbug!

I am infuriated by OC Transpo’s decision to walk off the job at this time of year, right in the middle of student exams and the Christmas rush. Yes , I understand that timing is everything and that this gives them more leverage to get their way, but seriously, an entire city has to suffer on their behalf! Business will see a downturn in customers and workers are left stranded, having to beg rides or pay big $$$ out of their pocket to park downtown or find taxi’s into the city. Tack on a bad snowstorm with a 30cm dumping and 350,000 extra commuters trying to make their way across the city – what a horrible mess!

Thankfully I have very understanding employers who allow me to work remotely from home in such situations, however it’s still preferable to be in the office most days of the week. Yesterday both hubby and I worked from home because the roads were still a mess after the big storm. Because school busses were cancelled, many parents opted to stay home as well. Today was the first real day of absolute mayhem, as everyone took to the roads to get back to work. Thankfully I have a very generous and lovely coworker that kindly offered to drive me into work for the duration of the strike; luck smiled down on me because she only lives about four blocks away. It took us 90 minutes to get into the office this morning – a drive that would typically take only 30 minutes.

This nasty strike is likely to last for quite a few days (maybe even weeks) because neither the city not the OC Union are budging. The drivers are striking because the city wants to enforce block booking, a measure that would not longer allow certain driver’s to cherry pick their shifts and vacation days. A more structure scheduling would save the taxpayer’s millions, however the drivers are angry because this is a benefit that they would essentially be stripped of. The city, however, did offer driver a 7% pay hike, which is far superior than what Public Servants were offered in this tough economic times. Everyone else has to tighten their belts and give up some perks, yet the big unions step in and rear their heads and make matters worse for all of us. Yes, their role is to protect the rights of their employers, but at a huge cost to rest of us hard-working folks that don’t even receive close to the same wages as these drivers, nor the same number of benefits. Is it any wonder that so many Ottawa residents are siding with the city and against OC Transpo?

If there is one single positive thing to come out of this huge muddle, it’s that I have finally been prompted to get off my butt, confront my fear and book myself a driver’s test for February. I’m willing to tackle icy roads and yucky learning conditions. I’ll keep trying and practicing until I succeed, anything so that I won’t have to give another red cent to this city’s ungrateful transit system.

09 December 2008

Three days until Botox

Okay…so it’s not really as glamorous as Botox, but my lips will still be huge and pouty.

In three days, I’ll be heading to the hospital to have a mucocele removed from my lower lip. I have been living with this nasty little bugger for three months now and it has become an ever annoying presence. Eating my daily apple (to keep the Doctor away…oh the irony!), has become a dreaded task because I keep biting my damn cyst and making my lip bleed. Enough is enough, out it comes!

Despite the fact that I’m looking forward to getting rid of the lump, I’m starting to freak out over the procedure. In the grand scheme of things, a mucocele removal is not a big deal; its day surgery and I don’t even have to go under. What I do dread, however, is the freezing itself and being awake to experience it all. Given my pathetic track record these days, one look at the needle or scalpel and I’ll probably pass out. To make matters worse, I keep image surfing photos of the procedure…nasty! Time to put of my “big girl” hat and deal with it, I guess.

The one thing that sucks about having my surgery at this time of year is that I won’t get to enjoy all the usual Christmas goodies floating around the office. Hubby’s boss is hosting a potluck at his home on the day after my surgery; I’ll be stuck at home drinking shakes and slurping damn baby food – not fair! I’ll also be limited to soup at my own office holiday lunch next week. On the plus side, maybe this will prevent me from gaining that dreaded ‘winter cushioning’…although I’m not entirely sure that chocolate shakes constitute healthy eating.

Merry Christmas to me...NOT

08 December 2008

Parties, political protests and power outages


It was a strange and eventful weekend, to say the least. This morning I found myself grumpily dragging my heels to the office. Two espressos and cups of coffee later, I’m still dreaming of my warm bed and some sorely-needed Zzzzzs.

The weekend started off in celebratory mode. I trudged my way to the Byward Market after work to meet up with hubby and some coworkers who decided to have an impromptu pub night following their Annual General Meeting and holiday lunch. Already tired and cranky after a long day of work, I thought I would only be meeting a small handful of people. Instead some 30 + folks showed up, including the CEO of the company. My heart and my head may not have been in it, but I did have a fun time and got to talk to several nice people. While hubby assured me other coworkers would be bringing their spouse, I was the only non-employee there.

On Saturday hubby and I joined forces with my brother and sister-in-law to protest the coalition government. Despite the very chilly weather, the crowd on Parliament Hill was decent. Hubby wore a Canadian flag and I carried a large sign that I made late on Friday night. You could tell that the crowd was not accustomed to political activism (it takes a lot to get a Conservative to protest), so it took a while for the crowd to warm up. Always one to lead by example, I had no problem bellowing “Shame” at the top of my lungs. It was a neat experience and quite therapeutic to publicly vent my frustration at our current political situation. Some day I’ll tell my kids about how their father and I stood up for democracy. Who knows if all of the rallying and public outcry will dissuade the coalition - it’s certainly worth a shot and I’m glad we were able to play a small part.

Sunday was supposed to be a relaxing day. I decided to try a new stew recipe in the slow cooker and invited my parents over for dinner. After well over an hour of preparation, I got everything in the pot and simmering away in time to eat dinner for 6:00 pm. All was going well until the power went off at 11:00 am. After several calls to Hydro One, hubby and I decided that the power would be off for a while… so much for dinner at our place. Hubby drove the slow cooker over to mom and dad’s house as they still had their power. The roads were a mess with blowing snow and no traffic lights. Thank God hubby is a good driver – both he and stew arrived in one piece.

While Dan was battling the roads and saving the stew, I decided to clean the house the old-fashioned way. No electricity = no vacuum, so I swept the floors and washed them. Because I kept moving, I didn’t really notice how cold the house was getting until later. Hubby is always warm so he welcomes the cold, but I already have the inner temperature of a lizard and the cold is unbearable. At my nagging and insistence, we headed to the mall to grab a coffee and pick away at our remaining Christmas shopping. The mall was busy, but it was a warm and productive way to pass the time until dinner.

Sadly, when we returned home to drop off our shopping, the electricity was still off and the temperature was dropping fast. We called Hydro One again and they still could not give us an estimated time for the problem to be fixed. At that point we decided to pack our overnight bags, bundle up the guinea pigs (our main concern) and claim refugee status at my parents place. There was no sense risking it or riding it out, fine for us because we can add on layers and blankets, but the critters can get sick if it’s too cold.

In the end all turned out relatively well. We enjoyed a tasty stew that my mother jokingly gloated about cooking, the pigs were warm and content and hubby and I got to imbibe a few extra drinks while watching the season finale of the Amazing Race. The only downturn was sleeping in my old double bed. I went from being too cold to over-heated in the middle of the night. Between hubby and I, we’re lucky if we managed to get a solid three hours of sleep. This morning we both looked like zombies.

Apparently the power came back on around 10 pm last evening. This morning the temperature was a bone-chilling -21ºC. I’m glad we didn’t stay home to discover just how cold the house would get. I’m tired but I’m a good Mommy.

05 December 2008

That’s all she wrote…for now

After a lengthy meeting with the GG, Michaëlle Jean, yesterday morning at Government House, PM Stephen Harper was granted a proroguement of Parliament until January 26, 2009, when the Conservatives will present the federal budget – the earliest ever to be tabled in the House in Canadian history.

While I’m somewhat pleased with the GG’s decision to accept Harper recommendation, I was hoping for instant gratification by heading to the polls and letting Canadians have their say once more. This being said, I suppose proroguement was the lesser of three evils, hopefully allowing heads to cool over the coming weeks. This decision could kill off the idea for a coalition government, as already there appears to be some dissent and squabbling in the Liberal ranks.

Once again, Canadians are reminded that the Liberals are in no position to lead a coalition government. They need to fix their own problems within the party before even attempting to tackle the major challenges that Canadians are facing. How can you trust a party that can’t even trust one another?

As for Bob Rae leading the campaign march for the coalition, who is he kidding? Does nobody remember the giant mess that he created back in 1990 as the first NDP premier of Ontario? Funny how he’s a Liberal now, vying for leadership in federal politics…once a creep, always a creep.

Despite the GG’s decision to prorogue Parliament and give Harper an opportunity to ‘present his case’ on January 26, many in the proposed coalition are still hell-bent on toppling the government with a vote of no confidence. My fear is that bruised egos will reign over reason. Even if Harper does present a reasonable budget, it is likely that the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc will vote him down simply out of spite and a renewed hated stemming from yesterday’s narrow escape. If the vote of no confidence is passed, it is then up to Mrs. Jean to invite the coalition to form a government or to send Canadians back to the polls in a federal election.

After the political circus that Canadians have been witnessing over of past few weeks, it is difficult to know where one stands anymore. All this nonsense leaves me to wonder if anyone is fit to lead this nation of ours. One thing is still certain in my mind; a coalition would be disastrous at this point.

04 December 2008

Talking heads and tough times ahead

Words cannot even begin to describe how upsetting last evenings address to the nation was. I was expecting some hard-hitting / historical speeches and found myself wanting; I honestly think I could have written something more riveting myself. Sadly, Harper delivered a short, lukewarm message that didn’t touch enough on some of the main issues at hand. Dion’s speech was simply painful, especially considering that it was over 30 minutes late, leaving the media scrambling to provide filler during the long gap in their national broadcast. When we finally did get to see Dion’s message, it looked as though it was recorded on the video setting of a Canon Sure Shot on a damn tripod – a blurry, incoherent, talking head. It was just another in a long list of amature displays from the Liberal party, reaffirming my belief that Dion is not fit to lead this country…not even for a short period of time.

The best speech of the evening, although I hate to admit it, was from Jack Layton. While I’m personally not a fan of the NDP, I cannot deny him credit for playing the game well and being an excellent leader for his party. That being said, I still think he would run us into an ever larger deficit if he ever took the reigns of national leadership. He’s makes a strong opposition and I think that’s where he sits best. I can’t help but wonder if even good old Jacky felt like pummeling Dion last evening...

Not surprisingly, Gilles Ducep’s response centered primarily around the needs and wants of les Québécois. I’m somewhat frightened that this whole muddle will provide the separatists with momentum again. After last evening, it appears that Harper may have shot himself in the foot and burned his bridges in “la belle province”.

Today Prime Minister Harper with be meeting with the Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, to discuss the future of his government. It is anticipated that a decision will be made to prorogue Parliament until the budget release in late January 2009. The only other two options are to (a) dissolve Parliament and invite the coalition to form a government or (b) send Canadians to the polls for another national election. No matter how you slice it, it won’t be a very Merry Christmas for many Canadians.


And now, to make you laugh during these uncertain times, here’s who could be leading our nation soon – Stéphane Dion - the same man who was rejected by three-quarters of Canadians voters only seven weeks ago, with only a meager 26% share of the popular vote… the worst election outcome by a Liberal leader in history.

03 December 2008

Meet me on the Hill

I have never actively protested against anything in my life before; then again, I have never felt so strongly about a cause in my life until now. I suppose many of us take democracy for granted, only to realize the full weight of its importance once it is threatened or compromised.

On Saturday, December 6th, hubby and I will be heading to Rally for Canada on Parliament Hill. This is not a mere gathering of Conservatives; it is an active protest for anyone who values democracy and opposes the proposed coalition government. This event marks a unique moment in Canadian history. For the first time, a myriad of different party supporters will be coming together to protest in the name of one common cause – democracy and the right to determine the future of this country.

On one hand it’s a dark hour for Canadians; the fact that a coalition government is even being proposed is preposterous. On the other hand, it gives me hope to see so many Canadians suddenly taking an interest in national politics. People from all walks of life will be coming together to make their voices heard. Even many Liberal and NDP supporters that I have spoken with are floored by the idea of a coalition government. In a nutshell, this isn’t what Canadians asked for.

Put an unelected leader in charge of the nation?
Foolish!

Pander to the demands of the Bloc Québécois to garner their support?

Ridicule!

Coalition Government?
Political and democratic suicide!

If care about this country at all, please join the rally for democracy on December 6th. Visit http://www.rallyforcanada.ca/ for a list of events taking place in your region. Stand up for what you believe in, before the liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois try to strip us of this right.

02 December 2008

A Company of Fools

Something is going on in this country and it makes me sick. Canada touts itself as a democratic nation and yet a pathetic number of us choose to actually cast our ballots. In our recent election, the Conservatives won a minority government. The voters spoke and Stephen Harper was reelected as the Prime Minister to lead us through these tough economic times. Like it or not, the democratic process dictates that he won fair and square.

Now, only a short month after an already-too-costly election, the Liberals and NDPs and Bloc Québécois have been meeting behind closed doors and planning to form a coalition government to overthrow Harper. They claim that a coalition is necessary in light of Minister Flaherty's recent economic update which failed to mention a stimulus package for ailing Canadian industries.

This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In my opinion, the Liberals are merely clutching at straws in a desperate attempt to gain power; they can't stomach the fact that they were unsuccessful in gaining the confidence of Canadians in the last election. Of course, the NDP are no dummies and see this possible coalition as a means of gaining more power, knowing full well that they wouldn't be able to otherwise garner as many seats in the House. As for ‘bargaining’ with a separatist party, there are simply no words! The term "jumping the gun" also comes to mind, considering that the Conservatives have not released their official budget yet – a result that they have already promised to deliver in January 27, 2009, almost a full month before a budget would normally be tabled in the House of Commons.

How is it that three parties who, only a month earlier were mud slinging and refusing to see eye-to-eye, can suddenly decide that they are unified enough to lead our nation through one of the worst recessions that we have seen in decades? To me, it smacks of desperation and it's just another sign that the Liberals and really going to hell in a hand basket. Never mind the fact that the leadership of the party is already on shaky ground after Stéphane Dion was 'convinced' to step down after poor party election results. The Liberals are flip-flopping so much these days that it's hard to know where they stand anymore – yet another reason why a coalition government is frightening at this point.

I'm not telling folks to love Harper and I'm not even trying to sell you on the Conservatives; be whatever party / leader supporter you're going to be. However, I am urging folks to examine the situation closely and ask yourselves, is this truly in the best interest of Canadians?

My two cents, for what it's worth – this is absolute BS and a stupid game played by the old-boys network in a desperate bid for supremacy. The future of our nation is on shaky ground and I don’t think it’s unrealistic to surmise that this coalition would likely lead to a further crippling of the market and dollar…not exactly what this country needs right now.


The future of our nation now rests in the hands of our Governor General who must decide whether to dissolve Parliament and accept the new coalition government or to send Canadians to the polls again. I am sincerely hoping for the latter, although I’m not holding my breath seeing as the GG was nominated and instated back in 2005 under Liberal leadership…we’ll see how deep those old ties run.

As for the question of democracy, this proposed coalition government is a slap in the face to our political process. Voters already made their decision back in October’s election and yet the Liberal and NDP parties are willing to disband the government, ignore the voices of Canadians and put a man in power who many clearly did not want as their leader in the first-place. The proposed coalition argues that “it’s all about leadership in a time of economic uncertainty,” to me it’s simply a matter of soothing bruised egos.

The voters already spoke; deal with it and let the government get back to governing.

01 December 2008

Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the Christmas bling!

Haul out the advent calendars, plug in the twinkle lights and prepare the eggnog; it’s December 1st and the jolly fat man will be making his rounds in only twenty-four days!

This weekend, hubby and I decorated the house from top to bottom in all its Christmas finery: 7’ tree, garlands, stockings, bows, assorted figurines, etc. One of the joys of having a small house is that a little decorating goes a long way. You walk into our home and you immediately find yourself in the middle of a winter wonderland. I have coined my decorating style ‘sophisti-tacky,” a hodge-podge of elegance and cheap and cheerful. We certainly go all out, but the overall effect has to be something that we can live with for an entire month without wanting to gouge our eyes out.

Once again, I find myself amazed by my hubby’s patience. Setting up the Christmas tree is a task that is wrought with tradition and routine, I have a certain set of procedures that I must follow painstakingly in order to complete my objective with 100% satisfaction.


Rule #1
Christmas music must be played at all times while the tree goes up

Rule #2
One must sing along, loudly, to aforementioned Christmas tunes

Rule #3
Pajamas should always be worn while assembling the tree

Rule #4
All lights must be tested and connected before the tree branches are opened

Rule #5
Tacky silver garland must be placed around tree with equal spacing

Rule #6
Angel placement must be perfectly centered and balanced, with coaching from the wife

Rule #7
Ornaments are placed in order of importance and sentimentality

Rule #8
Tinsel is placed on the tree, generous but not too generous (arguments may ensue)

Rule #9
Place the crèche under the tree

Rule #10
Stand back and proceed to Ohhhhh and Ahhhhh!


Hubby decided to create his own rule this year - sipping mimosas while decorating the tree! Typically we will open up some Champagne on Christmas morning while opening our presents, but we had an extra bottle kicking around so he thought it would be a nice treat while we worked. Perhaps this was his way of relaxing his wife’s regimented decorating process? He further softened me by giving me an advent calendar – clearly catering to my childish side that still gets totally excited at the prospect of opening a little door and eating a miniature candy every morning! He’s knows me so well…

Thankfully we were able to setup all the decorations in record time and the house looks beautiful. All that remains to be done, aside from a truckload of baking, is shipping out the Christmas cards and annual newsletter to all our friends and family. I managed to prepare most of the cards last evening but ran out of ink three-quarters of the way through printing the newsletters. I look forward to getting these forty-five cards off my hands! It’s a big job but it’s also a tradition that I like to keep going. People so seldom receive anything via snail mail these days, other than bills and flyers; it’s always nice to get something that doesn’t require a return cheque or payment…although we’ll gladly accept donations – hehe!

Happy December everyone!

28 November 2008

Slice and dice

I am happy (sort of) to report that I finally have a date for surgery! After three frustrating months of waiting, I will finally be able to kiss this stupid cyst on my lip goodbye. While it doesn’t cause me much pain, it’s annoying and gets in the way. I can’t drink a coffee, kiss my husband, or generally use the right side of my mouth without irritating the lump. Even more annoying, is the fact that I have no idea how I got this stupid thing in the first place…just that ‘luck’ or the Irish I guess.

I’m not too worried about the procedure. I do find it mildly confusing that an ENT will be performing the surgery - last time I checked, a lip has nothing to do with ears, a nose or a throat? Oddly enough, however, he performs several of these removals each week at the Monfort Hospital. I assumed the surgery would take place at his office but he does it at the hospital in the event that he can't get the bleeding under control - apparently lips love the bleed...a lot (comforting thought). Bleeding like a 'stuck pig' aside, it’s a relatively simple 10-15 minute procedure performed under a local anesthetic (a.k.a. freezing). He will remove both the cyst and some of the surrounding tissue on my lower lip, slap on a few stitches and send me on my merry way. I actually want to see the damn little sucker before they send it off for biopsy; is that weird?

My only fear about the procedure is that I may temporarily loose some feeling in my lip; it could be for days, weeks or even a few months. I will also have some scarring on the inside of my mouth, but it should flatten out nicely within a year. In the rare event that the incision does not heal well, there may be a slight pull on the corner of my lower lip. I’m sincerely hoping that I won’t be his first unfortunate case; I really don’t want sad clown lips! All joking aside, I really do worry about cosmetic appearance. My lips and my smile are often described as two of my best physical attributes; I would hate to lose that.

I am fortunate that the surgery will be taking place on a Friday afternoon. Most of the pain or swelling should subside over the weekend and I’ll be able to return to work on Monday. I tend to bruise easily so I may come back to the office looking like I was in a bad bar fight, which is significantly cooler sounding than, “I had a mucosal cyst removed.”

Keep those fingers crossed for me on the 12th folks! Hopefully I’ll come out of this smiling. Either way, I’ll be sure to post grotesque pictures of my post-removal freak lip.

P.S. Check out that freaky looking little bugger. They will be removing a similar chunk from me...gross! Now go and enjoy your dinner.

26 November 2008

Seen your family Doctor lately?

If there is one important lesson that life and experience has taught me, it’s never to take your health for granted. Money may come and go, relationships may wax and wan, but your health is the one thing that will see you through it all. Perhaps I grew up with this attitude because my mother is a nurse, or maybe it comes from watching loved-ones suffer from disease or disability, but health has always been a top priority in my life. Sadly, however, it’s amazing how many people neglect this important aspect of life. Sometimes it seems as though folks are more concerned with annual checkups for their cars, rather than setting foot in a doctor’s office for a physical examination.

Time and time again, I’ve heard friends (even my own sibling) argue, “Why go to the doctor unless something is bothering you?” The answer is painfully obvious – the human body is a mystery and even though you may feel healthy as a horse, you never know what is lurking beneath the surface. I don’t mean to sound dismal but ignorance is not always bliss; it’s plain stupidity. Look at it this way, a 30-minute visit to your family doctor once a year could end up buying you a few extra years on this earth. Ask anyone who has been diagnosed or treated for cancer, I’m sure they could shed some light on the topic.

Why am I spouting off about health today? Why do I feel so strongly about the topic? Let’s just say that I certainly wasn’t aware that I had an odd node in my neck. I walked into my annual physical yesterday afternoon for the routine checkup and came out with a requisition for a neck/thyroid ultrasound and blood work. Does this mean that something serious is going on? No; I may be perfectly fine. On the other hand, the node is not normal and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Had I not had my annual physical, I would not be aware of this potential issue. If I rested on my laurels and simply waited for an obvious problem to confront me, it could be a case of too little too late.

I’m not encouraging folks to backlog an already overstretched healthcare system. Leave your sniffles and sneezes at home. However, in a country where we are fortunate enough to have universal healthcare, it’s not unreasonable to book one physical examination each or every two years. Life is too precious for negligence.

25 November 2008

Doing the right thing

Looks like hubby and I will be kissing our big trip to Europe goodbye. Given the global financial crisis, we were starting to get cold feet about a $7000 splurge. While hubby remains confident that his job is safe, there have already been a few subsequent layoffs and ‘expense cuts’ at his company. We’re not being pessimistic; we’re just erring on the side of caution and deciding to save rather than splurge. On one hand I’m heartbroken by the decision; on the other hand I’m somewhat relieved. Better to save for a rainy day and have a good umbrella.

The only negative about this whole decision, other than the fact that we don’t get our dream vacation, is that we may loose the $1,800 that we already paid for our airfare through Expedia. Because we got such a great deal on the flights, the tickets were non refundable. If we do decide to cancel the flight, Expedia will grant us a credit equal to our ticket price however we will be charged an extra $500 ($250/each) if we decide to use the credit to book other tickets or make changes to our existing itinerary.

For now we are in limbo. We may decide to scale back our trip and simply visit Paris for 5 days, cutting our original estimated vacation costs by roughly 70%. We still have the flight to Paris booked, although we would have to pay a penalty to switch our return flight which was originally departing from Rome. In terms of accommodation, I would only have to book 1-2 extra nights in Paris as we already have 3 nights reserved. It may not be the original plan, but it could still be a feasible small vacation to one city rather than several different stops with expensive train travel between destinations. Thankfully, I am able to cancel all of my accommodations in Italy at no charge.

I’m upset that our original plans are falling through but I’m optimistic that we are making a much wiser decision by playing it safe. We may still end up with a nice little vacation, or worst-case-scenario, we will have lost $1,800 that has already been paid and the money no longer exists. Yes, it’s a stupid waste, but it would be even more foolish to let this dictate our decision to fork out yet another $5000 on a vacation that we may not be able to afford when the time comes.

I suppose that one of the greatest joys and sorrows of being an adult is having the common sense to analyze what is important in your life and being able to cut your losses and move on. The added gravy is always nice, but it’s certainly not a necessity. At twenty-seven life is certainly not over. Europe has been around for ages and I still have ages to get there.

20 November 2008

Ho Ho Hold the decorations…

I tried fooling myself into believing that I wouldn’t get excited for Christmas until after December 1st. I promised hubby that he could enjoy a ‘theme-free” house for at least a solid month. Who am I kidding?

I know that I’m well and truly affected because I have already started downloading carols, my gift list is already distributed, I have cross-stitched seven tree ornaments and I just put the finishing touches on my annual family holiday newsletter. Let’s face it; I’m a holiday dork – a classic Hallmark target through and through.

Hubby made a keen observation the other night. “You really live for the future, don’t you?” he enquired with a wry look on his face. Truth be told, I think he’s right. It seems that I spend my entire life living in anticipation, looking ahead and planning for the next big thing or event to come my way. It’s nice to always have something to look forward to but I suppose it’s a bit of a double-edged sword; I sometimes wonder if I ever truly take time to enjoy the present. I often feel like I’m fighting to keep up with my own mind which operates on fast-forward, much akin to a hyper little Jack-Russell Terrier…on speed.

I’m a strange kind of gal, but at least I’m aware of my own maddening follies. Bless the Lord for sending me a very patient, calm and “relatively” normal husband (he fell for me after all). If it wasn't for dear old hubby, I think I’d drive myself crazy. He is also the reason why we’ll never have huge animatronic reindeer mechanically tromping about our lawn in early November (okay, or December for that matter). Let’s face it; I’m not the strong one here…he is!

15 November 2008

Stoooooopiddddd!

Oh yeah, that’s me by the way!

On this very rare Saturday evening post, I would simply like to inform you all that anti-inflammatory pills and wine = Woahhhhhhhhh! When it comes to Doctor vs. Pharmacist opinions, I think I’ll stick with the Pharmacist from now on.

Excuse me now, while I dance to music in my head and count the orange spiders on my wall.

14 November 2008

Gloomy Friday

Blehhhhhhhhh! That’s the noise that escaped my mouth first thing this morning when I awoke from a particularly fitful slumber. Despite being a Friday, it’s one of those gloomy days where I have to fight to keep my eyes open, fake smile at colleagues and generally act way chirpier than I feel. It’s one of those days where your only friend in the world is an extra-bold mammoth cup of coffee.

Why so melancholy?

BWE sucked again last night and lost two of three games

I had a few too many drinks at the pub last night to drown aforementioned sorrows.

Wendell the Wallaby was found dead

It’s raining and will continue to do so for the whole weekend

I had an acne breakout this morning…as an adult…WTF?!?

I gained a few lbs from emotional eating

I’ve been taken over by the dreaded PMS Monster

Sorry folks! If you were looking for a bright ray of sunshine here, you’re not going to find it today. Now go and soak up some depressing Emo music; I’ve got nothing…

13 November 2008

Praying to the Lords of volley…

Tonight the Billy Whitmore Experience will be fighting for survival and trying to regain first place in the league. Last week we were off our game and lost two out of three matches to a lower ranked team. It was a maddening defeat, as it allowed the second place team in the league to slip into the lead by one game. It was a sobering experience and hopefully we’ll learn to be more prepared this time. I especially hope to see a personal improvement tonight because I was certainly bench-worthy last week. It was the first time that I left the gym in a sour mood and sadly realized that I’m still a poor sport when it comes to loosing…no different than I was as a child. Recreational or not, I always want to win and inevitably end up berating myself when I play poorly. I suppose, this is why I never participated in many group sports when I was younger; the interest was there, but the competitiveness was always an issue.

With only three regular season games left until the playoffs, we still stand a chance of ranking in one of three medal standings. My only concern is that we are now playing the other top ranked teams. While the BWE has undoubtedly improved as a team, I can’t help but wonder whether our long-standing lead was due, in part, to the fact that we were playing some of the less experienced teams. We’re not running away with the games anymore and subsequently, we really have to focus harder and setup plays as a team. On the plus side, it really is some great volleyball with some beautiful rallying and returns.

Keep those fingers crossed folks. No matter how we play, I certainly hope that I leave the court in a better state of mind this week. Nobody likes a sulky six-year-old, myself included.

12 November 2008

Nine Inches of Awesomeness!


Last night’s NIN (Nine Inch Nails) concert was absolutely amazing! I have heard that they put on a good show, but this far exceeded my expectations.

I have been listening to NIN since high school and while I can’t claim myself to be a diehard fan, I always thought they would be a cool band to see live in concert. Being a bit older now, and totally frightened by mosh pits and claustrophobic crowds, having a box was definitely the best way to see the concert. Hubs and I had a great view with only a minimum amount of pot inhalation from the fumes wafting up from the unwashed masses below. Yup...there’s that crotchety old lady seeping out again…

The only downer of the night was the opening act, Boris. If the signer had a decent voice, I certainly couldn’t tell. The instruments drowned out his voice and all was left with was the ungodly sounds of wailing and screeching instruments without any discernable beat, rhyme or reason. To be perfectly blunt, it was about forty minutes of depressing noise that forced me into a comatose state. Who needs drugs or alcohol?

The NIN show opened with most of the classics. I went a little wild when Trent sang Closer – a song that is sadly near and dear to my heart and very much reminiscent of high school and early university speaker-dancing days. (I swear to God, I’m a good girl!). The set also included: Head Like a Hole, March of the Pigs, Hurt, Only, Deep and The Hand That Feeds. Sadly they didn't play Into the Void, one of my favourites. The band wowed the crows for almost a solid 2 ½ hours with barely a pause between songs. As if the music wasn't good enough, we were also awed by what was easily, one of the coolest stages and light shows I have yet to see at a concert. Every song was backlit by LCD lights and images. At one point the band looked as though they were singing in the middle of a waterfall – the water had the illusion of falling around the singer anytime he stepped forward into the falls. I could go on and on about the visual effects that accompanied each song, but then that would ruin the surprise.

If you like rock (industrial-rock), I highly recommend seeing NIN in the future. It was truly an experience, both acoustically and visually. This is going down as one of the best concerts yet and believe me, I’ve seen my fair share!

09 November 2008

A “sort of” quiet Sunday…

Today I’m taking a break from the maddening weekend pace, if you don’t count cooking two entirely different meals in the span of a few hours. No I’m not mad; I had a an old bag of potatoes that was starting to turn so I salvaged what I could and made Shepherd’s Pie to freeze for quick weeknight meals down to road. I still have tonight’s meal to make - low-fat kielbasa paella. Once again, I’m turning to my trusty slow cooker for inspiration. This should give me a few blissful hours of downtime to work on more Christmas ornaments later this afternoon. Yes I know, I’m still being productive but it’s about as relaxed as I get.

And now, I shall regale you with a recap of the past few days…

Ottawa Food and Wine Show

I
’m so glad that hubby and decided to leave work at noon on Friday to attend the show. We had no lineups to contend with and we got to talk to a lot of the different vintners. In particular, I loved the France exhibit which was very well conceived and attractive. They built a large two sided-bar with stools. You could take a seat, give your wobbly legs a rest and sample some twenty-plus wines displayed along the bar. Spain, California, Chili and Argentina also had decent representation. I was, however, upset to see that Italy was next to invisible. I was hoping to find out more about different wineries in Tuscany and the Chianti region seeing as hubs and I will be doing some touring there in April…no such luck.

The one complaint that I have about the Ottawa Food and Wine Show, although not surprising in the least, is that it is an absolute money-making racket. On top of paying $20 each for general admission into the show, we also had to pay 50¢/ each for sampling tickets to try the wine. While this doesn’t sound too unreasonable, we soon discovered that most of the decent wine samples cost 2-6 tickets / $1-$3 per tiny sample. It doesn’t take long to use up your tickets or burn through your budget, especially when you’re hungry and also have to use your tickets for overpriced and under-portioned food samples. Hubby and I went through 120 tickets…you do the math… Don’t get me wrong, we had an amazing time and it was a fun experience but the value for $$$ sucks! The individual country wine evenings often held at the Government of Canada Conference Centre are much better in terms of wine and food/ ticket price. $45 dollars at one of these events will give you three-hour access to roughly 20-30 wineries from a featured country, special tasting seminars with vintners and unlimited samplings of an assortment of catered goodies. Another benefit of the smaller country events is that they only sell a limited number of tickets – the crowd is a little more exclusive and you tend to encounter more wine enthusiast s rather than nineteen-year- old, scantily-clad, gaggles of girls trying to pick up men. Yes, I realize that this makes me sound old and crotchety, but I take my imbibing very seriously.

If you are an Ottawa native and want to find out more about local wine evenings, I highly suggest checking out the Groovy Grapes website or the Local Wine Events page.

The “World-Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions

On Saturday, hubby and I brought my parents to see the Lipizzaner Stallions at Scotiabank Place. Daniel won the tickets in a draw at work and I figured that it could be interesting (because I love ponies!), especially for my father who used to train for the RCMP Musical Ride.

While the breed of horse is beautiful and their strength and agility are undoubtedly impressive, I wasn’t blown away by the show. Most of the routine was much of the same - classic dressage with repetitive movements and a few tricks thrown in for good measure. While I can fully appreciate the amount of dedication, training and trust that goes into this style of riding (4-6 years), two hours was a bit much for my liking. The end of the show featured some 8-horse figures, but it truly paled in comparison with the Musical Ride’s precision. The “swinging gate,” while beautiful, did not measure up to our own national show. It was still a fun afternoon out with the family and I was content even to stare at the beautiful horses, but I also walked away feeling just a wee bit thankful that our tickets were free.

Despite a few complaints, I truly did enjoy myself this weekend. Hubby and I are looking forward to returning to box again on Tuesday night for the NIN concert. On the other hand, I’m not looking forward to the second-hand pot fumes that will undoubtedly be drifting up to us from the crowd below. I may still enjoy rock music, but I don’t particularly enjoy the smells or ‘interesting’ characters that accompany them. Yeah, I’m a fuddy-duddy!

07 November 2008

Wine, ponies and Electronica = awesome!


Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got a wonderful feeling,
Everything's going my way.

Hoist up your wine glasses, strap on your saddles and get ready to rock. The next few days are going to be awesome. Behold…

Ottawa-Food and Wine Show:

Today hubby and I are taking a half-day vacation and we’re leaving the office at noon to attend the Ottawa Food and Wine show. We have attended lots of smaller individual wine country events, but this will be our first time attending this mammoth-sized annual show. We tried to get in for two consecutive years but the prospect of standing in a line for four hours, completely open to the elements, put a damper on our plans. We soon learnt that the key to getting in is getting there early to avoid the crowds and the huge surplus on the weekend. Even though you can pre-purchase your entrance tickets, it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to get in. I’m sincerely hoping that we’ll be successful this afternoon! Either way, it’s a fun date day and something out of the ordinary.

OMG, pony show!


Despite the fact that I’m a fully-grown woman, I will still readily and enthusiastically admit that I want a pony! It’s that classic little girl dream and, sadly, it stays with some of us for as long as we live. Aside from a big old farm house and a spread of 100 acres, my next fictional lottery purchase would definitely be horses…mini ones in particular! I fully realize how insane this sounds, but there you have it; I’m a complex girl and I dream big.

While I don’t have the cash, land or resources to purchase my ponies just yet, at least I’ll enjoy the next best thing this weekend. Hubby managed to snag some box seats to the Lipizzaner Stallions show this Saturday at Scotiabank Place. He entered our name into a draw at work and, low and behold, we were the lucky recipients of four tickets. Something tells me that it was an easy win (I’m sure that most of his colleagues don’t get excited about horse shows), but who cares when it works in your favour? Ponies, ponies, ponies!

NIN concert:

Score another huge point for hubby, as he also managed to snag box tickets to Nine Inch Nails. These are hot tickets and we are the envy of many fans and colleagues. NIN has been around for a while now and they have managed to maintain a solid career in music with a dedicated fan base. The music is fresh, original, raw and pulsating - totally different from a lot of the ‘bubble gum’ mainstream stuff on the radio. I always thought of them as the perfect ‘stripper’ band (yeah, odd I know), but the music is so moody and hard hitting. I can see how they wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but hubs and I love a lot of their stuff. Oh yeah…we’re “so” hardcore…

I guess it won't be a relaxing weekend, but at least it will be an interesting one.

06 November 2008

Bring us a shrubbery…

Spamalot turned out to be a decent performance for what it was – a zany musical that mocks broadway musicals. There weren’t any particularly poignant musical numbers or scores, no standalone strong or memorable characters and the plot was sketchy at best, yet it delivered exactly what it set out to deliver - some lighthearted laughs with a penchant for the absurd.

The musical did not exceed my expectations; it was pretty much on par with what I imagined. It was well conceived, even downright clever at times, but as a ‘serious’ musical it is lacking….not a problem really because it was never designed to be serious. I won’t get into the details in the event that some readers plan on catching a performance in the future.

Overall impression = worthwhile, especially if you have a quirky sense of humour. I’ll give it 7 coconuts out of 10...oh what the heck, I’ll give it 8 because I have a certain soft spot for killer rabbits.

05 November 2008

I am a good wife...

Tonight I’m going to see Spamalot at the NAC with hubby. For those of you wacky folks that avidly followed Monty Python as children, you will undoubtedly know what I’m talking about. While I’ll admit that I enjoyed the actual T.V. show and short skits, I could never fully sink my teeth into the movies. Is it therefore any wonder that I’m a little dubious about a musical that is based on the infamous Holy Grail? Ni!

Don’t get me wrong folks; I love musicals and I enjoy getting out to the theatre as much as possible, but I’m more of a classics girl. I tend to enjoy stories with a deeper plot, something that I can really loose myself in or connect with the actors’ emotions. I just don’t see myself getting the same sense of fulfillment out of this production. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of light-hearted laugher. I do have a penchant for the absurd and, while I typically don’t seek it out through theatre, perhaps I’ll walk away loving Spamalot in the end.

Either way, I think hubby will owe me a few romantic movies of dramas out of this.

04 November 2008

Whistle while you work? Do so, and suffer!

It’s Tuesday and I’m back to my usual surly self. I got into the office nice and early this morning, only to be greeted by the incessant whistling and boisterous laughter of the construction workers repairing the inner courtyard just outside of my window.

I am one of those unfortunate people that don’t do well with distraction. In particular, I tend to get fixated on certain noises to the point that they magnify in my brain and become all-consuming. My biggest enemy is whistling and, much to my chagrin, one of the workers outside my window seems to think he’s a damn bird today.

The sadistic wheels have started to turn in my head. The workers are directly one level below my window, like sitting ducks. I keep eyeing an old heavy pair of shoes in the corner of my office, thinking that they would make the perfect lobbing object.

Pray for my sanity folks…or for the workers. Either way, one of us is not going to come out of this well.

03 November 2008

Well rested and content

I know what you’re thinking…
Don’t panic!

You have, indeed, arrived at the right blog!

Every once in a blue moon, I actually arrive to work on Monday feeling relaxed and happy. Don’t get me wrong; I still rather be loafing at home rather than working, but at least I showed up to the office this morning without the typical self pity. It’s a rare mood and occasion, so it makes it all the more wonderful.

What did I do to make me so relaxed? Nothing! At my husband’s insistence, I actually sat still for a day and did nothing of huge significance. I started a new exercise routine (I’ll save that for another sarcastic post), but I don’t really consider that particularly to be stressful. Hubby and I even took a 40 minute stroll to Blockbuster to rent a video. When we got home, he put up the outdoor Christmas lights and started cleaning the garage; I on the other hand, sat on my behind, sipping tea and leisurely cross-stitching Christmas ornaments. Okay, so I suppose that’s still doing something and trying to find a purposeful way to fill the time, but it’s a stretch for me. I also tried a new slow cooker Swiss steak recipe, but again, it wasn’t anything to strenuous or taxing.

We capped the evening off in a nice clean home, all signs of Halloween gone, enjoying a great bottle of Bardolino, good conversation and a tasty warm meal. We hopped into our pajamas early and settled down in front of the T.V. to watch The Amazing Race. It was so very, very nice!

I have to learn to make a conscious effort to end off my weekends this way. I even found myself feeling refreshed and better able to cope with the stressful workload sitting on my desk this morning. Looks like today is going to be an equally gratifying day - I’ve flown though pressing deadlines, I had a wonderful aerobics class during lunch and now my evening is free to watch a movie with hubby. I better make the most of this rare mood while it lasts – the cynic in me is bound to resurface soon.

02 November 2008

All Halloweened out...

I never thought I’d say it…I’m glad Halloween is officially over! I couldn’t help but sigh in relief as hubby and I packed away out final decorations yesterday afternoon. It was a wonderful season, but a tiring one, so it’s nice to return to some form of normalcy for the next month until the Christmas arrives.

I’m happy to report that we had a good deal of children visit the house this year. We weren’t run off our feet, but there seemed to be a decent steady stream. The kids were very appreciative of all the hard work we put into decorating and they certainly weren’t afraid to tell us either. I can’t even begin to describe how happy it makes me feel when we give the kids a scream or a laugh – we’re giving them a good memory and that’s what it’s all about. Sadly, despite the large number of young families in my neighbourhood, only a handful of houses were decorated or handing out candy. Things are so different now from when I was a kid. I sometimes feel like the children of this generation don’t get to have as much fun. Parents are too tired and overworked nowadays and I truly believe that people put less time and effort into all the fun little details and activities that I got to enjoy as a kid. No matter my age, career or demands, I hope that I’ll never lose that spirit!

After we closed up shop around 8:00 pm, hubby and I enjoyed the rest of our evening at a Halloween party with friends. It was a great time and all the more enjoyable because the hosts announced that they’re expecting their first child! They dressed as the main characters from Juno – a movie / comedy about teen pregnancy - it was such a clever and original way to reveal the big news. It looks like hubby and I are going to have to start hosting ‘kids’ parties in the near future. We’re one of the few remaining couples in our immediate group of friends that aren’t expecting or parents yet. No complaints here though, I’m thrilled for our friends and I’m learning lots from them before my own time comes! Don’t hold your breath folks; I still have to conquer Europe before hubs and I start producing our own little hobgoblins.

So there you have it – Halloween 2008! Tons of decorations, countless hours in the kitchen, two parties and a busy night of haunting. I’m ready to hang up my broom and hat for a much-needed rest. Only 29 days until the Christmas decorations make their appearance… not that I’m anxiously counting or anything.

And now, as promised, here are some pictures of our haunted house. You truly have to see it in person to get the full creepy effect. Sadly, none of my smoke maching pictures turned out...

This is what greeted kids on the front porch
(+ lots of billowing smoke)

My sick sense of humour

Poor fella...

Graveyard - likely to grow next year

Another victim...

A little less scary for the little ones


Not too bad during daylight

Hubby setting up the smoke machine

Pumpkin reaper

Getting spooky

All set for the kiddies

A motley crew

Yes, even he creeps me out

Mr. B - a perennial favourite with the kids