Me, being blog-stingy.

Things I've done are bold, things I have not are left black.

1. Started your own blog - uh....yeah.
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band - Uplands Elementary, circa 1989. We were hot.
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity - it was a typo, but yes. I meant $24 dollars...they added a zero.
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo - much to the dismay of many, I'm sure.
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning - the ultimate food poisoning...e-coli. It is just as fun as it sounds.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - I mean...no....
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - I pay my bills and had dinner tonight...I'm satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie - "Mastermind" starring Patrick Stewart. I'm in it. I play Scared School Kid #43.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - just yesterday, actually. There's a shortage here...and everywhere. If you can, you should.
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check - I'm assuming this means cheque.
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - back when the sea had "salmon".
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit - uh yeah...just a few....
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Vegetable overload.

Lately, we've been somewhat lazy in the kitchen. Last week, I made a batch of my favorite lentil soup and really, that was it for my kitchen time. Kurt wasn't much better. I've noticed that my attitude towards food comes and goes in waves. The one constant is that I always feel as though I need to be eating more vegetables. Last year, lacking in creative ideas for what to do with vegetables once I've obtained them, I stocked up on some really awesome vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, figuring that they must be doing something right if they are really that happy without meat. And guess what? They're freakin' geniuses. I love vegan recipes. They are so creative and, most importantly, delicious. At least, all of the ones I've tried so far have been delicious...that certainly does not mean that there aren't some recipe duds in my books. I just haven't gotten to that page yet.

Tonight I was feeling a bit inspired (or bored with the current situation in the fridge) and so we got to work. On the menu: Samosa-stuffed Baked Potatoes (from Veganomicon...everyone should own this cookbook), Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing (fom Vegan with a Venegeance...same author as Veganomicon) and two types of muffins for our weekday breakfasts. Ambitious, right? Well perhaps...for a Sunday. But it was worth it.

Observe:

First batch of muffins - pineapple/orange/carrot (from Vegan with a Venegeance). I added in some hemp seeds and some extra ground flax seed to give them a bit more oomph.



The second batch of muffins, lemon cranberry cornmeal.


Kurt made this AWESOME tahini dressing for the kale. The recipe was in VWAV and it was the closest match yet to the tahini dressing served at Pluto's in Victoria, which is by far the best salad dressing on the planet.



While Kurt was making the tahini, I got to work with the baked potatoes. The potatoes were baked and then cooled and hollowed out and then we made this mixture of mustard and coriander seeds, onion and diced carrots.


After the potato was added back in, we threw in some frozen green peas, re-stuffed the potato jackets and put them back in the oven. The kitchen was smelling pretty good by this point.

Once the potatoes were back in the oven, I got to work washing and chopping up a beautiful bunch of local kale. I've never cooked with fresh kale before (though I've thrown a lot of frozen kale into soups). We cooked it in some olive oil with lots of sliced garlic (again, a recipe from VWAV).

And voila...the finished meal. All in all, it took about 1.5 hours, start to finish, but that included the time necessary to make and bake the muffins. Without those, the meal itself was easy and relatively quick. And did I mention that it was delicious? The vegans strike again.



Truth:

It is very hard to blog once each day when there are days when you don't have access to your laptop. I hadn't thought of that when I challenged myself, unfortunately. On Friday, for instance, I walked off the ferry after work and went straight to a friend's house and didn't get home until late. Yesterday....well...I got lazy.

I'm freezing. Seriously....like Uggs and scarves, freezing. Inside. However, I'm hoping to not have to turn on the heat because the Rock is still using up the gas that they bought when gas was at an all-time high. So, we're trying to operate under the "put on a sweater" rule instead. We'll see how long this can go on for. Apparently, it's supposed to get really warm again - back to beach weather, almost - so I'm hoping we can hold out for that. COME ON. I did not sign up for this. If I'd wanted crap weather I would have moved to Vancouver.

Today we're going grocery shopping for the first time in what feels like months, but is probably more like weeks. We haven't been doing the greatest with the cooking lately so I'm off to scour my cookbooks and magazines for some kind of inspiration, hopefully of the somewhat healthy variety. We had an amazing meal out with some friends last night to celebrate the last night on the island for one of our friends who is leaving. We went to a restaurant that Kurt and I have been to a couple of times and never been disappointed and last night was no exception. While it's best known for its steak, I chose the mahi mahi last night, grilled and served with spinach risotto and apricot-lime chutney. It was delish. Kurt had a pork shank (?) which just reaffirmed all of the reasons I go nowhere near pork but which he thoroughly enjoyed, and the other two had steak. And after dinner, Kurt and I shared a dish of their homemade ice cream, which is to die for. And THEN we all made the mistake of ordering mojitos because we saw another table drinking them, only to find out when we got the bill that they were $14.75 each. Awesome! Note to self: check menu for trendy drink prices.

Off to find recipes now. I'm thinking a soup would be appropriate today, so I may turn to my trusted Rebar cookbook. Mmmm.....

I know, I know.

I missed a post. But I had a really good excuse. Seriously. Wait for it...

....

I was bowling.

And guess what? I'm just as terrible at it as I was when we used to hit up Mayfair Lanes on a sad Friday evening back in the late 90's. Which, incidentally, is now impossible in Victoria (no bowling alleys), making me wonder what the hell teenagers are finding to do with themselves. I highly doubt all of them are sitting at home reading vampire books.

In the past few days, the Rock has gotten COLD. I've even given some serious thought to digging out my mittens (that pair that only made it to the Rock because I'd forgotten them in an inside pocket of my suitcase long ago). Last night, our apartment was so cold that we had to add a fleece blanket to the bed, on top of the feather comforter. True, we don't have any heat on at all, but I don't think that 68 degrees is super comfortable, no matter where you are.

Anyways...it's cold. And yes, I realize that I've completely adjusted to the Rock's climate and that it is highly possible that I greeted this kind of weather with t-shirts and trips to the beach last year.

We have a busy weekend ahead of us, which is kind of weird. We usually have zilch to do besides a standing breakfast date and an obligatory trip to the grocery store, so it's exciting to have Real Actual Plans to enter into my calendar and refer back to when asked about what I'm doing on the weekend. On Friday, we're spending some time with our Ferry Friends. They are a lovely couple who we have taken the ferry with every day, to and from work, for over a year and never spoken a word to until just a few weeks ago. It's funny...there are a whole bunch of other young people on our ferry that we've spent at least 40 minutes with each workday since last November and never introduced ourselves to and then, just in the past few weeks, the flood gates opened and now we spend our ferry rides chatting to new friends. The only difficult part is remembering to call them by their actual names and not the nicknames we gave them over the past year: Canadian Girl, Lululemon Lunch Bag Girl, Guy Who Looks European But Isn't, Christina Ricci and Awkward British Couple. Who aren't actually awkward at all, as it turns out. Anyways, Lululemon Lunch Bag Girl (LLBG) and her husband, Guy Who Looks European But Isn't (GWLEBI) are having us over for wine after work. I'm looking forward to it. They're great. They're also Vancouver Islanders, making them even more endearing (to me).

New friends are fun.

Joyful Reunion.


At least on my part it was. I'm not totally sure that he was 100% on board with the whole "I saved you from certain death" story I fed him once or twice, but he played along.

Actually, on second thought I think his expression more accurately conveys his fear that I would remove him from his kingdom of organic cat food and filtered water and reinstall him in his former life of (gasp!) President's Choice and the plain old tap.
He is playing them for fools.

Some untimely goodbyes.

As much as it would like to believe that it's immune to the current economic "slowdown" (meltdown?), the Rock is finally feeling the effects.

We'll be saying goodbye to two good friends in the next little while. Once was 'downsized' and the other was just plain laid off. NOT the time to be making a career in hedge funds, I guess. It sucks, because once that job is gone, so is the work permit, and so is your right to stay here for any period of time above and beyond what they deem necessary to shut down your life and get out.

When we first started talking about moving here, it was initially going to be a one-year plan. One year. That's it. And then we would move on to bigger (obviously) and better (questionably) things. Now that we've just squeaked by that one year mark, I can't believe that we would have considered going through all of that, just to turn around and sell everything...AGAIN...and leave. One year? It took me eight months to stop thinking that we were going to crash every time Kurt turned a corner onto what I was perceiving to be the wrong side of the road.

One of our friends who is leaving, Hedge Fund Girl, has been here for awhile. She's gotten quite comfortable and built herself a whole life here, which she is now dismantling under extreme pressure because she needs to be off the Rock ASAP. It's brutal. You aren't allowed to look for another job until you apply for a special permit to be able to do so and, with a hiring freeze nearly everywhere, her chances aren't exactly fantastic. The alternatives she is considering are a return to her homeland, the U. S. of A. (where things are not exactly fantastic either), or moving on to another rock of the tropical and tax-sheltered variety, where things are marginally better. I don't know what she's going to do. It's just hard to imagine having to pick up and go and plan a whole new life in such a short period of time. We're going to miss her. We had New Year's plans. It sucks.

These are interesting times.

On a brighter note, some of her potential destinations are very attractive vacation spots.

I challenge...

...myself. I will blog every day for a week.

Lately, as you may have noticed (to the approximately 4 of you who read this blog or even still stop by occasionally to see what I have NOT written), this blog has lost some steam. The zip is gone. The pizazz is dead. For a little while, I thought about deleting it in its entirety and returning to a world where I wasn't constantly thinking of my poor little neglected blog, outdated, sad and alone, waiting for my inspiration to return. But in the end, OTR won another shot and so, to kickstart myself, I'm challenging my fingers to blog each day for one whole week. Including the weekend. AS WELL AS continuing to post a daily photo on my new and awesome joint project, photopography, my photo-blog with co-blogger Shan (of Banane).

I'm a little out of practice, but I'm up to the challenge.

At the end of the week, if my inspiration and motivation have regurgitated themselves, OTR will continue. If not, well, it will continue on as it has been. Lost and alone, and out there for bored web-surfers to cruise by on their way to more interesting corners of the web.

In the meantime...let's begin.

What have I been doing? Where have I been?

For once, the answer is not going to be "parked on my ass on the couch, watching re-runs of The Office". Last week held one of the highlights of my year, because I snuck back to the Great White North for a teeny little occasion that I like to call my Dad's birthday. The big 6-0. Could I really have missed that? No, I could not.

Back in September, I visited my very favorite webpage (www.aircanada.com) and sent them yet another sum of money for yet another plane ticket (I should probably just have my employer direct deposit a portion of my paycheque directly with good old AC), going totally against our intense and worthwhile budgeting project and screwing Mother Nature by dumping just a bit more carbon into the atmosphere. I figured she'd forgive me when she realized that I wasn't just going because I miss decent coffee, or because I am BORED OUT OF MY MIND, but because I wanted to give my Dad a hug on his birthday, his real birthday, on a landmark birthday, for once. And really, I didn't check any luggage so the plane was at least 50 lbs. lighter thanks to me. You are welcome, ozone layer.

No one knew I was going except for my Mom, my sister, my Kurt and a few other select individuals who were on a need-to-know basis. In that, I needed to share my excitement with them. Last Friday night, after a day of shopping (yay, 0.85 cent Canadian dollar!) and a decent haircut, I snuck out of the kitchen at my cousin's restaurant and nearly gave my Dad a heart attack. Happy birthday! He was totally stunned. And totally delighted. Which totally delighted me, because obviously all parties had kept their traps shut. We had a great dinner and a great weekend together with the whole family, which was the first time the four of us had been in the same place at the same time for quite awhile. It was the perfect present for my Dad. I'm so glad I went.

And then I decided that a redeye that got me back to the Rock at noon last Wednesday meant that I could totally work for the afternoon! Sometimes my unbrilliance astounds me. By the time I got to the office I had been awake for 28 hours and I was, in a word, unimpressive. At least I looked nice, but let me tell you...there was absolutely nothing going on behind my vacant expression. Just dumb, glazed nothingness. I don't think anyone noticed though, because I just focused my eyes on my computer screen, positioned my fingers over the keyboard, and thought about things that would leave a concerned look on my face. Like, why I still don't have my tax return, which I filed in Canada in July. WTF.

So...I'm back. It was a lovely trip and, as usual, reaffirmed all of my fond thoughts about my hometown. It was mostly family time, and unfortunately I didn't think to book the rest of the week off (another glowing showing of unbrilliance...and yes, I am aware that unbrilliance is probably not a word), which meant that I didn't get to visit with all of my lovelies and associates. But, I did go to the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Oak Bay, which I used to do every year with my Dad until I left home and guess what? Just like much of the rest of Victoria, it was exactly the same as I left it. I'm fairly certain that people were even standing in the same spots as they were circa November 2001. Awesome. I love that about Victoria. I wouldn't change it for anything. Which is good, because it never changes.

On that note, that's part of the latest. There's more to come.

Just one week ago...


I love it.




Gobbling.


The end of a long weekend is always so depressing. It seems like such a long stretch when you're heading into it, but of course it passes by far quicker than you ever thought it could. We made the most of it though.
On Friday, we went out for our FIRST DINNER OUT since the beginning of August. Yes, we had DINNER in a RESTAURANT. We had a few drinks in the adjoining bar before enjoying an amazing meal and a beautiful sunset. It was awesome. And so worth the wait. Now we're back on the no restaurants train until my birthday in December. I have to say, not eating out did not actually leave us with any more money in our bank accounts, since we were obviously buying more overly-priced groceries. It did, however, leave me 9 pounds lighter.

The Rock doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving. They did, however, install a brand new national holiday earlier this year which happens to fall on what we know as Thanksgiving in Canada, the second Monday in October. I would like to think that they had us Canadians in mind when they worked out the timing for this holiday, but I highly, highly doubt it. Regardless, we are delighted to be able to continue on with our Thanksgiving traditions.


This was our first Thanksgiving on the Rock, and so we rounded up some other Canadians (we even rounded up some Quebecois), a couple of Americans, a Brit, a Kenyan and some South Africans and planned a big Thanksgiving Dinner. The South Africans bowed out at the last minute, but everyone else showed up, traditional (and non-traditional) dishes in hand, ready to celebrate all that is Thanksgiving. And since not one of the Canadians (or Americans, for that matter) could provide a satisfactory definition of Thanksgiving to our Kenyan and British guests, we told them that it is in celebration of turkey and Indians, which they bought. So, we toasted to turkey and Indians with a ridiculous amount of food, a bit too much to drink and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to Kurt, when we surprised him with a birthday cake. All in all, it was a great Thanksgiving, though by the end of the evening, the thought of food made me want to barf. What is it about Thanksgiving that makes you eat far more than you normally would, anyways?

Anyways, good times.



Today was spent half on the couch, trying to sleep off the worst food-induced hangover I've had in awhile, and half outside, walking around the neighborhood. It's been awhile since I took my camera out, and we ended up staying out for hours. The weather has cooled off quite a bit since even just a few weeks ago we were still dealing with some fairly serious heat. Now it's cool, with a breeze and even a bit of a nip in the air at night.
Tomorrow it's back to the grind. I don't mind...but I never like to see a weekend come to an end.

Landmark.

Kurtis, my beloved, turns 35 in just a few hours. In the years we've been together, we've celebrated some good birthdays, always surrounded by friends and family. This year is different because it's just us. Not that it will be any less special, but those birthday celebrators who've raised glasses (after glasses, after glasses) with us in years past will be noticeably absent. Despite this, we're making the most of it because he's going to be THIRTY-FIVE. That's big time! And even more handsome every year, if I do say so myself.
Let's take a quick look back at the birthdays of yore...

2004 - Fat Tuesdays -I've probably never been more intoxicated that I am in this picture. Check out Kurt's beads.

2005 - Fat Tuesday's...again...Mafia Booth.

2006 - Moxie's

2007 - Family Dinner - We were living with his parents, just waiting for the green light to move to the Rock. It's hard to believe that was a whole year ago.

On Friday we're heading out for a sumptuous steak dinner at a local steak house. I'm having the fish. We may not be flanked with the usual suspects this year, but it will be great nonetheless.

Happy Birthday Kurt!

Love, me.

Car Wanted.

It's been a few months now since we sold our "car". We've seen it around (have I mentioned that this place is small?) and it's looking much better than before, but the thought of it and it's perpetually falling-apartness still haunts me. It got us to the airport and back a few times, so it wasn't a TOTAL bust. Just mostly a bust.

We were so excited once it was gone because we were going to make it with just a scooter. That was the plan. Get the biggest scooter possible (to accomodate as many grocery bags as possible) and do it island-style. What we failed to note during the conjuring up of this brilliant plan was the fact that the majority of our fellow islanders also own a car and that there is actually a reason for this. This reason is rain.

Oh, and total inconvenience. Together.

The first few months post car (P.C.) were great. However, it's gotten notably cooler lately and with that has come some very notable rainstorms, all of which seem to happen conveniently at 5:00 p.m., just as we're getting off work. This is not awesome. Waiting it out isn't always an option either, so we've been toughing it out for the past few weeks and have showed up at home looking like drowned rats a number of times now. It's a tad miserable, and "winter" hasn't even hit yet.

Last weekend, after spending a day and a half totally cooped up in the apartment because it was actually too wet to go anywhere on the bike, we realized that life on the island without a car isn't all it we hoped it would be. Sure, the $7.50 gas bills are awesome but trying to get home from the airport with luggage is not.

So...we're looking for a car. We have some criteria this time around:

1. It will not be a Ford. Especially not a Ford of the European variety.
2. It will not be a piece of crap.

I don't think that's too much to ask, really.

Does this Dell make me look fat?

It arrived. Finally. Turns out that checking the "I AM EXPORTING THIS COMPUTER OUT OF THE UNITED STATES" box on the online order form means that I was subject to a little extra scrutiny on their end to determine whether or not I was, in fact, a terrorist. Turns out I'm not (yay!), and my computer made it to me on the Rock, all the way from Wilmington, Ohio, where it was born. It's pretty much exactly like the the one that died except that it's a Dell, it's red, and I've had it on my lap for about an hour and have not yet sustained a second-degree burn. Great success.

Of course, it would have been lovely to have brought home a shiny new Mac. However, the $3K it would have required to bring home the one I wanted just wasn't available to me right now. Or ever, really, because to spend $3K on a laptop that essentially functions solely as a TV is semi ridiculous. I wouldn't even have given it a second thought had we still been in Canada and able to buy things at regular people prices.

Anyways, I'm back in business.

I am loving October so far. The countdown is on to the American election and I, for one, am all over it. I LOVE American elections. This one is far more interesting than the last one, and I really can't wait to see what happens. I do know that Sarah Palin in an interview setting is like a trainwreck...so painful to watch, yet somehow I just can't look away. Personally, I think McCain handed Obama the throne by naming her on his ticket. I'm going to be glued to the TV come election night...it's a wild ride!

Remember when I blogged?

I do...vaguely. It's been weeks without a post and don't think for a second that I haven't thought about this poor little blog, sitting all alone in cyberspace, unloved and alone, at least once every day. I have. Unfortunately, a series of unfortunate events has prevented me from doing some much needed blogging. Much needed because it's where I vent, not because any of you are particularly anxious to hear about what I've been up to.

It's Wednesday evening and I'm sitting in my work clothes (read: slightly uncomfortable when compared to my regular evening attire of lulus and a t-shirt) and I'm blogging from Kurt's laptop. Why? Well, remember that gorgeous little HP I bought at about this time last year? Actually, it was exactly 13 months ago now. Well, it was the best computer ever until the effin' thing melted. Literally. Motherboard...fried. Apparently, my little laptop had a fairly common fan problem, meaning that the fan couldn't keep it cool enough and so, one day last week, it just quietly died. I'm still mourning, because it really was the best computer I've ever dealt with and it had served me well...until two weeks after the warranty expired. Bastards. At least it was only $600 to begin with and it was, to put it lightly, heavily, heavily used. I got my $600 worth, but I'm bummed that it couldn't have lived the life of a normal computer...like, at least another year.

So, obviously I had to find another computer RIGHT AWAY. My laptop was my lifeline. It's how I viewed Jaia's progress from enchanting infant to adorable toddler. It's how I find out what's for dinner. It's where I pay the bills, watch TV, download aforementioned TV, shop...you name it. Lifeline. Without it, I quite literally have nothing to do in the evenings but read unless Kurt lets me use his, which I mostly just feel guilty about, because then HE has nothing to do but read. There are worse things than reading, but I do look forward to some computer time to connect to the real world.

I thought (very briefly) about going Mac but then talked my way back out of it when I discovered a) how ridiculously expensive they are considering what you're getting, b) how RIDICULOUSLY expensive they are here, considering the extra duties and surcharges they pile on, and c) that I would probably lose all of my hours and hours of logging financial data into Quicken. Seriously...that was a deciding factor. So, after about 1 hour of deliberation, I went Dell. A pretty, red Dell with a gigantic hard drive and 3 GB of memory...for approximately a quarter of the cost of the most comparable Mac (which had a much smaller hard drive and memory). Unfortunately, I decided to go the honest route and clicked on the "I WILL BE EXPORTING THIS COMPUTER OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES" button and therefore the laptop, which was supposed to be shipped to me on Monday, was subject to some delays while they confirmed that I am not, in fact, a terrorist. I think they've confirmed it now, so hopefully I'll have it here on Monday at the latest. What a hassle. HP...not so much.

So, that is my excuse and I think it covers me for at least the last week or so.

Anyways...

Can you believe that it has been seven weeks since we started our daily trips to the gym and that we have not skipped ONE workout? I can't. It astounds me. I admit that this morning's workout was a little half-assed on my part, but at least I was there. I was more interested in the episode of My Super Sweet 16 than I was in my lunges, but I DID lunge. Oh, I lunged.

I'm starting to get really excited about the wedding, now less than a year away. We've made some movement on the plans and are starting to plan out some activities around the wedding for out-of-towners, or in-towners who want an excuse to take some August time off. I'm sure there will be a few. Anyways, it's shaping up nicely.

Work is going great. That's pretty much all I have to say about that but it's busy, it's interesting and the days are flying by. I can't believe that it's almost the end of September. What?

I am utterly engrossed in Season 3 of the L Word. Or, the start of it anyways. Dana and Alice broke up? Alice is a psycho with a Dana shrine? Attachment parenting? WTF? Can't wait to see what's next. We're also watching Weeds again, which just gets better and better, though I hear that at some point it's going to take a turn for the worse.

That's all my news for the day. Just waiting patiently for my laptop's status to move from "IN PRODUCTION" to "SHIPPED". It cannot arrive fast enough.

Bye for now.

YOU MUST WATCH THIS SHOW.


If you haven't already, that is. It's brilliant. It's hilarious. It's quirky. It's unexpected. It's HBO. Have I sold you yet?

Lai and Dal turned us on to this when they were here and we devoured it in a few days. They've only had one season, with the next to follow in 2009. Please buy it/rent it/obtain it by whatever means possible and just enjoy the brilliance of their lyrics, the idiocy of their lives.
I (heart) Jermaine and Bret.

So, the new job apparently equals blog abandonment. I feel bad. Guilty. Like it's sitting here, waiting for me and I ignore it while I get sucked in to random unmentionable fall TV.

Fall is upon some of you, but it hasn't arrived here yet. I don't actually think that the Rock has a fall, just a slightly cooler season with a bit more wet (and a touch of hurricane here and there) and then back to hot. It's so damn hot right now that it's hard to move around outside and our lunch hours are turning into 20 minute breaks so we can get back inside to the air conditioning. However, we haven't let the heat cramp our style and are still dragging ourselves to the gym six mornings a week. SIX. I can hardly believe it, but we're four weeks in now and have not missed one single workout. It feels like a routine now, so I think we're over the dangerous zone where it's easy to miss one...then two...then infinity. I tell myself that bicep definition makes the 6:00 wake up calls worth it, but I am clearly not fooling myself. There are mornings that I would absolutely kill to toss my alarm clock across the room and stay put.

In other news, I have finished the first of the teen sensation Stephanie Meyer books and...I confess, I liked it. I'm a little bit into vampires now, I have to say. Or Edward, anyways. After a bad experience with a certain boy wizard, I didn't have high hopes for the vampire series, but I was pleasantly surprised. Though, my least favorite character is the main character, only because she is a bit of a drama queen. She says things "icily" and "snips" and gets in a huff WAY too easily. Or maybe the author just ran out of ways to say "said". Though, she is a teenager, so I suppose a certain amount of icy snippy retorts is expected. Anyways, done and onto the next one. I'm so glad I'm 3 behind because I hate waiting for a whole other book to be 1) written and 2) published before finding out what happens.

I love to see kids...or teenagers...young adults...getting into books. I've always loved to read and have always surrounded myself with stacks of books to read, and fill up virtual shopping carts with my wish list of books to read down the road. Even though I'm not the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world (or any kind of fan at all), I absolutely love seeing the hype, not for the movies, but for the books themselves. Seeing kids, even little ones, lining up to get their hands on a copy always made me excited for them, and happy to see that yes, kids are still into books.

On the other hand, and on a small venting note...I hate seeing kids glued to video games when they could be reading, or playing outside, or doing any other normal kid stuff. Sure, we had them around when we were kids but I don't remember wasting entire days inside playing them...I remember it being a much more limited option, actually. But now I guess it's just easier to plug the kid into something that makes noises and has flashing lights to keep them quiet than it is to read to them, or tell them to go ride their bike, or just go play outside. How these kids will function in the real world is beyond me. There is a kid who takes our ferry who sits next to his mom, playing his silly game, while she tries to have a conversation with him and he just completely tunes her out. Every single day. Why she doesn't throw it overboard is beyond me...I've come close a few times.

We're finally, FINALLY getting ready to send out our save-the-date cards, artfully created by a certain Forgetful. They're lovely and I've been dying to get them out but since we made some pretty biggish changes to our wedding, we didn't want to send them until we'd updated the wedding website (the address is on the cards) to reflect the changes. I guess they're not that gigantic...we just wanted to edge out some of the crap that was eating away at us with the original plans and found a solution for the reception that we're thrilled with and that we think our guests will enjoy more. We know our guests...and we know us...and the original plan just wasn't jiving. Anyways, hopefully they'll be out by the end of the week and we can wash our hands of the wedding...for now.

The job is still going great, though I'm officially the opposite of bored. It's so busy that there are days (like today) where I work my ass off and end up having the same "to do" stack on my desk at the end of the day as there was when I started. It's ridiculous. But, I like it.

OK, that's it for now....but I'm slowly getting back on the blog train so it won't be as long before I update again, for all three of you who even read this anymore. I have been Flooging a bit though, in case you need some dinner ideas.

The Return of the Floog.

It's been a long time coming. I'm not sure why we stopped the Floog, because we had been on a roll for awhile, but alas...the last post was in May of 2007. Shameful. The Swedish Chef would be so embarassed by our dedication.

However, I have brought it back. The link is provided on the right. Behold the wisdom and knowledge behind...the FLOOG.

Tales from Sea.

Last Tuesday, Kurt and I got up an hour earlier to catch the early ferry into town for our first morning gym session. I had never taken the early ferry before and wasn't sure if it had the same "if we see you running down the street, we'll wait for you" policy that our regular ferry had, so we made sure to be at the stop a little early. We boarded at 7:00, and the ferry was set to leave at 7:15. The captain and a crew member hopped off and headed into the little coffee shop at the ferry stop, while the other crew member checked ferry passes as we got on.

At about 7:03, just as I was settling into my book, I felt the ferry lurch and then start moving away from the dock. It took me a second before I realized that this wasn't suppose to happen for at least another 12 minutes or so, and then another second to realize that it wasn't just leaving early...it was actually just drifting away.

Without the captain.

I should take a moment to describe what we're dealing with here. A fairly large catamaran-style ferry, floating in no more than 20 feet of water (at that particular spot), which was probably at least 85 degrees. The water was calm, the weather was clear. However, we were also surrounded by things like rocks, a steel bridge and other such firmly stationed items like, oh, docks and houses. Drifting away from the dock with no steering capabilities? Not ideal.

As it was still fairly early, there were only a handful of people onboard besides ourselves. However, the powers that be could not have picked a worse crowd to be in a potential "situation" on the water. Besides (calm, logically minded) Kurt and myself (calm, less logically minded), there were about 6 women of varying ages and a gentleman who I had thought worked for the ferries but now, after this experience, assume that he does not. Some of the ladies lost it when they realized what was happening. "JESUS! LORD SAVE ME JESUS! I CAN'T SWIIIIIIMMMMMMM!!!! SAVE ME JESUS!" etc. etc. "THERE'S NO ONE UPSTAIRS! THERE'S NO ONE DRIVING THE BOAT! WE'RE GONNA HIT THE ROOOOCKS! LORD JESUS SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE ME!" etc. etc.

Effin' chaos.

Kurt and I were a little bewildered by it all. WTF are you supposed to do in this situation? When we looked over and saw the Captain standing on the dock, and realized that the screaming ladies were, in fact, accurate in their observations, Kurt took off and sprinted upstairs to make sure that someone was up there...or, I guess, drive the boat backwards if there wasn't.

I should also mention that the ferries are state of the art. There is no lever that you can just pull into reverse and back it back up to the dock. From what I've seen, it's controlled by buttons and something that looks like a joystick. Actually, with his video game background, Kurt probably could have figured it out if he'd had to. Luckily, he didn't. The poor other crew member, left alone on the ferry while his colleagues went to get their morning coffee, had sprinted upstairs and was trying to figure out the controls when Kurt arrived.

While Kurt was upstairs figuring out how we were going to avoid hitting the bridge, I stayed downstairs and tried to calm down the absolutely hysterical women. I don't know how it's even possible to grow up here and not know how to swim, but apparently none of them did...and they were all locals. They were freaking out, cursing at the Captain (still waving at us and laughing on the dock with the rest of the passengers), shouting for Jesus to sweep in and save them from their horrible, unavoidable watery death when the ferry suddenly switched into reverse and we started drifting backwards. When they realized that they might not, in fact, die, they quieted down. Kurt was back downstairs by that point, and the ferry guy was steering us slowly backwards towards the dock. It took some instructions yelled from the Captain, but he manouevered us back into position, they secured the rope (a step clearly missed earlier), and normal ferry service resumed. In fact, we were even close to schedule...after all of that.

The ladies remained quiet(er), but they were severely unimpressed. Even with my headphones on, I could hear snippits of the story being repeated to passengers boarding at the next stop, who had been lucky enough to miss out on the fun. "We were all going to die" and "he just stood there, laughing at us" and "Lord, that was a blessing"...it was great eavesdropping material.

As for the Captain...it wasn't his fault that the ferry took off without him, or most of the other passengers. It's not his job to tie it up. I'd laugh too. In fact, I did.

Ridiculous. Ah...the morning commute. Always a good time.

Dad's flowers.

I remember being quite into the colour purple in or around 1990. Nearly everything I wore was teal, purple or some combination of the two. Because is there really a better combination?

Lately, after years of ignoring it completely, I'm finding myself drawn to the colour purple again. It seems to be everywhere...and I'm liking it.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock...


It's only one year minus three days until our wedding.
Wow!


Life.

It's happening.

My new job is going really well. I didn't want to jinx it and write some big rave review of the place in the first week only to have everything go to shit in the second week and have to retract it, so I held out until I'd completed two full weeks of employment with Large Unnamed Global Entity, hereby known as LUGE. It has a better ring to it than LUNLF, and far better than MUOLF (Mid-sized Unnamed Offshore Law Firm). Talk about lowered expectations.

Anyways, two full weeks at LUGE and I'm in LUGE love. It's all very different, which means that it's actually interesting, which I haven't experienced with work in a very long time. I'm still getting used to the structure, which is very different from anywhere I've worked before, but I'm enjoying the fact that I'm already being handed projects and such, meaning that I'm suddenly very busy. I went from 0 to 120 in about 5 minutes on my first day. It was awesome.

Enough about work. In short, good times.

Business is NOT as usual in the P-H Compound, otherwise known as our apartment, which is currently lingering at a comfortable 80 degrees thanks to the A/C. It has gotten really, really hot here. You start sweating the second you step outside and the (hot) little breezes from the ocean really only amplify the situation. It's unpleasant, but there is some solace in knowing that every single other person is just as uncomfortable as you are. Except the tourists, that is. They tumble off the cruise ships each week in some of the most appalling excuses for "summer wear" that I have ever seen. I have seen more ass in the last two weeks than anyone should ever see, unless you were in some sort of line of business where frequent ass viewings were the norm. It's not hard to spot them (the tourists, that is, though the asses are right behind them)....they move around in large confused-looking herds, carrying the standard-issue blue and white striped cruise ship beach towels and asking which way the pink sand is.

The population of the Rock spikes when the ships are in town (sometimes two or more at once), and the roads suddenly become even more dangerous than they were before, with hundreds of tourists wobbling around on their rented scooters, trying to simultaneously sight-see and stay on the left side of the road, while taking photos and carrying on conversations with the scooter behind them. What a shitshow. At least they all seem to be enjoying themselves, which I suppose is the important thing. And we all enjoy ourselves on those rare nights when the ships are gone and you can actually get from Point A to Point B without having to shove your way through crowds on the already crowded sidewalks.

After our three weeks away, we came back feeling pretty blah so we (I) decided that our kitchen needed an overhaul (again) and we needed to get back into cooking healthy meals for ourselves, instead of cooking easier but decidedly less healthy meals just because we are lazy by nature. So far, so good. Again, I don't want to jinx it, but we had a phenomenal week last week, food-wise. We did not buy one meal. We brought a healthy lunch to work each day, complete with morning and afternoon snacks AND (and this is the impressive part) we dragged ourselves to the gym bright and early every. single. morning. Even Friday. And again this morning (Sunday). Astounding. I'd kind of been missing the morning runs but it is just far too damn hot to be out there pounding it out on the pavement, even early in the morning. So, we're finally taking advantage of a sweet deal Kurt gets through work on a gym membership and it's been great. We pretty much have it to ourselves each morning, so we can run or do our weights and get in and out of there with time to spare before having to be at work (which, incidentally, is right across the road...for both of us). Even after just a week, I'm already feeling much better. It's amazing what watching what's in your food can do for you.

Tonight's dinner was barracuda filets, steamed in parchment paper with fennel, carrots, orange juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Very easy...very delicious. For dessert? Frozen grapes. They have nearly replaced my beloved Minstrels as my favorite evening treat.

True to form, I'm already getting antsy about our next trip off the Rock and having a very hard time swallowing the fact that there simply won't be one for the rest of this year. I'm going to be clawing my eyes out by the end of September, so this should be interesting. However, the bank accounts are more important right now and I really don't think that the airlines need any more help from us this year, thank you very much. I'm already looking into booking our Easter NYC trip and thinking about that...as it very well could be our first trip off the Rock, meaning that we could potentially be staring down the barrel of an EIGHT MONTH stretch of island fever. Awesome! I know at least one person is rolling their eyes at the thought of me complaining about spending time here and so, once again, I want to reiterate the fact that it's not the Rock that's the problem. It's the whole being cut off from the rest of the world thing that gets to me. You really do forget that it's out there, especially if you avoid the news for a week or so. It's a really weird feeling.

Anyways, this weekend is coming to a close pretty quickly now. Laundry is done, lunches are made, book is finished (David Sedaris - When You Are Engulfed in Flames) and new book is waiting (Stephanie Meyer - Twilight - yes...I am jumping on that train, and if this is just the new Harry Potter, which was bitterly disappointing to me, I'm going to be...bitterly disappointed), so it's time for bed.

Night, y'all.

Getting all Canadian.

Having grown up in Canada and having lived there for nearly all of my life, I suppose I've always been pretty sheltered as to what the rest of the world thinks of Canadians. Since none of my vacations outside of Canada have ever been longer than a few weeks, I've never really experienced the down and dirty viewpoints on, well, myself and my glorious country. Nor have I ever cared, to be quite honest. I like Canada and generally, I like Canadians. As a whole, we're OK. I've certainly always been proud to call Canada my home.

Well, I've heard my first anti-Canadian comment...apparently Canadians are known for being cheap. In fact, there's even an acronym here...TAC, which stands for "tight ass Canadian". I've learned that, apparently, I am one.

They have a very strange tradition on the Rock that I'm not a big fan of. When a large group goes out to eat together, instead of everyone paying for what they ordered, the split the bill by the number of people at the table and everyone pays their share. Now, this makes sense to me when you're eating at a restaurant where the very nature of the food means that everyone shares - like Indian, for example, or Thai. But that kind of restaurant style simply doesn't exist here - even the Thai place serves individual portions. I'm talking about everyone ordering their own entree and drinks and then just averaging the bill afterwards. Kurt and I have come across this situation a number of times since we've been here and, for the most part, it's left us paying a lot more than we would actually have owed, since we don't usually order big meals (because big meals here are expensive), don't really drink and most of our friends are alcoholics. We've sucked it up though, cursing ourselves the whole way home for not saying something. I'm not talking about a difference of $10 here...we once paid (no joke) $105 for a salad, a burger and two margaritas, just because that is how the table treated the bill and by the time we'd thought to say anything, everyone else had already forked over their portions. They were getting a great deal, since they'd been ordering jug after jug of margaritas. I'm still pissed off about that night.

After a year of buying a house downpayment worth of plane tickets, we've made a conscious decision to lay low for awhile and do everything possible to hit our financial goals for this year. If we stick to it, we should do fine. One of the things we've cut back on (the easiest thing) is eating out - meaning that it was time to stop pussyfooting around those awkward split bills.

Last Friday, we were invited out to meet up with some friends for a casual dinner at a local pub. Well, three of them were our friends, and the other three we'd never met until that evening. I ordered an appetizer ($13) and a drink ($6), and Kurt ordered a burger ($15) and a beer ($5). Total bill for us should have been $50, including a tip (which they graciously include for you on the bill, at 15-20%, no matter how crappy the service is). So, when the bill came and they announced that each person owed $45, I spoke up and said no fucking way. The rest of the table had been drinking glasses of beer large enough to comfortably bathe a cat in, and each had ordered a large entree, with appetizers. I thought that my point would be taken, but one of the guys...hereby known as arrogant English asshole....turns to me, wipes his lips daintily with his napkin and says "well, time to get all Canadian then." He followed this up with an impressive eye roll.

Jackass.

This came after he basically told Kurt and I that having a wedding was just a big show and that if we were in it for all of the right reasons, we would just elope together and spare everyone else the stress. Oh yeah...and we'd only met him about 20 minutes before he unloaded his opinions on everyone, as if we all cared. It was funny until he flat-out insulted us.

I stood my ground though, re-explained my position, and waited it out. Had we had similar orders, we would have been happy to just pay the averaged amount. It's actually much, much easier than trying to split the bill down, but I just couldn't give in this time. Eventually, and thanks to back-up from everyone else at the table minus the two English guys (perhaps it's an English tradition?), it was settled and we paid what we owed. Still, I'd never been insulted for being a Canadian before and I wasn't impressed by the whole situation. It got awkward. But, if "getting all Canadian" means not being dumb enough to pay for strangers to get drunk and eat curry then yeah...sign me up.

It's hard to deal with these kinds of things because when you're on an island this small, social events like this kind of make the world go 'round. There isn't that much else to do, so we look forward to getting together with our friends. However, we're just going to have to find some crafty ways around paying for other people's fishbowls of beer.

Kurt's suggestion? Lobster and champagne, as a rule.

~TAC.

Hello?



Is anyone still out there?


It may come as a shock to any of you still reading this, but yes...I'm still here. And yes...I'm still on vacation and no, vacations are not particularly conducive to blogging. However, mere hours before my few glorious days at my favorite place on Earth (which will require a 3 hour solo road trip in a car with no radio), I've found a minute or two to reach out. To say hello. To connect.


SO...hello.


I'm about 5 days from the end of what has been a fantastic, busy, fun, sad, hectic, relaxing vacation. Yes...all of those things, rolled into 21 days. From Ottawa to Victoria, we've accomplished a lot. Kurt is back on the Rock now, as of this morning, and I'm still home, enjoying cool ocean breezes and quality time with the cat.


Ottawa, of course, was crazy. We sorted out some things with the house, caught up with our friends (and managed to see almost everyone...no small feat), and enjoyed a lot of the things we miss the most about what used to be our home. It was awesome. Sometimes I let Victoria gloss over Ottawa in terms of "home", but it definitely felt like home for that week. It was nice to be back, and even nicer to know that even though we're not there for 95% of the year, the week we manage to be there feels like we never left. I miss it already.


Ottawa highlights:


1. Beautiful, warm Ottawa weather. Better than the Rock, because you can still breathe.

2. A hug and a kiss from Jaia.

3. Friends, friends and more friends. We miss you guys!

4. Delicious Greek delicacies with EAP.

5. Pho at phive.

6. A LUNLF reunion, unfortunately sans Emily and the Piglet...who has a tiny Bermuda present coming her way.


We flew into Victoria last weekend, for what ended up being a more relaxing week, highlighted by a few major events:


1. Wedding dress: found. I know that made Shannen squeal, just a bit. ;-)

2. Wedding plans: changed. Date and venues are the same...but everything else will be different.

3. Engagement photos! I'm so excited about the photographer we picked for the wedding...she is awesome.

4. Actual words from Kurt's mouth: "I can't wait to live here." True story. I knew I'd get him.

5. KC at HR with LP and HAO.


And now I'm headed on a solo trip to the family cottage, to spend some quality time with the grandparents, my cousin (who happens to be an amazing chef...I timed this well), and his awesome girlfriend who I've never actually had a lot of time to visit with, so I'm really looking forward to getting up there. Speaking of...I should get going. Traffic on this larger Rock moves, well, not very fast.


But that's how I like it. It's really good to be home.


Our Nightmare is Over.

As you may recall, we bought a shitty car last fall. And by shitty, I mean the worst car ever. And by "car", I mean shitbox. This should give you an idea. However, it did get us from Point A to Point B 100% of the time, which means it actually had a better track record than the beloved Vespa, but it was full-on sketchy.

The windows didn't work, the radio didn't work, the upholstery on the door panels was actually pulling away from the door (exposing a sticky yellow substance), pieces seemed to fall off every other day...it was quickly becoming a distaster zone.

I'm not sure why we've held on to it for so long. It wasn't long after we bought it that we realized that it was in bad shape...and about to get worse. Still, we justified keeping it by using it to get us to and from the airport...but flying once every 2-3 months doesn't actually warrant keeping it on the road. After the 756th thing went wrong on the weekend (I accidentally pulled the A/C knob off), we finally gave in and decided that enough was enough. It had served its purpose and we'd gotten furniture into our apartment, we can afford a taxi ride, and it was time to say goodbye. I wrote a clever ad, listed it at a fire sale price, and posted it online yesterday morning.

Last night, after a test drive and a careful inspection...which it apparently passed (?!)...the car drove out of our lives for good. They were delighted with the price, we were delighted to see it go. We still turned off our cell phones though, just in case it did something weird on the way home and they decided to bring it back.

This morning, it had not reappeared in our parking lot, so it wasn't actually a glorious dream. It's actually gone. It means for a minor hassle in getting ourselves and our luggage to the airport on Friday, but that's a small price to pay to be rid of it for good. Funds are to be set aside for the purchase of a brand new scooter when we get back (we're selling the Vespa too). Onwards and upwards...which, if you think about it, is the only direction we could have gone from the "car".

Notable and Newsworthy...at least, according to me.

There has been some interesting stuff in the news lately.

1. Dr. Henry Morgentaler, quite possibly the most controversial Canadian ever, has received the Order of Canada. This should bring the wackos from both ends of the political/social spectrum out in full force.

2. Some rich hotel tycoon died in the 90's, leaving his wife a multi-multi-billion dollar fortune. She, in turn, died last year and left the entire fortune...to her dog.

3. Housing Correction. (!!!!)

4. Eating a small square of chocolate right after breakfast might be good for you.

5. A woman in Southern Ontario had a stroke and woke up with a Newfie accent. Apparently, this is called "Foreign Language Syndrome". I kind of want it. I probably wouldn't go for Newfoundland though...maybe I'd suit a nice Texan drawl. Or a Swedish lilt.

6. The Canadian Embassy in Washington sent out an invitation to Canada Day celebrations depicting Samuel de Champlain eating a bowl of poutine. The President of the Impératif français, a group that defends and promotes the French language, called the embassy's behaviour "contemptuous and unacceptable." I think it's funny. The Embassy has apologized.

Of course, there is a lot more going on in the world than the above, and I could go on and on about wars, bombs, and the latest uprising in Indonesia...but really, and this might make me sound shallow but I'd bet money on the fact that most of you would rather read about the billionaire dog, I find these stories more interesting this morning. I'm not really in a doom-and-gloom place right now. Maybe tomorrow.

OWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Yesterday afternoon, quite randomly, I came up with the brilliant idea to lace up my running shoes and start hitting the road again on a regular basis. After running solidly, nearly every day, from November until March, a brief tantrum from my knee stopped us cold and, unfortunately, we never really started up again. We've had a few random runs here and there, the last one being at the beginning of June, but our running shoes have otherwise been bored and unused. So, after weeks of too much food, too many drinks and not nearly enough movement, I decided on a whim to fire it up again, complete with me-style charts and schedules.

Kurt tried his hardest to look enthusiastic.

Of course, when I get excited about doing something, it has to happen RIGHT THIS MINUTE, so we ate dinner downtown, went home and digested for a bit, and then headed out just before 9:00 last night, thinking that once the sun goes down, the heat will subside a bit.

Wrong. So wrong.

I'm pretty well aware that both of our fitness levels have plummeted, so I didn't start us on anything crazy...it was maybe a total of 16 minutes of actual running, with little walk breaks here and there, for maybe a total of 3.5 km. The first few running bits felt great. It was hot, but there was a bit of a breeze here and there and the scenery was so beautiful that I nearly forgot that I was running. However, by the time we'd made our way back to the house, we both felt like the heat was suffocating us. Seriously...it is so damn hot, and it's apparently just going to get even hotter into August. Ugh. I was a bit pumped about the prospect of evening running, since my mornings are about to get cramped by the new job, but I'm having second thoughts.

My legs are a bit unimpressed with me today, but I have to admit...after a cold shower, I felt awesome last night.

I'm still here.

It's been a bit difficult to keep the old blog updated lately, since summer on the Rock has turned out to be a pretty phenomenal season so far and there hasn't been a lot of time to curl up with my laptop. There always seems to be something going on, something to do, and something to spend money on. It's getting a bit ridiculous...I'm kind of looking forward to a break from this busy little place.

Laila and Dallas have been here since last Saturday (two Saturdays ago now), and we're having a blast with them. Having visitors forces you to get out and do things in the evenings, which has actually been great. With daylight now stretching to 9:00ish, it's totally possible for us to go home after work, have dinner and then head down to the beach for a swim. On Monday, we went bowling to celebrate Dal's 30th birthday. Unbeknownst to me, Kurt is an excellent bowler. Beknownst to me, I am not. But, I held my own and even got a strike, which is actually kind of a miracle. Tonight (I think) we'll be meeting up for them for the weekly street fair downtown, which may have a teen fashion show included, which is well worth hanging around in 30 degree heat for. Hello, inappropriate. Hilarious.

Last weekend, we celebrated our heritage by congregating on the beach with a whole whack of other Canadians who have chosen the Rock as their temporary home. It was fun. $10 got me a one-year membership to the local association of Canadians (I am now a card-carrying member), a turkey burger, three alcoholic beverages and one water. Not a bad deal, considering. Also, I ended up scoring a flat of Red Bull at the end of the afternoon, which would be great if I liked Red Bull. Anyways, the boys did some body surfing, we all got a bit sunburned, and then we headed out to the furthest eastern point of the Rock to find this very random little "restaurant" that we've been hearing about since we moved. I think that "restaurant" might be a strong term for this place. It's literally in someone's backyard, behind a VERY rustic "house", with bathrooms that made Laila the nurse dry heave a bit. However...the chef (and owner), who is somewhat of a legend around here, is a lovely, friendly guy and he is a fantastic cook. For $17.50 apiece, we each enjoyed a bowl of his homemade fish chowder and a plate of fish and chips. Everything was delicious...we'll definitely be going back. All four of us did report having some very odd dreams that night (mine involved some shipwrecked Amish Mormons - yes...Amish AND Mormons...who we rescued from the water but then they made us sing Mariah Carey's version of 'O Holy Night'...), but I'm sure those were unrelated.

On Sunday, we discovered this great boat rental place almost right behind our house - cheap AND local...perfect. Six of us headed out on the water for the afternoon to explore, swim, etc. It was great. They also rent kayaks, so Kurt and I are going to start renting kayaks from them when we have beautiful days and nothing to do. Paddling around to the little private islands and snorkeling in the reefs...sounds great to me.

My ridiculous four week notice period has now been whittled down to a more tolerable 7 days left at my current job. Or, I should say, my current company, since my boss and I actually parted ways at the beginning of last week. It wasn't very pretty. Within about 24 hours of my giving my notice to him, he morphed into a gigantic turd and went out of his way to make himself look ridiculous in front of people he still has to work with. It was awkward...for him. Everyone else has been great and really supportive about it though, which means that while the four weeks have been kind of annoying...they've been tolerable. It's disappointing that eight months had to end like this though...even though I kind of expected his reaction, I secretly hoped that I would be wrong and that he would be classy about things. Mostly because he is not four years old. Not so much. Though, from what I've seen and heard since I left the floor, he's apparently prone to little tantrums, so I'm not taking it personally. As soon as my replacement was trained to be me, I asked to be removed from the floor and that was it.

More than ever, I think I've made the right move, and I'm guessing that he was probably a gigantic turd all along. It wouldn't have mattered if I'd left now, or two years from now...his reaction would have been the same and I would never have bothered asking for a reference letter from him, since he's never actually seen me work!

So, with Lai and Dal not leaving until Saturday, we have some fun stuff going on over the next few days. They've relocated to the house of some friends of ours, which is a lot more central for them and easier for them to see the other parts of the Rock, so we'll be meeting up with them over the next few evenings - their last few days here. This also happens to include Laila's birthday, so we'll be celebrating that with some swanky dinner and then trivia night at a local pub, I think. And then, a week from this Friday...we're on the plane!

Oh, Canada.

Every year, the Globe & Mail hosts a Canada Day photo contest, where readers can send in their photos of their favorite spots in Canada. This year, the contest was held on their website, and dozens were sent in, from all over, and some of them were absolutely gorgeous shots (and made me a big homesick for some of my favorite places). Here are my favorites.

Happy Canada Day.

















Anyone missing a foot?

One of the few perks of having nothing to do from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, is that I get to catch up with my online reading. Mostly I read blogs and newspapers, and most of the newspapers are Canadian. The first newspaper I read each day is the Globe. I follow that up with a little Times Colonist, some Ottawa Citizen, a dash of New York Times and finally, check out the Google News headlines, in case any of the above have left out anything important. After that, I spend approximately 5 minutes scanning the local "newspaper" which mostly just makes me mad. In the afternoon, I repeat the above process, because a lot happens during the day, you know.

$#%@... I AM SO BORED. And I've been informed that the boredom will continue at least through next week, which is just fantastic. Seriously. This is ridiculous. I am so tired of the pity party going on in the office behind me...and even happier about my decision to get out of here.

I digress.

The plus side of getting all of this reading done each day is that I'm probably better informed on national and world events than I've ever been. Besides the articles themselves, I always scan the reader comments as well, which are mostly a combination of insightful and completely idiotic. However, with the right topic, they can number into the hundreds, which is a great way to pass time NOT on Facebook.

Lately, I've been following (as has everyone, I believe) the story of the feet, encased in running shoes, washing up on various beaches along the B.C. coastline. Two more feet have been found this week, bringing the total to six feet - five right, one left. With the announcement of the finding of the sixth foot yesterday in Campbell River, the articles finally used the term "suspicious", as opposed to chalking the feet up to a bizarre coincidence.

There are a lot of theories out there with regards to the origins of the feet. Some thought that they were the feet of plane crash victims, but I believe that the sixth foot blew that theory out of the water (so to speak) because there were only four passengers and now five right feet. Others think that the feet have something to do with illegal Chinese immigrants (I don't understand the correlation there, but some people are all over this). Another theory is that they are linked to some sort of large-scale organized crime - bikers, drug lords, organ harvesting, etc. The RCMP aren't saying much about any of the feet, since releasing too many details about what they might know could obviously compromise the investigation, but I do know that they are treating all six feet as separate files. For now.

My own theory? I think B.C. has itself a new serial killer on the loose. While they had said a few weeks back that the bones did not show signs of being severed, the latest ones apparently have been obviously cut, and the sixth shoe was brand spankin' new.

Whatever really is going on...it's gone from being odd to scary. How many more will wash up before they figure out where and who the feet are coming from? All of the many obvious foot jokes aside (refer to the Globe's comment sections for those...they are plentiful), there are families out there with missing loved ones. Every new foot brings for them a new fear that it could be a link.

And besides all that...washed up feet are seriously gross. I won't be doing much beachcombing while I'm home.

Soundtrack: Missing.

I've always taken radio for granted. It's there, or not, depending on which way I've turned the knob, and really...it's never been a huge part of my life. Or has it?

When I was in Grade 8, I really started getting "into" music. In Victoria, the best stations at the time (and probably still? I have no idea...) were from either Seattle or Vancouver and my personal favorite, if I remember correctly, was KUBE 93.3 FM from Seattle. I loved it. I made approximately a million mix tapes from it, carefully pressing the PAUSE button after each song instead of STOP to keep my mixes from having those annoying button-pressing gaps. I wish I could listen to these tapes now...I'm sure they're full of winners...but unfortunately, I no longer own or even know of a cassette player which I could use. Does anyone?

A couple of years ago, Kurt's Dad came home from the States with an XM Satellite radio receiver for us. I had never even heard of it (it wouldn't come to Canada until a year later), and was a bit skeptical but quickly jumped on the satellite radio train when I realized that there are no (or very few) commercials and that I could very easily avoid all instances of Celine Dion with the flick of my finger. Genius! We (Kurt) mounted it in the car and off we went, enjoying uninterrupted music-listening bliss, up-to-date tunes, and nearly zero static...so long as we avoided very tall buildings. It was fantastic.

Unfortunately, we left it behind when we moved, thinking that it was unlikely that it would work on the Rock. As it turns out, it would have, and given the radio selection we currently have, we really should have brought it with us. Because the Rock's radio is, in a word, awful.

My alarm clock, a General Electric relic from my sixth birthday (no joke - it even has the fake wood look), has travelled with me through multiple moves in Victoria, to Ottawa, and now to the Rock. I just can't leave it behind. It has woken me up precisely on time every morning that it has needed to (I am knocking on real wood right now) and even without an antenna, has always had decent radio reception. When we arrived, I put Kurt in charge of establishing a radio station suitable to wake us each morning, which he did. Or so he thought. The first morning, we awoke to some casual easy listening, a la Celine Dion. One note from her is all it takes to start my day off on the wrong foot (or note), so that station was immediately replaced with another, which seemed promising when we were setting it the night before, but which turned out to be, quite possibly, the worst radio station of all time. The songs stopped halfway through, the announcer was clearly eating his breakfast while reading the news, and there are some pretty serious racist undertones which I'm not really into at 7:30 a.m. Or any time, for that matter. The only upside were the advertisements, which were all for skanky clothing stores, acrylic nail salons and hair salons advertising a huge selection of weaves. NEXT.

And so we've landed at our final destination, which also happens to be the only other choice. We now wake up to religious/inspirational music which, as it so happens, is the best we can do on the Rock. How lovely for me. The advertisements are all for churches, church groups, Jesus crusades, church luncheons, fundraisers for churches, and church meetings. The songs all include messages about Jesus and his various associates. I suppose there are worse ways to start your morning than with a little Jesus. On some subconscious level, this is probably doing me some good. At least I'm not listening to some dude chewing on his breakfast steak.

However, we've begun to notice the lack of new music in our lives. The stereo in our car (of course) doesn't work, so unless we get onto the internet radio scene, we're out of the loop. I was just informed by a friend that the New Kids on the Block have not only regrouped, but have released a single, a fact which I was completely unaware of until her email. When we were in Toronto, my four year old cousin did a song-and-dance routine to some song about jeans and boots with fur that is apparently really popular but which I've never heard of. We feel very out of the loop, music-wise. We had a rental car for the weekend, which happened to be equipped with satellite radio, so we spent the entire weekend trying to "catch up" but we were a bit of a lost cause...we didn't know any of the songs in the Top 20 except the ones that have been there since before we left Canada.

We also have no idea of what people are talking about when they mention new movies or new TV shows...we're like aliens. I don't know what's more sad...the fact that we are so out of the loop, or the fact that we get all wistful whenever we think of our little satellite radio receiver, sitting in a box back in Ottawa. I suppose there are worse things.

It's all fun and games until Tuesday arrives...

Yet another long weekend on the Rock (this time in celebration of our Monarch's birthday, though this is the last year that the Rock will recognize her birthday with a national holiday). I have to say...as much as I love long weekends, the Monday night before work is always pretty depressing. I guess that's just a testament to how great the weekend was, though, so I shouldn't complain.

With three days off and some busy weeks ahead of us, Kurt and I decided to take it easy on Saturday and to do as little as possible. It was nice. We accomplished absolutely nothing except for groceries, and even that was a bit half-hearted. We were also gearing up for Sunday, which turned out to be one of the best days we've had so far this year.


On Sunday morning, we set out with 8 of our friends on a pontoon boat we had rented for the day. By the way, 10 people and five gallons of rum swizzle makes for a pretty great time out on the open water...we had a blast. We set out towards our place, stopped to feed a huge swarm of snappers some of our Doritos (they loved Spicy Habenero but were not very impressed with salt and vinegar), and did some exploring, diving off the side of the boat whenever it got too hot. The water is very close to the temperature of the air now, which is somewhere near 80 degrees (or 26, depending on which side of the thermometre you're more interested in). It was still refreshing though and there was just enough of a breeze that we didn't completely roast ourselves.



We also did some cliff jumping, which I haven't done for years. I wasn't totally sure that I would participate, but one more glass of rum swizzle was all I needed. It was awesome. The cliffs are on top of these caves, which you have to swim and climb through to find your way to the top. It's really cool...these natural little caverns and "stairways"...almost like Mother Nature deliberately set up a diving spot for us.



By the afternoon, we were less interested in exploring and more interested in just lazing around, so we found a quiet spot between a couple of little islands, dropped the anchor and just hung out until it was time to return the boat. It was a great day...so great in fact that we immediately booked it again for a weekend when Laila and Dallas are here. It's so neat to see the Rock from a different perspective and find these little spots that are impossible to see, even from the ferry.



No one does a long weekend like the Rock. People here take their weekends VERY seriously. I think there must be nearly as many boats as there are people here, ranging from rubber dinghys to gigantic yachts, and every single one of them was out on Sunday, mooring up together, BBQing on the little beaches, playing soccer in the open spaces on all of the little islands, and really making the most of their weekend off. It's neat to see everyone treat it like such a vacation...especially when you know that no one is more than a few minutes from home.



After such an awesome Sunday, it was only fitting that Monday was a bit...lacklustre. After a slow start, we headed out to visit a friend of ours on the other end of the Rock (about an hour's drive) when the Vespa decided that it had other plans for us. The belt snapped off and the scooter just stopped, right in the middle of the road. Kurt pulled over right away to see what had happened and sure enough, there were little chunks of the belt all over the road. Awesome! Thankfully (we were SO lucky), we were only about a 10 minute walk from our house. Had it happened even 10 minutes later, we would have been seriously screwed. We walked it home, hopped in the car and headed to the beach to meet up with our friends. Unfortunately, every single other person on the island was at the same beach, so the parking situation was lousy, the beach was crowded, and there was just enough wind blowing to make you feel like you were being sandblasted as you laid on the towel. Unpleasant. We didn't stay long...maybe an hour or so...just long enough to gather enough sand on our persons to leave trails through the apartment when we got home. Oh well. There will be more successful beach days in our future.

Now I'm back at work, commencing Week 2 of Awkward Four Week Notice Period. My boss is absent today, meaning that it's somewhat less awkward, though I still have nothing to do which means that the next 6.25 hours are going to pass by very. very. slowly.

Only three sleeps until the next weekend...(my weekends start at 5 on Fridays).