My post a few days ago about my employment situation was a bit whiney. I'm sorry. I guess I was in a ranty kind of place and needed to vent somewhere, so took it all out on my poor little blog. I was going to just let it go and concentrate on doing the best I could for the time being, but I've scrapped that and I'm going for the jugular. I feel better already, though a tad nervous.

As an aside, I finally finished Pillars of the Earth and so don't have to lug it around with me anymore. As great a read as it was, even the cheaper paper was a royal pain the ass to carry around and it even got difficult to hold for long periods of time without some sort of supportive system like a pillow or my folded jacket. Still, I loved it. Next up is The Omnivore's Dilemma which I've heard and read great things about. I'm only a few chapters in...and I know a lot more about corn than I ever thought I would (or cared to), but it's really interesting.

Tomorrow night, we start an outdoor volleyball league which I *think* may be more about the post-volleyball beer than the game itself, which may actually be an OK thing, since I'm no star on the volleyball court. I blame it on not being tall enough, but that's a load of crap. I just hate the bruises. Kurt hasn't played since high school, so I don't know what we're going to bring to the table besides our good looks, but at least that's something.


I made the most amazing hummus yesterday. I love hummus and just bought yet another vegan cookbook because it had a whole chapter on different ways to make it. I don't know what it is about vegans, but their cookbooks are fantastic. Must be because their diets are so limited that they're forced into high levels of creativity. Either way, my latest addition, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, has already surpassed my expectations AND...it's written by a B.C. based vegan chef. Of course. She's amazing. The recipes are very Rebar-ish...quite different, lots of variations and ethnic influences...I love it already.

I think I can get away with posting the recipe because I actually found it on the web before buying the book...so here it is, my way.

Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. lime juice (or more, to taste)
1 med. clove garlic, sliced
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. chipotle paste*
1 tsp. grated lime zest
1/4 c. cilantro leaves, chopped

Throw everything except the lime zest and cilantro leaves into a food processor** and process until smooth. Add water if the consistency is thicker than you want and scrape down the sides often to ensure that everything is blended. Add the lime zest and cilantro leaves and pulse until blended.

...and that's it.

Delicious with pita, or celery, or anything you want to smear hummus on. Very healthy too. :-)

*On the expert advice of Rebar, we stocked up on cans of chipotles canned in adobo sauce. You can find them in specialty stores, or in well-stocked grocery stores. We empty the can into a food processor or blender and purée it into chipotle paste, which we use in everything. EVERYTHING. It's a seriously handy paste. Though this recipe called for less chipotle than that, we like things hot, so put in 2 tsp., which gave it the perfect amount of kick.

**Since I STILL don't own a food processor (yet have coveted one for years), I did all this with a $30 hand blender in a bowl and it worked out great.

Beach Treasures.

Right behind our house, there is a tiny beach. No more than 20 feet long and not very deep, it's just wide enough for a few towels and a picnic. Unfortunately, we've never used it because I've always assumed that it was dirty, because every time we walked by it I could see broken glass everywhere, along the sand and in the water.

Yesterday afternoon, Kurt and I decided to take advantage of some amazing weather (it was probably at least 23 degrees) and go for a walk. There were boats everywhere, full of people out enjoying the day. It was pretty much the perfect afternoon. We walked up to this old cemetary we've been running and driving past for the past 5 months without exploring and finally walked through it. I have a small obsession with old cemetaries and this one fit the bill - graves dating back to the 1700s. I think the oldest person in the whole cemetary died at 53. Most were sailors between 21 and 35, many died of yellow fever or had drowned. We spent a long time there, walking through the paths and reading the stones. I'm glad we finally stopped...I've never seen anyone walking through it before and I think it deserves a visit every now and then.

On the way home, we decided to skip the road and walk along the rocks at the water's edge. They're all volcanic, with some very flat spots like someone had scraped off the ragged parts, and some jagged towers that we had to pick our way around carefully. Every now and then, we'd jump over a crevass with waves splashing up into it or have to find our way around big tidepools. We were just about to scramble back up to the road when I saw a little rocky patch that looked like it was covered in glass, like our backyard beach. I jumped down into it to get a better look and realized that the glass wasn't tossed from the road, like I had assumed, but had washed up in the waves. Smooth, tumbled chunks of glass in all different colors were scattered through the rocks, along with chunks of painted ceramics and china and all sorts of other "treasures" from the depths. I was in heaven. Kurt looked patient, but I think he probably could have skipped the whole thing and been happy. It was the same look he had on when we watched The Little Mermaid.

When I was a kid, my Dad used to pile Kelsey and I into his boat and take us to beaches on the little islands off Oak Bay. They don't need to be named...I'm afraid that they're already too popular, but back then they weren't visited very often and the beaches were totally untouched. There was no litter anywhere, no bottle caps or chunks of plastic or beer cans. They were pristine and without another soul around, they were our own private playground. My Dad, being the ultimate beach scavenger for neat old things, taught us where to look for the good stuff and we'd spend entire afternoons digging through the rocks and finding chunks of pottery and bits of brightly painted china, all of which had been tumbled smooth by the ocean and somehow found its way to the shore. I have no idea why old dishes end up in the ocean, but apparently they do. Lots of them. We used to take home bags of bits and pieces, rinse them off in fresh water and then try to piece them together, like we actually thought we could reassemble an old bowl or plate. Needless to say, we never got very far, but we loved looking at them anyways and imagining where they had come from.

I guess that beach scavenger still lives inside of me because I was crouched down on those rocks for ages yesterday. I found pieces of painted china, a rusty old fish hook, a railway spike, a few pieces of different colored glass and a couple of pieces of coral. Thanks to Kurt's pockets, they all made it back to the apartment, where they're currently scattered on a table awaiting some kind of artsy project...or maybe a return to the sea.

A bit of Googling today revealed that the island is actually known for beach glass. It's a destination for beach glass collectors because it's full of pockets, like the one we found yesterday, where foreign objects have a tendency to wash up by the thousands. I got the heads up on a few other beaches that are known for their treasures, and I think we'll make our way out there next weekend with Clay in tow. At least then Kurt will have someone to comiserate with and that will buy me more time to find treasures.

By the time we got home from our walk, we'd been gone for 3 hours and had probably walked about 7km in total, but it was just too nice of an afternoon to do anything else. I got a bit of a sunburn on my nose, but my table full of finds made it worth it.

Real Estate Envy.

I have real estate envy, after reading Heather and Shannen's last posts. I confess to being a bit of a real estate junkie...or as much of a junkie as I can be when I'm kind of blockaded from buying in Canada. Like Shan, I get a moving "itch" occasionally. Or maybe it's just a buying itch, since I actually hate moving.

I'm a daily MLS scanner. It's almost scary that I know as much as I do about what's for sale in Victoria at any given time, what it's listed for and how long it's been listed. I didn't realize just how bad it had gotten until I was home last October and driving down streets recognizing signs and thinking "...listed in August...$469K...unfinished basement" or "...backs on park...2 bedrooms plus den...original owner..." or, the most common thought: "...this house used to be a dump".

A lot of houses in Victoria used to be dumps. Certain older (awesome) areas used to look a lot seedier than they do now, with a lot of huge, old houses falling into disrepair, and none of this was that long ago. Having always had a bit of an *ahem* passion for old buildings and the preservation of Victoria's heritage homes (even the ones without the actual designation), I always found this sad, even as a little kid.

In the last decade or so, the situation in these older areas has changed drastically. Realizing that they were sitting on potential gold mines, the owners either subdivided the houses themselves or sold them to someone who would, breaking the property into 3, 4, 5, even 6 units and selling them off as condominiums. Brilliant. Not only were these old houses given amazing facelifts, but suddenly the income necessary to keep the roof on the house and the paint from chipping away was coming in the form of condo fees.

I have three "favorite" houses in the Fairfield/James Bay area and all three, having formerly been in pretty bad shape, are now gorgeously refinished condo conversions. It's nice to see them being taken care of, kept up beautifully, and enjoyed as they deserve to be. It's also nice to see them saved from demolition and replaced by towers, etc. that look totally out of place in these older areas. The downside is that they're in high demand and often head into bidding wars between potential owners. Still, I think they're probably worth the fight and would happily duke it out for one if Kurt and I ever decided to return to Victoria. What can I say? I like a place with some character, and they really are in the best parts of town. Totally unbiased point of view, of course.

Fingers are crossed for Heather and James today! Best of luck, you two. :-)

Dear New Employee: PFO.

Some unpleasant revelations were passed on to me this afternoon that have made me seriously reconsider my current situation. I was happy when I signed the contract, but I've now realized that I could have done much, much better signing a contract with a competing company. Unfortunately, due to a translation issue between Canadian English and the form of English that they speak here, a certain term on my resume had their largest competitor (literally) toss my C.V. immediately. The funny thing was, the term in question is actually considered to be somewhat derogatory in Canada and was tossed in the great wave of political correctness, though it is still alive and well, and obviously preferable, on the island. Though this was rectified later, I had already received an offer from my current company and didn't pursue the offer process with them at all.

I should have.

I've looked at opportunities, just out of interest, the way I spend hours on MLS while completely unable to invest in Canadian real estate unless someone is looking for a silent investor (someone? anyone?). The opportunities I've seen have all posted higher than my current salary, for exactly the same job. Sometimes up to $30K higher. I would be OK with a thirty thousand dollar raise, right about now.


On a more positive note, Kurt and I just walked 4km home from the restaurant where we ate dinner. We didn't realize that we were going to miss the last bus, so had to walk, but the weather is so amazing right now that we didn't mind at all. The water was as smooth as glass and the air smelled like Hornby Island. I love those kind of nights...I can't wait for summer to really arrive.

I (Heart) NYC.

So, the rumours are true. New York City is actually fairly awesome. And by fairly awesome, I actually mean probably the greatest city I have ever visited. Yes, it even trumped London but only because it didn't require large (nonexistent) reserves to get there, stay in a great hotel and eat well. London fails in all but one of those departments, cost-wise. It's pretty cheap to fly to London from here. That being said, I suppose inflated costs are worth the history...

We arrived on Friday morning and were at the hotel by around noon. We headed off in search of lunch but got so caught up in the exploring, shopping and compulsively taking photos of pretty much everything that we never did actually eat more than a street pretzel. Which, for the record, is one salty piece of street food if I've ever had one. It was pretty cold, probably just above zero, but the sky was clear and as long as we stuck to the sunny side of the street we were fine...so long as we also kept moving. We hit up all the stores - FAO Schwartz (I watched a Barbie fashion show), Coach's flagship store, A&F (total nightmare), a huge Nike store, Borders Books and Music, Tiffany, Henri Bendel, H&M, Apple's famous 5th Avenue store...the list goes on. I didn't want to spend the whole trip in stores, so we were trying to get our shopping over with before meeting up with the rest of the group. Thanks to my handy (nerd) map, we succeeded brilliantly, with 15 minutes to spare.

The streets of Manhattan are so well laid-out that it is virtually impossible to get lost. It is a great city for walking, which we did a LOT of, and never bothered with the Subway. We caught a cab to dinner on Saturday night and to the airport yesterday, but that was it. We had a couple amazing meals, exactly three delicious lattés (one of which was enjoyed in Trump Tower, though there was no sighting of the Donald, unfortunately), some great wine, and best of all, some quality time with a few of our all-time favorite people. It was so great to visit with them in such a cool place - they were able to navigate us around, and we really did fit a lot into our pretty tiny time frame. We know better now though, our 2009 trip, already in the works, will incorporate a few more days. And a few more Starbucks lattés. Yes. Starbucks.

I took a ridiculous number of photos, which I'm looking forward to going through tonight and posting the "best of". There was so much to see, and there is so much more to see...I'm really looking forward to going back when the leaves are on the trees. We did see all of the "major" sights - the amazing Empire State and Chrysler buildings, a corner of Central Park, the Plaza (no Eloise sightings either, unfortunately), the Waldorf Astoria, where Stephen Harper was apparently staying judging from the embarassingly tattered Canadian flag hanging in front of the door, the Brooklyn Bridge (blue steel), Grand Central Station, the Village, Macy's...my camera got a workout.

We might try to go back for a weekend in the fall if we can find a good deal.

So, the much-anticipated trip is over, but it was a huge success. We both came back feeling like we'd made the most of it, and we didn't even get slammed with duties when we came back, which was like the cherry on our Easter Sunday.

Photos to come.

Kurt and I have approximately 52 hours to spend in New York city this weekend. Had I known that my boss was GOING ON VACATION, I would have booked an extra day, but there you have it. 52 hours in the Big Apple. What to do??

True to form, I have been researching our area for weeks. And from what I have gleaned from the WWW, it's pretty much awesome. Midtown East...shopping central. Within a 20 minute walking radius we have a 24/7 Apple Store (which we plan to visit in the middle of the night, just because we can and really...who wants to waste time sleeping?), Coach's flagship store, Saks, Tiffany, Henri Bendel, H&M, Borders Books & Music...among many, many others. In geek-fashion (because geeking is necessary when trying to fit the most possible into a short period of time), I have printed a map of the area, marked our hotel, and then mapped out where the stores are that we especially want to visit. We should be at the hotel around noon and have plans to meet for the "FDAW on location" at a local bar around 6, giving us 6 hours to cram in the shopping we'd like to get done so that the rest of the weekend can be spent seeing the sights, eating the eats and drinking the drinks with friends (and friends of friends). On my "must buy" list are jeans, books, an iPod Shuffle for the gym, *possibly* a new purse, and clothes, clothes, clothes. We're pretty much travelling with empty suitcases and will get slammed with duties like nobody's business, but that is just life on this small rock of inflated everything.

I hadn't exactly realized how starved I am for some retail therapy until I unleashed the beast last Friday at the local Nine West and took advantage of a corporate shopping night...to the very great advantage of my closet. As far as shopping goes, the island pretty much sucks. There are a few stores here and there that are semi-OK, but a lot of crap in between and very little selection. What they do have sells out quickly, especially if you happen to be of somewhat average size. Sure, they have that dress you want...but only in a size 0 or a size 14. Awesome! Or not. Books have a huge mark-up on them and normally require a special order (which isn't actually that bad...takes about a week). We have found some deals on items that are inexplicably cheaper here than in Canada, such as running shoes (about $30 less than Canada for all of the main brands i.e. Asics, Mizuno, Brooks, Saucony, etc.), and, to our surprise, maple syrup. Canadian maple syrup, which arrived here on a boat and is put on the shelves for $6.99 for about 500 mL.

I digress.

Obviously with this being my first trip to the city, I'm looking forward to seeing the "big" sites. And the big sights. I can comfortably skip Ground Zero this time around, but the group is thinking about doing one of those hop-on-hop-off bus tour things to get the main attractions at least captured on camera, if not explored a bit. The city is so huge that to try and see it all in 52 hours is actually totally impossible, so we're going to concentrate on our neighborhood this time around and then plan to stay in a different area on each return trip and do the same. For the record, round trip airfare to NYC for Kurt and I from here runs us less than $500 most of the time, for the two of us. This time around it was about $500, but I've seen deals go as low as $150 round-trip per person, so we'll be watching for those too. We bought this trip as a package on Expedia and were thrilled with the deal we got, so...yet another plug for them. I hear their customer service sucks if anything goes wrong, but so far we haven't had to deal with that.

It's going to be a grind to fit it all in, but we're both really looking forward to the whole trip. It may only be 52 hours, but we'll make the most of them.

And with that...I'm off to eat an apple.

When we were packing up our house and selling our stuff, our winter clothes were at the top of the "we'll never need these again!" pile. Down jackets, scarves, gloves, winter boots....gone, gone, gone. We were more than happy to see the last of them and packed ourselves some light raincoats and sweatshirts, assuming that those were all we would ever need. My Uggs made the move, only because I love them and thought they would be great slippers.

I know we've gotten off somewhat easy with our presumptuous packing. While everyone else has been struggling with the worst/longest winter in recent memory, we've had almost no winter at all. This isn't actually normal for the island, which typically gets gales and rainstorms throughout January, February and March, while we've spent large portions of our weekends on the beach in the hot sun. I'm not trying to brag...I'm just saying that "winter" was kind to us this year.

This week, however, the winds changed. Literally. We've had gale-force winds since Sunday night and some pretty intense rain. The winds are so strong that it's actually difficult to walk. We haven't been running this week...something about running in strong winds over narrow bridges in the dark just doesn't sound smart to me. The winds are so strong at night that it sounds like thunder when the wind hits our building. Along with this comes the worst part - the dampness. We're lucky in that our apartment seems to be one the driest places on the entire island...nothing is going mouldy, nothing is wet, nothing is stale. Thank. God. But, the building is still made of cement and the dampness outside translates into a much cooler inside. When we woke up this morning, the temperature in our apartment was 58 degrees...14 degrees celcius. This is not warm.

We've realized that our lack of winter gear makes us slightly less than prepared for a weekend in New York, where it is actually still winter. We never even thought about the fact that we'd be travelling to the real world when there might still be snow on the ground. The forecast has gotten steadily better and it now looks like it will be somewhere between 8 and 10 degrees and sunny, but this is still about 10 degrees colder than we've experienced in the past 4 months, minus this morning in our own apartment, of course. I do have a jacket that will help, but I think we're going to be taking the concept of layering to a whole new level while we're there. And without the Uggs, I would have been seriously effed.

So, we've learned our lessons.

First of all, just because February is allegedly the worst month, the worst is not necessarily behind us.

Boots...fashionable AND functional. Must remember this and buy some before next winter.

Learn how to turn on the furnace.

One weekend = one entire box of Kleenex.

Seriously? WTF.

Yes, I am sick again. After two years of being almost completely head-cold free, the last month has bestowed upon me two absolute whoppers. This one isn't as bad as the one I had after Mexico, but I'm still spending a far larger quotient of my time on my ass than usual. At least it spanned a weekend and didn't start on a Monday, which really would be worse. The only thing worse than a Monday is a Monday when you feel like crap. Incidentally, I'm not far off today.

I've always tried to abstain from cold medication wherever possible, meaning that no one can really feel that sorry for me. I'm well aware that there are products on the shelves that will alleviate my symptoms and make the whole experience more bearable. However, as nice as it is to breathe through my nose (something I barely remember at this point), the side effects of daytime cold medication are not conducive to productivity in my case. I become a spacey, lost, confused, distracted version of myself, prone to doing things either twice or not at all. In short...they get me high. I've partaken in the occasional nighttime cold remedy drink (though, I would advise you to avoid the no-name brand, because saving 3 cents really doesn't matter when you can't even gag the stuff down), but avoided daytime cold meds to avoid the unnecessary, no-fun, make me look like a fool high.

Cue: today.

I gave in after a morning of typing with one hand, while the other held a tissue to my eternally runny nose. Enough is enough. Two gel capsules later and I should, according to the box, be on my way to clear nasal passages and, according to the commercial, sunshine and rainbows. We'll see. It's only been about 20 minutes since I took the pills, but already that slightly "off" feeling is settling in, so this afternoon might be a total disaster, work-wise. Good times!

In other news, I replaced my running shoes on Saturday. A sharp (and different) pain in my knee prompted me to look at my shoes...I've put almost 300 km on them and even though they look like they're in great shape, they'll be a year old in June and apparently, the cushioning breaks down even when you're not using them. I replaced them with the exact same shoe, version 2008. I'm liking the Mizunos a lot...very light, very comfy.

Four more sleeps until the Big City. Plans are coming into place and we'll probably start our packing tonight. We're packing super light - it really is only 2.5 days after all - because we're planning on some shopping when we arrive. We've all but given up on shopping on the island...even with having to pay 25% duty when we return on Sunday, we'll still be paying less for most things that we would pay for them here. Oh well. Just another excuse to rack up the airmiles...like we really needed another one.

A few weeks before leaving for Mexico, we started noticing how much lighter it was during our early morning runs. We ran with little lights all through the winter (which is apparently over here, sorry Ottawa), but they don't illuminate much of the ground and were mostly to prevent idiot drivers from driving into us. So, besides the flashing from the mouse lights, the runs were mostly done in complete darkness. The water would be lit up from the moon, but what was going on with the sidewalks and roads was anyone's guess. And then, sometime in late January, the sun started making earlier and earlier apperances. Suddenly, those dark shapes on the road turned into dead birds (ok, maybe only one dead bird, but that black lump had freaked me out for days), houses appeared as if from nowhere, and we noticed that our route actually has a number of streetlights along it, none of which work. Yet more support for my theory that this island is kind of like Montreal...an eternal patch job. What's that...a hole? In an overpass? Let's just smear some tar over it...that'll hold it. Really, it only has to support 250,000 cars a day. C'est bien! It's all in the details, people.

I do not mean to deter you from that wonderful city. I love it. Probably more than I love Ottawa. But next time you're there, take a look around. Cracks and patches everywhere...in the sidewalks, on the streets, on the buildings, on the highways...it's very urban shabby-chic. So long as you're not around when the patches give way.

Anyways, we were enjoying not having to worry about stepping in a pot hole, or riding the bike into the sidewalk. We were leaving at the same time each day, but each day we could see some new part of our surroundings that we hadn't noticed before. Like the four kittens lined up on a doorstep every morning, or the dude on the other side of the road who runs so fast he is practically a blur...in what appear to be vintage Keds. Before the sun came up, he was only a whooshing noise.

When we came back from Mexico, I was astonished to see that it was practically daylight at 5:50 a.m. Cars could see us, we ditched our lights, we watched a heron follow us along the route, the kittens smiled and waved...it was fantastic. And it was so much easier to be out there that early when it was that light out. It really made me feel like we were making the most of our day. The added bonus was an amazing sunrise during the run, every single morning. I had been losing a bit of steam for the whole early wake-up, but this got me right back into it. I was loving it.

Enter: Daylight Savings. I personally think that the island could get away without it. What a waste of time...literally. We got up on Monday morning at the same time, an hour ahead, to find ourselves plunged back into total darkness...except that it was even darker than it had been back in "real" winter, December and January. The kittens have vanished, the whooshing noise is back with no Keds to accompany it, I rode the bike into the sidewalk twice this morning and we've had to up the ante with the addition of even more lights. We look like effin' Christmas trees. It's a disaster. OK, so we get some more light in the evening and that's lovely, but we're not outside in the evenings for the most part. We're not trying to motivate ourselves to put one foot in front of the other and start the day, we get no sunrise. My motivation has plummeted. I'm not a fan.

I know that this will change over the course of the next few months, but it just feels like such a setback. I'm sure there are some great arguments out there for why DST is a good idea, but I'm not liking it very much right now.

When Oprah Lets Me Down.

I'm always on the lookout for suggestions for my next read. We have a somewhat limited existence here, so I rely a lot on Amazon reviews, other people's blogs (a.k.a. Heather's), and my instincts. Mostly, I end up happy. Veganomicon, my current favorite book (I read cookbooks like regular books), was a purchase based solely on an Amazon 5-star rating, along with photos taken by vegans and omnivores worldwide of the amazing feasts they'd made using the book. I was happy. It was worth it. The novels I've read so far this year have either been "classics" or had come highly recommended by the same rating system and so far...so good. With the exception of Atonement, which I KNOW everyone seems to love, but which I have now read twice and finished, both times, less than enthused about.

It wasn't the first time I have reread a book to make sure I wasn't missing *that thing* that makes a good book really great. I am a fast reader and used to have a bad habit of skimming books. Even though I could still replay the story line as well as someone who had concentrated on every word, the thought that I had missed something was always in the back of my mind. However, each time that one of those books is rereleased with an Oprah sticker on it, I confess that it pushes me to read it again. I'm no big fan of Oprah's, but I figure that the sticker implies a certain level of readership that would cause the book to deserve a second chance. It was because of that sticker that I fell in love with Love in the Time of Cholera, by far the best book I've read this year.

However, sometimes that sticker lets me down.

Every time I get on a plane, which is actually pretty often, I buy a new book for the trip. There is no rhyme or reason to my choices for airplane reads, but it's one of the little rituals I look forward to, now that air travel itself has lost all appeal to me. Though, I have to admit that because I live here, airport shopping has now reached a whole new level. Back in October, I purchased a copy of Eat, Pray, Love at Costco for $9.99. I'd read reviews, but it was still fairly new, and so difficult to judge based on those alone. I decided to save it for the trip (my move), and put it inside my carry-on suitcase so that I wouldn't be tempted to start it before leaving. By the time I left, the book had gained serious popularity. It was like some sort of phenomenon...the reading of which famed to be some sort of life-changing experience. I was excited to be reading it at such a critical point in my life and hoped, somewhat näively, that I would glean something profound from it. I opened it the second I'd gotten settled in aisle 12D and dug in.

The book, in case you haven't read it, is split into three sections...or four, if you count her little introduction where she explains why and how the book was written and her meaning behind it. Without giving away the story line to anyone who hasn't already lost hours of their life to it, she cheats on her husband, goes through a very messy divorce and decides to spend a year finding herself in various different ways in Italy, India and Indonesia. In that order. Italy was great. India made me want to rip my hair out (or hers, preferably), and I didn't even get through all of Indonesia. She essentially whines her way through a year, eating in Italy, meditating her way to hallucination in India, and...well, I don't really know what she was up to in Indonesia because it was just THAT boring. In short, I didn't like it. At all.

Still, the book gained more and more popularity, Oprah jumped on the train, and women everywhere were touting it for it's deep, purposeful and profound messages. Like Atonement, it made me doubt my reading skills and wonder if I had missed the whole point. Was it really that good? Did I give it a fair chance? So, instead of buying a new book when we went to Mexico in February, I packed Eat, Pray, Love up for a second go. I cracked it open on a beach chair beside the pool, ready for that "aha" moment that would explain what everyone was so excited about. Again, I loved the part about Italy...and it was a steady decline from there on out. No dice, people. I would be happy to ship my copy to anyone who wants to give it a try.

But, that being said, I know that there are a LOT of people out there who absolutely adore this book and to them I send a virtual thumbs-up for "getting" what I seem to have missed. Maybe I just don't get why all the whining is necessary, coming from someone able to take a year out of her life, with no worries about money or other responsibilities, with a green light to do absolutely whatever she wants. I know I'm not alone in this view...there are a lot of people standing on my side of the fence as well. My Mom is one of them, so maybe it's a genetic thing.

My latest book is Pillars of the Earth, which my Mom was reading while we were in Mexico. She had the Oprah edition, which was printed on the heaviest paper imaginable. This is unfortunate when the book is 973 pages long. Come on, Oprah. The thing weighed 5 pounds, at least. I ordered the non-Oprah edition, printed on cheaper paper, and I can comfortably carry it from Point A to Point B (literally, an issue with the other one) and have just gotten sucked in by the first 10 pages. I can tell I'm going to love this book. Ever since my day at Salisbury Cathedral in 2006, I've been dying to go see others, so this book is right up my alley.


After a few weeks of minor wedding madness, the big stuff is officially nailed down. Thank God. It really wasn't a tonne of fun, though I suspect it would have been much better had we not been so incredibly geographically challenged. Besides the mileage itself, there is a very awkward four hour time difference between us and our venues, making the whole experience just that much less fun. Thankfully, I have an amazing Martha Stewart-esque Mom, who has stepped in as my on-the-ground wedding planner. So far, she has exceeded all expectations and we're very happy with the choices we've made.

After getting this good venue news on Friday, we took the weekend "off" from wedding anything. No magazines, no talk (or not much, anyways), and no stressing. The weather was amazing on Saturday, so we took ourselves downtown in the morning to our favorite coffee shop and then spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon wandering around. There's very little humidity here right now (something that will change drastically when the summer hits, I'm told), and it was probably somewhere around 25-27 degrees, with not a cloud in the sky. Beautiful. Sunday was slightly less so, with more clouds and a bit of wind, but there still seems to be no snow anywhere, so I'm happy with that. I hear that Ottawa's gotten just a bit more than usual this winter...I'm thinking that we picked a great winter to leave that behind as a miserable part of our history. The snow...not Ottawa itself. I actually miss a lot of things about Ottawa.

Other than the nice weather, there's not much news coming out of these parts. I skipped my Monday run this morning because of Daylight Savings. It may seem like kind of a BS excuse, but I didn't get to sleep until after midnight and to fit the run in, I have to be on the road at 6:00 a.m., so that alarm was going off at what was formerly known as 5:00. No thanks. Not today. We slept an extra hour and I'm planning on an early night tonight so we can hit the road together tomorrow.

So...that's all for this morning.


1. Are you taller than your best friend? Well, I'm taller than one, but shorter than the rest. I'm pretty average height. Kathie is almost a midget, after all.

2. Do you have a favorite type of pen? Those PaperMate ones with the rubber exterior were always my favorite until I joined this firm and discovered a whole new realm of office pen awesomeness. Current favorite is a Pilot G-2 07 in blue. It's got game.

3. Look at your planner for March 8th, what are you doing? Well, March 8th was Saturday. I spent it wandering around downtown with Kurt, enjoying the amazing weather (27 degrees), eating lunch in the park, and then getting our groceries.

4. What color are your toenails usually? Normal toenail color until the sandals come out to play.

5. What was the last thing you highlighted? Some ridiculously early wedding menu choices. All of which will be null and void by the time the big day comes along, but still fun things to highlight. Plus, I just like highlighting stuff.

6. What color are the curtains in your bedroom? White.

7. What color are the seats in your vehicle? Oh fuck, who knows. Grey? I hate our car. I tell it this every time I walk past it on my way to the Vespa.

8. Have you ever had a black and white cat? Briefly when I was very little, but it peed in my closet, so that was the end of the cat. It went to live with my uncle.

9. What is the last thing you put a stamp on? I stamped "FILE" on a document earlier today.

10. Do you know anyone who lives in Wyoming? People live in Wyoming?

11. Why did you withdraw cash from the ATM the last time? This morning - our volleyball fees.

12. Can you spell well? Yes. Bad spelling makes me cringe only slightly more than bad grammar. There is just no excuse, people. Unless you're ESL or something...and even then...

13? Do you like Cinnamon toothpaste? I like cinnamon toothpaste, but I always buy mint.

14. What kind of car were you driving 2 years ago? Kurt's Honda Accord. I miss it.

15. Pick one: Miami Hurricanes or Florida Gators: I pick...neither.

16. Last time you went to Six Flags? Never.

17. Do you have any wallpaper in your house? Does anyone have wallpaper in their houses anymore? No way.

18. Closest thing to you that is yellow? Post-its and a highlighter.

19. Last person you gave a business card? I don't have business cards anymore. I think the last one I gave out in Ottawa went to a Golf Club. Utterly useless, since I moved away two weeks later.

20. Who is the last person you wrote a check to? First of all, it's 'cheque', not 'check'. The last one I wrote was probably to our property manager back in November. Everything else is all about the internet.

21. Closest framed picture to you? No framed photos on my desk, but there's a framed photo of my boss's daughter on his desk, so I guess that's the closest one. She's a cutie patootie.

22. Last time you had someone cook for you? Earlier this week Kurt whipped up his famous spicy pasta sauce and whole wheat pasta. Delish.

23. How many emails do you get in your inbox daily (excluding spam)? Some. I'd say 40-60 on any given day.

24. Last time you received flowers? Kurt gave me a flower a few months ago, just because.

25. Do you play air guitar? No, but I do have a well-used air microphone.

26. Has anyone ever proposed to you? Yes, actually. The ultimate proposal. Did I mention that there were whales and mist? MIST, people.

37. Do you take anything in your coffee? Coffee is passé in my life. I take soy in my weekend lattés.

28. Do you own any Willow Tree figurines? I loathe Willow Tree figurines. They remind me of Hummels. So...no.

29. Last person you spoke to from high school? I talked to Izabela last Wednesday, when I asked her to be a bridesmaid. She's my junior high homegirl.

30. Last time you used hand sanitizer? Can't remember. I'm more of a soap and water kind of girl.

31. Would you like to learn to play the drums? No.

32. What color are the blinds in your living room? No blinds...we have shutters (outside). They are always closed, and they are white. They do let a lot of light through, though.

33. Last thing you read in the newspaper? Something about bad weather...in Ontario...it bored me.

34. What was the last pageant you attended? I've never attended a pageant.

35. What is the last place you bought pizza from? A restaurant on the east end of the island, last weekend.

36. Have you ever worn a crown? Not that I can remember.

37. What is the last thing you stapled? A venue contract for our wedding!

38. Did you ever drink clear Pepsi? I won't even drink regular Pepsi, so there was no way I was going anywhere near this stuff during it's...what...3 hours of existence? On a side note, does anyone else remember that pop that had little colored balls in it?

39. Are you ticklish? Yes...but I will seriously injure anyone who tries it.

40. Last time you saw fireworks? People randomly light fireworks all the time here...for any reason...so I've probably seen some within the last week or so.

41. Last time you had a Krispy Kreme doughnut? I don't think I've ever had one, actually. Maybe I'll put that on my New York "to do" list.

42. Last person that im’d you, and you actually responded? I don't do that.

43. Do you have a black dog? No.

44. Are you an aunt or uncle? Technically, not until I marry Kurt, but Kurt has two adorable nephews that I call mine.

45. Who has the prettiest eyes that you know of? Kurtis, hands down. Paired with best eyelashes ever. It's sick.

46. Last time you saw a semi truck? Probably out the airplane window at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport...not many of those squeezing themselves onto these tiny roads!

47. What is the last song you belted out in the car? Our car stereo doesn't work, so I serenaded Kurt with 'Careless Whisper' on Saturday, which I don't think he actually enjoyed very much.

Unsolicited Product Endorsement: Naval Oranges.

I don't know why, but for the longest time I actually "forgot" about oranges. I'd buy them once a year, when the little Christmas mandarins came out, and then completely bypass the normal naval oranges in the fruit aisle for the rest of the year. They were dead to me. It was like they weren't even there.

When we moved here, our fruit selection became limited. Not because you can't find normal types of fruit, but because of the cost and quality. I'm now at the point where I'll pay for my 0.99 apples without making snide comments under my breath, but Kurt's allergic to apples so I knew we needed to branch out into the other, potentially more costly, types of fruit. Pineapple was out. Watermelon was out...$10.99 for a 1/4 of a watermelon seemed a TAD ridiculous, don't you think? Plus, I hate watermelon. Kurt's allergic to kiwis, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums...pretty much all the fruit I love. I could buy them for myself, of course, but they actually don't seem to fare well on their long commute to the island and show up looking pretty ghastly most of the time...like something you'd find on the ground in an orchard AFTER they'd picked all the good ones. We'd buy the occasional grapefruit, and about a month ago, as I was bagging up a few ruby reds, I noticed a big, beautiful pile of naval oranges sitting right next to them. At 0.99 each, they beat most of the other fruit in the price department and they looked like they were in OK shape, so we gave them a go.

Can I just say...I LOVE oranges. They are delicious, and good for you too. We now buy 10 every week and each take one in our lunches every day. It's solved the problem of Kurt's formerly fruitless existence and added a nutritious snack for me so I don't get bored with the old Granny Smiths.

However...they are not without their issues.

First off, they are a labour-intensive fruit. I would put them somewhere in the realm of a pomegranate or perhaps some types of melons, as far as the amount of time you need to put into the fruit before being able to eat it. They require a certain level of commitment which an apple does not (this might actually explain why I'm a cat person instead of a dog person. Dogs are the oranges of pets). The peel always gets under your fingernails, you normally get some of that powerful peel juice in your eye, and then there's the white stuff which I KNOW IS GOOD FOR ME but which I would rather not eat anyways because it's not nice to look at and gets stuck in my teeth.

Secondly, you go through the whole process of peeling and preparing your orange and go to take your first bite...only to find that a certain percentage of the time, the orange is crap. They can be dry (the worst), or tasteless, or too sweet, or can be totally rotten without any indication of this on the outside. Oranges are a crapshoot. You never know whether your investment is going to pay off or bite you in the ass. I've been lucky enough to only have come across one or two bad ones in the weeks we've been buying them, so we'll continue to fork out the dough and buy them as long as they're in season.

Escape Attempt.

I play with my ring...a lot. I'm always twirling it around my finger and sliding it on and off...habits I should probably get rid of pronto but I can't seem to shake. It's still so new to me and I'm still not 100% used to wearing it, so I notice it constantly. Anyways, last night I was sitting on the couch with my laptop in my lap, watching an old episode of One Tree Hill (so sucked in, it's not even funny) and playing with my ring, as usual. Suddenly...and I don't know exactly how this happened...it jumped off my finger and slid down between the couch cushions. It tried to escape me. I was actually more annoyed by the fact that I had to pause the show at a really crucial moment (will Peyton kiss Jake??) and take the cushions off the couch to retrieve it, so with an over-exaggerated sigh, put the laptop on the coffee table, stood up and removed the cushions, only to find...no ring. Gone. Poof. It wasn't anywhere to be seen. We have some pretty cushy couches, so I felt around under the back cushions and finally felt the band with the tip of my finger, only to have it slide further away from me and into couch abyss.

My initial annoyance gave way to a small twinge of fear...these couches are huge and the "innards" of them look complicated (to the untrained couch eye). Where the hell did it go? Kurt (totally annoyed with me at this point) helped me stand the couch on it's end, figuring that it would have just dropped onto that filmy couch bottom material, but...nothing. No ring. I used a pair of scissors to cut an opening in the fabric bottom and felt around...still nothing. By this time, I was freaking out a bit and Kurt was (understandably) pissed. Something in the couch had sliced a chunk off his thumb and his fiancée can't seem to keep her ring on her hand...I would be annoyed too. I knew it was in a fairly contained area so it wasn't LOST, so to speak, but what if we couldn't get it out? What if we had to have someone come and dismantle the couch to retrieve it? Do people even do that? The more I felt around and felt nothing, the more I flipped out and of course, at that exact moment, the phone rings and it's Kurt's mom, innocently phoning to say hello and ask how wedding plans are coming along.

I took the phone into the other room where I thought I could calm down and Kurt kept looking with the flashlight and by turning the couch (which, by the way, is fairly gargantuan, as far as couches go) into various different positions. Twenty minutes later, he finally gave up, dropping the couch back into it's normal position and we heard a clink...as my ring spun out of the black hole that is our couch, finally coming to a stop right in front of his feet. He put it back on my finger and it hasn't come off since. It was the stupidest thing, but it made me realize just how much it means to me...and just how ridiculously huge our couches are.

Multiple Units of Excitement.

I like to keep a number of exciting-ish things on the horizon at any given time, so that when something is over, there is always something else to look forward to. Last year, we returned from Mexico so bummed out (I'm sure the minus 40 and huge snow banks we returned to had nothing to do with this at all), that I vowed to always make sure there was something else waiting in the sidelines.

Three weeks from yesterday, we're off to New York. I'm guessing that the reasons for our excitement for this trip are pretty obvious. We haven't seen "real life" since October...we're long overdue for a dose of reality. I might even buy a newspaper. And eat fruit.

When we announced that we were moving, a lot of people got very excited about the prospect of a free place to stay here and said that they were coming to visit. We were a little skeptical, since life gets in the way of plans, but we're actually booking up pretty quickly...and we're thrilled. We're pretty isolated here, and moved at the wrong time of year to meet people, since none of the organized sports teams start up until spring. So, we're a bit friend-starved. Good thing we seem to get along OK, but I'm not really amped for golf season and Kurt is already in need of wedding-planning respite. Anyways, the Hotel of Kurt and Kris opens at the beginning of April with the arrival of one of our all-time favorite people, Clay. He's going to flip out when he gets here...and I can't wait. After a week of Clay, we have a week to prepare for our next guest, my much-missed Kathie, who's also spending a week with us. Showing people around is going to be fun...I better catch up on my reading so I can impress them with my extensive knowledge of the island. Which, at the moment, is fairly lacking. I might have to make some stuff up. Remind me to warn them about the island's strict dress code...

The visits don't stop there. Kurt's best friend Eric and his wife, Jen, will be coming some time in May - their first trip together since their boys came along, I think. Our last few months in Ottawa didn't allow for a ton of socializing, so we've missed our friends longer than we've been away. Can't wait to see their faces the first time they see the pink sand and impossibly blue water.
And, because we're bound to be bummed after so much quality friend time, we've got one more unit of excitement at the end of May - Teresa and Evans' wedding in Toronto. It will be our first time back in Canada since we moved and even though it's only for a weekend, I'm really excited for it. I do miss me some Canada. Even though my 2007 tax return is making me crazy.