Calculator Woes.

My gruelling three day work week is nearly over. Funny enough, it feels like it's been a full week because it has possibly been the most annoying week ever. First of all, my work computer has not worked properly since last Thursday, meaning that I haven't actually been able to perform roughly 85% of the very few tasks I need to complete each day. Despite numerous attempts at procuring assistance with this aged machine, all of my efforts have been (so far) ignored. I'm thinking that my requests are too Canadian (meaning that they include the words 'please' and 'thank you') and that I'm going to have to up the nasty quotient to get any kind of response. Normally, my "work" consumes mere minutes each day (not as nice as it can only do so much F-booking and web surfing). Without even being able to do that, my week has felt long, boring and frustrating. I even resorted to fiddling around with my taxes, just to have something to do.

NO, my taxes are not filed yet, despite my early start. It's fairly difficult to do your taxes when the forms you need are stuck somewhere between the Great White North and the Rock, which is not known for timely mail delivery at the best of times. However, I have to say that this year's filing is an experience that I would have rather missed out on, even if that would have meant paying someone else to do them for me. Unfortunately, we do not have a troop of accounting students sitting in the local mall, waiting for us to fork over the $50 and hand off the task.

I considered myself to be a pretty intelligent person until I tried to tackle the Tax Guide on my own, armed with only a stack of forms and a calculator. I had visions of sitting there comfortably on my couch, working my way through the forms with a glass of wine, and still having time at the end of the night to squeeze in an episode of 30 Rock. What actually happened was that I managed to weed my way through most of it, found some fairly major hangups in the parts pertaining to our house (damn the house), spent approximately 2 hours pounding the keys of the calculator (because if you just press harder, the answer works out the way you want it to) and venting my frustration at Kurt, in the absence of Harley (who always took these things well). Seriously. Capital Cost Appreciation? Dividend what? It wasn't pretty. We worked away on our respective returns until after midnight, at which point I decided that I was over it. $#@% taxes. I lulled myself to sleep by coming up with reasons why we should just not file at all and stick it to the man. But then I woke up, intelligence resumed, and the messy stack is sitting here on my desk, waiting for me to have another go at it this afternoon. The good news is that the number at the very end of the return is long as it's correct.

I need to make friends with a bored tax accountant, stat.

The whole process has made me feel like a moron and the thing is, I know I'm not. However, in my experience, the general population is riddled with actual idiots, and one has to wonder how they manage to get their taxes in order without the help of a professional. The Tax Guide should really come with a fill-in-the-blanks suicide note and a loaded gun so you can put yourself out of your misery.

Guess who's coming to visit?

Apparently, when you live on a tropical island, the party just don't stop. Just when we were starting to get a little homesick for our dry land-based friends, it turns out that we won't be feeling sorry for ourselves for long. After toying with a variety of tropical and exotic locales, Laila and Dallas chose the Rock/US to spend their vacation with! We are honoured...and very, very excited. They'll be here for both of their birthdays AND Canada Day (celebrated on June 28th with champagne on the beach), so it's shaping up to be a pretty awesome couple of weeks.

We feel so popular right now.

Cat Update.

Nearly a year ago now, Kurt arrived in Victoria with a teal cat carrier containing our large furry beast of a cat, Harley. We figured that a short-ish plane ride would be less traumatizing for him than watching our house empty out and relocating to the Rock, which gets ridiculously hot in the summer and (apparently) has a rampant flea problem. It was a very hard decision...he's been my little pal since I first moved to Ottawa and adopted him, and I couldn't imagine not having him welcome me when I got home from work each day, curl up at my feet each night, or wake me up with his solo cat parties on the stairs.

Gradually, we have gotten used to our lives without Harley. It's sad. We often comment on movies he would have enjoyed, or a piece of furniture that he would have found particularly comfortable, but we've adjusted. I do have to admit that sweeping our floors is a much more pleasant experience than before.

But what about him? What has he been up to?
Life with the grandparents is treating him well. Not only do his days start with a carefully trimmed piece of organic free-range chicken (purchased and cooked especially for him), but he has also expanded his boundaries to include the patio in the backyard, where he can chew on grass, watch birds (apparently lacking that instinct to conquer and kill), and roll around on the hot patio stones. West Coast life is good...but haven't I been saying that all along?

Just a little over a month until we'll be reunited with our son. We can only hope that the organic chicken, daily brushings, and general indulgence he has been enjoying won't cloud his memories about how I SAVED him from an untimely DEATH back in '02. If I get one bit of attitude from that cat, there will be trouble.

Who doesn't love a parade?

Yesterday was a national holiday on the Rock, celebrated with a parade. Figuring that in our first year here we should probably do as much of these types of things as possible (just to say that we've done it), we headed into town yesterday morning on the Vespa, early enough (we figured) to find ourselves a spot to sit along the parade route and get some good pictures. Wrong. While the parade was scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m., we arrived at around noon to find that the entire street was already full of people who had arrived in the wee hours to tape off sections of sidewalk for their families and had set up elaborate buffets of food for themselves, fancy camp chairs, blankets, noise-makers, gas BBQs...the works. It was quite a show. I no longer have a hard time believing the rumours that locals "camp" with flat-screen televisions in their tents.

We finally found ourselves a spot, which I had to defend multiple times from encroaching tourists and even local families trying to edge us out by slowly moving their chairs closer and closer to where we were standing, trying to edge us out. They met their match with me though, and I held our ground, even while Kurt was off finding fried chicken (a parade requirement).

At 1:30 on the dot, the parade began with a stream of scooters and motorcycles, the requisite random people being driven around in fancy cars (with no signage to alert the crowd as to who they might be), the various Queens (Teen Queen, Big & Beautiful Queen, etc.) and the Regiment's marching band. After that, it was a steady stream of majorettes, drumlines and Gombey dancers. It was colorful, loud, and incorporated some questionable dance moves, but was altogether probably the best parade I've been to. For such a long route, I couldn't believe how young some of the little majorettes and Gombeys were...tiny little ones marching around, dancing up a storm, hamming it up for the crowd. Mind you, we were at the beginning of what had to be at least a 5km route, so I'm sure the people sitting at the end of the parade got a very different show. It was a pretty hot enough that I should have been wearing a hat or standing in the shade, because I ended up with a pretty nasty headache after 6 hours in the sun and we ended up leaving before the parade was over (apparently it went until after 6:00...yes...a 4.5 hour parade).

I took (of course) about a billion photos. The "best of" are here:

Back to work today, but it's a three day work week for me, since we're off to Toronto on Friday morning for Teresa and Evans' wedding. As usual, it was hard to tear myself away from weekend life and back to the office, and even more so when it's a long weekend. The sun headache is I really need to get myself a hat.

Yet another...

...random psychic prediction has come true.

She told me that one of the males in my office would announce last week that he was going to have a baby. There are about 9 males on my floor, half of which have recently had children or have expressed that they don't intend to have a family, and half of which are long past their new parent days, so I totally disregarded this prediction when she made it, but I did write it down.

On Friday, one of the men on my floor announced that he and his wife are having their first baby.

I'm starting to get creeped out.

After a couple of months off to give my knee a rest, I decided to lace up the Mizuno's and get out there again this morning, bright and early. We've been stuck in a going-to-bed-late-and-getting-up-late slump lately, meaning that we've been eating our breakfasts standing up and running to catch the ferry. Not the most pleasant way to start the day. Plus, we've both been lethargic and overtired lately, so I figured that a return to the routine would help us out. Now, we've tried to get back out there a few times now but have always failed in the face of an alarm clock going off far too early and a bed that is just far too comfortable. Damn Sealy. Today we powered through our desire to stay put and got out there though, and did us proud. Even if we both felt like barfing on the way up the stairs back into our apartment.

The run itself was...painful. The last time I ran was at the beginning of April, which was a one-off since my knee protested for a week afterwards. Before that, I hadn't been running regularly since the beginning of March, when I was running about 6 to 7.5 km every other morning, or about 40 minutes. I knew I probably wouldn't be back at square one after so much time off, so we decided to start with 3&1s and did 6 sets over about 4 km. Let me just say...ouch. By the end, I felt as though I'd been running for hours, instead of a measly 18 minutes. However, it hurt in a good way and I'm glad we got out there.

Things around here have really picked up for tourist season. On Wednesday nights, they block off the main drag of downtown and cover it in artist stalls, food stalls and entertainment, which has been fun. Two weeks ago, we got to watch a prom fashion show with a totally perverted host, which was 100% hilarious. His comments about the dresses (being modelled by actual highschoolers) were something along the lines of "Oooooooh...giiirrl...HAWT CHAWCOLATE!" and "I'd loooooove to get into your limo!" The girls put on a brave face and strutted their stuff like no one's business, the crowd looked a mixture of amused and confused, and the owner of the store who was showcased looked mortified. It was the kind of thing that would get someone fired ANYWHERE else, but we saw him up there last week, belting out the sponsors and looking generally as though he'd spent the afternoon hotboxing a car. I love it here.

Maybe it wasn't ALL entertainment...

Among the many "messages" passed on to me during my 45-minutes with a psychic last weekend was a message that at some point in the next week (this week), I'd receive an unexpected gift of money. Actually, there were a few mentions of unexpected money turning up in the near future. I didn't think much of it, being much more interested in who might be secretly pregnant and brainstorming up business ideas, so imagine my surprise when the following happened, this week:

1. I came home on Tuesday to find an envelope addressed to me from an insurance provider in Canada with a cheque inside. Nothing gigantic, but substantial enough to fund a speedlight flash and a new dress for the wedding at the end of the month! The money had been completely forgotten about and I'm actually shocked that it found its way to me. I would likely never have gone looking for it.

2. I discovered, through casually liasing with some Canadian CA's on the island, that I'd been going about my tax return all wrong and claiming amounts I shouldn't be. Meaning that I was actually stealing money from myself on my own tax return. Awesome! Small corrections were made and BANG. I'm not going to be writing a cheque to CRA this year...they'll be writing one to me.

So...two incidents of "found money" finding its way to me this week. Not bad at all.

Now...getting back to the secretly pregnant person...WHO ARE YOU??

Booked and broke.

My Visa card is so hot right now that I can practically feel heat waves coming off of it. Why? Airfare surcharges kicked in and let me just say...ouch. I really, really, really should have booked our summer travel back when we first decided on dates in, oh, March. Instead, I let the weeks pass, putting it off and...guess what? We just paid a whole lot more than we could have if I had been on top of it. What a bust. The other bust was logging onto last night, AFTER having booked a segment of our trip, only to find the entire trip (though routed through the US instead of through Canada on the way home) for almost half of what we paid for our Canadian tickets. Note to self: explore all options. You know, I TRY to support Canadian companies, I TRY to be patriotic and fly in a plane with a maple leaf on it, and all it really does is bite me in the ass. No offense, AC, you know I'll be back, but seriously. SERIOUSLY. We could, quite literally, have purchased round-trip tickets from here to Moscow, London or Rome for less than we just paid to go to Ottawa and Victoria. ROME. I love Victoria, but it's not Rome.

All that being said, I really can't complain. It's my fault. It just makes me even more set on getting our wedding info out there (working on a wedding website...can you say nerd bride?) so that others can take advantage of booking early.

A Psychic Afternoon.

On Saturday, I spent 45 minutes with a psychic. I surprised myself, going through with the appointment, because I admit it...I'm a huge skeptic of these things. Not that I don't think that there could be something to it...I've just never found the urge to find out for myself. Plus, I have come across more than one unfortunate individual who completely lives by the predictions of readings, and I've always found that pretty lame. Also, there's a part of me that just doesn't want to know. Even heading into the appointment on Saturday, I was worrying that she would say things that I didn't want to hear and I just don't see the point of freaking myself out for no reason. Anyways, I ultimately decided to go for it...and what an interesting 45 minutes it was.

First of all, the reading was very pleasant. She was a local in every sense of the word, which made it highly entertaining. Some of the stuff she said seemed kind of easy, but other things took me by surprise, because I don't know how she could have made the assumptions she did without knowing anything about me or my current situation. It was cool. I took three pages of are the highlights:

- I'm going to get an invitation to an event that I don't want to go to (awesome!)
- Kurt is a very, very, very nice guy. This came up approximately every 5 minutes. Apparently his pure heart was radiating into my reading a lot. He is my soul mate. This is good news for our wedding.
- I'm going to receive a proposition from a good friend. No word on what kind of proposition. I hope it's not inappropriate or awkward.
- I have a good friend with a very young blonde daughter who is going to have a baby boy at some point in the future. I really can't figure out who this might be...
- Someone cheap is irritating the crap out of me. (hahahahahahahaha)
- Our finances will always be in fine form. Woo hoo!
- We're going to be moving back to Canada at some point, but we won't always live in the same province we lived in before. This one struck me, because I never mentioned that we were from Canada, or that we have ties to more than one province.
- I won't be at my current job for very long, and my next job will require me to do some more school online.
- I have a very "odd" sister who is very careful with her money and who recently started a new relationship. True, true and true.
- Our first child will be a little boy. He'd better like tea parties and dollhouses.
- Someone I know is pregnant but hasn't told anyone.
- We're apparently going to move out of our current apartment into a place closer to town.
- My wedding dress will be elegant, plain and backless. Sweet!
- Kurt is going to do very, very well in his career. This one was a no-brainer, but it was nice to hear anyways. Apparently a new position is coming his way very soon.
- A girlfriend and I are going to start our own business, and it's going to be very successful. How awesome is that?
- My Mother is going to do a lot for our wedding. Easy.

Money came up over and over in a good way, so that was reassuring too. Even if it's complete crap, who doesn't want to hear that they have money coming their way? was interesting. Would I do it again? Maybe, one day. I'm going to wait and see how much of the above and the rest of my notes comes true before putting any stock in it, but I did enjoy myself.

Time to start business brainstorming and researching backless dresses now.

Oh Ford the Love.

When I was 17, I got my first set of wheels. I was heading off to work in Sooke for the summer and I needed a car to get back and forth on my weekends off, so Dad took me down to Honda City and there we found it, parked in a side lot, glistening in the sun. It was a white 1986 Ford Mustang hatchback and just $4K and a few days later, it was all mine.

The Mustang was everything that a first car should be and I loved it. I saved up and installed a stereo in it, so it became home to a pretty substantial CD collection, stuffed under the seats and above the visors. Until, that is, the car was broken into and all of those CDs were stolen (except Ace of Base: The Sign, which the thief was kind enough to throw back over the fence into the backyard...Dad found it the next day when he was mowing the lawn). The glove box housed my make-up and an impressive collection of parking tickets which I collected over four years, never paying even one. Funny enough, my good name remains clear, thanks to a timely trading in of my license plates. We went on road trips together, to the Okanagan and to Hornby. We spent a lot of time driving along Dallas Road, singing bad music and enjoying the...scenic scenery. Our time together was, in a word, golden. Selling that car (back to my Dad, when I moved to Ottawa) was the end of an era. Tears were shed, not only by myself but by a number of other frequent passengers of the 'Stang, all of whom (I think) would remember it fondly.

However, as much fun as we'd had together, it was not without its faults. For one, it was rear-wheel drive and therefore completely useless in very heavy rain (good thing it never rains in Victoria) or at the slightest hint of frost or snow. It was terrible on gas and, since I insisted on driving it everywhere, the vast majority of my income (babysitting) was spent on keeping it on the road. And, as I was warned many times by Ford haters everywhere, it spent a lot of time in the shop.

Now, not all of this was the 'Stang's fault. It did not choose to drive into the back end of a fish-and-chip delivery vehicle. It did not choose to back into our neighbor's Saab (and then drive away...only to feel guilty and then come back to find the neighbor standing next to their very dented car....awkward). I admit that those mistakes were mine. However, it did choose to fire up a variety of other mechanical "situations" that led to a close and personal relationship between me and the ancient mechanic who worked at the top of our street. I should be fair and point out that Dad ended up footing the bill for some if not all of these unfortunate occurances, but it did spend more time in that shop than most other cars of similar vintage. Enough to convince me that the next time around, Ford won't be on my list.

When we moved here and started looking for a car, we had a multitude of new and interesting types of cars to choose from. Even though many of the manufacturers are the same as we were used to at home, there are a lot of models that aren't available in North America which are available here. We certainly had a lot of neat choices...funky little European cars are the norm here. So, what did we end up with?

A 1998 Ford Escort Wagon. For a multitude of reasons that neither of us can recall now.

I think that after a whirlwind of the unfamiliar - moving here, getting set up, figuring things out - getting behind the wheel of a Ford provided a certain amount of familiarity that we jumped on. It test drove OK, and it was certainly more than large enough for us to fit furniture into it (it is gigantic), as we were still in the middle of furnishing our apartment. The price was right, so we took it. Oh, that fateful day.

We've now owned it for about 4 months. In that time, the following has gone wrong: one of the power windows does not go down; the other power window only goes down if you take the switch out and hold it a certain way while pressing the button; more often than not it is driving itself; it overheats; the thermostat has gone whack; the CD player and radio have both stopped working; and it makes very strange noises. We are not in love with it. In fact, we make insulting references towards it under our breath when we WALK by it on the way to the Vespa, which has outshone it in every possible way.

A few weeks ago, we decided that enough was enough. We were going to do what we could to make it remotely appealing (to another couple of suckers like us) and get it out of our lives for good. To be fair, it has done what we wanted it to do and we really only drive it once a week. We put in a couple of afternoons "working" on it, meaning that Kurt did the work as I watched, thought we'd fixed it, and then took it out for a drive, only to find that it was still driving itself, making noise, and generally acting unpleasant. As a last resort, Kurt bought a bottle of carb cleaner (?), sprayed it on something (?), found that it was still acting up, gave up, and left it. We ignored it for over a week. The insults became a little more insulting.

A week later, the weather was crap so out of necessity, we got into the car and let it take us grocery shopping. However, to our surprise, it let Kurt drive this time. We were cautiously impressed, but thought it had to be a one-off. Still, we toned down our insults and gave it another chance on Saturday, when it impressed us again. Weird noises? Gone. Driving itself? Not anymore. Windows? Still whack, but what are you going to do. light of the fact that a taxi to our place will cost at least $80, while you can park at the airport for $5/day, we are going to keep it until our trips are over with. Once that's done, we can (and have to) help it to move on, before it breaks again. I have to admit, I feel more warmth towards it than before, but I'm sure it's just sitting out there plotting its next move, and I'm really not that interested in sticking around to see what it is.

Fords = not so much.

Other Places.

In the four and a half years that we have been together, Kurt and I have never once been on a trip that wasn't either with family or to visit family, or a combination of the two. Weird, right? Maybe. But when we were in Ottawa, Victoria was always at the top of my list of places to fly to and, if the money and vacation time were there, that's where we went. For the past two years, we've been lucky enough to fit in a sunny 10 days in Mexico each February, where we'd meet up with my parents. My parents are pretty laid back...if we'd wanted to do our own thing and have our "own" vacation each day, we totally could have...but we never felt the need to. What can I say? My parents are cool and we both enjoy their company, and I spend a good portion of my year missing having them around. Also, my Dad's meticulous research has always kept things interesting with new places to scout out. Without them, we never would have found the totally random crocodile farm, the even more random hot springs in the middle of the desert, or the amazing beach we were engaged on.

Other trips together have included a long weekend trip to Maine with his family ( mouth still waters for the Maine lobster) and a trip to Florida with them which, actually, was the closest we've come to a trip on our own, since we drove his parents car back to Ottawa (a grand total of 24 hours). We've squeezed in a couple of weekends in Montreal, and most recently, an awesome weekend in New York - without a doubt the best weekend of 2008 so far. I know we've been really lucky to have had opportunities to travel at all and to have always enjoyed paid vacation benefits from our employers. Without these little excursions, however short or functional, I'm not sure I would have lasted the 5 years in Ottawa. It really is hard to be away from family and our favorite people (and the many people who fall into both categories).

Now that we're both in the "away from family" boat, we're even more set on trips that a) get us off the island and b) afford us the chance to visit with these people. Not only that, but there are lots of demands on us to come home as well...not that we mind them one bit. But, we are both more and more excited by the idea of going off on our own and doing our own thing and, with a wedding coming up, there comes along with it an expectation that we will do just that so...the honeymoon research has begun. When? How? And most importantly, where?

We have so far decided on the following:

1) It will be to a place where neither of us has been before AND where the local population does not speak English as its first language.

2) It will be for a significant period of time...hopefully two weeks or more. Best case scenario? A month. (never going to happen).

3) We will be completely out of touch while we're gone. Work will just have to deal.

4) Like Heather, as few North American tourists as possible.

5) Good food. We are foodies, after all.

6) Legwork requirement. I want to do the research and form the perfect trip for us.

7) A TRIP vs. a VACATION. There is a difference.

I have zero interest in honeymooning via any of the following:

1) All-inclusive resort. I have nothing against them, but I'm saving that for a time when I crave a zero-thought, sunny vacation with total and complete relaxation. We'll totally do this at some point...I certainly know enough people who have vacationed this way and had a great time. But, this is a vacation, thus contrary to #7 on the above list. It is also contrary to #6 and #4. It is out.

2) A cruise. I am saving this particular method of travel until I'm old enough, which, according to the thousands that embark on the rock each week (21 square miles but 4 cruise ports...sometimes they're all full), means that I have to be well into my retirement years. I'm also waiting until I can afford to do this. See the world in 106 days...go big, or go home. At $55K each...I expect to be at least 80 when I embark on this journey. Perfect.

3) DisneyWorld. I loathe the Disney culture. Seriously...WTF. I like The Little Mermaid as much as the next person, but I have no interest in spending my honeymoon with her, or any of the other Disney Princesses for that matter.

I'm not sure when this trip will happen. It's possible that it could be done right after our wedding, which would be amazing, but it may have to wait until 2010. Or, for a time when neither of us are working and therefore have no requirement to return...we could just go until the money runs out. We'd need more time to save for that to happen (like...a lot more time), but that would be awesome. Neither of us have done much travelling. I've had three amazing weeks in England and Spain and Kurt's had 3 months in Australia...time to get out there a bit.

Exploring the Mediterranean...travelling through Italy...Tuscany...maybe the Azores. What about Mauritius? Though, it sounds like a larger version of this place with better food. My world pretty much revolves around them. Is that so wrong?

Situation resolved?

OK, she's been rehired. Lucky gal. Though, if I were her, I would seriously rethink my choice of employer.

One of my favorite things about reading the Globe & Mail online is scanning the readers comments to the posted articles. While they don't appear on every article (they tend to leave that feature out of articles that could become extremely controversial), articles like the one linked in my post below offer complete comment pandemonium. Right wing, left wing, sympathizers, attackers...everyone has something to say. Hey...I even blogged about it.

Some comments from this article:

*** from Canada writes: This morning was be my last tim hortons visit.I havent been to subway in about 5 yrs since they screwed me on my points card. (ha!)

*** from Canada writes: Time to bring in the hard nosed Chinese grandfather from the Tim's commercial - he'll set these employees straight!

*** from Canada writes: I'm with the group that suspects that there is more to this story than Canadian Press sees fit to report. A news piece that starts off by describing one of our great national delicacies as ' a 16 cent blob of fried dough' is obviously slanted. Just to add more fat to the fire: I hate going into establishments when mothers-behind-the counter are dealing with mothers-in-front-of-the-counter. You'd think we all the entire day to buy our coffees!

and my favorite...

*** from France writes: Charge that reprobate child as accomplice to theft under 5,000$ and put that little menace behind bars... we have to keep our streets clean from future thieves... SOCIETY MUST BE PURE! What a truly Canadian story to read when you are in another country, I'm waiting for the made for CBC movie 'Timbits of Compassion'...

Poor Tim must be rolling in his grave. It's not the management that should be fired, it's their PR staff. Scanning the (now 468) comments to this article in the Globe, it appears as though a lot of people will be taking their business elsewhere, at least temporarily. What a nice day this is for Starbucks!

All this...over a Timbit.

According to this article in the Globe & Mail this morning, a 27 year-old single mother was fired from Tim Horton's for giving a free Timbit to a toddler. And now Timmy's has a whole whack of negative press...all over 16 cents. Brilliant! Yes, stealing is stealing. But, it was a Timbit, not a $20 from the till, and the article even states that Tim's routinely gives free Timbits to pets, which is why the woman assumed that it would be OK to give one to the baby of a regular customer, who had been having a bad day. She was later called into a meeting with three managers, including the district manager, and fired.

Last night, I was at a local street festival where there was a stand selling mini donuts. I try to eat well, but a mini donut will win me over every time, so we stood in line to get a few to snack on while we wandered through the stalls and watched the entertainment. In front of us in line was a little girl, probably no more than 4 or 5 years old. I'd actually assumed that she had been with the woman ahead of her because she was so tiny, but that woman got her donuts and left and the little one was still standing there. The guy selling the donuts asked her what she wanted and she said that she wanted some donuts, please. He filled a little bag for her, sprinkled them with brown sugar, and sent her on her way. She didn't pay for them, and there didn't seem to be any responsible adult standing around waiting for her, so the guy just shrugged, smiled, and asked us what we wanted. Were we annoyed about having to pay for our donuts, when she didn't have to pay for hers? Of course not. And, these donuts were $2.50, not $0.16. In fact, watching the whole transaction between the guy and the little girl only made me make a mental note to myself to choose this donut stand over the competition the next time around. It's obviously run by human beings.

Let's hope the publicity leads to another opportunity for this woman, and to the firing of the terrible management team who made this decision.

Homeward Bound. Yes, like the movie.

I'm smack in the middle of booking our summer flights home. It's exciting. While we're touching down in Canada at the end of this month for Teresa and Evans' wedding, this will be our first significant trip back to Canadian soil since we arrived here, and we can't wait for it. We're splitting our time between Ottawa and Victoria, with a bit more time in Victoria for me. As beautiful as the rock is, there are a lot of things we miss, meaning that our vacation will be on the busier side as we try to get our fill (literally, in some cases).

I'm not one to disguise my deep love for my hometown, but some may be surprised to know just how attached I am to Ottawa as well. After all, I was pretty young when I moved there, so the vast majority of my awesome adult (?) memories are definitely concentrated there. I built quite a life for myself in 5 years and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't miss aspects of it every day. I'm every bit as excited for that portion of the trip as I am for Victoria, but Victoria needs just a tad more of my time due to Operation: Wedding Madness Prevention.

In order to fit everything in, I'm already working out an itinerary for the trip. Ruthless? Maybe. Essential for our (my) sanity? Yes.

Here are some of the "to-do's" no particular order:


1. Ensure that house is still standing, roof remains intact, driveway has not buckled under the weight of the snow, and tenant's dog has not effed up the basement carpet. I'm fairly certain that none of the above will be issues...we have the most amazing tenants known to landlords anywhere, despite their four-legged friend.

2. Purchase and arrange installation of new dishwasher to keep above awesome tenants happy.

3. Purchase and arrange installation of new carpet for portion of house, to encourage above awesome tenants to sign on until at least 2010.

4. Have a brief yet satisfying dance party when above awesome tenants sign on until 2010.

5. Pho at phive. Unless phive doesn't work, in which case it can be rescheduled to phour.

6. Thirty (30) full minutes in Wal-Mart, stocking up on the essentials, like $0.97 toothpaste. I loathe the place, but I can't deny the deals. Don't tell my Dad.

7. EAT. We are so homesick for Ottawa's restaurants. There's no way we'll fit all of our favorites into 5 days, but we're going to take a crack at it.

8. Costco. I miss the culture.

9. Ottawa engagement photos, if I can convince a certain D50 to come out to play...

10. Starbucks. Yes. Starbucks. With a stop at Tim's for Kurt.

And...of course...visiting and catching up with various friends/family.


1. Victoria engagement photos. No, it's not huge egos...we get a free one with our photographer (which will also be a great way to get to know her).

2. Wedding location visits and preliminary planning with Kurt and Mom.

3. Very first get-together with my bridesmaids. :-) Perhaps with a side of dress shopping. Yikes.

4. Two words: Heron. Rock. Perhaps a get-together is in order?

5. Some running along the waterfront, though I'm not as starved for ocean air as I have been on previous trips home.

6. Noodle Box.

7. Real estate envy. Maybe a little research on this front as well.

8. Moka House soy praline latté.

9. Reminding Harley of who his true parents are, combined with some general cat love.

9. Home time, plain and simple.

And...of course...visiting and catching up with various friends/family.

Yes, I'm definitely ready to go home. Even if it's just for two weeks, and even if those two weeks aren't particularly relaxing, they will remind us that the world still exists out there (contrary to what you might think if you ever bother to read a copy of the local newspaper), and that home will always be home. Even if you have two. Or, in our case, three.

Mug Update:

I have officially resigned myself to the fact that my lovely mug is gone forever.


I Got the Monday Blues.

Mondays are Mondays, no matter where you live. I greet Mondays with roughly the same level of enthusiasm that I reserve for dealing with photocopier paper jams or cleaning out the fridge. After two glorious days of freedom (plus a little extra, since I tend to count Friday evenings as weekend time), I wake up on Mondays facing a 33.75 hour work week filled with flourescent lighting and somewhat mundane responsibilities. I'm not complaining, but thoughts that I am not cut out for the Monday to Friday nine-to-fiver cross my mind far more on Mondays than they do on other days. I'm just not that into it.

Mondays are getting harder and harder to face as the weather has gotten better each week. At least during the dreary weeks in January, February and March, we could justify "home" weekends, full of movies, fort-building (well, maybe not, but we could have), and general laziness. By the time Monday rolled around, there was a small part of me looking forward to getting out of the house and reintegrating back into civilization. But with the warmer weather has come an onslaught of activities, all of which seem to be begging us to commit ourselves (and our weekends) to them...and we don't mind a bit. Friday afternoons are now spent at one of the larger local hotels for their infamous "Happy Hour". We walk down each Friday, buy our overpriced drink tickets, and mill around in a crowd of hundreds of other office escapees, comparing relative workloads and admiring the gigantic private yachts that dock alongside the hotel. Legend has it that Happy Hour is only the beginning of a true Friday night on the island, which goes on to include at least 2 other local venues and ultimately ends in drunken pandemonium. Needless to say, Kurt and I have only made it through Stages 1 and 2 so far...we're aiming to make it to the finish line at least once this summer. I suppose it would be a lot easier to do if either of us were big drinkers...which we're not.

We spent yesterday afternoon laying in the sand, swimming periodically to cool down. My major concern was whether or not I would successfully even out my blotchy tan on my left arm. So, is it any wonder that when Monday rolls around, marked by the easy listening radio station on the alarm clock, I stay in denial (and in bed) for as long as possible?

Weekends, when you think about it, can be traumatizing for the system. You work hard (well, maybe not hard...but I do work) all week and are then presented with two glorious days to do with what you like, only to find that Sunday evening comes around far too soon and before you know it, you are back at your desk at work, longing for your next escape. And I don't even hate my job is entirely pleasant.

I have been working the nine-to-five for years would think that this would get easier.


If I could be anywhere else, right this minute, I would be here.

It's pretty safe to say that after the initial rush of plan-making and bookings, I fell off the wedding train completely. It's not that I'm not excited about it, but it's difficult to really get a sense of what the actual day will be like without being there, even though I've been to both venues hundreds of times.

Choosing to have our wedding in Victoria was not an easy decision. We knew that we had to make a decision on either Victoria or Ottawa quickly (the rock was never an option - as beautiful as it is, it is just far too expensive), given that one way or another, a fairly significant portion of the guest list would be getting on a plane. Ultimately, fewer people would be getting on a plane from Ottawa than would be from Victoria, and my grandparents probably wouldn't be able to fly at all...thus, the decision was made. That being said, we was pretty thrilled at the response we got from our Ottawa/out-of-town contingent once we told them. Who knew that Victoria was such a hot destination? Everyone seems really excited to go, and we're really looking forward to have them there.

Being so incredibly geographically challenged, we are almost as excited about having our Ottawa and Victoria families and friends under one roof as we are for the actual getting married part. That will be a HUGE treat for us. At the end of the day, as much as it would have been cool to have had a barefoot ceremony on some random Mexican beach with a mariachi and a margarita or two, having our friends and family with us is such a huge part of what will make the whole thing special for us and now that the plans are set in stone, we really can't wait for it.

After a couple of months of no wedding plans having been made whatsoever, we're trying to get back on the planning train. I have to admit, I feel a little lost when I'm thumbing through wedding magazines and looking at wedding planning websites. The amount of information is totally overwhelming...and with me being perhaps the most indecisive person on the planet...well, Kurt has a lot of decisions to make. We've done all of the big stuff - booked venues, named our wedding party (possibly the best-looking wedding party of all time - we had our photos to consider...haha), we know what our colors will be and I *think* I booked our photographer this morning. But all that little fiddly stuff...yikes. I'm not ready for that yet, but I'm full on determined not to lose my mind over centrepieces or wedding favors or who so-and-so does or doesn't want to sit next to.

In just a few weeks from today, we'll be on a plane headed for the wedding of our good friends, Teresa and Evans. The excitement of being on dry land aside, we can't wait for this wedding. Teresa is probably the ultimate bride and has been preparing for this day with an impressive selection of wedding magazines pretty much since I met her. Right up until I left Ottawa, we'd get together on Monday nights for The Hills, junk food and wedding magazines. Her wedding will be just the kick in the ass I need to get back into our wedding planning...or as much of it as we can actually do from here.

I (Heart) Hummus.

When I was a kid, my Dad took over the kitchen on Sundays. He'd make Sunday night dinner, but would also often make hummus from scratch in the food processor, which we'd eat during the week as a snack. By "from scratch", I mean that he'd actually buy dried chickpeas, boil them and go from there. The finished product was always delicious...enjoyed on WASA crisps or with carrot sticks. Yum.

I fell out of the hummus scene a bit after I left home. I didn't own a food processor so just assumed I couldn't make on my own and wasn't very big on paying $4.99 for a tiny tub of pre-made hummus. I guess I consider myself to be somewhat of a hummus snob, having been raised with the homemade kind, and I was certain that nothing else would do.

Hummus has really made a name for itself in the past few years. You can now buy it anywhere, in a multitude of flavors and even I can admit, some of the stuff on the shelves is pretty fantastic. Kurt and I would buy the big containers from Costco and work our way through their garlicky goodness, always vowing to try to make it ourselves sometime. Preferably when we wouldn't have to use a blender. My blender, for the record, hated chickpeas.

When we moved to the island, I started craving some good hummus but you can probably imagine what the price tags on those little containers were. $6.99...not going to happen. So, we decided that now was the time to spread our wings and dive into the world of homemade hummus. Armed with a new cookbook that has a whole section on hummus (about 10 different recipes) and some canned chickpeas, and a hand blender, we fired it up. And let me just say...Oh. My. God.

Our first try at hummus was a chickpea hummus with chipotle peppers and lime. The whole batch lasted for maybe a day because we ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The second time around, we substituted one of the cans of chickpeas with a can of adzuki beans and it just got better. Our third round, last Sunday, involved black beans and orange. We're addicted.

For whatever reason, I had been blind to the hummus possibilities that exist. There are so many recipes for different spice and flavor combinations that it would be impossible to get bored of and it's probably one of the most inexpensive and nutritious snacks that you can make ahead and have on hand for those snacky nights or for weekday lunches. I went from being a fan to being full on obsessed.

For the record, the PC-brand hand-blender is the best $29.00 I have ever spent. It comes with a chopper attachment so you can "process" bread crumbs or whatever, but the blender itself mashes chickpeas and mixes hummus perfectly. It was pretty much the only appliance we kept and brought with us, but it was a great choice.

Hello, May.

With our visitors gone, life has returned to normal for us. Well, nothing really feels "normal" here yet, but we're getting back into our old routine anyways. April was FUN. Having Clay and Kathie visit was a blast and we really used their time here as an excuse to see a lot more of the island and do some stuff we hadn't done before. We also used their visits as an excuse to eat out far more than usual, stay up far later than usual, and drink far more than our livers are used to. Let's just say...time to tame the beast.

Last Saturday, after a final sushi feast at the local watering hole, we dusted off our weekly grocery/meal planner and bought groceries for a week's worth of food. We even made some new stuff - a potato-asparagus soup with dill and lemon, eggplant curry, and two different types of hummus for our lunches (with vegetable sticks and WASA crisps...mmmm). It feels good to be back on track.

The bank account is also feeling better after its April assault. It's amazing what buying food will do to your wallet. We've tamed our weekly grocery costs down to about $130/week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks, so we're feeling pretty good about that. That's also taking into account those items that we stock up on because we know if we go back for more, they'll be gone (i.e. Eggo multi-grain low-fat commodity around here). I can't remember what we'd spend in Ottawa for the same amount of food, but we don't buy cheap ingredients or anything processed (except said Eggos, but I'm thinking we could do worse than those little morsels), so even in Ottawa we were probably spending at least $80-90 each week. Mind you, that always included things like salmon or a big package of chicken breasts...and we really don't eat meat here more than once each week, so long as we're cooking at home.

Last week was a bit of a roller-coaster. A very tempting job offer landed in my lap from another much larger company here. More money, more responsibility, more looked great. I wasn't necessarily looking to leave my current job, but it was just one of those situations where it was almost too good to be true. The snag was Immigration, which is sticky in the best of situations and with me only having worked here for 6 months, they were not going to hand me a second work permit. There was a way around it, but it would have meant big changes to our plans. So...I turned it down yesterday. It was actually a really hard decision for me and ultimately came down to whether or not I was ready to sell my integrity...which I'm apparently not. Money aside, it would have opened a lot of doors for me, but I'm now thinking that if this particular one came along that easily, that there will be more down the road when I'm actually ready for one. Ugggh. It was such a tough call. I'm still feeling queasy over it.