Is anyone still out there?

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


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

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

Ottawa highlights:

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

2. A hug and a kiss from Jaia.

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

4. Delicious Greek delicacies with EAP.

5. Pho at phive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. KC at HR with LP and HAO.

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

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

Our Nightmare is Over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There has been some interesting stuff in the news lately.

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

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

3. Housing Correction. (!!!!)

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

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

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

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


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

Kurt tried his hardest to look enthusiastic.

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

Wrong. So wrong.

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

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

I'm still here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, Canada.

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

Happy Canada Day.