Thursday, December 31, 2009


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in Review

We are enjoying our traditional boxing day celebration, which involves not leaving the house, watching our newest DVD of the previous season of The Office (a regular Christmas present), enjoying a nice bottle of wine and eating treats from Christmas Day.

Speaking of Christmas Day, it was also lovely. We had the family over for the afternoon and for dinner, we made rum balls, we played Wii, we laughed a lot... it was grand. Other highlights of the week included a fantastic cheese fondu dinner with good friends, a huge Christmas Eve choir, and lots of peace and quiet.

This entirely positive review of this year's Christmas season comes despite having been accused by a fellow member of our church choir of a myriad of things about 5 minutes before the late service, including being rude, insensitive, shoving her and ruining two Christmases in a row. Yup, I did all that, simply by virtue of having asked her to move over to make room for a guest singer. Awesome.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!


We have made the rum ball dough, which we'll roll into balls and coat tomorrow afternoon all together as a family.

The cranberry sauce is beginning to think about boiling on the stove.

Handel's Messiah is on the stereo.

There are mysterious parcels wrapped and under the tree.

The snow is deep.

The cats can't believe their luck that we have been home all day.

It's Christmas.

Blessings to you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cold

I just thought y'all should know that on Deceber 13th, Prairie City was the second coldest place... IN THE WORLD.

IN.

THE.

WORLD.

Which means that unless you were in Siberia, you best not be complainin' about how cold you were on December 13th.







Warmer now though...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Falling

I was walking down the stairs at the church the other day when I caught the heel of my high-heeled shoe in the hem of my pant leg.

The next half second felt like it lasted about 45 minutes.

Somehow, I landed on my feet, but on the landing about four stairs below where I had been heading. My whole body felt like it had been twisted, like none of my joints where in their right places.

And I ripped the hem of my pants.

I'm fine now, but it struck me how different the experience of an adult falling is from a child. Just the night before, I'd been babysitting three little ones, a baby and two toddlers. And the two toddlers got into hugging each other with a fair amount of verve and tumbled over backwards. Heads were bumped. Crying occurred. Then about 10 seconds later, it was over and forgotten as if nothing had happened and then were back to their active play.

Sigh.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Podcast Review - Crimes Against Food

So I've decided that I'm going to be something of a podcast reviewer. Podcasts are a relatively new thing for me, so I'm very much on a journey of discovery. I'd also be very happy to receive YOUR recommendations for good podcasts to listen to.

I'll listen to anything twice before I review it.

So! Today, a review of Crimes Against Food.

The facts:
Who: Gloria and Mia, two ladies from Leeds
What: Gloria and Mia talk food and the hideous things that people do to it. That, at least, seems to be the intent
How long: Just under an hour
Format: Audio

Each episode of this podcast delves into a "kind" of food; for example, the two episodes I've heard so far have explored Pies and Curry, respectively. First thing that you should know about this podcast is that it is about British food. So, for example, the Pie episode was only about meat pies, not about "Tarts." Initially, I was a bit disappointed, because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to relate to the topics. But the ladies do such a good job of putting the food in context for non-British listeners that you can't help enjoy it, whether or not the information is directly relevant to your own culinary experience.

Crimes Against Food is very funny and very charming. Their exploration of food is filled with honest, visceral and passionate descriptions of food, both good and bad. There are moments when they both dissolve into laughter, which did make me feel a little bit like I was an awkward listener to an inside joke, but those moments are not frequent.

The "Crimes" part of their mandate gets lost a little bit in their own excitement about all the great things there are to say about food. That, at least, was true of the curry episode. The pie episode contained a terrifyingly memorable sequence involving a Goblin meat pie in a can. I can't even really describe it, other than to say that there was a lot of gagging (theirs and mine).

Not for children this one (language, off-colour humour), but good fun if you like foodie types of things and/or British types of things.

Rating... 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One of those stories...

... that seems to me, completely incomprehensible. I heard this story on the radio this evening on my way home and I didn't take note of the woman's name, so the story is articulated here more impersonally than may be ideal. In addition, I've really only heard one side of the story, as told by the woman's lawyer to the interviewer. There is, of course, the possibility that there is more to the story that I simply haven't heard.

The subject of this story is a 21-year old cook in the American armed forces. She is also the single mother of a 10-month old son. She received notice that she would be deployed to Afghanistan for a year. Her mother offered to take care of the boy for the period of her deployment so the boy was moved to his grandmother's home in advance of the deployment date in order to give him some time to adjust.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances in the grandmother's life, she decided that she could not, in fact, care for the boy for the year. The armed forces informed the mother that she could delay her deployment date in order to have additional time to find a care arrangement for her son. When the boy was returned to his mother, a week before the original deployment date, she was informed that there would, in fact, be no extension and that she was to report for deployment as originally scheduled.

With no place to take her son, she missed her deployment flight.

She reported to the base the day after the scheduled deployment to meet with her superiors and explain her circumstances. She was arrested and placed under supervised confinement at the base. Her son was placed in the care of child protective services. Charges have not yet been filed, but there remain a number of possible scenarios, including that she will face a court martial and jail time. Fortunately, her son has been returned to her grandmother and will not remain with protective services.

Telling this story is not intended as a criticism specfically of the American military, as there are certainly other employers out there who do not provide adequate family-related support to their employees. But I have a hard time understanding how it could possibly be excusable to ask anybody, no matter the import of their employment, to abandon their child without other option. How does a decision like that get made? What on earth did they expect her to do with her little boy?!

Has anybody else heard about this story? Have any other information?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Combatives Room

I was rushing through the Faculty of Physical Education at Colourful University the other day and came across The Combatives Room.

Immediately, my mind goes to what I think a Combatives Room should be for. I should be able to take whatever issue, person, situation or conflict that is causing me grief into The Combatives Room, beat it into submission and come out with resolution. Yeah!

Miscommunication with coworkers? Combatives Room!
Bad skin? COMBATIVES ROOM!
Get in there, people who don't show up for choir rehearsal!

Doesn't that sound ideal?

Anyway, turns out that the room is for teaching karate and judo and other combative sports. I GUESS that makes sense.

But I think think my idea is more useful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Updates, Updates, Updates

What I've been up to: lots of work, getting ready for the beginning of concert season, trying to rest when I can, keeping up with both So You Think You Can Dance and So You Think You Can Dance Canada, being sat on by cats.

What I'm reading : Serious Eats. (Seriously, prepare to drool)

What I'm listening to: lots of Bach and lots of Mendelssohn, in preparation for Chamber Choir's first concert of the season.

And life rolls on...

There are lots of posts brewing, so hopefully I get some more time to blog more often.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chilly and Chili


It's been a weird fall here in Prairie Hamlet.

Two weeks ago, it was +30C (86F for my American chums) and today it is -7C (20F) and there is the first dusting of snow on the ground. And WIND.

Because it was so hot so late in September, the leaves haven't really turned, and because the leaves haven't turned, they haven't fallen off. Until the last couple of days when, still green, they froze and dropped.

So it feels a little bit like we haven't had any autumn at all, that we've just skipped it. And I like autumn, not only because it can be so beautiful, but mostly because it's my opportunity to get the crankiness about the cold out of the way before the first flakes fall. Ah well.

Tomorrow is our annual hockey pool day, complete with traditional chili. We have some cleaning and tidying to do in the morning, and then the folks will arrive early in the afternoon and start picking teams at about 3pm.

And then Sunday is Canadian Thanksgiving!! So the turkey is thawing in the fridge and we got the rest of the grocery shopping done this evening. It's my first turkey here in the new house, and I'm looking forward to cooking it in a kitchen that's got great counter space! YAY!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My neglected blog

Oh poor blog; how I have neglected thee... Such is the current busy-ness of life, I suppose!

I'm sitting in the sunny living room this afternoon while WH plays what may be his last golf round of the year. I have a glass of champagne, and a cat sleeping behind my head on the back of the couch, and the TV humming along quietly in front of me.

And I'm thinking about being thirty, which I'll be, as of Tuesday. (Hurray for Michaelmas!)

Thirty is an age that excites me. I think about where I was heading into my twenties, not knowing what end was up, where I would be, what I would do, how I would get there, how I would pay for it, etc. etc. And here I am at thirty, married to my perfect partner, living in a house that I love, doing work that is challenging and fulfilling, enjoying a tremendously busy extra-curricular life of my own choosing, surrounded by the most amazing group of family and friends... What, on earth, could I possibly think to complain about? It is practically an embarrassment of riches...

Some of you may recall that WH and I have the same birthday, but because this was a big birthday for me, WH threw me a party last night. We had burgers and munchies, lots of wonderful things to drink, and many of the friends and family mentioned above were able to come and celebrate. What a blast! And the party even had an informal theme!

Let me explain...

I always wanted a Mr. Potato Head when I was a child. Of any toy, it was the one I craved the most. (MU would point out here that I never uttered this desire, which is probably true...) I hadn't thought about this yearning until a couple of months ago, when I said to myself, suddenly one day, "Dammit, I am almost thirty, and I WILL HAVE A MR. POTATO HEAD." So I asked WH for one for my birthday, and he came through, so now I have one. And my lovely friend S brought me the little mini Mr. Potato Head that comes with the doggie and kitty as well, so now I have FOUR Mr. Potato Head figures.

And to top it all off, our friend G baked this:I know, right?! Amazing!

Needless to say, I had a great time.

So on Tuesday, WH and I will both celebrate our birthdays and the year of our life that has now past. I can't wait to see what's to come down the road!

And now, my champagne glass is empty and the laundry needs pushing. Tra la la...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dear Weight Watchers...

... In almost all ways, you are a fantastic program. I appreciate all the things that you do to allow people who are working to lose weight to eat as close to normally as possible. We have had WW in our lives for the last year, and have had lots of success.

That said, I have a concern with your Gnocchi with Pesto recipe. Low fat or not, you cannot make a pesto sauce with two tablespoons of water instead of the traditional oil. I know; I tried. And it tastes like sand.

And life is too damn short to eat sandy gnocchi.

Word.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Saturday Morning Grocery Routine

I had the best morning at the grocery store today.

In the last little while, I've gotten into the habit of going grocery shopping early in the morning on Saturdays and it works out wonderfully. The store is quiet, the shelves are fully stocked, I get a good cart, and the staff haven't had time to be cranky yet. It's great.

This morning, not only did I have the usual benefits of early morning shopping, but I also had the following:

$12 worth of coupons
$20 worth of bank credits
Brand-name, two-ply, double roll, 24 packs of toilet paper at NINE DOLLARS OFF EACH. I bought two.

So between the coupons and the tp sale, I figure I saved $50 today. FIFTY BUCKS!!

On top of all of that, before I went to the grocery store I did my Wii Fit yoga routine, which means I felt all stretched and relaxed and balanced and centered while I was shopping.

Best. Saturday. Ever.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trader Tuesday: Rejuvenated Rice

It's almost impossible to make exactly the right amount of rice for two people. One of the most depressing things that I usually have to pull out of the fridge and throw away is the miserable lump of dried out leftover rice.

But recently, WH found a wonderful recipe for reconstituted rice, via the BBQ.

Take a long piece of aluminum foil and fold it in half to give it extra strength. Using your fist, make the foil into a pouch-shape. Spoon a serving of rice into the pouch and add half a small onion, chopped. Sprinkle with salt, and add a dash of Worcester sauce. Add some water... about a quarter cup for a cup of rice. Dab the rice with butter. Fold the corners of the pouch together to form a closure. Place the pouch on the BBQ for 20 minutes.

And voila! Beautiful, moist, flavourful rice!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Letting 'er Rip

During the summer while the Church Choir is on holidays, we often have guest singers on Sunday mornings to lead the psalm and sing an aria or two during communion and at the end of the service. I usually volunteer for one or two of these Sundays and this morning was my day.

One of the side effects of being the soloist on any given Sunday is that I sit up right next to the organ where WH is playing. And one of the nice things about being right next to the organ is that I can sing hymns absolutely as loud as I want to because nobody can hear me. Correspondingly, I cannot hear anybody BUT myself, so it's like my own solo hymn-sing with full pipe organ, complete with last verse re-harmonizations.

Hurray!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trader Tuesdays: The Apple Blue Cheese Pizza

The apple blue cheese pizza is too good not to share. It's from the Blue Flame Kitchen Favorites Cookbook.

I use individuals pre-baked pizza crust, usually found in the deli department of your local grocery store. I had a hard time finding them the first time , so you may have to ask somebody. Brush with olive oil. Thinly slice an apple, and lay the slices on the crust. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on the apple. Top with grated Monterey Jack cheese and chopped walnuts. Bake according to the instructions provided with the pizza crust, usually something like a 400F oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese melted.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Could I bone a duck?


MU and I went to see Julie & Julia on Monday night.

Thoroughly wonderful. I have heard that the book by the same title was a trifle annoying -- perhaps along the same vein as this one -- but the movie is simply delightful. Meryl Streep is an absolute treasure.

And of course, the movie has got me wondering how I would fare doing a similar experiment. Could I cook through the entire Mastering the Art of French Cooking, both volumes?

Could I put a lobster out of its misery?

Would I burn the Boeuf Bourguignon?

Do I crowd my mushrooms?

Could I bone a duck?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cat Scratch Fever

We bought some new furniture last week for our new living room, a beautiful buckskin couch and loveseat set from The Brick.

It took Mama Cat and Baby Cat about an hour to identify the new furniture as "scratchable material." We are determined... DETERMINED... to break them of this habit before they ruin these couches too.

To that end, we have purchased these.

They are, essentially, soft plastic shells that are adhered over top of the cats' claws. Apparently, they are safe, non-toxic and the cats won't notice them or care that they are there. We bought a red set for Mama Cat and a pink set for Baby Cat. They will look ridiculous, but they already look ridiculous, so this will be no big change. I will post pictures as soon as the Soft Claws arrive and as soon as we wrangle them on the unsuspecting kittehs.

We also bought them a scratching post.

So, we have employed both diversionary and preventative tactics today.

WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Horse and Handel

WH and I took a whirlwind road trip to our neighbour province to the east this weekend, arriving home to a newly painted house last night. I have a couple of posts brewing about how much I love driving on the prairie highway, but first, a scene from our drive home for you.

For much of our trip home, we played Horse. If it's not a game you're familiar with, all it involves is calling out for every horse that you see on the trip. When you see a cemetery, you call out DEAD HORSE, and the other person loses all the horses they've accumulated to that point. The person who ends the trip with the most horses, wins.

With about two and a half hours left on the road yesterday, we decided that we'd let Messiah bring us home, so the car ride sounded something like this:

For unto us a child is bo-orn - HORSE - unto us, a son is - HORSEHORSE - given...

And the glory, the glory of the - HORSE - Lord. Shall be redee-ee-ee-HORSEHORSEHORSEHORSE-ee-ee-med...

Hallelujah, Hallel-
HORSE-ujah, Hallelujah - HORSE - Hallel- HAHATHATWASACOW-ujah, Halle-e-lu-jah.

Worthy is the Lamb, that was -
DEADHORSE - DAMMIT - slain...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Getting Started on the Week

This was the commuting music for this morning. A pretty wonderful way to get settled into the week!



What are you listening to today?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On Bakeries

At The Wee House, we were sadly bereft of a good local bakery. There was a bakery at the local chain grocery store but never once in the two and a half years that we lived there did I have a good experience at that bakery. There was the time that the woman working on the other side of the counter (about 3 feet from me) just kept working and pretended I wasn't there. There was the time that the two employees argued about which one of them had to serve me. There was the time that they dropped my desserts on the floor... It was a sad, sad place.

And I'd like my bakery to be a happy place.

WH and I were out for one of our exploratory walks in the neighbourhood surrounding one-oh-six the other day and came across an actual honest-to-goodness, up-at-5am-baking-for-the-community, not-cakes-and-cupcakes-but-actually-bread, BAKERY.

The bakery was closed at the time of our first discovery, but we were up like a shot the following Saturday morning and headed in its direction. One cinnamon bun and one chocolate croissant later, we have found a new Saturday morning routine: a lovely walk followed by delicious fresh breakfast. Sunday morning I ventured that way again to find some beautiful rolls for family dinner.

To top it all off, the customer service at this little local bakery is stellar; they are friendly, warm and kind people.

And we feel profoundly welcomed and very, very happy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I didn't want to have to do this...

...but I've been witness to too many close-calls in the last little while, and seen too much evidence that the following is badly needed.

That being the case, please take a seat and make yourselves comfortable, whilst I explain, carefully and hopefully without too much condescension, how to navigate a round-about or, as I know it, a traffic circle.

Driving in a traffic circle should be very simple and very straight-forward, provided that everyone does it properly and doesn't act like a weenie.

Let me explain that one of the primary methods that I see employed by my fellow drivers, what I refer to as the "close my eyes and drive and hope nobody hits me" method of driving in a traffic circle is THE WRONG WAY. No good comes of this.

So here are the rules, some of which are actual rules, and some of which is just good advice:

1. People inside the traffic circle always have the right-of-way over people who are outside it. This means that nobody inside the traffic circle will stop to let you into it. Do not proceed into the traffic circle until you have an adequate window in which to do so.

2. Don't change lanes inside the traffic circle.

3. Turn signals are an important tool when navigating a traffic circle. When you are inside the traffic circle, you should be indicating a turn to the left (in North America). When you reach the quarter of the traffic circle at which you are exiting, you should be indicating a turn to the right.

4. Within the traffic circle, people in the inside lane have the right-of-way over people in the outside lane. The easiest way to manage this is to use the outside lane only if you are exiting at your first opportunity. Use the inside lane when you are exiting anytime after your first opportunity.

5. If you insist on driving in the outside lane passed your first opportunity to exit, YOU MUST (and this is key) YIELD TO DRIVERS EXITING FROM THE INSIDE LANE AT EACH EXIT. This means that each time you are passing an exit in the outside lane, you must slow down and check to see if there is anybody in your inside lane who is exiting. If there is, you must stop and let these people exit. If you don't do this, do not be surprised when that person in the inside lane runs into you with their car and then looks at you like this:
6. If you are driving in the outside lane and you yield to a person exiting from the inside lane and somebody behind you honks at you and flips you the bird, don't worry about this person. Clearly, this person is a dweeb. Drive away puffed up with pride that you have made Chorus very proud.

7. If this rule about yielding the right-of-way to the inside lane seems confusing, believe me when I say that it is much simpler if you just use the outside lane for immediate exits and the inside lane for all other exits. This way, you don't have to worry about yielding to anybody; you should just be able to drive!

I believe that a properly driven traffic circle is smoother, faster and safer than your average lit intersection. But if you drive them like a jackass, you endanger not only yourself but everyone around you. So don't do that.

Person in the dark-blue Chevy Tahoe who cut me off when I was exiting yesterday, THIS MEANS YOU.

Friday, July 24, 2009

On the Rights of Animals

People who are close to me will tell you that I am an animal lover, so much so that I'm not allowed to read stories about animal abuse anymore because of how deeply I am distressed by them.

I saw this today, and thought it just perfectly summarized the way that I feel about animals.
  1. Animals have the right to have their lives cherished and protected.
  2. Animals have the right to social integration.
  3. Animals have a right to a fair share of public resources.
  4. Animals have the right to be treated humanely.
  5. Animals have the right to act like Animals.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Last Night's Episode of SYTYCD

For those who don't watch SYTYCD, or didn't watch last night, I encourage you to take a look at the video of the second dance performed by Ade and Melissa. The piece was choreographed by Tyce Diorio, and was inspired by the impact that breast cancer has had on his life.

I've been surprised today by some of the negative feedback that has appeared on the interwebs, detailing reviewers' criticism that the dance was manipulative, that articulating the tie to cancer forced an emotional reaction from the audience and from the judges, that the piece pandered to viewers.

Here are my thoughts.

One, I thought that the piece was absolutely beautifully danced, both artistically and technically. Were this a dance about milk cartons, you couldn't find fault with their technique.

Additionally, I don't believe that the work could have been danced by any other two dancers in the show; it required Melissa's maturity and Ade's strength to really come together.

I'm struggling with those critics that stated that putting something so emotional on the stage was manipulative. My opinion is that the fact that we were moved by the dance proves its success. The dancers on SYTYCD are asked all the time to convey stories or themes or emotions to viewers; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It's not fair to state that just because the emotion of this particular dance worked, it was manipulative. One reviewer opined that as soon as the word "cancer" was introduced, everyone started crying, which was clearly not the case. The tears flowed when the dance was over, when judges tried to express how they had been affected by the dancing. That means the dance did what it was supposed to do. It moved them.

Others have whined that to give two dancers such a powerful piece all but guaranteed them a pass to next week, despite having both been in the bottom two last week. I'm not sure how this feedback can translate into something constructive... "We would have prefered if you'd danced something more boring? Funnier? Less technically difficult? Shame on you for taking an admittedly emotional theme and translating it successfully onto the stage through movement?" if by doing what they did last night they moved enough people to pick up the phone and vote for them to remain on the show, then how is that their fault? That's how the show works.

And to those people who have asserted that Melissa and Ade couldn't fail with this number, you're wrong. As successful as it was, it could have been that much of a disaster too. The dancers could have failed to connect, or danced it sloppily, and I can assure that if they had, the emotional impact would have been lost and it would have been an awkward mess.

Where I will agree with critics is in their statement that Nigel's reference to a future Emmy nomination was misplaced. It was a silly comment, but really, the guy's an executive producer. It's his job to be silly.

You can read a response to the performance here, and see the video as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We've arrived...

... in small town living.

We took WH's car in this week to get a tune up, oil change and a bunch of other (expensive) things. But it was alllllll worth it.

Because as a "gift" for bringing his car in, WH received...

...a bottle of mustard.

Yup. It says "We Cut the Mustard" on the side of it.

All I can picture is a greasy mechanic saying, "I done fixed yer car. Here's yer mustard."

It's just awesome is what it is.

The Wheels on the Bus...

Starting at the beginning of August, I'm going to take the bus to work every day!

Primarily, this change is going to save WH and me some serious cash. The commuter bus pass from The Hamlet into Prairie City costs $85 per month, compared to the $105 I spend on a monthly parking pass at Colourful U. And that's to say nothing about the cost of gas...

Taking the bus will also allow me to not have to worry about driving on the highway in the winter when the snow is blowing horizontally across the road and cars are in the ditch all over the place. I'm quite happy to sit quietly with my iPod and have the driving be someone else's problem.

And a good decision for the environment as well!

We knew, when we moved to The Hamlet, that the change in commuting patterns would be one of the biggest adjustments we'd have to make. My commute from The Wee House took about 7 minutes from door to door. To compare, the new drive in from One-Oh-Six takes about 25 minutes. But it's a pleasant commute, and the view of Prairie City is really quite lovely.

I'm kind of looking forward to becoming a bus rider again! We'll see how I feel about it when it's -30C outside and I'm waiting for the bus at 6:45am, but for the time being, I'm content!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Storm

It was very hot yesterday in The Hamlet (30C (about 90F for my friends to the south)). As is often the case on the Prairies, hot weather brings evening thunder storms. Last night's storm was a big one.

We first noticed the wind. Blowing in hard from the northwest, our neighbour's lombari poplar trees were bent almost double under its power. I was watching from the back window when the wind blew our BBQ and our outdoor chairs onto the back lawn. Lightning and hard rain followed the wind. Our power went out. I fell asleep, but was awakened by the sound of hail hitting the windows. It didn't take long before our entire back deck was covered with ice.

Mama Cat and Baby Cat were not amused.

This morning, on our way to church, we saw many victims of the storm - fallen tree branches, broken construction equipment and toppled road signs. Fortunately, there are no reports of human injuries, despite the collapse of part of a building in downtown Prairie City.
WH found this picture on twitter:


Friday, July 17, 2009

Back to Work on Monday

My vacation is nearing an end.

Sigh.

Looking back, it's been a wonderful rest and time away from Colourful U. Yes, in the middle of my holidays, we moved, but the move went smoothly, we had wonderful help from good friends and family, and we are loving the new digs. In addition, because we moved in the middle of my time away, I've had this last week to put things away, clean, get settled and get comfortable.

I'm looking forward to going back to work, to getting my old job wrapped and cleaned up before the transition to the new position in August. But I'll miss the wonderful quality time that I've got to spend with WH these last two weeks, all the cuddles I've enjoyed with the kittehs and just generally being peaceful and quiet.

Life is good.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blog Changes

I think it's time to update some of the identifiers on this blog, now that The Move is all but finished.

WH and I have actually moved out of Prairie City into one of its suburbs, which I'll be referring to as Prairie Hamlet. And our house, formerly known as The Wee House, will now be One-Oh-Six.

Fun!

Enjoying the new digs

The big move went well; we had lots of good friends and family give us wonderful help, both in the days leading up to Saturday and on the day itself. So we're in, and despite the relative chaos that surrounds us, we are both very happy with our new home. I'm still on vacation this week, which is great, and gives us lots of time to clean and put things away and make the space our home. But before we do that, we are headed back to the old house to get it cleaned up and move the last few things this afternoon.

Mama Cat and Baby Cat have been adjusting pretty well as well; they've been laying pretty low under the bed and I think are a bit intimidated by the size of the place, but they are gradually spending more time exploring and figuring out their new space.

I'm most looking forward to developing patterns for this new house; getting used to the space, where things are and how the house "works." I feel a little bit unsteady or unsure of myself, which I guess is expected when living in a new space. I don't remember feeling this way when we moved into The Wee House, but maybe I did.

Anyhow, back to it...

(Now that the move is over, I'll be a more regular blogger; I promise!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Two Years Ago Today...

... this is what I was up to.

Actually Chorus
Happy Anniversary, WH!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What we've been up to...

Well, I'm on holidays from work until July 20th, so I've been enjoying my time off so far, playing golf, spending some truly lovely quality time with WH and getting preliminary cleaning and fixing done in our new house.

On the golf, I've played my first two rounds of the year, and hit the ball really well, though inconsistently. My highlight of the week so far was a drive off the 14th hole on our local city course yesterday that went 235 yards. Woo!

On the new house, we are loving it. There are lots of little things to do, cleaning and changing lightbulbs and figuring out where our things are going to go. The lady who lived in the house before we did left us a very sweet little note and a bottle of champagne in the fridge. This was a very kind act, but to be honest, I would have preferred it if she had done things like clean up the mountains of dog poop in her backyard... dog poop that she had been shovelling into her window wells for the last several years. But such is life, I guess, and we will enjoy the champagne while we work to make what was formerly hers now ours.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How much do I love...

... Jenny Sanford?

I have a certain respect for the many, many political wives who have come before Mrs. Sanford, who have chosen to stand next to their cheating, lying, philandering, horny, jerky husbands and who have offered quiet support and forgiveness because they believed, or had been told, that that was the only appropriate way to react. It was always more grace and respect than their husbands deserved.

But how refreshing is it to see Jenny Sanford flip her husband the political wife's equivalent of the bird, refuse to cover for him, refuse to support him, refuse to appear with him, and refuse to teach her four sons that their father's behaviour is appropriate?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Updates, various...

I realized today that I haven't had time to blog for a while, meaning that people coming to my blog have been forced to read about poop for about the last week. Time to rectify that.

(I also realized this morning that that post is the second time I've posted about poop. Might have to have its own label soon.)

Anyhoo, what all is goin' on around here these days:
  • We wrote an absolutely ginormous cheque to our lawyer as a part of the purchase of our new house yesterday. Isn't it funny how we lose our perspectives about quantities of money when we're buying/selling houses?
  • The house is currently in CHAOS. We're at that strange place where we've done some packing, we have some cleaning and sorting to do, there are piles of things waiting to be packed all over the place, you can't take 3 steps without tripping over a pile of boxes... like I said, CHAOS. But we take possession in just over a week!
  • The cats seem to still be blissfully unaware of the impending change. I think as more things get packed up, Mama Cat especially will get more needy even than usual. Hopefully it's not too distressing for them. We have come up with the plan for moving the cats, figuring that no matter what we do, they will have to be alone in an empty house at some point, so it's probably better if that house is the one they're at least familiar with. So when we do our big move day on July 11th, we'll cage them while we load the truck and then leave them at the house with their cages, their litter, food, water, and maybe a couple of pillows. After we've unloaded at the new house, we'll take the truck back to the depot and then pick the cats up on our way to spend the first night at the new house.
  • Meals are getting weird at our house, amidst the chaos. Last night was smokies and champagne.
  • We're also getting painfully absent-minded, as evidenced by the fact that I forgot my car at work yesterday. Long story, but at least I remembered before I phoned the police this morning and reported it stolen.
  • I had my interview for the new position on Tuesday and I think it went well. I should hear something before the end of the week, fingers crossed.
Have a great day, all!

Friday, June 19, 2009

On poop and perfume

To the staff of this office at Colourful University;

Who use a communal one-stall bathroom;

If you go into that bathroom and make a stinky, please don't attempt to mask it by dousing the room in perfume.

I almost died in there today.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Eat, Pray, Love

Ok, so just a forewarning for any readers out there who liked the book Eat, Pray, Love. You probably aren't going to agree with anything I say from here on in. Read on at your own risk, or go on your merry way without prejudice!

I'm coming at this blog post so long after the book was released because of the recent news that the story will be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts.

Let me start by saying that I like Elizabeth Gilbert's writing. She's witty and funny and I think she has a gift for describing beautiful things. She's good at what she does.

That being said, I was so annoyed by the time I got through Eat, Pray, Love that I could barely see straight.

My annoyance isn't really with the trip itself. The trip sounded beautiful and I'm sure was a lovely experience. It was neat to read about. I like Italian food too.

My annoyance was largely with the fact that SOMEBODY ELSE PAID FOR HER TO TAKE THE TRIP, a fact which goes by in her early chapters astonishingly quickly. And that, knowing that someone else was paying for her to have this incredible experience, she still acts like she was entitled to it.

Most of the rest of us, when our lives get messy (and they all do), work it out. We yell, and cry, and fight, and compromise, and make sacrifices, and take stock, and move on, and heal, and seek help, and brush ourselves off, and take responsibility. We figure it out. It takes time, but we do it. And maybe somewhere in there, we take ourselves on a bit of a vacation to clear our heads. A vacation that WE PAY FOR.

We don't abandon our lives and go and do whatever we want on the other side of the world, on someone else's dime.

I have no objection to the trip itself. Like I said, it sounded fascinating. I certainly believe that we are entitled to genuine adventures in our lives. And I fully appreciate (and even like!) books about people's travels around the world.

My objection was the feeling I got that the author was bereft of any sense of responsibility for the mess in her life, any sense of maturity or accountability. And because of that, to me, her healing experience isn't grounded in reality. It doesn't resonate as true. And the rapidity with which critics fawned at the profoundness of her experience irritated me no end. Because I wonder what a book would have been like detailing how the author stayed put, and worked through her issues, and took responsibility and made it work. Because those, too, are profound experiences.

It's possible that I am cold and heartless, but a complete lack of empathy and a strong desire to scream "GROW UP" into the pages somewhat diminished my ability to fully appreciate her story.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On J&K +8

Yes, ok, I know. Jon and Kate and their adorable eight are getting to be old news.

But like many of my blog posts on these kinds of things, I hem and haw and toss them around in my brain until I'm ready to post about them. That process usually takes me well past the topic's best-before date. Oh well.

What has happened to this family is profoundly sad. The breakdowns of all family units are sad, but this one feels more so because we are all witnessing it, on television, on the internet, in magazines. And because this family is, in so many ways, a normal every-day North American family, with nothing exceptional about it but its size, the breakdown hits a bit close to home. The problems that are plaguing their marriage are common problems: infidelity, mis-communication, changing priorities, busy lives.

What has bothered me most about what we've witnessed and how we've responded, from the perspective of a distant viewer, is the almost total assassination of Kate's character. Let's be clear on one thing: if Jon is spending inappropriate time with women who are not his wife, then that's totally, 100%, without question on him. It is awful and shameful and cowardly. And of course, the same is true if the inappopriate time is being spent by Kate with men who are not Jon.

What has emerged, however, from the pictures of Jon and his lady friends, is increasingly detailed numeration of Kate's personality flaws. She nags him. She belittles him. She's bossy. Which all may be true, but NONE OF WHICH EXCUSES HIS BEHAVIOUR. What is most profoundly upsetting about all this is is the whisper of "How can you blame him? See what he has to live with?"

I have been particularly taken aback by how vitriolic some of the commentary along these lines has been. And I've been trying to think why. If I had guess, I would say that a significant number of women see in Kate some of the aspects of their own personalities that they dislike. The moments where husbands are lumped in with children and bossed around. Nagging. Snarky comments made under-breath. The kinds of things we all have done, and are never very proud of.

Well here we have Kate, displaying those same behaviours in HD for our public consumption, giving us a target against which to rail, desperately trying to draw attention away from the ways that we may be like her.

I don't know Jon and Kate or, really, anything about their personalities. They may be difficult, angry, disagreeable people. Their situation, including the children and the TV show and the publicity, is bizarre and surreal. But I think that at the heart of them is a family, much like yours and mine, desperately trying to figure out a way to mend what's broken.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Various...

  • I'm home with a nasty cold today. The cat is sitting on my feet, which is preventing me from doing anything productive with regards to packing.
  • I need to start packing because we signed off on the conditions yesterday for our brand new house, seen below. We take possession of the new house in a little less than a month. Crazy!
  • Part of condition signing-off day was our inspection of the new property yesterday and it went very well. No significant problems with the place. If I may offer a little bit of advice to other folks who have new buyers coming to inspect their home. I suggest putting your dirty magazines away where the new buyers can't see them. They make the new buyer giggle, and get all distracted. "Naughty Neighbours"... tee hee hee
  • Back to getting some rest here...
Hope you're all well!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Five: Moving!

Sally at the RevGals has posted this delightful (and wonderfully appropriate for our circumstances) Friday Five about moving!

1. A big move is looming, name one thing that you could not possibly part with, it must be packed?

Last summer, WH built a wine rack for our basement that holds 96 bottles of wine. It's the kind of thing that I thought we might be asked to leave behind (it's huge), but we would have said no. Not only is it a project that he's really proud of (and should be), but it's a representation of one of the things that we do together - collect wine!

2. Name one thing that you would gladly leave behind...

You know, I can't think of anything off the top of my head... I tend to purge things that I don't like or don't use, so not a lot comes to mind.

3. How do you prepare for a move

a. practically?

Sorting, packing, throwing things out, planning, cleaning, sorting, packing, throwing things out, planning, cleaning, sorting, packing...

b. spiritually/ emotionally?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a good mover. I get cranky, I get frustrated, I get overwhelmed. I'm hoping to avoid that this time and to do a better job of keeping the goal in mind, and my excitement about our new place at the forefront of my mind.

4. What is the first thing you look for in a new place?

This time, we were looking for very specific things: nice big kitchen, double attached garage, sizeable yard, three bedrooms on the same level, more than one bathroom, etc. I think the thing I notice first about homes I'm looking at is how clean they are. I can't believe that people put their houses on the market and then leave them dirty. It must drive real estate agents crazy!

5. Do you settle in easily, or does it take time for you to find your feet in a new location?

I think the presence of some key things help me settle in quickly. Our bed, our coffee pot, our cats... that should be enough!

The bonus for today; a new opportunity has come up for you to spend 5 years in a new area, where would you go and why?

Oh my goodness, I'm just now getting my head around the new area that I will actually be moving to in a months' time!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Update and a Letter

So we have put an offer on an absolutely beautiful house in a suburb just to the east of Prairie City. Our offer has been accepted, and we are now working on getting our finances set up, and our inspection done, and then the house will be ours! The new house is very different from the Wee House, but it is absolutely gorgeous and we are very excited to get the sale finalized and to move in. I'll post some pictures as soon as I can.

And now for the letter:

Dear Persons who left their ugly-ass couch in our back yard,

That was SO kind of you! Thank you so much for leaving the ugly couch, and all the crap you piled on top of it, in our yard for us to take care of. We are sooooo grateful. And we totally understand how hard it must have been for you, after you had already loaded the couch and the crap into your truck, to drive the extra THREE BLOCKS to the Eco-station to drop them off there. No, no, that would have been IMPOSSIBLE. We are entirely understanding that our backyard was the most logical choice, and we look forward to paying the junk removal guy $80 to get rid of it for us. Because really, we have nothing better to do with our time or our money.

Forever yours,

WH and Chorus.

PS You're a jackass.

Friday, May 29, 2009

We did it!

We sold the house!

We held an open house last Sunday afternoon and a woman and her daughters came to view the property. Very shortly after the open house closed, she made an offer. We countered, and she accepted the counter. We have been waiting this week for her husband to come and see the property and to get the inspection done, both of which took place successfully this morning.

Great relief, all around.

They will take possession of the house in the middle of July, so WH and I have to hit the ground running to find the new place. Tomorrow will be the marathon house viewing day, and then WH is away for a week for an examining stint.

It's a good day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quick Update

Still here, very busy, offer pending on the house...

How are y'all?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Five Reasons

Why So You Think You Can Dance is a better show than American Idol

1) Quality of Contestants: I remain convinced that there are more better dancers out there than there are singers. SYTYCD and it's sister show, SYTYCD Canada, have demonstrated simply astonishing depth.

Which leads neatly into #2...

2) We get to see that depth. I get irritated by American Idol's tendency to show nothing but hideous auditions and to skim over tiny snippets of the good ones. While we're certainly not spared the awful on SYTYCD, it always feels to me like more time is spent showing really wonderful auditions.

3) Variety. I don't believe that American Idol is particularly interested in diversity of style, despite "theme" weeks. After all, contestants are asked to take specific kinds of music and "make them their own." On the other hand, SYTYCD requires that successful competitors be strong in a variety of kinds of dance from hip-hop to ballroom to contemporary to Bollywood. This makes for more interestingly diverse television, greater growth for the contestants, and a strong sense that the competition is immensely difficult. The addition of new styles each season shows that SYTYCD producers are invested in the show growing alongside dance culture.

4) Judges. The American Idol judges reached a new level of both annoying and useless this season. Fourth judge Kara added absolutely nothing to the show except a ridiculous tendency to cause the show to run long. Feedback was often contradictory, obtuse, confusing and manipulative. While the SYTYCD judges certainly do not lack personality quirks, they are consistently more accurate, more detailed, more profound and more constructive. The addition of a new guest judge from a different dance background each week reflects the show's emphasis on diversity. And yes, Mary is weird and possibly drunk and she dresses funny. But she knows her stuff and it shows.

5) And finally... Cat Deeley. Genuine, funny, loving, exciting, both gorgeous and adorable, slightly geeky, gentle, involved and never, ever condescending. Best. Host. Ever.

Bonus Reason: Group numbers that are actually good.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Five: Vacations!

From Mary Beth at the Revgals!

1) What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? Or did you have stay-cations at home?

My strongest memory of vacations as a child are a number of driving trips that were taken across Canada to visit family in Ontario. It's a tradition that I sincerely hope to pass on to my own children. We live in such a beautiful country, and you never really get a chance to see it the way you do from the long highway.

2) Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:

I have two. To celebrate our first anniversary, WH and I travelled to San Francisco and Sonoma. In Sonoma, we took a four day walking and wine-tasting tour of the valley. It was fantastic!

In 2005, my mother and eldest brother spent a few weeks in Italy. EB is an archaeologist with specialization in ancient Rome, so we had a built-in guide and historian on the trip. Italy is amazing. I have never eaten so much good pasta, pizza and ice cream in my life.

3) What do you do for a one-day or afternoon getaway...is there a place nearby that you escape to on a Saturday afternoon/other day off?

If we're looking for a one-day getaway, we're most likely to find a golf course and play 18 holes. I think we're developing a real love of hiking though, so the future will see us doing more of that!!

4) What's your best recommendation for a full-on vacation near you...what would you suggest to someone coming to your area? (Near - may be defined any way you wish!)

I think that if you're coming to Prairie Province, you can't not go to the Rocky Mountains. Skiing in the winter, camping and hiking in the summer, incredible breath-taking views all year around.

5) What's your DREAM VACATION?

I really hope to do more wine-touring in my life, similar to what we did in California. I would love to tour some wineries in South America and Australia, to say nothing of Europe. I think it would be fantastic to pair some of that touring with opportunities to see some great concerts in famous places.

And of course, there is my dream Baseball Tour...

So many vacations, so little time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meet 'n' Greet

The RevGals are interviewing!

1. Where do you blog?

Well, right here at I am Chorus for day to day living, and at Observed by Watching for sports-related musing!

2. What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?

Oh, so very many to choose from. Too many to list!

3. What gives you joy?

WH, good food, good wine, baseball, choral music.

4. What is your favorite sound?

Baby Cat has never lost her little kitten mew even though she is now almost three years old. It sort of sounds like she's talking to herself. Adorable and hilarious.

5. What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?

The wonderful sound of an old hammond organ revving up Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

6. You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.

7. Write the first sentence of your own great American Canadian novel.

The smell of peanuts and beer overwhelmed her in the most comforting of ways.

8. What color do you prefer your pen?

I'm partial to my orange pen.

9. What magazines do you subscribe too?

Tidings (a wine magazine) and Choral Journal

10. What is something you want to achieve in this decade?

But this decade is so close to over! I'll say sell our house, which we're hoping to do very soon!

11. Why are you cool?

Because despite a childhood in which my classmates routinely told me how un-cool I was, I still came out a pretty confident and happy person.

12. What is one of your favorite memories?

Not that I'm biased, but I think that my wedding day was pretty amazing, and I'll remember it fondly forever.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

On American Idol

In honor of the final week in this season's American Idol run, and my delight in America's selection of Kris and Adam (go Glambert!) as the finalists, I had to post a link to one of my favourite videos.

To set the stage, this video was taken during the final results night last season. David Cook and David Archuleta were the finalists. The former, a hard-edged rocker whose performance of Michael Jackson's Billy-Jean may go down as one of the greatest in Idol history, and the latter a doe-eyed cutie-pie whose baby-face made him look all of 14 years old.

The girls in the video are David Archuleta fans. Watch and Enjoy.

_________________

On another Idol-related note, I just wanted to reinforce that I think that Adam Lambert is the most exciting contestant to come out of the show ever and he is the sole reason I've kept watching this long. Usually, the performance shows bore me and I tune out. Not this season! I have faithfully PVR-d every episode in order to see what the glam rocker was going to do next. I have loved him ever since he made Randy Travis uncomfortable during country music week.

Both vocally and in entertainment value, he is in a league of his own, drawing comparisons to the likes of Steven Tyler, Axel Rose, Mick Jagger and the formerly incomparable Freddie Mercury.

He's gonna be a star, that one.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh CNN...

From CNN, my comments in blue.

(CNN) -- British model and television personality Katie Price, also known as Jordan, and her singer husband, Peter Andre, are to separate, according to a statement released Monday.

Quite honestly, I have never heard of either of these people. I stumbled on this article by accident, and found enough bizarre things in it to want to share.

Peter Andre and Katie Price, who ran the London Marathon last month, are separating.

Question: Does the fact that Katie Price ran the London Marathon last month have anything to do with the separation? I mean, if the sentence read, "Peter and Katie, who cheats on her husband regularly, are separating," I would understand the subordinate clause, but otherwise...

The couple have been married for four-and-a-half years and found romance on the reality show "I'm A Celebrity... Get me Out of Here!, " which was filmed in the Australian jungle.

I'm sorry, they met where? I don't even know what to say. Read that sentence aloud to yourself and try not to laugh at the Australian jungle part. I dare you.

The statement said: "Peter Andre and Katie Price are separating after four-and-a-half years of marriage," the British Press Association reported.

"They have both requested that the media respect their families' privacy at this difficult time."

Only last month the couple, whose reality TV show of their life features on British television, said they were trying for another child.

Ok, I'm sorry, but these people have been on both a Survivor-esque reality show AND a reality show about their lives, and NOW THEY'RE ASKING THE MEDIA TO "RESPECT" THEIR PRIVACY?? Good luck with that.

They have two children together, son Junior, three, and one-year-old daughter Princess TiƔamii.

I'm not sure what's weirder: their daughter's name, or the fact that her brother is simply named "Junior."

Price has a six-year-old son Harvey, by footballer Dwight Yorke, who is disabled.

Who's disabled, Harvey or Dwight Yorke?

And, "These are my children, Harvey, Junior and Princess Tiaamii?

Price first made her name as an English page 3 girl, but has since gone on to become a television star, author and clothes designer. She also competes in show jumping events and has her own stable of horses.

So we have: Model, Television Personality, Marathon Runner, English page 3 girl (I don't know what this is), Television STAR, Author, Clothes Designer, Show Jumper and Stable Owner. Naturally.

Andre, an Australian, came to prominence in 1996 with his international hit "Mysterious Girl."

If this was, indeed, an "international hit," it skipped Canada.

Monday, Monday

Friday, May 8, 2009

Updates, various...

  • I left my entire shoulder bag at home this morning. No wallet, no iPod, no phone, no nothing. I left the house with my lunch and my coffee. At least I have my priorities straight.
  • It's Friday, and that's nice. The sun is shining, which is also nice.
  • The house is listed and we are spreading the word. It's a lovely little house and I hope we find someone who loves her as much as we do soon.
  • Looking for a new house is much more fun than trying to sell the old house.
  • Singing with the local orchestra this weekend in a performance of Holst's Planets. The choral part consists of 16 bars of "aahing" from backstage in the final movement ("Neptune"). The orchestra is performing the work while projecting NASA images of the planets on a huge screen over the musicans. I found that my response to the images was actually pretty emotional, and I'm not sure why. Neat stuff.
And that's about it from here...

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Weekend

... was long, and trying.
  • WH and I are embroiled in a highly aggravating situation with our accountant over our taxes. High aggravating, and also highly expensive. Sparing you all the details, this situation is the source of significant worry and tension, and has some fairly major financial implications both now and in the year to come.
  • We were this close (you'll have to imagine me holding up my thumb and forefinger about half an inch apart) to getting a pre-list offer on our house this weekend, an offer that would have allowed us to save the commission for our real estate agent. But they phoned yesterday and backed out. They did so for entirely legitimate and understandable reasons, but still, it was disappointing.
Those are the majors and they, coupled with a few other little things, made for a difficult weekend. My reaction to these kinds of things is a strong desire to eat my body weight in jelly beans, which probably isn't helpful.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Warning! Possible TMI ahead...

There are references in this blog post to feminine hygiene. The post is not ABOUT feminine hygiene though... it's really just a funny story about my cat.

Baby cat likes to play with tampons. So much so, in fact, that she will retrieve them from inside the box in the bathroom cupboard or from my bag or from my purse and then take them away downstairs and wrestle with them. One time, after a trip, I left my suitcase open in the basement while I unpacked and for WEEKS afterwards I found tampons all over the house displaying signs of having been beaten into submission by the cat.

There is nothing funnier in the whole world than the sight of Baby Cat running through the living room with a tampon in her mouth.

The problem is that we don't always know that she's done it.

A mere 15 minutes before people stopped by on Wednesday night to look at the house, I found a mangled tampon on the floor on the basement. Baby Cat was close by, looking innocent.

Fantastic.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stand By Me

A video to feed your soul today!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

She's Ready!

The Wee House is ready to sell.

We have cleaned and painted and patched and tidied and arranged until we could do no more; she's ready to sell.

She'll be formally listed by the end of the week; in the meantime, we are letting friends and acquaintances know and are having a little pre-listing open house tomorrow night for anybody who wants to stop by.

She's a beautiful, wonderful little house and I hope that somebody else sees that too!

Monday, April 27, 2009

You bet I did.

Given the choice this morning between vegetables, fruit, sandwiches and cake left over from a retirement part on Friday afternoon, I had cake. And not just any cake, but the corner piece with all the icing. At 9:30 in the morning.

And I'd do it again.

Because I like cake.

So THERE.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Our Trip to the Eye Doctor

WH and I make our eye exam appointments on the same day each time we go. We have to same optometrist, so it just makes sense to go together. The first time we went together was also the first time that either of us had been in for an examination in a very long time. We both came out of those appointments with our 20/20 vision affirmed and joking about "passing" our eye tests with flying colours. I think we even went out to dinner that night to celebrate.

Last night was Eye Appointment Night, 2009. WH passed with flying colours again. Chorus? Not so much.

At my appointment a couple of years ago, while there were no problems with my vision, the doctor remarked that I had a weird little cataract thing in my left eye that would have to be removed when I was little old lady. He framed it at the time as more of an interesting thing than something to be concerned about. I haven't given it much thought since because, hey, 20/20 right?! My eyes are awesome!

Sigh. The cataract has gotten much, much worse in the last two years and the vision in my left eye has gone from 20/20 two years ago to 20/40 today. The funny thing is that I haven't noticed any problems with my eyesight. But there was no doubt when he asked me to read the littlest line of print with my left eye, that I couldn't do it. In fact, I couldn't read the second littlest either. Or the third. The first one I could read was the second biggest one, and it was still blurry.

"Hm," he said.

So here are the two sides of the decision of what to do about it. On the one hand, if we do nothing, I'm a happy camper with a cataract who feels like she can see just fine and has, to this point, not been bothered by said cataract. On the other, if I have cataract surgery, my left eye will be as good as my right eye for all things except reading, for which I would need glasses.

We're going with the first scenario until I start to be bothered by the eye. It makes me wonder if it's not so much that I haven't been bothered by the problem as it is that I have just been confident in my "perfect" eyes that I haven't noticed the problem. So I'll keep an eye on it, as it were, for the next little while and see if, now that I'm aware of the problem, it starts to bother me.

It is somewhat surreal to be considering cataract surgery at the ripe old age of 29.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

About the Silliness

I sing about random things. Brushing my teeth, cooking dinner, getting dressed, how ridiculous the cats are, etc.

I'm not entirely sure why, but I suspect it's for attention. Or more specifically, if I do sing long enough about something silly enough, I can make my husband laugh, one of my favourite activities.

After breakfast this morning, I was in the bathroom singing the I Have Good Hair Today song (I have good hair today because I used the straight-iron that my husband gave me for Christmas... oooh yeah... and I fixed my weird flippy thing in the back... woo woo yeah... I have good hair today).

WH was sitting in the living room with a bemused expression on his face.

Chorus: Do you ever wonder to yourself what the hell kind of crazy person you married?
WH: Nope.

Lucky for me!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Review

Oy, what a weekend.

Saturday morning, we headed to Giant Do-It-Yourself Store and bought the tile and accessories for our kitchen backsplash, which was the last part of the kitchen reno project from last year that we had to finish. Once we got all that home, WH headed downtown to play a wedding and I went to the fabric store to find something suitable to reupholster the ends of our couches, where the cats have done some fairly impressive damage. In the meantime, our bathroom contractor arrived to fix the two windows he broke on our front porch. By the time WH got home from the wedding, I had one end of the love seat done and looking really good! By the same time, the contractor had decided that he couldn't fix the windows afterall and had gone away again. I finished the love seat and the couch while WH started tiling. He managed to get all the non-cut tile up before we headed to a Chamber Choir Executive meeting to discuss the budget for next year. Somewhere in that afternoon the cats got out of the house (twice) and needed to be retrieved. We had a somewhat panicked 10 minutes of not being able to find Baby Cat, but she appeared out of the back alley eventually. So that was Saturday.

Sunday morning, WH leapt out of bed at an early hour and went back to Giant Do-It-Yourself-Store to rent a wet tile saw and get the rest of the tile up. (No Church Choir this week.) I got up eventually, sorted the laundry and put the first load in the washer. A few minutes later I came downstairs and discovered that the floor drain, into which the washing machine drains, was backed up and that our basement floor was very, very wet. We borrowed MB's plumbing snake, but it didn't take us very long to figure out that we were dealing with a pretty major problem. Phoned emergency plumbing place, emergency plumber arrived and needed something ridiculous like NINETY FEET of snake to find the problem. Drum roll please.... TREE ROOTS! Not quite the news a person hopes for a week before putting a house on the market. Anyway, he got the immediate problem solved; we gave him $500 for his trouble. Sigh. But the tiling got done and looks fantastic!

Then we headed to the church for a rehearsal, and concert (unrelated to the rehearsal) and our annual St. Arnold's Beer Tasting event. While WH rehearsed, I helped get the food and set-up for the beer tasting ready. Then we decided not to go up for the concert afterall, and took advantage of the time we had before the tasting to get a bunch of the set-up done for this week's church rummage sale. You see, the rummage committee was all a-flutter that we had planned a concert and the tasting on the same afternoon as their traditional set-up, so we promised to do all the set-up. We await reports this morning of all the things we have set-up incorrectly.

Anyhoo, beer tasting was a great success... lots of food, plenty of beer, and a really wonderful turn-out. Our theme this time was comparing local beers with European imports, and then pairing the beer with local food. The comparisons led to some great conversations!! Once the event was over, we tackled the massive clean-up while the rummage sale set-up was completed. WH and I went out for dinner because we were, by this point, too exhausted to think about cooking. Came home, decided we were still too tired to think about any of the items on our house to-do list, and went to bed pretty quickly.

I slept well, which was good.

How was your weekend?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Five: Household Applicances

Sally at the Revgals is in an domestic state of mind this morning, and asks us the following about our home appliances:

1. What is the one appliance you simply couldn't be without?

Coffee Maker Coffee Maker Coffeemakercoffeemakercoffeemakercoffeemakercoffeemaker. In a word (or two), our coffee maker. We recently had to replace the fancy one we got at our wedding but the new one works just fine. And we've started grinding our own beans too, which is fun. We both have a growing appreciation for fine coffee!

2. What if anything would you happily give up?

You know, I can't think of anything because where there are things that I would happily give up, I tend to give them up. It took me a little while to get used to the idea that we should have a meat slicer, but now that we have it and have used it a couple of times to turn roast beef or ham into good sandwich meat, I can see the value.

3. What is the most strangest household appliance you own?

Our strangest household applicance might be our popcorn maker, which isn't really an appliance at all, I guess. It's one of those stove-top poppers with the crank that you turn, and it makes the best popcorn in the whole wide world. No microwave popcorn at our house!
We also have an ugly ice-crusher that we never, ever use, but still keep because it's a tie to a dream we have to build a functioning bar in our basement someday.

4. What is the most luxurious household appliance you own?

We have a creme brulee torch. This is because creme brulee and I are a match made in heaven, so we thought we should have the wherewithall to make it ourselves.

5. Tell us about your dream kitchen- the sky is the limit here....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stop the Madness!

It used to be that when nefarious and infamous people were looking for a way to make the celebrity last a bit longer or to make a few extra bucks, they would "write" a book. Meaning, they would sit down with some author or another and spill their guts or give the inside story or rat out their teammates or whatever, and the NY Times Best Sellers List would eat it up, etc. etc.

See Canseco, Jose, for a perfect example.

But now apparently, these same kinds of people have found a new and much lazier way to stretch the fifteen minutes. Reality Television.

Vick, Michael
Suleman, Nadya
Blagoyevich, Rod

WHY DO WE LET THEM DO THIS? In no way will any of these television shows improve our cultural landscape, inspire intellectual discourse, amuse us, or provide any kind of redeemable entertainment value. They are annoying, self-aggrandizing, self-pitying(to say nothing of BORING) tripe.

If Michael Vick wants to redeem himself in the public eye, then fine. But I'd have a much easier time believing the genuineness of that desire if there wasn't a fast buck to be made in the process.

Just... GO AWAY, all of you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday

I have been a neglectful blogging friend this week, in terms of both my own posting and commenting on others. Now that Holy Week is over, I'll hopefully have more time.

Speaking of HW, the music was glorious, the services were poignant and meaningful and there was good will and community in evidence at every turn within the church choir. Easter feeds my musical soul.

We stayed in bed this morning until almost noon, watching useless TV and chatting about things we need to do this week and teasing the cats and eating nice breakfast and drinking good coffee. Then we were off to the local Do-It-Yourself-Store to pick up some tile samples for the kitchen and some paint for our afternoon project of getting all the paint-touch ups in the house complete. And we managed to do it!

We did have some excitement today when Mama Cat sauntered through the paint tray and then left about two-dozen paw-shaped paint spots all over the hardwood floor. Fortunately, we were able to get our hands on her and get her belly and paws scrubbed (which she was remarkably amenable to). Doubly fortunate, all the spots on the floor were fresh enough to come up with a cloth. Triply fortunate, she didn't jump up on the bed while she was on her little paint-covered journey. Currently, she is asleep on WH, with paint still visible on her whiskers. I think she's tuckered out from her adventure.

We're off to rehearsal with Chamber Choir in about an hour, so taking advantage of the meantime to watch a little Jays action.

And spring has sprung in Prairie Town!
Tuesday Morning Update: It is snowing and blowing and generally ugly. Stupid Prairie City.

Monday, April 6, 2009

In which Chorus...

... probably overreacts, but feels good that she got her own way over something stupid and petty.

So the local Gigantic Chain Grocery Store has a deal of sorts involving their cloth re-usable bags, of which WH and I are the proud owner of seven. If you use the bags, and use your Gigantic Chain Grocery Store debit or credit card, you collect extra points towards discounts on future grocery orders. I think it would probably take a person 100 years of grocery shopping with the cloth bags to actually make up any meaningful discount... but that's beside the point.

I went grocery shopping on Saturday morning with my seven cloth bags. I bought roughly $200 worth of groceries. I took them to the checkout, where the cashier asked me if I needed plastic bags (for which they charge 2c a piece). I said that no, I didn't need plastic bags because I had seven of the cloth bags, and that I would be using my store debit card (so she would know to apply the points.)

She didn't apply them and gave me what I realize now was a dirty look.

She rang through all the groceries and told me the total. I asked, politely, if the points for my bags had been applied.

Cashier: "Well... how many do you have?"
Chorus: "Seven."
Cashier: "Well... are you going to be using ALL of them?"
Chorus: (whose smile was starting to be a bit forced) Yes, I am.

With perhaps more force than was necessary, she punched in the code for the bags.

I bagged everything up and was pushing my cart away when, and I kid you not, SHE STOPPED HELPING THE CUSTOMER BEHIND ME TO COUNT THE BAGS IN MY CART.

With full understanding that it's a stupid petty thing, it still gets under my skin. If stores want to create incentives for their customers, they shouldn't make their customers feel guilty about taking advantage of them.

This concludes a Monday Morning Rant.

In other news, Palm Sunday was GLORIOUS!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Things I'm learning...

... about myself as I grow older, and hopefully a little bit wiser each day.
  • The fact that I didn't ask for the advice doesn't mean I shouldn't take it.
  • The term "mind your own business" takes on a whole new depth of meaning in adulthood. I have found few things more exhausting than trying to compare myself to other people.
  • In many inescapable ways, I am who my parents are. But in other ways, I am definitely not. And you know, both are ok.
  • I think that humans are very instinctive creatures and that we know a lot about what's best for ourselves instinctively. But I also think that we can be remarkable close-minded to the concept that our instincts might be wrong. And that if we spend a lot of time getting defensive over what has been a largely instinctive decision, it might be worthwhile giving the decision a second look.
  • It's not enough to make a decision based on careful weighing of pros and cons. I have to have given some thought to how to deal with the cons, which don't go away just because I made the decision.
  • The people who love me will continue to love me even if I change my mind about something that I was formerly adamant about.
  • There is really nothing wrong with not knowing what to do and asking somebody else who does.
I thought if I wrote these all down in my blog, it would help me remember them. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Free Voice Lesson

I keep going back and forth on whether or not this is a joke. Either way, it's funny.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trader Tuesday: Blue Menu

In Canada, we have a Big Chain Grocery Store where WH and I do most of our big-order grocery shopping. BCGS sells a line of healthy food called President's Choice Blue Menu, and I wanted to take the opportunity today to share some of our favourite items off of it.

1) Butter Chicken: The product line includes a frozen meal and a jar of the sauce in order that you can make your own meal with the same flavours at home. This is a particular favourite of WH, and is far more interesting than the standard frozen lunch.
2. Much like #1 above, the Indian Korma comes in a frozen meal or in a jar of sauce. The only downside of the sauce is that it is dairy-based, so once you've opened the jar, you have to use it all within just a few days. We make big batches of chicken for a week's lunches with this.

3. This apple-berry crumble is amazing. Individual portions that you heat up in the microwave for a couple of minutes make for a really lovely and easy dessert. We have topped this with a scoop of berry sherbet for extra yumminess.

4. Chocolate Ice Cream! How can you go wrong?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Well, pretty close, anyway.

On Saturday night, WH and I attended an auction and dinner concert for one of the Colourful University choirs. We were attending as guests of the artistic director, in exchange for promising that we would bid on items and help the choir raise some money! And we did! We went home with $100 in gift certificates from a local pub and a really nice basket of gourmet coffee.

But the real excitement came during the live auction. One of the items up for bid was a chance to conduct the choir in concert during their season next year. I have always wanted to do this. So I started bidding. Eventually, it came down to me and another lady pushing the bids up $5 at a time. The drama and tension were high. And I won!! Actually, eventually we called it a tie, and will both get the chance to conduct next year!! I am very excited!!

And then on Sunday, I woke up to find that for the first time since November, I AM NOT IN LAST PLACE IN THE HOCKEY POOL! Given that at one point, I was 45 points behind the second last person, this is indicative of a pretty amazing comeback!

How was YOUR weekend?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Things that make me happy

From www.time.com

(WASHINGTON) — NASA's online contest to name a new room at the international space station went awry. Comedian Stephen Colbert won.

The name "Colbert" beat out NASA's four suggested options in the space agency's effort to have the public help name the addition. The new room will be launched later this year.

NASA's mistake was allowing write-ins. Colbert urged viewers of his Comedy Central show, "The Colbert Report" to write in his name. And they complied, with 230,539 votes. That clobbered Serenity, one of the NASA choices, by more than 40,000 votes. Nearly 1.2 million votes were cast by the time the contest ended Friday.

NASA reserves the right to choose an appropriate name. Agency spokesman John Yembrick said NASA will decide in April, but will give top vote-getters "the most consideration."

I, for one, am hopeful that NASA sees the genuine funniness of the situation, and names the new room as the public has requested. Wonderful.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Book Review

In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore.

This is a very interesting book.

I assumed, on picking it up, that the book was going to be a fairly standard description of all the reasons why it's important to slow down and not worry so much about how quickly things are moving around us, that it would be a 200-pages of lecture on why the way that we live and the world that we've created are bad for our health.

But it's not that. The book doesn't ask the reader to make any unreasonably dramatic shifts in behaviour or attitude; the book simply asks that we think about the things that we do, and embrace opportunities, where they exist, to enjoy those things more completely. And then the book provides examples of the ways that other people and communities have put those thoughts into action, covering such topics as food, work, sex, health and exercise. And it's pretty hard to argue with the underlying theme of the book, which is that if we do a few things just a little bit slower, we might live longer and be happier. Hard to find fault with that, eh?

The book is not an overly technical or difficult read, and in fact, there is real joy in reading Honore's descriptive passages, especially those about Italian food. (DROOOL)

It's been kind of a tough month around here... WH and I have been going full steam with choral commitments for both Orchestral Choir and Chamber Choir this month, and we've had our bathroom renovation, and WH has been travelling, and we have the attempted sale of our house looming, winter won't seem to go away... it's just been very busy and we're both very tired. We suggested to each other that it might be time to find some activity that doesn't have anything to do with anything that we can just enjoy together in relative peace. I think the understanding that we have a choice in that, that we can choose to shut out the craziness around us and take time for ourselves, while a tough lesson, is the strongest message I took from Honore's book.

Wishing for you all some slow moments!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Five: Hopeful Signs

111213My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Today's Friday Five from the Songbird at the Revgals asks us to list five signs of hope, on this first day of spring.

1.Little tiny brown birds (my favourite kind) popping up once again in the branches of the hedge outside our dining room window. We have been a little bit lax in keeping the feeder filled through the winter for the chickadees, but it's definitely time to fill 'er up for the new arrivals.

2. The introduction of music for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter into folders for Church Choir. This means, among other things, "The Lamentations of Jeremiah," Allegri's "Miserere," Mozart's "De Profundis," and the Hallelujah Chorus! AND, new rehearsal processes for Chamber Choir and Orchestral Choir for May concerts!

3. My summer vacation got approved this week... three weeks away in July for a road trip to National Capital City with my husband.

4. Snow melting off the top of the barbecue, which means that soon, RIBS!

5. A great game by Prairie City hockey team last night, badly needed in a very tight playoff race!