Friday, September 29, 2006


Before I travel, I always prepare a sheet of address labels with all my friends and family's addresses. This helps a lot when it comes time to mail postcards. Some people think I'm horribly organised this way, but for me it's really just because I'm too damn lazy to write any more than I absolutely have to, it also means I don't have to keep an address book with me (and God knows I cart enough other crap around with me most of the time anyway).

So last week in Banff, I bought some postcards, wrote the cards, put the labels on, even managed to have a few stamps with me to mail most of them. But then I realised that of the 3 I was going to send to England, only 1 had a stamp. So I didn't send it from Calgary but brought those 3 home and on Monday went down to the post office to buy stamps for the other two (being that the three cards were going to the same address I thought it best to send them all at the same time). It was when the woman behind the counter gave me the stamps that I noticed the postcard that did have a stamp on it was 4 cents short. What does this mean, I asked myself. Does it mean that the other cards I sent were all short on postage? No, because some of them were cards with pre-paid postage - OK, phew! But what about the cards that weren't? And what about the other cards that I had sent to Europe? How many did I send? Are they all missing postage too? Oh brother ... yes, I think they are.

I guess what this means is that some of you will get a postcard from me and others won't. Unless Canada Post takes pity on me and they do let all postcards go out. Sorry, folks - looks like I became one of those people I used to complain about when I worked in the hotel industry, the kind of person that leaves their brain at home when they go on vacation.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Vicks does the trick

Caution - this could get gross.

My head feels about 100 times lighter today than it has in quite a few days.

Managed to see a doctor yesterday morning to find out that yes, I do have laryngitis (surprise, surprise), and I am contagious so I shouldn't be kissing anybody (not like there's a line up people waiting to kiss me). Anyway, bought some Vicks on my way home last night and did a little steam bath kinda thing with that. It helped much more than I thought it would. Hoo wheee!!! NEVER in my life have I seen so much mucus (I'll refrain from telling you the consistency and colour) come out of my nose and throat. Makes me gag a little just thinking about it now. Added to that 6 1/2 hours straight of sleep, it sure helped to make a difference.

Now if I could just get my voice back to normal and not sound like some 80s one-hit wonder rock star (Kim Carnes, Bonnie Tyler) ...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Banff & Calgary

So last week I left off just before meeting up with Dan (Super C works with his mom, hence the rather vague connection). Dan and I had a couple of drinks at a local pub and discussed plans for the next day. (Something I forgot to mention though was that during my hiking excursion last Wednesday; I heard two avalanches! One was quite small and far off. The other was not. It was loud - like a train rumbling by right behind you, even though the avalanche was taking place across the valley. Wild and exciting!)

Thursday morning wasn't much sunnier than the previous couple of days and rain was in the forecast. Dan picked me up and we drove about 10 minutes to the bottom of Sulphur Mountain. From there we started the 5.5km hike to the top. It was dry at the bottom and easy going with a steady incline. Perhaps about halfway up we stopped for a water break at a delightful little waterfall (very cold water!). It gave an incredible view across the valley. On our way again, the path soon became harder to manage with more rocks and roots to deal with. And then we hit the snow line. And then it started to snow. And it snowed all the way up to the top by which time we both looked like abominable snowmen (or woman as in my case). But really - WOW! It was such a great hike and despite a little huffing and puffing by the end, I think I did OK. After drying off and changing out of sweaty and wet clothes, spent some time on the observation deck where the view was clearing and the snow had stopped. The view was phenomenal. If the weather had only been a little better I would've like to continue the trail over to the other peak, just over 1km away. Took a bunch of pictures up there and then jumped in the cable car for the way down. From there Dan took me over to Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, and also to see some Hoodoos. The only wild animals we saw that day were mountain sheep. Right by the side of the road - if we'd been 2 minutes later we wouldn't have seen a thing. Dan dropped me off in Banff mid-afternoon and headed out of town for some R&R of his own. Thanks so much Dan for the time and energy spent entertaining this Mountain Goddess, I had a great day.

Later that afternoon I took the bus into Calgary and met up with my friend Pam. I stayed at her lovely condo in Inglewood for two nights. Friday I went up the Calgary Tower, had lunch with some friends, did a bit of window shopping along Stephen Ave., and visited the Glenbow Museum. For my last night of vacation Pam got a couple of friends together and we all went out for drinks. That was fun (with plenty of giggling from me and Pam!). The night ended in a pretty district that reminded me very much of Sherbrooke Street in Westmount/NDG - too bad I can't remember what it's called, where we had coffee and cake. Saturday morning Pam took me out to take a few last minute pictures and then I was on the plane. Safe flight home, slept the better part of the way and arrived on time.

And now it's all over ... but good news - my pictures up on flickr! Go have a look.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sad news from Panama

Got an email while I was away last week telling me that Elizabeth died about a week ago in Panama. She had returned to the hospital for just a couple of days. Marlene, the director of the orphanage, visited her there but she was unconscious the whole time. For the past couple of months she has been living with her sister after her latest bone marrow transplants.

She was a courageous young woman who endured far too much abuse, abandonment and illness in her short 19 years.

I am sure she is in a better place now.

We will miss her beautiful smile and warm hugs when we visit the other girls in February 2007.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Update soon

Home again after a great holiday in Banff and Calgary. I'm sick as a dog with a horrible cold but it was worth every minute.

I promise to update you on the trip and my pictures will be up on flickr soon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

No, I haven't seen any lion, tigers or bears yet but apparently the bear thing might not be too far fetched.

Arrived in Banff last Friday. Conference was super. Worked like a dog and saw nothing outside my hotel room and several conference rooms but it was a fantastic experience. Yesterday, after we finished up, I spent the afternoon in the Spa pool, then went for a hot stone massage, had some of the freshest sushi ever at Sushi House Banff, and then slept like the dead. Today I went on a guided hike to The Plain of Six Glaciers (approx. 13km). The weather wasn't terribly sunny or warm, but it was a beautiful hike nonetheless and I had a great time. On the way to pick up the other hiker we saw 3 deer (momma and two babies), then on the hike we saw pika (small larger than a hamster, smaller than a guinea pig but in the bunny family), mice (which I very nearly stepped on and managed to shriek at briefly), whiskey jacks (local name), some kind of navy blue bird, mountain goats and elk. At the top of trail we had some serious snow coming down. Yeah, so there I was, me who still has issues with cold weather and snow, grinning from ear to ear (pictures to follow) at the awesome sight of the glaciers, the valley - everything. From the top of the trail you could basically see all the way down to Chateau Lake Louise. I have to tell you, it looked a lot farther away than 13km. It was a great hike.

Tomorrow's plans are still up in the air. I will be meeting with someone in a little while who will do some kind of hike with me tomorrow. After that I'll be busing (is that 1 or 2 's'?) into Calgary to stay two nights there before flying back on Saturday.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Montreal came to headlines of the news yesterday after a gunman opened fire at Dawson College. My first thought - where is Anna? My longtime friend Anna (the one who got married in June) is an English teacher there. Luckily, I was able to reach her by phone instantly. She had just gotten home with Jamie. She was safe. The feelings of panic and anxiety that I just experienced dissipated instantly on hearing her voice.

This morning's Gazoo is of course filled with stories about the shooting - not a good way to start the day. After reading the first few pages of the paper, I had to stop reading. It's too much for me. I feel sick with ... I don't know what to call it - a horrible, awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I have no explanation for other than yesterday's events.

On a lighter note, tomorrow I'll be on my way to Banff, Alberta for a week. The first couple of days will be work, work, work but after that I'll have a few days to indulge in some sight seeing, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. Hopefully I'll be able to post a couple of times while I'm away.

Be safe everyone.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New pictures are up!

OK - after much downloading, sorting, cropping, fixing and stuff, the pictures from my stay in Windsor are up!

Here are the new sets:
Chicken Licken
Chocolate Therapy
The Spaghetti Incident


Saturday, September 09, 2006


Here I am, Saturday night, bags pretty much packed, ready to go home first thing tomorrow morning. It's been a great week. An awesome week. I will never forget this week and probably never experience something like it again. A bittersweet thought.

Today was a bit of a tough one for both Darcy and myself. This morning she didn't want to eat breakfast, get dressed or go to the park. Oddly, at one point we had been playing in the basement and I had asked her to do something a couple of times, when she got up and went to sit on the stairs with her arms crossed for a minute. I'm still not sure if she was giving herself or myself a time out. Lunch turned out OK. She ate some plain pasta with Parmesan. Got her to bed for her nap fine, but then she insisted on singing all about "baby Donald Duck" for a good 10 minutes. Finally she drifted off though. But then she woke up crying. It was time for her to get up anyway so there was no point ignoring her. I went to her and got her out of the crib and still she cried. I cuddled her and hugged her but she kept on crying. She basically cried non-stop for 45 minutes after waking, at times just kind of whimpering, at other times really sobbing and sometimes nearly choking from not being able to catch her breath. I was really starting to get worried. All I could do was hold her. She didn't want to eat, drink, nothing seemed to hurt her. It took about half an hour (God - what kind of idiot takes so long to figure out what was wrong?!) to notice that she kept holding her ears. I finally asked if she had an earache and of course she said yes. So then I started imagining that we'd end up spending the evening in an emergency ward somewhere getting Darcy treated for an ear infection. Luckily it didn't end up that way. Fourty-five minutes after she woke up crying, she stopped. She just suddenly pulled away from me, looked up and said "I happy now". And she was. The first game she asked to play was hide & seek. By the time Sue got home and I explained what had gone on, Darcy had forgotten all about it. In talking with Sue about this whole episode, we ended up thinking that probably her new teeth were causing the earache, might also be part of the reason that she wasn't eating too much. But really, what do I know?

Sue offered to take me out to dinner as thanks for staying the week, so we headed to Montana's. Naturally, Darcy ate nothing. Sue and I however, cleared our plates! On the way there as we passed a bright yellow car, Sue asked Darcy if she liked that car, Darcy's response (and I swear I did not make this up) "Awesome!". Sue & I burst into laughter.

After a nice drive home along the river (because it was too cold to walk outside and none of us were dressed properly) we got into some warm clothes and played a few rounds of hide & seek before calling the family in Montreal. My parents leave tomorrow for their vacation to England, Switzerland and Spain.

I'm realising now that tomorrow's train ride home is going to be long and quiet; the kind of quiet I haven't had in over a week. I have a good book, my iPod and some food but I have the feeling that I will somehow still miss having Darcy around.

Ask me how I found the week? Awesome!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Chocolate Therapy

Before I get to the good stuff, I'll just go over my day with Darcy briefly.

Again today she helped me make my bed and tidy up my stuff. This morning we read for a while, played hide & seek and watched Sesame Street before heading over to the park. It was a beautiful day and Darcy wasn't much interested in going back home for lunch. She also wasn't too impressed with the high school kids that came by the park to hang out on the slide during their lunch break. She mentioned several times "that my slide" and wouldn't listen to any reasoning about sharing the park with big kids and little kids. No how, no way.

After a nice long nap (giving me plenty of time to catch up on my emails, sweep the floors in the house and have a couple of cups of tea), I decided to take Darcy down to the river this afternoon. I had hoped that after "chasing birdies" she'd have expended enough energy that giving her some ice cream wouldn't be such a bad thing. Little did I realise that the ice cream stand would be closed in the middle of the day. Oh well. Instead I got treated to Darcy giving me the evil eye, crossing her arms and sitting down in the grass as her refusal to go home. Even after I took a few steps away, she still wasn't moving. I'm not too sure how it happened, but it seems I marched over, said "Darcy, stand up please" (in a tone that many will recall hearing in my own mother's voice) and after a brief second of hesitation, she saw that I meant business and promptly stood up. Conflict over. I plopped her down in the stroller and home we went. No tears. No screaming. Simply and effectively dealt with. By the time we got home she was in good spirits again and we enjoyed doing some more folding and colouring until Sue got home.

As promised, Sue whipped up some instant chocolate pudding for dessert. Darcy enjoyed the first few mouthfuls using her spoon. Then she realised her other hand could go in the bowl too. And that's when it all went downhill. Fast. I don't know how many pictures I took, but I have a (bad?) feeling it may be close to 100 (honestly, all joking aside approximately 100). All with good reason. You have never seen chocolate go in so many places. Darcy started off with some innocent finger painting on her tray, then licked her fingers and got a bit on her cheeks and well, then some not so innocent people got her to touch her nose, put her hands to her cheeks, pound her chest like a gorilla, cross her arms in anger and even put the now empty bowl of chocolate pudding on her head like a hat. It dawned on me as she was rubbing the pudding into her arms and chest - women pay good money for chocolate therapy wraps, baths, facials, manicures and pedicures at spas. For $1.50 you can basically get the same treatment at home. Well, by the end the only way to get Darcy clean enough to get her upstairs was to take her outside and hose her down first. After the initial shock of cold water, she seemed pretty pleased to have her mommy chase her around with the hose. Sue took her up for a bath and I cleaned up the kitchen, highchair and dining room. Pretty fair trade off, if you ask me. And totally worth it! Pictures will be up next week (and again my apologies ...).

Last day tomorrow. I'll be sure to make the most of it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Spaghetti Incident

Darcy was in good spirits this morning. After Sue left she was all keen to help me make my bed, brush my teeth and help me get my laundry done (even managing to sneek a purple sock into my white load ...). She was happy to see Elmo and friends on tv and we also managed to get a trip to the park in before lunch. When I consider what she ate yesterday, today was a vast improvement. Although she basically only ate half a banana for breakfast she did eat a couple of carrot sticks for snack and nearly a whole peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Nap time again was no problem.

Two small incidents brought her to tears though. While she was "helping" me fold my laundry, she went to sit on my suitcase, missed and banged her head on the wall behind. We had a cuddle, kisses to the bump and it was all over. Later while we were at the park she bumped her head on the baby swing (that hard plastic or leather) and that brought on more tears. I'm pretty sure that didn't hurt her much, but probably surprised her more than anything. Both times she hit her head she told me, "I go bump". Her eyes would just well up with big crocodile tears and her mouth turned upside down. If it wasn't so sad for her, I would've been laughing just because she was so cute.

This afternoon we played in the backyard for a bit and then did some crafts inside. We made a plaster of paris handprint, did some colouring and also lots of sticking and pasting. It was a fun time, chatting and being silly with Darcy. We danced in our chairs and laughed a lot too.

Things took a turn towards hysteria at dinner and later again when we went out shopping. I'll start with dinner: Sue decided to give Darcy spaghetti tonight as a sure fire way to get her to eat. It worked. It worked so well that Darcy ate two bowls of spaghetti. I have it all on camera (sorry, you'll have to wait until next week for me to download). Not only did Darcy eat but she ate with a fork in her left hand and her right hand was full of spaghetti too - she couldn't get it in her mouth fast enough. I have never seen anyone eat food like this. The sauce went everywhere. Darcy's face was covered, from her nose to her chin, up her nose (yes, really), cheek to cheek, from her fingers to her elbows, front and back of her hands. Sue's promising chocolate pudding for dessert tomorrow. I'm going to have to change the memory card in my camera for that event!

After a quick clean up, we headed over to the mall to get Darcy's fringe trimmed. That took no time at all so we had a quick look in at Old Navy. While I quickly went through the clearance racks, Sue headed over to the kids section with Darcy. I met them there a few minutes later and found Sue holding a hilarious Hallowe'en costume. It was a chicken outfit. I kid you not. A chicken. Sue got Darcy to try on the jacket part of it in the store. You have never in your life seen anything so funny as a two year-old running around a store in a big, white, puffy, furry jacket with two little orange legs flapping out the bottom and said two year-old running around the store giggling her head off. I was literally doubled over, kneeling on the floor laughing like a hyena. Sue had pretty much the same reaction and I think we may have scared a few people in the store. Sue paid for the costume (I paid for my shirt) and we headed home fast to get a few pictures in. Sue's posted her pictures here and I will have mine up next week (I know, I know!).

Only two more days with Darcy ...

Did I just say "only"?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hump Day

Today was Sue's work from home day and I saw that she has to work hard to work.

She and Darcy were heading off to the doctor's this morning so I took that opportunity to head to the gym. By the time I got back we were all ready for a late lunch and Sue suggested that she introduce me to the little tea shop near the house. That was fun. (Note to Why - you would've loved this place. Little tables set up, each set with a tea cup and saucer (none matched), "light lunch" menu and even the choice of a full English afternoon tea!) Darcy is well known there. More so that even Sue, who is simply known as Darcy's Mom. We had some nice sandwiches and a huge choice of teas. By the time we got back home it was well after 2pm and long past Darcy's regular nap time. Sue got her to bed and finally got some work done. I read for a bit and then made a lemon and pine nut cornmeal bread and a huge vat of minestrone. (Slightly burned on the bottom due to me not realising how long it really takes when you take a two year old to the loo. Should've turned the heat off.)

Supper again tonight was a problem. Sue was out though and I had to handle it on my own. Darcy really hasn't eaten much since lunchtime yesterday, so by my reasoning she should've been hungry by dinner time. Apparently not. She ate a few leaves of lettuce, maybe half a piece of the lemon cornmeal bread, one spoonful of minestrone and two handfuls of cut strawberries. All offers of different foods were met with tears and whimpering. When I finally let her down from the high-chair she seemed OK and despite a few demands (ignored by me) we had a fine time until Sue got home again. Singing the alphabet and going through the letters on the LeapFrog thing on the fridge took quite a lot of time, plus of course more playing hide & seek and more puzzle making.

It's certainly interesting to see all the moods a kid can go through in a day (and I'm sure I haven't seen them all just yet!). It's also amazing to see how quickly Darcy picks things up and remembers them too.

Have got a few craft projects in the works for tomorrow so depending on the mood swings, etc. there should be plenty to talk about by the end of the day tomorrow, positive or not so positive!

(PS - Best part is when Darcy gives me a big hug.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Made it!

Before I get to all the fun stuff that happened today, I have to admit I was just a little anxious about how everything would turn out. As it happens, today turned out great - thank goodness!

This morning Sue left for work and as Darcy was so wrapped up in playing hide and seek with me, she hardly even noticed that Sue had gone. I managed to get her to stay in front of the TV while I showered (and I even remembered to close the gate at the top of the stairs!). This accomplished I felt ready for a trip to the park. On the way we made a quick detour of a block to have a look at the truck, tractor and whatever you call that machine thing that cuts the road with the big rotating circular saw - yeah, that thing. It was pretty loud and Darcy found it lots of fun to shout at each other with our hands over our ears. At the park she proceeded to spend the better part of 45 minutes just rubbing sand into a cement seal and a cement turtle's head. A few trips down the slide, a couple of minutes on the baby swing and she was ready to go. As a special treat though, I asked if she'd like to sit on the big kids swing with me. The look on her face was priceless! Darcy does this fantastic "Ohhhh!!!" expression - her little mouth goes into a perfect circle and her eyes seem to open up even wider. So onto the big swing we went and she loved it. Must remember to thank my Dad for introducing Darcy to the shoulder ride home from the park because of course that's what she asked for as soon as we started walking home! "Up! Up, Tef!" Up she went because it's not like I could say no.

By the time we got home Sesame Street was nearly over so I gave her a snack, we read some more and learned how to do some folding (Darcy, not me). Lunch went over very well too (ham, tomatoes, salad, grilled cheese, milk, strawberries and pineapple) and then time for a nap. She went right down without any fuss at all. Felt pretty good about myself!

After nap-time we had a snack on the front porch, played soccer in the backyard and then had another (shorter) trip to the park. This time though she wasn't ready to leave and was pretty clear in letting me know. Eventually I just told her that I was leaving and I'd see her at home later. Of course, the minute I turned my back and took 3 steps she was hollering after me, "Wait! Wait! I come!"

By the time Sue got home though I had the feeling Darcy was getting a little tired of me (possible), that she hadn't had a long enough nap or that she was reacting to all the changes in her little life. It hit as soon as I put our dinner on the table. She ate a few pieces of salad well enough, but the stuffed peppers with veg and couscous were not going to be eaten by Darcy. Not now. Not ever. No how. And she pushed the plate away. And she cried. And she poured milk all over her tray. And she pointed her finger at Sue telling her that she wasn't allowed to eat her own dinner (that's when I had to step away from the table for fear of bursting into untimely laughter). And on it went. Sue insisted she have a little time out and that seemed to do the trick. Darcy never did eat the prepared dinner but we did manage to get some toast with peanut butter into her, as well as some pineapple and a couple of strawberries. Lucky for us, I guess, that she forgot all about the ice cream cone she had been demanding a little earlier.

Sue got her into the bath and to bed without any problems. Here ends day one of this babysitting adventure. Altogether it went off much better than I thought and really, I'm pretty glad the meltdown occurred while Sue was home. I just don't know how I would've dealt with that whole thing.

Monday, September 04, 2006

New Words

Spending the afternoon and evening with Darcy today has taught me a few new words in the world of Darcy.

The most difficult one for me to figure out though was "fok". If it wasn't for her mother, Sue, I'd still be trying to figure it out. Apparently "fok" is "frog". Silly me for thinking it could some other 4-letter word.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

More Shoes

Oh well, it's just shoes, right? Somehow I bought two more pairs of shoes today. And that's after the two I bought yesterday. Oh dear.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

How To's

How to keep Darcy happy in Costco:
- Feed her all the free samples

How to get Darcy down for a nap:
- Tell her you're going for one too

How to get Darcy to eat yogurt:
- Get Nick to shake an already opened container all over himself, Sue, Darcy and the floor. Oh no, sorry - that's how to make Stef and Grandmaman laugh so hard they can't breathe anymore

How to make Stef laugh until she cries for the second time in one meal:
- Have Grandmaman spell "cookies" like so: "c-o-o-k-s".

And that is just day one ...