Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And yet more

Baking, that is. Don't tell me you're surprised.

Simple stuff today. Chocolate, cranberry and pistachio bark. Double ginger cookies.

I figure three more and I should be set. In case anyone's worried, the Toblerone cookies will be one of those three.

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Baking

My cookie tins are filling up fast ...

Saturday I managed to make some pumpkin cranberry bars and some pumpkin muffins. Today I made lemon drop cookies, jam filled cookies and chocolate ice box cookies.

Just a few more to go.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Off to a good start, sorta

Made a good start on the Christmas baking yesterday (molasses spice cookies, lemon poppy seed cookies and cranberry noel cookies, as well as caramelized almonds) but felt like I needed a break today. So I didn't bake anything. Sorry.

Maybe tomorrow. Sometime between 12 and 5pm. While I wait for the Videotron technician to come by and fix my cable problem.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody.

Maybe now is a good time to start baking some cookies.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Workout

Now that dragon boat training is finished for 2008 (back again in Jan. 09) I've been hitting the gym every day again to keep my cardio up. All good!

Or it was all good ... until my usual bus didn't show. Took an alternate bus, trudged through unploughed sidewalks and streets to the metro. I got to the gym at 6:30am today only to discover that the gym was only open from 7:15am to 3:00pm (who knew there was a Christmas Eve schedule?). There I am, in 15cm of snow, in front of the gym with a change of clothes, but no towel and no make-up so I couldn't go and shower at work. Only one thing left to do. Back in the metro, managed to catch a bus when I got off the metro and made it home by 7am. Quick shower and change and still made it back to work for 8 o'clock!

Got my workout, of sorts, just not the one I was expecting. Way to teach me how read.

Monday, December 15, 2008

6am Jumper

Who jumps on the tracks before 6am?

So it's Monday. Back to the routine. Out of bed at 5:45am, on the bus at 6:03, arrive at the metro by about 6:07 only to find out there's a JUMPER on the tracks and service will be re-established by 6:15, then 6:24, then 6:33, then ... I don't know because I'd had it. Back up ALL the stairs, back onto a bus at 6:42, finally got on a machine at the gym by 7:10am. My one hour of early morning cardio and crunches turned into a brief 20 minutes of cardio and that was all I had time for.

Not the best start to my week, especially with the icy sidewalks, slushy corners and leaky boots.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What was I thinking?

Why did I take the bus home tonight? I knew it was snowing. I knew it had been snowing all day. I knew we'd had more than the predicted 5cm. I knew downtown would be a mess. But did I take the metro? Did I walk home? NO!

I took the bus and it took precisely and exactly one hour and 25 minutes to get home. Sometimes I really wonder ...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Voice

Please can I have my voice back now? Still better than last week but not all back yet. Very frustrating.

Also, this sinus rinse and nose spray stuff makes me gag and cough like I have never coughed and gagged before. Yeesh.

Wesley, you're a little bugger.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Summary

Been wondering how I survived last week? Me too.

Trip to Windsor on Thursday was uneventful. No delays, arrived just in time for dinner. Friday we got the schedule for the coming week and did a run to the bus stop to figure out how it all worked. Friday night Nick & Sue left just after putting the kids to bed. Sue was suspiciously quiet ... think she was missing them before even leaving the house. Funny though, that afternoon Darcy told Sue, "You can go now, Mom." Guess someone was ready to get the party started.

Despite all warnings that Wesley would cry every night for 20-30 minutes after putting him to bed, he only did that the first night. The rest of the week he would chat or sing to himself a little and then drift off after about 10 minutes. He did cry a little at nap time in the afternoon but that was kinda all over the place.

Saturday morning we headed to the mall. It was cold and rainy and there really wasn't much else to do. Never had I seen so much of a mall floor and so little of the shops. That's what happens when you let the 1-year old out of his stroller. Wesley managed to fall asleep in the car as we were on our way home ...

Sunday my parents took the kids to church and I fed my OCD by taking the Magic Eraser to the dishwasher (sorry, couldn't help myself). At breakfast though, I was feeding Wesley his cereal and he sneezed out the longest snot I had ever seen in my entire life. It must've been 6 inches long. It was gross. Pretty sure I gagged a little. Darcy, my Dad (aka Papa to Darcy) and I made crafts in the afternoon - paper crowns and snowflakes.

Monday I took my Dad to the airport bright and early and later took Darcy to swimming. Mom stayed home with Wesley. Darcy's a great little swimmer! She was fearless in the water. Looks like she'll be swimming laps in no time. Got her off to school without any problem. Wesley was apparently pretty cranky without Darcy around. Heh. Found Darcy a little cranky by dinner time. Heh. Realised just how much Wesley likes to climb on stuff. Stairs, boxes, chairs, sofas, anything really. Wesley kissed me for the first time, unasked no less. Just suddenly turned to me and start smooching his lips at me. No cheeks for him either. He kisses on the mouth.

Tuesday ... ummm ... think Mom's OCD started to hit her. She started cleaning the fridge. Oh yeah and then Darcy's little friend Quinn from across the street, who also takes the school bus with her, came over after school. It couldn't have been more than 10 minutes when he yelled "PEE!" I just pointed him in the direction of the stairs. A minute later he was yelling again and I realised the gate was locked. Unlocked it for him and asked if everything was ok and did he need any help. Quinn didn't answer, just ran up the stairs. A minute or so after that I could hear what sounded like crying (over the sound of Wesley screeching to climb up on my lap - his chosen favourite of the day). Turned out Quinn hadn't been able to get his pants undone fast enough and ended up peeing down his leg. So then Mom got him ready to go home, with much crying and carrying on by Quinn. No sooner did Quinn leave but Darcy burst into tears of dismay that her friend had gone.

Wednesday - Mom's OCD hit in full and mine too. She finished cleaning the fridge and freezer, while I cleaned the microwave and cabinet, inside and out. In the morning, while I was helping Darcy get dressed, Mom was trying to dress Wesley but she didn't have his clothes ready and he was so wiggly that she decided to let him walk around naked for a little. Of course he came into Darcy's room, where all the action was. But I didn't see him come in. All I heard was Darcy suddenly screaming with hilarity "Wesley's peeing on my carpet!" I turned to look and sure enough, there he was stood still, peeing, not a care in the world. All our racket must've scared it back up because he stopped and then ran around laughing and beating his chest (good Monkey Boy!). Seconds later he was climbing up Darcy's chair (still naked!), sat down and started really peeing. Like, there was a puddle of pee. Well, Darcy and I were practically peeing ourselves from laughing so hard and then Mom was there too doubled over laughing. She explained what she'd done and we explained what he'd done. Finally we did manage to get everyone suitably dressed (and took the blanket off the chair and straight down to the laundry). Nick and Sue called later that morning. Darcy probably told them 3 times that Wesley peed on her chair. Good stories never get old, right?

After Wesley's power nap that afternoon, we headed out to the mall. Better success this time as we took the little stroller and Monkey Boy was happy to sit in that and look around. I managed to get Sue's birthday present (lovely loose teas) and we ran a couple of little errands. Darcy had a bit of a meltdown before dinner. You know, not listening, didn't want to clean up, little whiny, etc. Then at dinner nothing was pleasing her and so it all kinda fell apart. Mom took care of that pretty fast and pretty soon there were more laughs than tears. They went out to Kids Club and I stayed with Wesley.

Thursday - Mom and I did more cleaning (not to say that the place was dirty - it's just that we're the type of people that need to be doing stuff like that, even if it's not our house - we just can't help it). Wesley obviously has Swiss blood in him. He climbed on everything in the basement, including Darcy's dollhouse even though he's bigger. Darcy went over to Quinn's after school and came home a little cranky again. Huh. Maybe it's just a long day for her? I dunno. Bath time after dinner sure gave us plenty of laughs. Think the kids went to bed happy and tired that night.

Friday - last bit of kitchen cleaning (heh!) and last day of school for the week. All Darcy could talk about was that her Papa was coming back that night. Never mind that her Auntie and Grandmaman had taken care of her all week ... all she was interested in was her Papa. Hmph. Anyway, Quinn came over again after school. No pee accidents this time (phew) but Wesley managed to bite him and boy, did that make Quinn cry! We played Dora the Explorer bingo (can you see how far I've fallen?) and I lost my voice. My mom took Darcy to pick up my Dad from the airport. Darcy was so excited! And still pretty excited when they got back to the house. Papa even had to put her to bed and read her stories.

Saturday - Mom baked Sue's birthday cake in the morning (strawberry cheesecake) and I baked chocolate chip cookies with Darcy as my helper in the afternoon. Bit more cleaning (what are we like?!) At dinner, in stage whisper, Darcy told us she thought she was losing her voice. Kid is quite a drama queen. Also very argumentative - career in law? Sue's parents dropped by for a quick visit in the evening and the kids were thrilled to see them. Big kisses and hugs for everybody. Wesley didn't play shy at all - it was very sweet. Nick & Sue were knocking on the door by about 9:45pm. After a quick check of the kids, they sat down and were happy to tell us about their cruise. Sounds like they had a great time.

Sunday - we were on the road by 9am and dropping me off at home just after 6pm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy 40th!

Happy Birthday to Yvette! My best friend turns 40 today. Phew - where the heck have the last 20+ years gone?

Just think, Why - imagine if we hadn't been in the same Grade 7 music class? You would've never seen lunatic me singing "Good Night Ladies" into my clarinet (really, I am certifiable) and we wouldn't have laughed ourselves silly ever since. Crazy.

Have a great birthday! And take notes on being 40. I'll be turning to you for advice sooner than I like to think (or can manage to calculate in my head).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Back home safe and sound. Pictures are up here. Details about the experience soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Much reduced

After Sunday's fiasco of an open house, my agent suggested I drop the listing price for my condo. I was fully prepared to agree. What I wasn't prepared for was a $20,000 drop. But after his research, my research and a long string of emails back and forth, I had to agree that he was right. If I want to sell my place, it will never sell at its current price. Papers have been signed and updates will follow shortly on the various real estate web sites. Hopefully this means things will move quickly now. At any rate, my agent is very positive and encouraging.

What pisses me off more than anything is that I trusted real estate agent #1 (back in March) to list my place appropriately, given it's location and the type of unit it is. It is very obvious to me now that she never had any intention of selling my place. I'm well shot of her and look forward to moving ... soon!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Open House

Anybody wanna buy a condo?

Open house from 2-4pm at my place today. Stop on by. BUY MY HOUSE! PLEASE!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Update 4:20pm

ONE visit. That's it. That's all. One damn visit.

My agent wants to lower the asking price to get people in here and I'm more than ready to agree. We'll meet later this week to iron out the details.

Argh!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Honours!

So much for 4-6 weeks for the results. Two weeks later and ...

The Board of Directors of Oxford Seminars certifies that Stephanie Titcombe [me!] has successfully completed all programme requirements of the "Advanced 100-Hour Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages/Teaching English as a Second Language Certificate Program with a specialization in Teaching Business English (Honours)"

Thank you very much!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Did you know that it was five years yesterday since I moved into my condo? Well, it was. My original plan was to live here for five years then sell and move up a rung on the property ladder.

Hasn't quite turned out that way. My place has been on the market for over 7 months now and there have been 10 visits in all that time. My new real estate agent will be doing an open house for me next Sunday and I very much hope that will bring in some new interest. I have about had it living in a place that I no longer feel is my own, without my most precious objects around me, that must constantly be kept so clean, so tidy that I can't even cook the foods I want because of the odours that may linger.

What I hate more than anything is that I have no control over any of this. I have discovered that I have control issues and a lot of the time feel that nothing gets done (or done right) unless I do it myself. Bit frustrating to realise this and still be unable to do much about it.

Happy 5th Anniversary to me. Keep your fingers crossed that I won't be celebrating six years here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's not even Halloween yet!

Some of the stores downtown (The Bay, in particular, as I was there tonight) have their Christmas decorations up. Why? Why would you do that? Can't we just let Halloween come and go and then worry about Christmas.

(And I don't need to hear any comments from my audience about me being a Scrooge, thank you. I am not like that. I just don't like all the hype and what-not.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The S-Word

Snow. You thought I was going to say something else, didn't you?! Ha.

For those of you reading who don't live in Montreal, there was snow on the ground this morning. Not much but anything more than nothing is still more than I want to see in OCTOBER!

It was snowing when I left for work at 8:00am and it was snowing again when I left work at 6:30pm. Sigh ... this is only the beginning. Hope you're ready to hear me whine and complain for the next 6 months about the damn snow, how cold it is, etc. Too bad if you're not :(

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chocolate! Who wants chocolate?!

Fundraiser #2 for my Dragon Boat team starts now.

I'm selling chocolate bars to raise some money for our trip to China in May/June 2009. $2 each. Three flavours - dark, coffee filling and caramel filling.

Get 'em while you can!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I have just finished reading Three Cups of Tea. For some reason it took me a while to read it. Not because it wasn't interesting. Far from it. I think because the situations the people go through are sometimes too hard to bear.

More than ever, my plan for India in 2012 is still on and this book has inspired me to keep on track.

As suggested at the back of the book (if it inspired you to do more - how could it not!) here are suggestions for how to help:

1. Visit the Three Cups of Tea website.
2. Suggest Three Cups of Tea to friends, colleagues, etc.
3. Check if Three Cups of Tea is in your local library. If not, donate a book or suggest the library add it to their collection.
4. Encourage a local independent/chain bookstaore to carry this book.
5. Write a review for amazon.com, etc.
6. As the book editor of your local newspaper or radio to review the book.
7. Pennies for Peace, is designed for school children. Donate your pennies!
8. Make a tax-deductible contribution to their non-profit organization. Visit www.ikat.org. It costs $1.00 per month for one child's education in Pakistan or Afghanistan, a penny to buy a pencil, and a teacher's salary averages $1.00 per day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Was that ... ?

No, it couldn't have been.

But I think it was.

Snow.

And much crankiness followed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stupid Question

This is so embarrassing ... but I have to ask.

If I wrote a test with 85 questions and I need 90% on this test to be awarded honours, how many questions do I need to answer correctly?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another Visit

Have another potential buyer scheduled to visit my condo today. Despite all my concerns about the economy/real estate market tanking, the headlines forecasting recession, etc.

My house is clean, sparkling, tidy, bright and ready. As the months (and months, and months ...) have gone, my house doesn't feel much like my house anymore. All my personal little favourite things are packed away. I am packing boxes here and there and getting ready to move fast. If only the right buyer would come.

Today is sunny and warm. The visit is around noon. The parc is beautiful right now. The maples on the edge are vibrant red and yellow.

Come on, lucky buyer, come on!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pumpkin

How is it possible that less than a week before Thanksgiving, there is NO pumpkin at my grocery store? How am I supposed to make pumpkin muffins? Pumpkin soup? Pumpkin, walnut and cranberry bars? Pumpkin scones?

(and there was much muttering as I left the store with everything I needed EXCEPT the darn pumpkin. mutter... mutter... mutter)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Purge

Haven't heard anything from my agent so I'm guessing the guy isn't making a decision in my favour. Eh bein.

Meanwhile, I've packed 4 boxes of books, 4 boxes of photo albums and put 39 foodie magazines and 22 travel magazines in the recycling.

What else can I do???

Monday, October 06, 2008

Do what it takes

Had my first potential buyer visit yesterday afternoon. My agent was already booked, so he asked if I could be around to take the agent and his client through. No problem for me - I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get this place sold.

Agent and Client showed up 10 minutes early. Good thing I'm so horrifyingly organized and was ready for them. Gave them the 10-cent grand tour. They asked a bunch of questions about the people living in the building (kids, noise), cost of electricity, etc. I raved about my small but nicely planned kitchen, the great bookshelves that make my bedroom and how they can be moved to suit one's purpose, the amazing parc as a neighbour, even showed them the locker space. The whole thing took about 15 minutes or so. Even brought out my Dad's joke about the building being an old pool, so my place literally & figuratively has floating floors. Cheesy, I know, but they thought that was hysterical. Or maybe they were just humouring me.

This morning I heard back from my agent and apparently the Client will be meeting with his Agent tomorrow morning to discuss my place and another in my building. Mine is smaller but, according to the Agent, brighter! Granted it was a grey afternoon and I did have every light on in the place but hey - if that's what they remember it's fine by me.

The Client must have quite a wide budget. My place is 600 sq. ft. and going for $159K. The other place is 900 sq. ft. and going for $219K. Huh.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Semi-Annual Wardrobe Switch

2 black cardis (and yet, I still have 2 black cardis left in my wardrobe ...)
1 black dress
3 skirts
1 pair of shorts
4 pairs of pants
7 shirts
1 long sleeve top
10 camis (and I still have 7 in the drawer)
7 t-shirts (still probably have more than I need)

That's what I've got in the donation bag after my semi-annual wardrobe switch. Good feeling!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Week, New Listing

Met with my new real estate agent this afternoon and have signed the papers to my condo back on the market. Agent #2 took pictures of the place, got a bunch of details about the place and has already prepared the listing to get it up on their website site early this week.

Keep your fingers crossed, people. I'm feeling confident, the agent is positive and so far has been super fast on everything I've asked. There are a couple of great condos out there just waiting for me so I hope this goes fast!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Let's get this show on the road

I gotta sell this condo fast so I can decide once and for all where the heck I'm going to live for the next 10 or so years. I can't keep finding two nearly exactly the same places and finding pros and cons to each of them while trying to decide which is the better investment.

CRAP!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gosh

Posted here twice yesterday and only just noticed that I said the word "gosh" in both posts.

Must be my soft side (you can stop laughing) making an appearance.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here We Go Again

At the risk of sounding like an 80s hairband, here I go again.

My contract with the real estate agent ran out at midnight Sunday. Today my listing was off mls and I was able to pick up my house keys from the agent. At the same time that all this was happening, my parents estate agent (who sold their condo twice, in a month, in a dead market), sent my Dad an email, who forwarded it to me, giving the agent's coordinates. Tonight I left him a voicemail and less than 20 minutes later he called me back (no "I never got your message" crap). Going to meet this agent in a few days and we'll get cracking on getting my condo sold once and for all.

Strangely enough, on Saturday both my agent and her assistant left me messages. The assistant wanted to set up an appointment for Sunday. The agent wanted to renew her contract with me! Then I read the paper and noticed that she'd placed an ad in the paper for my place - ONE DAY before the contract ran out! Gosh, that made me laugh. Also that she was SURPRISED I didn't want to renew my contract with her!

Anyway - contract with agent #1 is done, contract with agent #2 will hopefully be on the table by the end of the week.

Updates to follow.

Three Times More

Last year was my first year dragon boating and I only got to compete at two festivals. The season ended suddenly when our team ran out of funds for training and the last festival.

This year was quite a different story. I raced at six festivals this summer! Wow - I hadn't counted them up before today but it's pretty impressive. Come on now - SIX! Gosh, so impressed with myself.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Done!

That's it - Dragon Boat season is over! I made it through to the end! I'm so proud of myself. Yesterday the Montreal Waves finished our summer season at the Quebec Cup and we did well!

Our 250m races on Saturday were average - we finished 4th in Division C. Great that we made C, but it sucked that we couldn't place in the top 3.

Our 500m races on Sunday were much better. We finished 3rd in the semi-final and 2nd in the final. That final was a great race. We were neck-in-neck with a boat to our left and it was only the last couple of strokes that put them ahead. So close.

The end of the day finished with the 2000m challenge (up to 12 boats racing, leaving the docks with a 10 second delay between each boat). We were a bit worried about that. When we've practiced this race, we've always done it in 500m sections. At the competition they decided to break it into 250m sections. The organizers said because it made it more interesting this way. For the spectators - yes, I agree. But for the paddlers, doing 7 turns instead of the 3 we'd practiced was kinda hard. No, a lot hard! Funny what adrenaline can do to your body though. It pushed us through the first 3 turns no problem. We even managed to pass not one, but two boats! Turns 4 and 5 were hard, no question there. But as we came into turn number 6, we were able to feel the surge in the boat, knowing that our last 500m was coming up. And then- we powered through our last turn - screaming and shouting and grunting our way through, we even managed to pick up some speed going down our last straight away. And then, we were done! We'd made it through 2 kilometres and 7 turns! What a feeling. It was a great end to a pretty fun season paddling with these women.

We sat around and watched the last 2 races and cheered (i.e. screamed ourselves hoarse) for our coach as he paddled on his men's team. Then down to the pub for a celebratory burger and beer. A short night out and then I was in bed shortly before 9pm.

I have some other things to say about the weekend (mostly about the cold, the cold, the cold), the fun t-shirt I bought, the great atmosphere at the festival but for me it all works out to finishing off the season with a bang.

Now I can rest. For 6 whole weeks! Then we start the indoor winter training and I can start complaining about my aches and pains all over again ;)

Oh yeah - October 18, RDS, 11:00am, you can watch the Saturday races of the Quebec Cup. Doubtful that you'll see my team, but you'll see some interesting racing (particularly the mixed elite sports teams doing their 2k) and maybe it will inspire some of you to try it out next summer ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cold already

This weekend will be my sixth and last dragon boat competition of the season. I'll only be racing with the Montreal Waves so it'll be nice to really have a chance to relax between races (2 x 250m, 2 x 500m and one crazy 2k race). However, with a couple of very cold nights ahead (down to 3C!) - it's going to be positively frigid paddling. You can guess that I'm not looking too forward to that. I will have a suitcase with me full of dry and warm clothes. (How long will my hot water bottle stay hot?)

Wish us luck or at least that nobody gets hypothermic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

True Blood

Two episodes in and I'm hooked. True Blood is the latest in fab TV from HBO. It's about vampires, based in the South (States, that is) and is rather over the top but I can't help myself, I really like it. It certainly helps that our hero, Bill Compton, is one sexy and hot looking vampire.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Kathryn & John Got Married

Photos from Kathryn & John's Wedding are up on flickr.

It was a great day. Everything worked like clockwork (of course it did - Kathryn was in charge!). Everybody seemed happy, relaxed and remarkably stress free and it came across through the whole ceremony. It was a casual and friendly atmosphere - very much like a party at the Wight household. Even the rain managed to hold off until after the ceremony.

Congratulations, Kathryn & John.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

That's a first

Sunday night I celebrated my birthday with my family. My usual birthday menu (bbq salmon, potatoes, veggie kabobs, corn on the cob). My mother even humoured my request for a formal dinner in their new dining room, with the good china and silver, etc.

After dessert, we retired to the salon/living room/sitting room/parlour (take your pick) and I opened my presents. My parents had actually already given me my gift (Kitchen Aid stand mixer - so beautiful!) several weeks ago so there was just a card from them. Marc gave me a couple of cool Native art things from his cruise to Alaska (for Chris's wedding). Eric bought my ticket to the Radiohead show earlier this month.

The thing is, these two brothers NEVER and I do mean NEVER EVER give me a birthday card (or at least since Marc outgrew making his own). And that's OK. Really and truly. I get it. I don't know if it's because Sam is more a part of Eric's life or if she's rubbing off on him (in a good way) but this year Eric gave me a birthday card. That in itself was pretty shocking. More shocking was what was written.

Imagine if you will, a lavender coloured card with a black and white picture of two puppies snuggling closely together, it says For My Sister. Open the card and it continues, "Close as can be - that's you and me!" Then I nearly peed my pants for laughing so hard. After reading the card out to the rest of the family Eric admitted he got it in the joke section. Ha, ha, ha. Whatever possessed him to get a card, I don't know but I sure had a good laugh. I don't think a joke card could've been any funnier.

Good one, Eric.

I should also mention that Marc gave me a good laugh too. He showed up at my parent's place for the birthday dinner a day early.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fitness Test #4

Last week's disastrous results on the Fat Test mean nothing to me now. Up yours, stupid fat test. You suck.

Know why?

Because today we had another fitness test to determine the roster for next week's competition. (The competition I'll be missing because I'm going to Kathryn & John's wedding.) And in this fitness test I KICKED ASS!!!

The maximum weight I can bench press is 95lbs (5lbs more!)
The maximum reps I can bench press in 90 seconds (using 45lbs) is 48 (this is worse than July but I am having problems with my right shoulder so it could be why)
The maximum reps I can bench row in 90 seconds (using 45lbs) is 84 (6 more!)
I can do a back extension for 5 minutes, 3 seconds (this is almost 2 minutes more!)
I can do 187 sprinter runs in 90 seconds (34 more!)
I can do 68 sit ups in 90 seconds (18 more!)
I can do 30 push-ups in 90 seconds (20 more!)
And finally, I can do zero chin-ups in 90 seconds (still the same and not really a surprise)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

About Birthdays

It was my birthday yesterday. It was the same as most any other day except that I made chocolate cake the night before so I was able to celebrate with some colleagues at work in the afternoon, and again later last night with one of my dragon boat teams.

So far 39 doesn't feel any different than 38, which didn't feel any different than 37, which didn't feel ... you get the idea. As I was at practice last night, I felt that for a 39 year old, I'm not doing too bad. I can keep up with 20 year olds on the boat and in some of our weight training exercises (yes, alright, not many of them) , I can even surpass them. Anyway - yeah for me!

Two really good things that happened:

- The entire mixed dragon boat team sang happy birthday to me while we were coming in to dock. Their voices boomed across the basin. It was pretty funny.

- This morning when I listenend to my voicemail at work, there was a message from my niece, Darcy. First she sang Happy Birthday. Then she sang Twinkle, Twinkle. Then she said she loved me and wished me happy birthday (I could also hear Wesley in the background making what I will call singing noises). It was so very sweet and funny. I will keep that message for a l-o-n-g time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

One more reason to be/become vegetarian

Have been hearing a lot about this meat scare over the last couple of days.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, Wesley!

My nephew is one year old today! Yeah Wesley!!!

Where did the year go?

Wanna see a cute picture of him? Click here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Crunch Time

Tomorrow my real estate agent will have exactly one month left to sell my condo.

One of the two potential properties I had in mind is still for sale. I could call my agent and tell her she needs to get her butt in gear as I've found something else. But to be honest, I don't want her to get that 5% commission now. I have decided to wait for the contract to run out seeing that nobody has even seen the inside of my place since May 21.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That's it

This summer of crappy weather has bested me. I've had enough of wet shoes, soggy socks, muddy t-shirts and gritty hair. Next week will be my last week on the bike for the year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boat crash

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know I wrote about the dragon boat crash on day 2 of the festival.

Click here to see the video from on top of the tower. Kinda like an arial view, except not from a plane. It's very cool - the video, that is. Didn't realise how close the boat came to going right over the other one.

Also - in case you're wondering, low sodium V8 tastes like vomit, especially at room temperature.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rainbows, Fireworks and Radiohead

The concert kicked ass!!!

Seeing a rainbow not long before Radiohead hit the stage was amazing.

Having the fireworks (FYI Eric - presented by La Ronde, not Japan) go off during the concert was amazing.

Standing for 6 hours straight, in the rain, in the mud, smelling people's dirty hair and bodies, their smoke and their dope was decidedly crappy.

Much as I love seeing Radiohead live, I think this will be my last general admission concert.

PS - also found out my water proof jacket needs replacing.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Commentator

The commentator for the festival was a guy called Ian Brooks. British guy, who seemed to be well known in the racing community. He was just great. For me he made it sound like we were at the Olympics. Very cool.

The Results

The results still have not been posted but I can't wait any longer to give you all the boring details.

We left at 1:30pm on Friday and after an hour-long wait at US Customs (apparently because the guards have been without a contract for some time now, we were basically held hostage until they were good and ready), we arrived in Queens, New York by 10:30pm. The ride down in our bus was uneventful, the check-in to the hotel slightly hectic but by midnight we were all tucked safely and happily into our beds.

Saturday morning a free shuttle transported all of us (Montreal Mixed and Jade/Maki Catta teams) to the site at Flushing Meadows Park. We had our first qualifying race at 11:18am, in the USDBOC Mixed division, top 2 teams would advance to the finals that afternoon. We placed 2nd thanks to a well timed 20 power halfway through and made it to the finals. Several hours later, at 6:06pm, we raced our final 250m. And here's where the story gets interesting.

In the last year I've been learning a lot about dragon boating, festivals, different locations, types of water, etc. Everything I'd heard about the New York festival had prepared me for the worst and rightly so. The water was thick green slime. It burned my eyes more than the Basin water, it tasted salty on the lips, you couldn't see through it on the shore, never mind while we were out on the lake and WE HAD TO BE HOSED OFF AFTER EACH RACE ON THE DOCKS! That's how dirty the water was. Then there was the long-standing feud between M.A.D. and the Montreal teams and this year was no exception to that rule.

As the story was told to us later, we started our final and were trailing the first boat by a little bit. We were in lane 5, MAD was in lane 4, whoever was in lane 3 and somebody else in lane 2. While we're paddling it's very difficult to see what's happening beside you until it actually happens slightly in front of you. As we were getting ready to get into our pickup, all of a sudden, the MAD boat was right beside us and veered right into our path (there was some discussion about them wash-riding our wake, not adhering to the refs calls), they crossed in front of us, we couldn't do our pick-up and we ended up finishing 3rd. Much chaos ensued. We finished in 3rd by a nose even though we didn't do our power strokes. This is good and showed that we were pretty strong. However, because our coach wanted to finish the race and not be disqualified, he didn't do the pick up that would have had us smash into the boat that cut in front of us, he was thinking safety first in these murky waters. In the end, MAD got a 5 second penalty against them and so we got 2nd place. This was a bittersweet victory because we felt that MAD should have been DQ'd because they didn't just cross one lane, but two (they finished in lane 6), they didn't listen to the refs and do what they were told (stay in their lane) and they interfered with our lane! They also got the points allotted to a third place finish in the USDBOC division. Damn them. OK, so we did get our second place points but we could've finished the race properly and earned them.

When we got off the boat, DCH (long time allies with Montreal given the feud with MAD) was right there to support our cause and joked that there seems to be a curse between Montreal and MAD.

After a quick run back to the hotel for showers and a change of clothes, we all headed into Manhattan for dinner, shopping and site seeing. With one of my friends from the team, we headed out on our own and found a great little Italian place for dinner (pasta for the athletes!) and still had time to walk around Broadway, Times Square and do a little bit of shopping in Sephora, a walk through the M&M's and Hershey's stores. Believe it or not but I was too overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people and stuff to buy any chocolate. Strange but true. Midnight had us all back on the bus and headed to the hotel.

Sunday morning was an early start. Checked out, breakfasted and into taxis by 7am. Our first race was at 8:30am. The pressure was on. The 500m is our event (we don't really train for the 250m) - we had to finish in the top 2 or we wouldn't race in the finals. Against MAD again and two other teams, we finished a clean race in 2nd position. It was a tough race, exhilarating and exciting.

We then had to wait until 4:45pm for our final race. It was a beautiful day though, and we had time to chat, relax, sleep, eat dumplings and corn on the cob. It seemed the hour would never come for our race but eventually it did. We were against ... I have no idea but MAD were in one boat. We were in the best lane (lane 2). We knew if we were focused and intense, we could win this.

As we approached the start line, I could hear a couple of the guys in the MAD boat growling and grunting and getting ready for the race. I had been purposely avoiding looking at them in the warm-up area because they kinda freak me out as a team - the men very muscly and strong and the women on the team very beautiful and strong in their bikini tops and short-shorts. I worried that somehow just seeing them was going to give me an excuse to fail. Anyway, then I started thinking to myself - we have the best lane, we've beat them before (6 out of 7 races in Boston), our life jackets match our t-shirts, a few of us have our dragon tattoos, a few others have our lucky cranes and the secret weapon - I had my Tiger Eye in my pocket.

I don't know what happened in that race. It's all a blur to me now. Our other team members who came down to watch us told us that we were trailing just slightly in the first half of the race, but after the 250m mark, we did our power and stroke by stroke started pulling away from the others. Our coach apparently shouted out all kinds of stuff during the whole race but I don't remember hearing him at all after the halfway point. I do remember all of us girls in the front pushing hard, screaming, shouting and keeping our pace controlled for the rest of the boat. It hurt - the last 100m of the race were the most powerful strokes ever. And then our drummer shouted at us to "let it run"; it was over. WE'D WON!!!

The rest is a blur, our communal shower on the docks with our soaps and shampoos. High-fiving our whole team, the 3 other teams, our friends outside waiting for us. Screaming our war cry over and over again. Finally getting on stage to accept our trophy for the win. Our coach handing out our participation medals.

The bus met us at the site, we loaded up and by 6:30pm we were back on the road. Many people slept most of the way home but I was so excited I couldn't sleep. I read for a bit, listened to music most of the way but mostly I just sat there going through the last race and smiling to myself.

Coming home was uneventful. Going through the Canadian border was no problem - it took about 5 minutes for the guards to check us all through. Back at the metro station, I jumped in a taxi and was home and in my own bed again by 2:30am.

What a great weekend.

Update (Thursday): one of the guys on our team is a photographer and posted 125 of his 500 shots here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

In the news

Click here for mention of our team's win this weekend.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pictures

Pictures of the victorious weekend in New York are up here.

Still waiting for the race results to be posted so I can give the run down of the weekend.

We love you New York!

For those of you checking in around the globe, I'm back from the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Race Festival - New York.

WE WON!!!

More soon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Details

Saturday:

No wait. I have to start with 9pm Friday night. My phone rang and one of the paddlers on my team (who was also part of the organizing committee for the Festival) called to ask if I could paddle for a second team the next day. I said yes because I still haven't learned how to say no.

So - Saturday.

Had to be at the Basin for 7am (instead of 9). Paddled just after 8am with Rogers Dragons Sans-Fil (in English that would be Rogers Wireless Dragons and yes, they are a phone company). They were all over the place with timing, pacing, etc. Finished 5th, I think.

Montreal Waves hit the water just before 10am. Dad showed up as we were warming up to go through to the staging area, so it was good to know there was somebody cheering for us. The qualifying heats are a bit chaotic as we were racing against teams better and/or worse than us. We finished a satisfying 2:23 (better than our 2:38 in June) thanks to a tail-wind and some improvement on our part. Finished ... I don't know where.

Rogers second race in the afternoon was even worse. At about the 250m mark, a paddler in the 2nd row fell backwards off her bench and wasn't able to lift herself back on until about the last 20m before the finish. *Sigh* That freaked out the first 3 rows of paddlers plenty. Finished 5th again - even though I screamed my heart out to "Control!!!", "Keep going!!", "Together!!!" Felt bad for them.

Several hours later as I was having a little rest under our make-shift tent (thanks to Mary's husband, Tony for being our McGyver) when suddenly I heard a voice ask "Is that Stephanie?" I turned over and found my brother Eric there with his girlfriend, Samantha. What a great surprise! I gave them a tour of the Festival, explained a little about the races and watched a few races with them. They stayed throughout a heavy downpour of rain and also stayed to watch us race. Eric even called out our motto for the weekend as we paddled by. "Eye of the Tiger!" That totally inspired us and made us focus on our goal of winning a race. It worked - we won the 2nd 500m heat!

After Eric & Sam left, I went to get ready for a night at La Ronde. For my first time ever, I was going to the Fireworks Competition. Somebody at work pulled some strings for us and 10 of us ended up at a lovely cocktail, dinner and loge seating at the fireworks. It rained on and off during the evening but did stop long enough for us to get one ride in before the show. The fireworks were just amazing and I'm so glad I got to go even if it did mean one heck of a long day.

Sunday:

Back at the basin for 7am. Raced at 7:30. Rogers managed to squeak into Division D of the rookie finals. They finished a respectable 3rd place. I think it was thanks to my coach from Waves steering us ;)

Our own Division C women's race saw us come in 4th by about a second only. There were 6 teams racing that final and the difference between 1st and 6th place was only 3 seconds, so it was a pretty tight race.

After these two morning races I had a few hours to kill so I decided I'd rest a little and went back to our team's site to chill. Never really slept (how could you with several thousand other people around?) but I was resting. As the team gathered under our tent to have lunch, I got up and was getting ready to go and buy some lunch when a huge gust of wind stretched the bungee cord holding the tarp to the tree so the bungee snapped off and flew back to whack me smack between the eyes on the bridge of my nose. I didn't know what had happened. I thought a branch had snapped and hit me at first. But then my eyes started watering and the pain suddenly exploded from my nose. I was still sitting down when this happened but then I fell to the ground and was apparently rolling around with my hands covering my nose and eyes. Vaguely I could hear people trying to figure out what happened and then somebody noticed that I was not OK. Luckily on our team we have an ER nurse and two physiotherapists (among 20 other talented women, of course). Before I knew it they were prying my hands off my face and breathing sighs of relief as they discovered I did not have an eye injury but simply a very small cut on the bridge of my nose. There was a tiny bit of blood (which I never saw). They cleaned me up, put a band-aid on and found an ice pack and a face cloth all in less than 5 minutes. Meanwhile somebody else on the team ran over to the first aid tent and got 2 attendants over to have a look at me. They asked me some typical questions (my name, where was I, what did I eat for breakfast - I was glad they didn't ask how old I was ...), got me to squeeze their fingers and shined a light in my eyes. I guess I reacted fine because all they could do for me was provide some tylenol if I wanted. Crisis safely over.

As I was recovering with the ice pack to my nose, we all heard the screams of people cheering a race turn to a massive "OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" Some people came running back to tell us that a boat had just capsized. Naturally we all went running to see what had happened. The Best of the Fest 100m race had been taking place when the steerer of Les Brutes decided to wash-ride DCH Racing (wash-riding is illegal in racing and can get your team a 5 second penalty or disqualification from the heat or even the competition). They got too close, hit DCH hard enough that DCH flipped over. By the time I got there, the race marshalls were already lifting people into the security boats but there were still paddles and life jackets floating all over the place. Eventually everybody was safely aboard the boats and an annoucement was made that nobody was hurt. Crisis safely over. (Thanks to youtube you can actually see it here!)

Finally I found a little bit of time to have some yummy noodles and veggie spring rolls for lunch.

Final 250m races were as exciting as the rest of the weekend. The Rogers team placed 2nd in this race! I was so proud of them. They were obviously wanting to finish first but it didn't quite happen. Anyway, after the race I thanked them for letting me paddle with them and they thanked me for coming to paddle with them. They let me keep the team shirt and also gave me a baseball cap. Sweet!

The women's team didn't fare as well. We came in 4th place again. It was disappointing especially when we saw on the TVs that the difference between us (1:09.18) and 3rd place (1:09.06) was so little. But that's OK. We still have the Quebec Cup in September and this means we know where our weaknesses are and what we need to do in the coming weeks to improve.

To complete the old adage about good/bad things coming in three's - one of our own women paddlers separated her sacroiliac joint as we were going into our finish on the 250m. Apparently it's an old injury and is usually fine but she over-exerted herself, heard the pop and ended up leaving immediately after the race for a visit to the nearest emergency department. We've heard that she's fine but will have to take it easy for the next little while. So, crisis over, sort of.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick Update

We made it to Division C in the women's category (7 categories all counted, A to G)!

We finished in 4th place by less than a second. Disappointing but still an amazing weekend overall.

Bought a cool t-shirt. I will take a picture of it soon.

Got hit in the nose with a flying bungee cord. No serious injury but a nice bruise across my nose, a small cut, a little brusing by my eyes and a couple of bruises across the top of my head.

More details later this week before heading to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York.

PS - thanks to Dad for stopping by on Saturday morning and to Eric & Sam for stopping by Saturday afternoon (and the Eye of the Tiger cheer!). E&S saw us win our heat!

PPS - Marc - you were suspiciously absent this weekend. What's your excuse?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Race Day!

Saturday and Sunday is the 13th Montreal International Dragon Boat Race Festival.

My team, the Montreal Waves, will be racing at 9:50am and 3:30pm 4:04pm on Saturday. Hope to see some of you there. We will be camped out behind the big tower at the finish line.

You will know us by our smokin' hot & hip t-shirts.

Front:


and Back:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Burning Lights & Breaking Records

Burned all the lights except one on my way in to work this morning. This means I broke my record of 10 minutes (average is usually 11 minutes) and made it to work in 9 minutes!

I will admit to being slightly out of breath and my legs feeling pretty wobbly when I got off my bike (the last 3 minutes are all uphill).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Still Here

Some of my friends have started calling to check up on me and asking if I'm still around. Yes, I'm still here. No, I haven't gone anywhere just yet.

Why haven't I been blogging? It's not that I have less time at home than before (although that is somewhat true). It's not that nothing's been happening (plenty has been going on). I guess, the simplest reason/excuse is that I am tired. Tired, tired, tired. Sunday I was home for the day, apart from a few errands and groceries and I would've have plenty of time to write but I was so tired that I had 2 naps (one in the morning, another in the afternoon) and I still managed to be in bed by 10pm.

Bear with me. Another few weeks and then my schedule should let up a little, or at least enough that I don't fall asleep every time I stop moving. In the meantime, get outside, enjoy the warm weather and make the most of your summer!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fitness Test - 3

Six weeks ago I found out that I grew stronger this winter. Last night I found out that I have managed to improve another little bit since May.

The maximum weight I can bench press is 90lbs (5 lbs more)
The maximum reps I can bench press in 90 seconds (using 45lbs) is 57 (3 less than May - boo hiss!)
The maximum reps I can bench row in 90 seconds (using 45lbs) is 78 (1 more)
I can do a back extension for 3 minutes, 10 seconds (this is about a minute or so less than May, I think due to some back pain)
I can do 46 sit ups in 90 seconds (6 more!)
I can do 10 push-up in 90 seconds (9 more!)
I can do zero chin-ups in 90 seconds (the same and not really a surprise)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Forgot to mention that I did 153 sprinter runs in 90 seconds (did 136 in May).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

2 for 2

It was brought to my attention last night that I am 2 for 2 this season in my dragon boating adventures.

Yes, that means the women's recreational team won the women's division competition on Saturday! My goal for the day was not to finish last and we didn't - quite the opposite in fact. Although there were no medals awarded this time, we did come away with a beer glass a prize and of course, bragging rights!

A couple of us women from the mixed competitive team have been asked to paddle with another team this coming weekend and my coach has decided that I'm the lucky charm with my two competitions, two wins under my belt. He thinks we'll win. I have no idea. Once again I'll be going to a competition with no expectations other than to not finish last. Some people say that you shouldn't go in with a negative goal (stating what you don't want) but that you should go in with a positive goal (state what you do want, i.e. to win). That's not my style though and I'm not really a competitive person (perfectionist yes) so I don't think I'll ever go in with that winning spirit. Maybe I like to surprise myself. Maybe I push myself harder when I don't know what the outcome will be. Anyway -

Don't expect anybody to come out to Shawinigan on Saturday but keep your fingers crossed for Les Arsenes Unlimited.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Typical

The three weekends that I was away, I let my real estate know that she'd be free to take visitors through my condo at any time, day or night, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and even a few Mondays and Tuesdays. Were there any visits? No.

Now that I'm home again and still have to do a proper shop, clean, etc. - NOW my agent has a visit lined up for tomorrow.

My one free evening this week, that I apparently squandered reading and sending pictures to print, was last night because tonight I'm doing dishes, cleaning, dusting, watering plants, tidying away bits and pieces and preparing my gear for tomorrow's competition. Still no groceries done (but at least I have some food thanks to my very good parents who took pity on me and stocked me up on a few essentials).

I know I shouldn't complain because it is a visit and the real estate market is deader than dead right now. I know, I know. But really - couldn't this have happened while I was away? Not on a night when I'd much rather be flat out on my couch watching coma-inducing television.

Typical.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summersplash

Saturday's Summersplash will see me and the rest of the Montreal Waves racing at the Olympic Basin.

Our first race is at 9:00am (500m). OK, so I understand if that's a little early for some of you to be out on a Saturday morning but our next races are at 10:50am (250m) and 1:20pm (100m) - so you could make it, if you tried. The final 500m race will be decided after our first three races.

Hope to see some of you there. We don't have our team shirts yet, but we'll be in black tops so look for us and cheer!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Safely & Finally Home

First things first: pictures of the weekend with Nick, Sue, Darcy & Wesley are here.

Second: Had a great weekend with Nick & Sue. Darcy and Wesley have both grown and changed loads since I last saw them in January. Darcy gets more clever by the minute. She hears everything, remembers everything and questions everything. Good for her but exhausting for the rest of us! She's adorable, wonderful and I especially enjoyed being able to take her to see Robert Munsch live as her birthday present. Wesley is longer quite the little baby he was last winter. He's 10 months old now and full of smiles, laughs, blowing raspberries and grunting his little heart out. He was getting the hang of the peek-a-boo game while we were there so that was pretty fun too. Of course, it was good to see Nick & Sue too and I always feel kind of bad that we pay so much attention to the kids. But then maybe they shouldn't have such cute kids and we wouldn't have that problem ;)


Third: I'm home for more than 3 days! I've managed to post the pictures and get a load of laundry done. Haven't been able to do groceries because today is the holiest of holy days in Quebec (aka St-Jean Baptiste) and the store was closed when we drove into town. Busy and short week ahead before my next competition on Saturday. More later this week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No time for laundry

Had a blast with Lynn & Fam on Saturday and Sunday. Lynn and I went out for a girls night dinner and ate some amazing Thai food - we nearly fought over the scraps!

Got home last night. Quickly threw some stuff together for work and jumped into bed feeling completely shattered. No time to do the laundry.

Tonight I have practice so no time to do the laundry.

Tomorrow night is my dragon boat team's Comedy for a Cause night so no time to do the laundry.

Back on the road by 1pm Friday.

Just when am I supposed to do the laundry?!?!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That was the original post for yesterday. Then I woke up feeling worse, did about 3 days work in 1 and decided I would far less stressed if I just went home. It's a good thing. I managed to do one whole load of laundry. The second load is still damp in the dryer (I broke down and used the dryer in June!). The last load is still sitting on the floor. Oh well.

Still not sure when I'll pack. Maybe I'll just go with an empty suitcase and buy what I need.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Off Again

Heading back out on the road. Not a road trip this time. Flying to Toronto tomorrow, staying at Casa Theo for a night of laughs with Lynn & Family. Monday and Tuesday I'm at a course in Toronto. Back home Tuesday evening.

Have a great weekend and Happy Father's Day Dad! (no fun race stats to give you next week, sorry)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What is it with flip flops?

Are my feet made wrong? How come the longest I can wear flip flops is the distance from my locker at the gym to the showers and back? This past weekend I ripped, and I do mean RIPPED the inside of my toes to shreds wearing flips flops to our race on Saturday. So much so that I had to wear running shoes the following day and just wear the flip flops to the boat and back. And even though I had some serious bandaids covering the shredded areas - I'm almost positive they got even more ripped up. I know this because last night I had to go in with my teeny-tiny scissors and start clipping away the dead skin that was flapping around.

The thing is, I see people wearing flip flops all the time. They seem to wear them 24/7 as soon as it's warm enough (actually they wear them even before I think it's warm enough but that's another subject entirely). How do they wear them and not have their little tootsies ripped, shredded, bleeding and in agonizing pain? Are they wearing expensive flip flops? Do flip flops come in crap, not so crap and actually ok categories? I've had a number of pairs over the years, some more expensive than others, yet each pair has left me blistered beyond belief.

I suppose I could agonize over this fact even more or maybe I should just take it as a sign that I'm meant to wear expensive shoes ... or maybe I'm meant not to wear any shoes at all and just hang out at the beach foot naked.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Weekend Recap

Now that I've been home for a day and had a good night's sleep, I'm rather less wired and jumpy and might actually be able to make some kind of sense in recapping the weekend in Boston.

By the time we picked up the rental van and the other passengers it was just before 5pm when we hit the road. Naturally we hit some traffic but on the whole it was a good trip and we made decent time getting to Boston. The only hiccup happened once we got off the highway (too early) and proceded to lose ourselves on the seemingly unnamed streets of Boston. Eventually though, and after asking for directions twice (both times wrong!), we found the hostel and got settled.

Saturday morning was a lazy start. We had time for breakfast and took the subway over to the race site. We did our two time trial races and somehow managed to finish in first place by a large margin (about 3 seconds ahead of team two and 5 seconds ahead of team three). Once those two races were done we were finished for the day and could enjoy the city, warm weather and getting to know the rest of the team. We went out for a great sushi lunch and then broke off into smaller groups. I went for a long walk with a few of the others and we made our way over to Boston Common park and then over to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market where we ended up having dinner.

Sunday was a much earlier start. We had to check out of the hostel and load up the vans. We drove over to the Festival site so that we'd be ready to hit the road once we were finished.

Race 1 - 9:00am: we finished first - a whole 7 seconds before the next team.
Race 2 - 11:45am: we finished first - again a whole 7 seconds before the next team.
Race 3 - 12:36pm: Photo finish. We only get 2nd place - 2:17:480. Winners finished at 2:17:380. We get silver for Out Of Town teams.
Race 4 - 2:48pm: Semi finals - We win but no times available as starter lost power or something.
Race 5 - 4:36pm: Finals - we finish FIRST with 2:17:490 (second place was at 2:18:920).

Shortly after 5pm they had the awards ceremony and we were presented with the Boston-Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival Cup. We each received a Chinese kite and our first place medals. As part of the prize, they are also paying our entry fee to the New York Dragon Boat Festival in August.

It was after 7pm by the time we started the trip home and it was made longer when we forgot to take the I-89 home, which meant taking the I-93 a little too far east, and ending up in Magog when we came through the border. By the time we dropped off the other team members on the South Shore, it was 2am when I unlocked my front door.

A long and exhausting weekend but fun and exciting too. The competition in New York will be at a higher level so even though we did well this weekend, we will have our work cut out for us.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Check!

Item 58 on my 100 Things To Do Before I Go:

58. Win a Dragon Boat race.

Guess I can cross that off my list now because WE WON SIX OUT OF SEVEN RACES AND CAME AWAY WITH A FIRST PLACE FINISH!!!

Is that the coolest thing ever?!

More details on the weekend when I relax a little.

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Noticeable Difference

As I was walking around the track at the gym this morning doing my cool down, one of the trainers started chatting with me. He said that I was looking serious and I explained that I was thinking about my weekend plans with the Dragon Boat race in Boston. We chatted a little about Dragon Boating and then he told me something rather surprising. He said (before I mentioned anything about all the winter training) he could see that my body has changed, that I was stronger. I don't think I've gained or lost any weight and I certainly haven't seen any changes but hey - if the trainer says so, I'll go with that!

Hope that bodes well for the race. Look forward to kicking some Boston butt. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Decision Time

Or not. I'm going to be away for the next three weekends so am putting everything on hold. If at the end of the month the condos are still available I will decide one way or the other.

Until then it's time for a few road trips! This weekend Boston, next weekend Toronto and following that Windsor.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Option #2

Suivant, next.

Pros:
Asking price is $10K over budget
Corner unit
French doors between between dining room
Elevator (I would need it as unit is 3 floors from street level, which happens to be the basement)
Washing machine
Balcony
Windows in each room
Ceiling fans in each room
Fantastic cupboard space
Nice tiles on kitchen and bathroom floors
Locker in basement
25% downpayment
Lower condo fees
Well maintained building
Hardwood floors
Close to bus but can't hear it
New windows
Don't have to paint (but may want to, all in white now)
Crown molding throughout

Cons:
No view (in fact view is the rocks and dirt of Mont-Royal)
No dishwasher
No dryer
Small old stove
No vent in kitchen
Bathtub is old-style clawfoot and although I could soak to my heart's content, I hate that the shower curtain flies all over the place when you take a shower

Possible projects:
Get portable dishwasher
Replace bathtub
Open up kitchen to living room
Add a second balcony

My main concern about this place is the fact that there is no view. Although it would be super quiet and you all know how I love the quiet, it may be a disadvantage if/when I decide to sell. Any work that I may want to do has basically been done. It's a beautiful condo in a very well maintained building, I could move in tomorrow. I was practically drooling when I visited.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Option #1

In an effort to make up my mind, I thought I might get some help from you. Here's a list of pros and cons for my first condo option:

Pros:
Asking price is right on budget
Corner unit
View!
French doors between foyer, also between dining room
Stained glass above foyer doors, between kitchen and dining room
Elevator (but I wouldn't need it as unit is street level)
Washer/Dryer hook up
Built-in shelving in living room
Balcony
Window seat in living room
Full-size stove
Windows in each room
No apartment below
Close to bus
Locker in basement
Decent cupboard space
Nice tiles on kitchen and bathroom floors

Cons:
35% downpayment
High condo fees
Possibility that fees increase
Building not terribly well maintained
No dishwasher
No vent in kitchen
Crappy bathtub
Floating floor
Must paint living room and kitchen
Probably can hear the bus

Possible projects:
Get portable dishwasher
Replace floors
Redo closets to maximize storage
Replace bathtub

My main concern about this place is the fact that the condo fees are so high and for some reason I think they will increase. If they do, I may find myself struggling to keep up. Other than that, it's a funky, quirky little place and I think it would be ideal for me. I loved it on the first visit. It seems to be the type of place I could really put my own stamp on and really make it my own.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

7 hours later:
Just remembered that the bathroom ceiling has some weird textured wallpaper on it. Wonder what it's hiding.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Like father like daughter

After visiting another serious potential on the condo front yesterday, and revisiting another one, I had to put some numbers down on paper to compare and calculate what I can afford.

This isn't something I can do by myself though. I need my Dad to help me with the formulas, etc. While I was waiting for him to finish up his own condo selling business (May was apparently condo month in the Titcombe Family - my parents sold their place, Eric moved into his new place and I've visited over a dozen places), I started a little spreadsheet and input a few numbers. And then, about an hour or so later, I discovered that I am very much my father's daughter. The way I formatted my spreadsheet was EXACTLY the same was as he did his own - even though he did it on paper. We had a good laugh as I kept saying "I did it that way too!" Mom just rolled her eyes a little (a lot).

Cool though, eh?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fitness Test - 2

Last January I participated in my first ever fitness test. Last night I got to see how far I've come in the last few months. Some of the results were better because I am stronger - no doubt about it. Some were the same because I am a lazy ass and don't always do everything in my own workouts. And some were worse because, as you know, I am a lazy ass and don't always do everything in my own workouts. I also think that the time of day played a factor. When we did the test in January it was on a Saturday morning. I'd had a good night's sleep, was refreshed and full of energy. Last night was mid-week, at the end of the day, and also took place after an hour of paddling. (But those are probably more like excuses, the real reason is just that I'm a lazy ass.)

Here's how I did:

The maximum weight I can bench press is 85lbs. (15lbs. more!)
The maximum reps I can bench press in 90 seconds (using 45lbs) is 60 (possibly double what I did in January!)
The maximum reps I can bench row in 90 seconds (using 45lbs) is 77 (12 more!)
I can do a back extension for 4 minutes, 8 seconds (35 seconds less than in January)
I can do 40 sit ups in 90 seconds (exactly the same)
I can do 1 push-up in 90 seconds (I think I must've miscounted by 4 in January)
I can do zero chin-ups in 90 seconds (the same - but just so you know, a couple of the guys could only do 2 or 3, so that makes me feel a lot better)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This is hard

Visited two condos tonight. Both have a lot of potential.

One I liked more than the other but it's not exactly right. The bedroom may not have enough room for even the minimal furniture I have and the dining area wouldn't allow room for my china cabinet or buffet. It is completely ready to move in. Fantastic kitchen, beautiful floors, bright (3rd floor), front and back balcony, office space.

The second place is closer to my ideal budget but it's dark (ground floor), would have to be repainted completely and the living room is minuscule. Kitchen is a good size, bathroom too - but both are slightly dated. Bedroom would fit my furniture and office space is good too. Free parking out the back, nice floors, gas fireplace.

Both are close to the metro, bus and shopping.

I've also prepared a list of 4 other properties on Ridgewood that I should probably have a look at. Gosh - who has time to work? I'm trying to find a place to live!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Potential

Went to an open house on Ridgewood this afternoon. Found a lovely place, within my price range, closed bedroom, balcony, incredible view. Kitchen isn't fab and there's no washing machine but these are things that could be worked into the place.

Big decisions coming up.

Action on my place - somebody's coming to visit tomorrow morning ...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Faster than a speeding bullet

Or at least faster than the time it takes me to pull out my toolbox and open it to find the right screwdriver.

By that point Marc has already added a washer to my doorknob and screwed it in by hand, as tight as it can go.

Thank you, Marc. Now I can open and close the cupboard door without all that wiggling.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lost Sunglasses

Lost my sunglasses in the basin last night. Not too sure why I had them with me in the boat in the first place but there you go. Had to bike home through the first bugs of the year and hope nothing flew into my eyes. The bright side - a trip to MEC is in order!

Monday, May 12, 2008

More Goodness

Made an apple crisp for our family Mother's Day celebration. Was that ever good. It's all I've been thinking of since. I may have to buy some more apples and make another apple crisp - just for me!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Me!

Holy crap - it's the 3rd anniversary of my blog today.

As it turns out, it's also Mother's Day. So Happy Mother's Day to my Mom and my friends who are moms.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chocolaty Goodness

Turns out I make a fine chocolate cheesecake. What was I so worried about?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Same Ol' Same Ol'

Remember how last summer I complained that it seemed to rain every Wednesday night when I had dragon boat practice? Looks like I'll be doing the same again this year. Last night was our first time on the water for the season and guess what? It rained!

Friday, May 02, 2008

100 Things To Do Before I Go - Part IV

Sorry I didn't get the chance to post these last ones yesterday. With no further ado ...

Numbers 76 - 100:

76. Teach someone to read
77. Hike through the Grand Canyon
78. Accept myself for who I am
79. Go whale watching
80. Win a trip
81. Learn to drive stick shift
82. Be the first to borrow a book from the library
83. See a Broadway play
84. Ride the Orient Express
85. Buy something at auction
86. Photograph tulips in Holland
87. Take more pictures
88. Go to the Ottawa Tulip Festival
89. Do 2 pull-ups
90. Buy a lottery ticket
91. Drink champagne in Champagne
92. Attend a Habs play-offs game
93. Live in a eco-friendly home
94. Go on a helicopter ride
95. Walk around Red Square
96. Buy myself a diamond
97. Go gliding
98. Ride in a hot air balloon
99. Tango in Argentina
100. Have mehndi (henna) applied to hands

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

100 Things To Do Before I Go - Part III

Numbers 51 - 75:

51. Walk out of a terrible movie
52. Build a house for somebody in need
53. Take my niece and nephew on vacation
54. Be at peace with the past
55. Learn to install tiles
56. Design my own home
57. Drive an eco-friendly car
58. Win a dragon boat race
59. Tell a person I don’t like what I really think of them
60. Cater a party
61. See a bull fight in Pamplona, Spain
62. Visit all the Canadian provinces and territories
63. Learn to whistle really loud
64. Go to Disney World
65. See my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary
66. Sell my baked goods
67. Have a great big soaker bathtub and use it weekly
68. Read more
69. Leave no cheese untested
70. Recognize when life is really good
71. Learn to sew
72. Drive fast on the autobahn, not just be a passenger
73. Attend the Olympics
74. Learn how to accept a compliment
75. Send a message in a bottle

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

100 Things To Do Before I Go - Part II

Numbers 26 - 50:

26. Go on a multi-day biking trip
27. Blow bubbles from Jacques Cartier bridge
28. Pyramids at sunset
29. Stay up all night to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
30. Carnival in Brazil
31. Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef
32. Boat down the Amazon
33. Sail down the Nile
34. Drive around Newfoundland, or at least as far as the road goes
35. Plant a tree
36. Fly first class, internationally
37. Take ballroom dance lessons
38. Sleep in a tree house
39. Hike to Everest base camp
40. Eat sushi in Japan
41. Take a cooking class (preferably sushi, but really any kind will do)
42. Have a front porch swing
43. Vacation with Yvette, outside of Canada and Switzerland
44. Celebrate my 40th birthday in New York City
45. Breakfast in bed
46. Join a book club
47. Make my funeral arrangements
48. Write my Last Will & Testament
49. Visit Grandmaman’s grave
50. Bake a soufflé

Monday, April 28, 2008

100 Things To Do Before I Go - Part I

At last! Finally this weekend I found the last couple of things for my list. Here you go.

Numbers 1 - 25:

1. Be debt free
2. Show my pictures in a gallery
3. Volunteer in India
4. See an author read her/his own work
5. Learn Portuguese in Portugal
6. Help put my niece and nephew through university, if they want to go
7. Own a dog
8. Hike up to Machu Picchu
9. Ride an elephant
10. Do something I think I can’t do (sky dive, hang glide, parasail)
11. Taste durian
12. Not be afraid of PDA’s
13. Stand inside the Taj Mahal
14. Ring a church bell
15. Participate in La Tomatina
16. Have my own garden
17. Go a day without speaking
18. Travel by train across Canada
19. Walk along the Great Wall of China
20. Give $100 to a busker
21. Have a meal under a lemon tree in Lisbon
22. Safari in Africa
23. Ride a camel in the desert
24. Be surrounded by sand, as far as the eye can see
25. Open a Swiss bank account

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spring Tune-Up

Seems this past week has been all about spring tune-ups. Tuesday night Marc came over and gave my bike a tune-up. So I'm all ready to hit the bike path and see if I can beat my 700-odd kilometres of 2007. And today I went to an Ayurvedic yoga workshop. Found out through a tridosha "test" that I'm a pitta, with a healthy dose of vata, and a touch of kapha on the side.

This workshop opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about why we are the way we are, how we can use what we are to our full advantage and help us find the balance we seem to be looking for. All in all, a lot of things that made me sit up and go "hmmmm ..."

It also felt wonderful to do a little yoga on a beautiful day like today. Or maybe it was the act of doing the yoga practice that helped me realise what a beautiful day it was. It's as simple as this for me - practicing yoga makes me happy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Home Stager

My real estate offers the services of a home stager as part of her deal in getting my condo sold. Having seen my fair share of home decorating and selling house television shows, I had a good idea of what I needed to do to get my place ready for sale.

Yesterday afternoon the home stager stopped by for her one hour consultation. I know my place is small and I never expected her to be here for more than 30 minutes. But apparently I did a good job preparing my place in advance because she was in and out of my place in 15 minutes and all she had to tell me was this:

Update knobs in kitchen, bathroom and hallway
Remove wooden stairway thing leading to window
Add a few accessories to the bathroom
And if I really wanted to, replace the kitchen light

Other than that, she loved how I'd decorated (she is a decorator) and called it "Bohemian Chic" (how cool is that?!), thought it was bright, clean, a "palace" compared to some other places she'd seen, and loved, loved, loved my dining room set. She also asked if I always had it this clean and I was almost embarrassed to say "yes, pretty much".

So I have to spend a tiny bit of money to give the kitchen, bathroom and hallway a little bit more punch and the rest should take care of itself.

After the home staging visit, I headed out to another open house. Located in Les Terrasses Windsor, I saw a great two bedroom place (unfortunately over my budget) and will be seeing a one bedroom condo tomorrow night after work. Very exciting.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Night Flight

Friday night I got to fly over Montreal in a little 4-seater plane. Here are a few pictures from the flight.

It was a beautiful night, almost a full moon and super calm. We flew over my house, over the Olympic Basin at Parc Jean-Drapeau, over downtown Montreal and even the Olympic Stadium (but that wasn't lit up). It was very, very cool.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wine Fights Female Dementia

In case anyone is looking for more reasons to drink wine, check out this article.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hockey Fever

In case you haven't heard, the Canadiens have made it to the Stanley Cup play-offs this year. In fact, they were first place in the EasterN Conference this year. First time in a while that they finished in first. (I'm no sports fanatic so I won't bore you with all stats. Besides which, what am I talking about and where is the real Stef?)

Here in Montreal, locals are in the midst not of spring fever, but of Habs Hockey Fever. Many, many cars are driving around with those little flags sticking out the back car window. I didn't know how badly until yesterday when I even saw a cop car with a Habs flag in the back window!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New List Soon

The List of 100 Things Worth Doing was fun (and worth doing!). Along the same vein, I am preparing a list of 100 Things To Do Before I Go, which is proving a lot harder. I've been reading other people's lists (Mighty Girl again for inspiration) and am nearly there. As soon as I've got my 100, I'll start posting them. Until then please be patient.

Monday, April 14, 2008

100 Things Worth Doing - Part IV

Ready for it? Last 25 ...

Numbers 76-100:

76. Waiting in line overnight to buy David Bowie tickets
77. Laughing myself sick with Yvette
78. Brown sugar sandwiches
79. Flying down the dirt path in Dad’s old wagon
80. Meeting my best friend thanks to music class, a clarinet and “Good Night Ladies”
81. Mayor for a Day
82. Meeting my niece and nephew for the first time
83. Having the chance to say “adieu” to Grandmaman about 2 months before she died
84. Girls Night Out
85. Sand between my toes
86. Tasting the salty air when getting off the plane in Mexico, Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Grand Cayman
87. Reading in my chair, covered with my blanket, oblivious to the weather
88. Going to summer camp
89. Opening Christmas stockings on my bed with my brothers
90. Writing to my pen-pal for 28 years and counting
91. Discovering live opera
92. Flirting with lovely men
93. Busting a move in my living room
94. Having both sets of grandparents in my life until my 30s
95. Visiting friends all over the world
96. Getting caught in the rain
97. Revelling in being a woman
98. Knocking his socks off
99. Watching and listening to Mom sing the national anthem at an Expos game
100. Writing this list

Sunday, April 13, 2008

100 Things Worth Doing - Part III

Numbers 51-75:

51. Keeping my cool and taking a picture of Thom Yorke as he walked by
52. First kiss
53. Skipping class at university to see a movie
54. Getting wet on the Maid of the Mist
55. Sitting on the top of a cliff on Aran Island, nobody else in sight
56. Brushing my teeth and being allowed to spit the toothpaste off the back porch at the cottage
57. Seeing a shooting star during the Radiohead concert, downtown Montreal as the backdrop
58. Laughing when Mom mistook “hot tub” for “hot dog”
59. Napping on my couch, in the sun
60. 1,275 Caribbean sunsets, give or take
61. Painting my own walls, changing my own light fixtures
62. Getting detention in biology class
63. Mini reunions with Anna, Lynn and Yvette
64. Decorating my brother’s car with condoms after his wedding and stealing all his underwear from his suitcase, only to find out his new mother-in-law drove the car home
65. Dressing up in my Mom’s silver shoes and jewelery, back in the days when my feet were still smaller than hers
66. Celebrating Grandmaman’s 90th Birthday with the ENTIRE Volet clan
67. Surprising my parents on their 25th wedding anniversary
68. Being licked in the face by my brother’s dog for the first time
69. Every time I’ve said no
70. Learning to ride a bike
71. Volunteering in Panama, twice
72. Burping better than many men
73. Getting my first tattoo
74. Smoking a Cuban cigar, in Cuba
75. Dancing on the bar

Saturday, April 12, 2008

100 Things Worth Doing - Part II

Numbers 26-50:

26. Dropping a frog on Mom’s back
27. Being Sandy in the Club Med version of Grease
28. Signing for my condo
29. Sleeping in the train station
30. Being towed on a sled behind the snowmobile
31. Learning to fly on the trapeze
32. Jumping into the snow in my bathing suit
33. Siesta on the hammock, ocean view
34. Hair dancing
35. Jumping on the beds with my cousins before Charles-AndrĂ©’s wedding, in all our finery
36. Dragon boating
37. Staying in a 4 or 5-star hotel
38. Accidentally turning the lights off in a museum, in Munich, on a Sunday afternoon
39. Taking care of a pet
40. Spending days picking up beer caps after hosting a party at my parents house (Dad still finding some when they got home)
41. Having a great librarian instil in me a love of books
42. Growing my own herbs (not marijuana – honestly)
43. Hiking with Grandmaman
44. Getting my BA
45. Moving to Germany, England, Ireland, Mexico, the Bahamas
46. Reading Amelia Badelia books with Dad
47. Attending the Grand Prix
48. Pillow fight in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s house, in the Lake District
49. Using my cordless drill
50. Eating fresh croissants and strawberries on my birthday

Friday, April 11, 2008

100 Things Worth Doing - Part I

Maggie Mason over at Mighty Girl has inspired me to put together my own list of scenes I hope pop up as my life flashes before my eyes.

I enjoyed reading her list and found myself thinking about things that had happened in my life. It made me realise that I have had some pretty amazing things happen and decided to start my own list. Something about writing it all down and recalling all these events has made me very happy. Although I haven't had the experiences that a lot of people have had (getting married, kids), I have lead a pretty interesting life so far (at least to me) and I have some amazing memories. Everything you're about to read is important to me, some things more than others, but they are all good things. And for somebody like me, a realist (pessimist, cynic), it's been therapeutic to see that I have A LOT to be thankful for.

Numbers 1-25:

1. Making bread with Grandmaman
2. Picking fresh strawberries and raspberries anytime we wanted at Grandmaman & Grandpapa’s
3. Stuffing my mouth full of grapes and laughing in the mirror at the Cottage
4. Catching tadpoles at camp in the spring
5. Coming out of the metro in Barcelona, turning around and seeing La Sagrada Familia
6. Watching Yvette hang there as her shirt got stuck on a horse’s saddle as she was getting off
7. Back-packing and camping my way around Ireland
8. Lip-synching the ABBA mix to rave reviews at the local bar in Huatulco
9. Earning a Certificate in Photography (also becoming a ‘A’ student)
10. Enlarging the photo booth picture at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof
11. Having an article about me published in the paper
12. Singing “Alice the Camel” over and over again to the girls in Panama
13. Discovering the Maritimes on my own
14. Listening to Mom throw bread dough on the kitchen counter
15. Hearing the ocean from my bed
16. Aperitifs and cheese as the sun set
17. Eating fresh caught lobster on the beach
18. Staying up all night to watch the Junkanoo Parade
19. Clean sheets
20. Learning the chocolate chip cookie recipe by heart
21. The FM tapes
22. Kissing a stingray
23. Swimming with dolphins
24. Killing a scorpion
25. Dreaming in German, Spanish, French, at one time or another

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lost Power

The power went off last night at about 2:30am. I know this because my smoke alarm started beeping to let me know it was using it's battery or something. I wondered how long the power might be off and wondered if I would stay awake. About 10 minutes later the power did come back. My fridge started humming and the smoke alarm beeped to let me know it had power (it's so considerate that way). But within a few minutes, it was off again. Didn't want to take any chances, so I turned my phone on, set the alarm and instead of putting on my dresser, beside my bed, I put it back in my purse by the front door. (To be fair, it was about 2:45am when I did this.)

Did I think to check the volume or type of ring? No!

What was I thinking?

You guessed it, I missed the alarm because I didn't hear the bloody thing. Several reasons:
1) it was too far away for me to hear;
2) it was on vibrate.

Sheesh ... sometimes I am amazed I can get out of the house at all.

So I woke up late. So I ran around in a panic for 45 minutes to catch the bus but at least I made it to work on time (meaning I was there 15-20 minutes early).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back in the Groove

Now that my course is over, I was lucky enough to have a 3-day weekend and have all the time I needed to: go to a show, meet an estate agent, rent a car, spend an afternoon with Viv, go to a bridal shower, buy more groceries than I needed, run some errands, go out to dinner, do all my laundry, clean my house properly, go out to lunch, see a movie, do all my cooking for the week and do all my ironing. Phew! It was busy but it was a good busy.

Although staying home this weekend meant not being able to see my niece and nephew (and brother and sister-in-law), it made the world of difference to me. Especially as my condo will be going on the market within the next few weeks.

Yes - that's right! I've decided to put my place up for sale. My mortgage comes up for renewal anyway in the fall, and I've decided to get a jump on things now. Met with a real estate agent on Friday morning to get things on moving for pictures, staging the place to sell and we shall see what that brings. Exciting, eh?!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TESL Certificate

You may (or may not) have been wondering where I've been and what's been going on with the TESL Certificate.

Here's what I'd started to prepare prior to the first class -

Week 1, Day 1

Started the TESL courses today. It was (good/bad/boring) to be back in the classroom again after a few years off (since the photography courses).

How were the other students? Instructor?

How do I feel about the subject matter?

Time for homework, what's expected, presentations, etc.

Monday off ...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Well, I never got around to writing all that stuff following Day 1 of class because I was busy reading and preparing for Day 2. And then Day 3 and 4. And finally Day 5 and 6. 60 hours of class time in 3 weeks, plus reading the better part of two entire text books and preparing 3 short presentations, as well as my final practicum. It was a lot of work in a short period of time. Totally worth it though.

Now it's done. I have earned a Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages / Teaching English as a Second Language.

Congratulations to Me!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Condo Shopping

A few weeks ago I started my search for a new condo. I'm hoping to sell mine and move by October/November 2008.

I started by looking at all kinds of new projects that are going up in the area but have resigned myself to the fact they are out of budget for me (this time). Not one to dwell (so untrue), I have moved on and started looking at places that aren't brand spanking new.

Tonight I'm stopping by another place on Simpson. It's about $20K over budget, but having already seen a few others in the area, I want to compare a little. It's certainly in the right location. Should be fun!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Update - March 5

The place was advertised at 750 sq. ft. Don't know where all the space was though, maybe in the bedroom and bathroom because it sure wasn't in the kitchen and living/dining room. Huh.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Back to School

Tomorrow I start my TESL course. My notebook, pen, pencil and eraser are all ready to go. Very exciting!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Grandmaman

Up at Les Pleiades, in August 2005.

Grandmaman was 94 at the time and for the first time in my life, she didn't outrun me. Even at her 90th birthday, she managed to outpace the entire family on a seemingly endless downhill hike.

Sadly those days are over now. Grandmaman died February 12, 2008, at about 11:00 a.m. (GMT +1)

She taught me how to cook, how to make bread and how to knit, even if I never really caught on to that one.

Here are a few things I will miss about Grandmaman.

I will miss her cooking. Cherry soup in winter with cherries from the trees in the front garden and homemade fried croutons. Tarte au fromage that would stink up the house with the smell from the cheese. Deep fried potato puffs eaten on the terrasse. Fresh out of the oven peach pie after a l-o-n-g hot walk up the road from town, after travelling all night. And above all - Curly Bread.

Then there was always her sheer joy on seeing me after long absences.

Her little giggle when she laughed, with her hand over her mouth.

And so many other fond memories now.

Here's a link to some pictures that have been taken over the years.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Flag Day

Check this out - two of my pictures are presently up on The Gazette's website, to celebrate Flag Day:

Canadian flag

Quebec flag

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Butter Fingers

Am thinking of having my name changed. To "Butter Fingers".

Invited my parents over for dinner tonight so I could try out a couple of new recipes from one of my new cookbooks. From The Flexitarian Table, I made a phyllo pie with lemon tofu, winter greens and mushrooms, as well as roasted winter vegetable salad with red onion vinaigrette. Both were delicious. Dad even had two helpings of both dishes!

Anyway, the reason I'm going to rename myself is because as I was taking the roasted vegetables out of the oven, I thought I put the pan on the counter properly. I did not. I put it on very wrongly. It immediately fell to the floor and ALL the potatoes and carrots and olive oil spread themselves across the better part of my entire kitchen floor. Heh. Luckily Mom was there to tell me what to do. Pick the pieces up gingerly and put them in the serving bowl. And that's what I did. Didn't have much choice because it's not like I had a back up pan in the oven or something. We ate them and they were delicious.

This is not the first time I've let a dish of food drop on the floor. Most recently at Nick & Sue's I dropped an entire load of cut fruit. At least that we were able to wash off and serve. It's a bit harder to wash oily potatoes and carrots. And I think I dropped some mini pizzas on the floor last spring. Couldn't do much about those though, the sauce went all over the floor and I draw the line at scraping sauce from the floor into my mouth.

I was very happy with both recipes. Particulary the phyllo lemon tofu and veggie pie. The tofu was delicious and lemony and not "tofu" tasting at all. Dad couldn't get over the dressing on the potatoes and said about the tofu, that if I hadn't told him what it was, he would've never known.

Mom brought dessert. She made some very yummy chocolate pannacotta. Mmm ... Thanks, Mom!

Now the dishwasher is doing its job and I've just finished washing the floor. For the second time. It's tough getting oil off the floor!

Friday, February 08, 2008

At Long Last

Miracles of miracles - my phone works!

After my last call to them at 5pm yesterday, I never thought my phone would be working about two hours later. But it was! All of a sudden, it was on the table ringing and vibrating at the same time and I wasn't quite sure what it was or what to do. Obviously I answered the phone and found out that it was working. I even made several calls to test out this new thing called "a phone that works". It's quite amazing. You dial a number, press send and then somebody talks to you from the other end! And not just a recording saying "3M1 - your telephone isn't connected to the network at this time. Please contact your service provider. This was a recording." (my translation)

I'm happy that this is over. My final comment on the whole thing is that Telus needs to revise their vocabulary. Escalate and expedite don't mean the same thing to them as they do to most other people. For Telus those words mean "we'll get to it when we can, so please stop bothering us." For the rest of the world (or at least me) escalate means to increase intensity and expedite means to accelerate a process or speed up. Silly me.