Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's oh so quiet

After the hubbub of pre-Christmas stuff last week, the departure of Nick & Family and getting myself back to work for a few quiet days, everything seems almost too quiet. The kind of quiet where you start to think you're in the wrong place, at the wrong time, on the wrong day. Like this morning when I arrived at work and all the lights were off and all I could think was "Crap - today's the 31st and the office is closed and I'm such a loser for being here." Then I realised that actually, it was only the 30th, the office was open, I was just the first one on the floor (at 8:30am - late by my standards).

Which reminds me of a little story I meant to share earlier this month.

On December 3, Eric's girlfriend Sam successfully defended her PhD thesis (yay Sam!). To celebrate they invited some of her friends and family out for drinks. First we were going to meet at the bar around 7pm. Then it was decided to meet closer to 5:30pm. Things were busy at work for me at the time and I knew I wouldn't leave work much before 5:30pm but hurried to get there as soon as I could. What do you know? Even though I arrived around 6pm, I was still the first person there! Even when I'm late, I'm early. Sigh ...

I should embrace my neurosis (does punctuality qualify as a neurosis?) and live with it. Why do I feel obliged to apologize for it? Seriously, I am sick in the head.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day

I've probably said it the last couple of years but I'll say it again - Christmas is really about the kids. This year Wesley and Darcy made that perfectly clear. Talk about seeing two overexcited kids. I don't think either of them were quiet for more than 2 minutes in the 8 or so hours I spent in their company yesterday. That's a lot of excitement, a lot of chattering, singing, running, screaming, bouncing, yelling, laughing and anything else you can throw in.

While Darcy and Wesley opened Santa's presents at my parents' house in the morning, I got caught up on a little quiet time of my own. And it was a good thing because once I got to my parents', it was all noise, all the time.

We went to visit my grandparents at the senior residence to give my Mom a bit of peace while she finished preparing our huge turkey dinner. Grandma and Grandpa were thrilled to see us all but of course more interested in hearing and seeing Darcy and Wesley. It was very sweet to see Darcy give her Great-Grandma a hug and kiss and to see Wesley shake his Great-Grandpa's hand.

Back at the house, once Eric & Sam, Marc, and Bob & Gayle arrived, we sat down for Christmas dinner. For the first time in quite a few years we actually celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day with the entire family. There were 12 of us around the table and the table was loaded with food. Mom is a great cook and she's especially good at feeding masses of hungry people amazing food. She never disappoints. Well, for me at any rate. My Uncle Bob and brother Nick were ready to call Christmas a bust because this year Mom didn't have time to make the fudge "mice" she usually makes. The 14 other kinds of cookies and bars apparently meant nothing.

After dinner we took a break from food to do our Secret Santa gift exchange and give the kids their gifts. From the noise, I'd say Wesley enjoyed himself. Then it was back to the table for dessert. The evening ended with our traditional Annual Titcombe Pit Extravaganza. This year's winner by a landslide was Sue! I lost miserably.

And that's it. Christmas is over for another year.

If you want to see some pictures, check them out here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve - It's been a long, fun, loud, laughing sort of day. I'm beat.

This morning I joined Nick, Sue, Darcy, Wesley and my Dad for tobogganing. Instead of heading up to Mont-Royal we went to Westmount and enjoyed a smaller, more kid-friendly hill, local kids and families, and free parking. The weather for this was perfect. Not too cold with just a sprinkle of snow coming down.

Last year when we went tobogganing, Wesley screamed basically the entire time we were there, unless he was being held by Sue. This year there was no screaming. Only laughing and laughing and laughing. Wesley could have stayed there all day. He loved going down in the toboggan and was all ready to go by himself! He was so funny - all bundled up in his snowsuit, he could hardly move but that didn't stop him from doing anything. He ran, he climbed, he threw snowballs! He didn't stay interested in the tobogganing for too, too long but the park next to the hill caught his eye and we spent a fair bit of time there with him. He went on ALL the slides (think there were 4 different ones), the swing, those stationary wobbly animals/car-things. His favourite was the slide. Any slide, but the bigger, faster and more dangerous the better. We had to keep a close eye on him because he seems to invite danger or at least know where to find it, and fast!



Darcy enjoyed it too but in her own way. She is clearly more independent and not interested in having to go down the hill with an adult. But coming up the hill on her own was another matter! She found out that wasn't so much fun, especially if you had to pull the toboggan.

The funniest part of the morning was when Nick and Darcy went down the hill and suddenly there was Wesley running down the hill after them! As it was, he could hardly move in his snowsuit but that didn't stop him. He managed to run his bouncy little run for longer than you would've thought before he face-planted into the snow. But up he got and off he went again. There was no stopping him. People walking up the hill laughed at the sight of him too. It was hilarious.

The kids had a quiet afternoon at home before Eric & Sam came over to celebrate Nick's birthday. Instead of going to a restaurant to celebrate (that's the usual thing) we ordered Chinese take-out this year. It was easier mostly due to MonkeyBoy (aka Wesley) who could at least be let out of his booster chair when he'd had enough of sitting around the table with us.

Both Darcy and Wesley were a little shy around Eric & Sam when they first came in but soon warmed up to them. By the end of the evening Wesley was all over Eric, to the point where he even managed to drool onto Eric's face, which we all thought pretty funny.

It was my turn to put Darcy to bed and once again she asked if I could sleep over. I don't know what I've let myself in for, but I've gone and said that maybe, if she comes back in the summer, she could come and sleep in my extra bedroom, in the chair that turns into a bed! Darcy was pretty excited by that idea.

Tomorrow will probably be another long, loud and laugh filled day, so I'd better get to bed.

Happy Birthday, Nick - hope you enjoyed it!

Firsts

Yesterday I had the honour of participating in Darcy's (my niece) first movie theatre experience. It was fun!

Nick, Sue, Darcy and Wesley flew in to Montreal on Tuesday afternoon. They're staying with my parents until Sunday. Nick & Sue had a bit of Christmas shopping to do, so we decided to meet at the mall close to where I live. I met up with them there and Sue, Darcy and I went for lunch at the mall, while Nick took Wesley home for his nap.

To say Darcy was excited is putting it mildly. Or maybe it's a stage. But she was full of jumping and dancing and loud talking! It was pretty funny - the more excited she got the bigger her eyes would get. Anyway, Darcy insisted that I sit beside her for lunch and then had to have some of my sushi. Next time she gets her own!

Sue went over the movie rules with Darcy. Rule #1: get popcorn. That's my favourite one. The others are all the usual: no talking, if it's funny we can laugh, if it's sad we can cry, we have to sit still.

Here's a picture of Darcy at the movies, popcorn and all.

Previews are a lot more interesting with a 5 1/2 year old. Darcy would like to see Toy Story 3 and Ocean. Girl has good taste. None of us was interested in seeing Cats & Dogs.

The movie we saw was Disney's The Princess and the Frog. Darcy did really well. She sat quietly and watched the movie. It was only towards the end, at the sad part, that she got upset and cried. But Sue was great letting her know it would all turn out in the end, and of course it did. As Sue mentioned on her facebook status, "Darcy laughed and cried. It was better than Cats."

Us girls made our way back to my place on the bus. Darcy was thrilled to be on the look out for the right numbers on the bus and had to stand up on the ride, even though more than one person offered their seat to her. Nick & Wesley showed up shortly after we got home and we all had tea and cookies. Dinner was spaghetti and I was pretty amazed that the kids ate my sauce. I didn't tone down the spices or puree it and although they were both excited and a little on the tired side, I would say they did pretty well.

Darcy managed to spill her cup of water twice and that did earn her a time out away from the table. But that was really the worst of it, so I think it was pretty successful. Wesley could hardly finish eating his cookie before wanting the broom to sweep up his mess. What a funny little guy. At the mall in the morning he would hardly look at me. But after half an hour at home, running up and down my hallway, sitting on the bench at my vanity and looking at himself in the mirror saying "Me!", he was quite happy to have me spin him around in the office chair and even played a bit of hide n' seek with me, behind the dining room curtains.

More pictures of the day here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Any Requests?

Have got 6 kinds of cookies made and 2 kinds of chocolate bark done. Have one more cookie to make and 2 types of bar/cake. But to bring the total up to an even dozen, I need one more. I'm willing to try something new but nothing too fussy or time intensive. Any requests, ideas or suggestions?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Baking

After leaving things very much to the last minute, and in fact, until after Christmas altogether, this year I have started my Christmas baking with plenty of time. Got two batches of cookies baked this morning!

Of course, last year we did celebrate Christmas nearly a week late so it was OK. This year though, it's happening on the day so that that means it all has to be done on time.

Too bad I can't be this organised getting birthday and Christmas presents off to England on time ...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Signs of winter or H1N1

Seems to me it was about this time last year that I got sick as a dog. So either the cold that I woke up with on Friday morning is either a sign of winter or I have H1N1 flu. Hmmm.

Probably not Swine flu. I kept the "Decision Chart" I got in the mail a few weeks ago and according to their list of symptoms, whatever I have is probably just a flu and I should stay at home and rest.

Maybe this is just my body's way of advising me winter's a comin' after all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Signs of winter

Sign that winter is coming:

- had to break out my cashmere scarf this morning

Signs of winter

Ooops, meant to post this yesterday.

Sign that winter is coming:

- the carpets are down in the elevator banks at work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Signs of Winter

Sign that winter is coming:

- The carpet is down in the gym locker room.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

H1N1 Humour

Read a funny joke on facebook today:

A bear, a lion and a pig meet.
Bear says: "If I roar in the forest, the entire forest shivers with fear."
Lion says: "If I roar in the jungle, the entire jungle is afraid of me."
Pig says: "Big deal ... I only have to cough and the entire planet shits itself."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Back in action

Ow.

Ow.

Ow.

If I could lift my arm higher I might be inspired to write more about getting back to training last night. However, given that we started off the winter training season (after 5 weeks of doing nothing, nada, zero, zilch) with a fitness test, it will be enough just to say that I hurt. A. Lot. Oh and also - I am using muscle cream like moisturizer right now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Not the movie for me

Reading some movie reviews, I came across this one. I will not be going to see this movie.

Think I'll be safer going to see this.

Boring

Not much posting going on, I know. It's boring not to see any updates, this I also know. But guess what? By November I'll be back training and you'll be able to read about all my sore muscles (just saying anything about my "muscles" makes me laugh) for the next 10 months.

Something to look forward to, no?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Girly Get-Away Weekend Recap

Incredibly, a week has already gone by since Yvette left.

On September 24, Yvette's flight arrived on time and I was there to pick her up from the airport. I took Yvette for a walk along the canal to help keep her awake until dinner time (where I did not point out the Atwater Market.) For dinner I served a homemade macaroni & cheese with warmed apple crisp for dessert. Yvette managed to stay up until after 9pm so I let her go to bed after that.

Friday morning we got up early and drove to Mount-Royal to see the sunrise. It was positively frigid. It was also pretty cloudy so we didn't see much at all of the sunrise. Kind of a let down but still fun to say we did it. After a quick breakfast at home and some much needed coffee, we picked up the last provisions for the weekend. Anna & Lynn showed up mid-afternoon and we made our way through all the weekend traffic to head up north.

The girls all loved the cottage! It's a great place. A bit on the rustic side but still very comfortable and really had everything we to keep us happy. We sat down for a snack and a drink before settling in, and then had a delicious Thai dinner - fresh rice paper rolls, a red shrimp curry and a green fish curry, with basmati rice and three kinds of shrimp chips. Lynn broke out a special bottle of red wine, call Friends, bottled in 2003, the last time the four of us got together. I have no idea how late we stayed up talking but one thing I do know is that we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Saturday morning Yvette and I were both up pretty early so decided to head down to the beach for a little look-see. It had rained in the night and that morning the place was thick with fog. I have never seen fog like that before. It was really cool. We both took a bunch of pictures of the lake, beach and swamp. The fog gave a great mysterious feel to everything. Back up at the cottage, I made sure we all had breakfast and got us on the road to Mont-Tremblant by mid-morning. By this time the fog had been burned off by the sun and it turned into a beautiful sunny day. We found the spa with no trouble and then continued along the scenic route into the ski station part of Tremblant for a look around the shops and then a gorgeous lunch on a terrasse.

After lunch we headed to the spa and spent the afternoon being pampered. What's not to like about that?! The spa is surrounded by woods and with all the leaves changing colour on the trees, it was really quite incredible to be outside in a steaming jacuzzi and then plunge ourselves into 13C water! We did the hot, cold and relax sessions a couple of times before heading to our massages.

I can't say for the others but I have a fair idea that all of us were disappointed ... that the massages weren't any longer! If that wasn't the best massage of my life, it was the second best. And after that we headed back to the baths for more. Hot, cold, relax.

During one of our relaxation sessions we were in a room with these zero-gravity lounge chairs. Lynn melted into hers and I did the same. Yvette sat down and then proceeded to turn purple trying to get her chair to lean backwards. Well, if you know anything about the four of us, especially when we get together, it generally means that laughter is never far off. This was one of those times. You know how it is, the more you try not to laugh in a "complete silence" atmosphere, the more you do laugh. That is of course what happened to us. We were crying with the effort of trying not to laugh, shaking so much it must've looked like we were having fits of some kind. We did manage finally to control ourselves. Until Anna came in and went and did the exact same thing Yvette had done not 5 minutes before. Well ... more silent laughing, more tears and more convulsions. I'm still amazed we didn't get thrown out of the place for disturbing the tranquil atmosphere.

When we decided we'd had enough, we showered and headed into St-Jovite for dinner. We found a great little Italian restaurant that looked quite expensive but was very reasonable. We each had a great pizza and Lynn and I indulged in a little creme brulee for dessert while Anna and Yvette shared a chocolate parfait.

A short drive back to the cottage and we were home again. I got out of the car first to open the door and turn on the outside lights so the others could see where they were going. But when I got the back of the van I pretended that something got me and screamed and ducked down. Yvette screamed bloody murder and then slammed the side door shut. I nearly wet myself laughing. Lynn had a good giggle too. Anna stayed safely where she was in the van and didn't move. She still maintains that she really did "hear something out there." Safely in the cottage, after relaxing for a bit, Lynn and I decided to stretch our legs and go for a little stroll. I took her down to the beach and this time you could see a few lights across the lake and around at nearby cottages. It was very picturesque.

We ended the night playing bits of various games, listening to 80s tunes and laughed some more. The entire day could not have been more perfect.

Sunday morning after brunch, all four of us headed down to the beach in the hopes that we'd actually be able to see the other side. Luck was mostly with us! Most of the fog had gone and we actually had a pretty good view of all the amazing colours surrounding us. I had my small tripod with me so we were even able to take a great picture of the four us.

After cleaning up at the cottage and a quick snack, we headed back to Montreal for dinner at my parents house. The four of us, plus Anna's husband James, came and we had a great roast beast dinner and great conversation. What an end to the weekend!

Monday Lynn, Yvette and I headed out to drive by our old houses (44th Avenue, 52nd
Avenue and Claude Avenue) and then met up with one of Yvette's flickr friends at Chow's in Dorval for a Chinese lunch. After that we drove out to Fairview to smell the fountain (for Yvette) and do some shopping. We all managed to do very well. As Anna & James were celebrating the Jewish New Year at Jamie's parents, Lynn came over to my place for dinner and a movie. She brought St-Elmo's Fire and we had nachos. A fun and relaxing end to the day.

Tuesday Anna had to work in afternoon but we were able to shop all together at Simon's in the morning. For lunch I took Lynn and Yvette to my favourite downtown pizza place, Il Focolaio, at Philips Square. We all ate our entire pizzas and the shopped for the rest of the afternoon. It was a horrible rainy day and on our walk home from the metro to my house, we actually had to duck into the pharmacy just to take refuge until the downpour stopped a little.

Anna & James joined us for a pasta dinner and I served Yvette her much requested chocolate cheesecake. The evening ended on a sad note as that was our goodbye to Lynn (and our last group photo.) She would head back to Toronto and her family on Wednesday. I'm so glad she came for the long weekend. It was a long drive for her on her own and especially all that time away from her young family. (Thanks Gus, for letting her come to us!)

On Wednesday Yvette and I explored Old Montreal in the morning, had lunch in China Town and then strolled through China Town. On our way home we stopped at the Atwater Market to pick up some fish for dinner as Yvette's brother was coming over. We enjoyed a few hours with him and started to make some progress getting through all the food in my fridge!

Thursday I rented the community car and took Yvette out to Ikea and then to the Kirkland outlets. Now that I wasn't specifically looking to buy anything, I managed to come home with a beautiful new table lamp and paid for a new bedside table (which I picked up today). We headed home early in the afternoon so we could have time for a little rest before meeting up with nearly a dozen of our old high school friends that evening.

God, what a laugh. Almost everyone who said they'd come did so I would say we had a good turn out. What I found most amazing was that although during high school we were all in different groups or cliques, that night none of that mattered any more and we were all able to sit at one big table and talk and laugh with each other. It truly was fun. I had kind of been dreading the night but I really did have a good time and am very glad I went.

Friday morning I went to a funeral (RIP Auntie Bette), while Yvette and Anna went out for brunch. I joined them later for lunch and we spent the afternoon walking along the lakeshore in Lachine. For Yvette's last night we went to the Botanical Garden's to visit the Chinese Lantern Festival. Think that's my third year in a row now. It was great! Yvette loved all the different lanterns. It wasn't too terribly crowded and although cold, for once I was dressed warmly enough.

Saturday morning Yvette said goodbye and went to visit her old friend Lisa before heading to the airport. As always a sad goodbye for us. She is truly my best friend in the world. I can't believe how we always just pick up from our emails and chats and continue as if we last saw each other yesterday.

It was a great week. I got to do a lot of things I never get the chance to do: shop without a deadline, stroll through Old Montreal and China Town, have friends over for dinner every night.

It's all over now but we all have great memories and great pictures. Now to start planning for our 50th birthdays ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yvette's on her way!

At long last, Yvette is on her way to Montreal for the Girly Get-Away Weekend! Lynn will be leaving Toronto late this afternoon and staying at Anna's before all four of us head up to the Cottage tomorrow.

We've been planning this for so long it seemed like it would never get here. But now it's here and I am so ready for some catching up with best friends, lots of laughs and a day at the spa!

The let fun begin!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not what I was expecting to write

The day after the end of the dragon boat season and I am tired, sore, tired and sore. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

As I said in my previous post, there were 12 potential races for me. I ended up paddling in 11 of them. Five on Saturday and six on Sunday. It was a little much lot. I feel it. A lot.

Originally I had planned to write about each race, the teams, the atmosphere, how I felt about the eighth competition of the summer but now I have something far more interesting to write about. Instead I'm going to tell you about the day I stood up to a bully and gave him a piece of my mind (and a hand gesture to boot).

Yesterday's last race of the season was my mixed team's 2K. There were 13 sport teams racing. The way a 2K works is you get all the boats lined up at the docks and then at 10 second intervals, each one starts. The idea is to pass as many boats as possible and not to be passed by any boats. It's a little scary but really kind of exciting too. Passing so close to other boats that you actually paddle into each other, riding their wake, hearing everybody grunt and moan and scream. Anyway, we were 9th off the mark (therefore 5th overall ranking). We waited our turn for the horn and then started paddling. For the first turn or two no changes. Sometime after that we passed boat #8. Coming out of another turn we passed boat #7 but #8 was coming up behind us on the left and we had to move over to give them space to go into the turn. This we did. The referees even told our coach (& steer) that he was good. But even though we were on the outside, we were gaining on boat #8. Their steer started taking the turn wider and so pushing us out wider at the same time. This is an illegal move. You are not allowed to push boats off course with your own boat. But the boat was ahead of us and we couldn't do much to change that. Then boat #8 came up right beside us so that their last 3 rows of paddlers on the right and our first three paddlers on the left couldn't even get their paddles in the water because the boats were touching. No big deal, really. Everybody else keeps paddling and soon enough we should part. But not this time.

No, this time, some guy in the 10th row of boat #8 lifted his arm in the air and then swung his paddle like a baseball bat and deliberately hit two of our WOMEN in the arm. Not once. Twice. And he laughed while he was doing it! I think he may even have got a third swipe in but I'm not sure. The girls were shocked and shouting. I was paddling in row 4 and saw all this perfectly. Then, as boat #8 separated from us but still wouldn't let us go straight, that moron shouted "I'm going to scare those ladies!" I saw red. I'm not even sure if I paddled. What I do know is that I shouted back at him, "FUCK YOU!!!" (Sorry, Mom for the language.) It's possible I was heard on the other side of the world.

By now we were probably two full lanes off course and paddling in shallow water. Our coach was screaming at the refs, our drummer was shouting at us to get our focus back and to use our anger effectively. During that crazy ass turn, two boats from behind us managed to pass us. We were behind and we knew it. It took everything we had but we passed one boat in the next turn, and even stole the inside turn back from the Halifax boat at the last turn. We weren't able to beat a couple of the boats we wanted to though and that was disappointing. We also didn't make great time but whatever. Still not the end of the story.

Once over the finish line we did our quick cool down circle, we also went by both referee boats to make sure they saw what happened and they were aware. Everybody on our boat was talking about what happened with the guy hitting our paddlers. Some of the guys at the back of the boat hadn't been able to see what had happened. As we were coming up to paddle by the spectators, the Halifax crew came up to our left and that idiot started trash talking us. I wasn't paying attention. I was trying not to puke. All I know is that one minute I wanted to puke and the next I was standing up in the boat, paddle in one hand and flipping this guy the bird with my other hand. He turned around and called out to me, "oh yeah? come here!" And that was it. I lost it. I completely lost my head. I actually climbed up on the space between the paddlers in front of me so that I could ... I don't know ... get to the front of the boat and then jump from boat to boat to do what precisely? Other than knock his head off? Luckily more level heads prevailed and they quickly pulled me down to my seat. By the time we got back to the dock I was calmer and realised how foolish my reaction was. But my team loved me for it. They told me later it was what they were all thinking but I was the only was "brave" (stupid?) enough to act on it.

Finally off the boat, we told our story to the referees and race officials and in the end the Halifax crew got a 15 second penalty and we were awarded 5 seconds. The officials also spoke to the Halifax coach, steer and that paddler to warn them that this was not the type of sporting conduct that is tolerated in Montreal.

And there you go. This was big for me. This was one of the rare occasions that I actually got mad "out loud" and didn't let my anger fester and sicken me. Maybe it wasn't the most mature thing to do but you know what? I am probably never going to see that ass again so I'm glad I screamed at him and was ready to attack him. How dare he hit my team mates, how dare he hit women?! Complete strangers, at that. Who does he think he is? This isn't a contact sport! This isn't hockey or football or soccer. This is my third season of dragon boating and it's really the first time that any physical violence has reared it's ugly head. I've seen a lot of other stuff happen but nothing like this. And for a guy to threaten and strike a woman! That's beyond me. I can't even imagine ... I just don't understand what he can have been thinking. It still doesn't seem possible. I find it altogether shocking that he did that.

To end the day, we had a BBQ at the Basin with my old women's team (Montreal Waves). Burgers, veggie burgers for a few others as well as me, and cold beer. It was a pretty good end to the season after all.

OK but still - how could he have done that???

Friday, September 18, 2009

End of the Season

This is it - this weekend is Quebec Cup. It's the last dragon boat competition of the season. If you haven't been out to see us race this year, this will be your last chance. It's a smaller festival than in July but no less exciting.

I'll be paddling with my old women's team (Montreal Waves) and with my current mixed team (Montreal Mix) so it will be pretty busy - about one race every hour. I could potentially paddle 12 races over the weekend but hopefully it won't be quite that many. My main concern is getting through the 2k race on Sunday afternoon without puking at the end. I desperately hope I don't have to race the 2k with the women on Saturday afternoon. Not sure my body can take it two days in a row.

Funny how the last 5 months have flown by. It'll be over in a few short days and I already miss my team, the training, and the complaining ;)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

New York City

Item #44 on my 100 Things to do Before I Go list:

- Celebrate my 40th birthday in New York City

Well, I didn't quite celebrate the actual day itself, but I think I can say that I celebrated the day after my birthday in New York City. That's close enough for me to consider the item above as done.

Last Friday morning, I got up bright and early at 3am, the taxi picked me up at 4am and by 6:25am I was on my way for a day in New York City. My friend Steve, who works for an airline company, offered me a buddy-pass so it was decided we would go. Unfortunately at the beginning of the week, the weather forecast predicted a nice sunny day. By the time Friday came around, Tropical Storm Danny was making his presence known by providing steady rainfall the ENTIRE day. Although it did make being outside all day a little uncomfortable and it did change my plans a little, I was determined to make the most of it and enjoy myself.

We arrived at JFK airport shortly after 8am, got through customs and waited for a taxi to make our way in to Manhattan. In rush hour traffic, in took over an hour. Down in Battery Park we bought tickets for the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island ferry and really started the day.

The Statue of Liberty is really big. FYI - you can't reserve your ticket up to the crown or even the base, at the last minute. In fact, you need about 2 months lead time to be sure you'll get up to the top and about 2 weeks to buy a ticket for the base. Otherwise, all there is to do there is walk around outside. It's not a big island and in the rain, it's not so pleasant. But I did it anyway - for one day I could deal with rain.

From the Statue of Liberty, we jumped back on the ferry and stopped at Ellis Island. This was incredibly interesting. It would have been an easy thing to spend the whole day there, wandering through all the different rooms, reading about the experiences there and how it all worked. There was also some kind of theatre performance that was going on but we didn't get a chance to see that.

After taking the ferry back to Manhattan, we hailed a cab to take us up to Central Park and Strawberry Fields. (It was still raining so we decided to skip Ground Zero, Wall Street & the Charging Bull, and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.) On the way up to Central Park, we did drive past Ground Zero but weren't able to see much beyond the construction fences that were up. We also passed a whole bunch of docks, saw a cruise ship and even saw the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that now serves as a Sea-Air-Space museum. I have NEVER seen anything so big in all my life. Crazy.

Finally up at Central Park West and 72nd Street, we walked into the park and quickly found Strawberry Fields and John Lennon's memorial Imagine. I took a bunch of pictures and was most impressed by the lack of people around. I was even able to take a picture of the famous park benches without a single person in the frame.

From there we walked through the park to the east side and up another couple of blocks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That is some place. After briefly examining the map, I decided how we could do a quick tour of the place and hopefully hit all the highlights. We did that and then seeing as it was still raining, decided to do a quick tour of the mezzanine level as well. By this time it was nearly 5pm, and there just wasn't enough time to go up to the Guggenheim Museum or to go shopping so we jumped in a cab and headed back to the airport.

What a day! Obviously it would have been great to have good weather. It would just have meant that we'd have spent more time rushing around trying to do more things and not really appreciating what we did see. So we didn't see as much but we really made the most of the places we did visit.

The flight home was fine too and I was in my front door by 11pm, after a 20-hour day. Totally worth it!

Maybe my next goal should be to spend a week in New York City!

Oh yeah - here are the pictures.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Big 4-0

It seems like just a minute ago since I turned 30. That was pretty traumatizing at the time. A lot has changed since then. Good things, bad things, and all things in between.

As much as I've joked about turning 40 being a bad thing, in some ways it actually feels pretty damn good. Yes, 40 still sounds too much like being a grown up. On the other hand, 40 means I can afford myself little luxuries that I couldn't even dream of as a 20 year old, or even a 30 year old.

It's a little scary this whole age thing but I like a challenge and I think I'm up for it. Take that, the Big 4-0.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nationals

The Canadian National Dragon Boat Championship races took place this weekend. The goal of the weekend wasn't to win the competition (in itself impressive for me to think about) but also for teams to race for the 5 positions Dragon Boat Canada was allocating for the Club Crew World Championship in 2010.

Approximately 50 teams were there. Under 23 years old (U23), over 40 years old (Seniors), over 50 years old (Grand Masters), women's teams, men's teams and mixed teams.

Saturday was a beautiful day. Hot, humid and sunny. My team, Montreal Mix, had three 500m races to compete in the morning. We didn't have a good start to the weekend. In the first race, the qualifier for division, we finished 9th overall and missed making A division by less than a second. That first result brought a number of people on the team down. I tried to keep upbeat and motivated and did all I could to pass on good energy to the team. Our second race (semi final B division) resulted in another 2nd place finish. We slipped to 10th place. Morale was sinking fast on the team. Before our third and final 500m of the day, a few minutes before we were going to start I tried my best to get the team up and in an aggressive mood but it didn't work - a third 2nd place finish.

Despite these disappointing results on Day 1, we had actually done better times than a month ago at MIDBRF. I fed the team homemade brownies and that seemed to cheer them up a little (or maybe it was just the chocolate talking).

Sunday morning started off cool, windy and rainy. Given the summer we've had, these were conditions we were used to during training and racing. We had three 250m races in the morning and the "final" 2000m in the afternoon. There were still some long faces as we were loading the boat for our first race and I'm pretty sure that didn't help us. 2nd place finish. Our coach reminded us all after that disappointing finish that Saturday was over, to stop thinking about it and really place our focus on winning today. An hour later we were ready for the second race but not prepared for another 2nd place finish. So frustrating. I don't know why, but I almost think that by this point everyone had had enough 2nd place finishes and were angry. Angry enough to pull it together as a team and FINALLY win our third race. And a beautiful race it was. An amazing start where we didn't have to play catch up with the other boats, then powered through the transition and straight into the finish of all finishes. You could really feel the boat pull ahead on the finish. It was incredible! That was the feeling I'd been waiting for all weekend from the team. Although the inconsistency is a sign of our inexperience (as a team), when it finally meant enough, we were able to do it and win. That is the team I know. It sure felt good to gloat in the face of the team who won the second race (bad, I know), especially when we found out they placed last in the final.

We then had about a 3-4 hour break until the 2000m at the end of the day. Time to watch the women's and men's teams race. Part of the joy of being at Nationals is that there are no beginner teams. All the paddlers are now experienced. Also - ha, ha, ha - there was certainly no shortage of buff bodies. Hey, I couldn't help noticing my surroundings :D

After a bit of a delay (there was a tie for 5th place in the men's teams so they had to race-off, Quebec vs. Alberta, QUEBEC WON!!!) we were finally ready for the 2000m race. There were 8 or 10 boats in our heat. The 2000m by the way, isn't just 2000m straight. It's a holding start from the shallow end of the basin, power through the start just to get to the starting line and going slightly beyond the 500m mark to turn. This is a tough race, not just for paddlers but for the steers too. Turning corners without losing too much speed is not for the faint of heart. Our coach likes that. He took us as close as possible to the buoys. There wasn't much action in our heat, only one boat passed another boat. I was happy that our arch enemies, who started behind us, never passed us. After our last turn, I could really feel every muscle in my body screaming at me to stop. But I gave it another little (well, big) push to get through. Suddenly we were at the 250m mark and I knew I could get through it. We finished the 2000m. Nobody fell out, the boat didn't die, we didn't tip. But then I had that feeling again. That bad feeling that I hadn't wanted to feel for another 10 years. Next thing I knew I had my head over the side of the boat and was puking my guts out for the second time this year. Because you know me, I have to prove that I've really put everything into it. Because I have to go and listen to our coach when he says "I want everyone puking after this one!" Thankfully, I hadn't eaten much. Racing seems to kill my appetite. Anyway - my old coach from the women's team, sits on the bench behind me and was proud that he got some of my barf on his paddle. Not really what I was going for but there you go.

Finally off the boat and back to our tent area, it felt good to sit down for a minute and breathe properly. A few minutes later, the most incredible thing happened. The results of our 2000m heat. We finished FIRST! It's never easy to tell how you do in this race because the boats leave every 10 seconds and even if you pass a boat it doesn't necessarily mean you're going fast, they could just be going slow. Anyway - when I found out we finished first I felt that everything had been worth it, even barfing.

For somebody who knew nothing of dragon boating 3 years ago, who joined a women's team to have some fun and practice for 1 hour a week 2 years ago, who got the bug and started training with a mixed team 7 to 10 hours a week last year - I have come a long way. OK - we didn't make the A division. Yes, it's disappointing to find out that the dream of competing in Macau next year is over. But wow, it's been some ride anyway. Even though we didn't quite reach our goal this weekend I can honestly say I loved getting to this point. And my resolve to retire from the competitive team is quickly dying. Despite the huge amounts of Advil I've been swallowing ;)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday, Wesley!

Today is my nephew's 2nd birthday. Happy Birthday, MonkeyBoy!

PS - hopefully Canada Post will get off their duffs and deliver the present I sent on August 13 ...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gold

We won the competition in Rawdon!

Our first proper "win" of the season and it felt great. It was a perfect summer day. Hot, sunny, at the beach, time to go swimming and to top it off, a gold medal at the end of the day. Now that is what summer is all about.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dreaming in Technicolour

Last night I dreamed I was doing chin ups. Yes, that's right, in the plural, chin upS. In fact, in my dream, I did 10 of them. Now how to make that a reality ...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Wall

So here it is. The red wall. It's not perfect (despite new primer plus six coats of paint) but it will do. Still need to put a few pictures up and then I can really consider it finished.

Monday, July 27, 2009

MIDBRF 2009

This weekend I took part in my third Montreal International Dragon Boat Race Festival.

It was a tough festival. Elite teams that were away last year at the World Club Crew competition were in Montreal this year and we felt it. My team, Montreal Mix, did well. Not as well as we'd hoped but still. Our objective was to finish in the top 5. We finished in the top 7 (of 125 or so mixed teams). Not bad. But if you take away the out of town teams then we finished in the top 4 Montreal teams. So that makes me feel a little better.

This was our 5th of 8 competitions this summer. As a team we're finding out just how hard 8 competitions, plus training, is on the body. We have about 5 injured on the team now. This weekend we had 3-4 more team members working at the festival so they were exhausted. Another 5 team-mates were paddling on other teams. That left precious few of us who were in top shape and even at that I think it's fair to say we're all in pretty rough shape. We're tired. We're more than tired. I speak for myself and possibly a few others when I say I'm exhausted.

Saturday started off cool and rainy but it dried up by the time we started our first race in the Saturday qualifying heats. By afternoon it was hot and sunny and the Basin was crowded with teams and spectators. It was a real festival atmosphere. One of my favourite moments on Saturday was watching the National Women's Elite team come in second against 5 other MEN's crews! We were disappointed leaving on Saturday because we didn't make the A Final, only B. Our second race was better, a good race, but not good enough.

Sunday was an awful day. It started off rainy and truly didn't stop until sometime after 3pm. It was cold and damp and windy. Our morning race, the 500m final, was when it rained the hardest, naturally. While this is strangely when we paddle our best, we still only managed to come in second place. Still, meant a silver medal and (for me anyway) that is nothing to be upset about. Many hours later, made even later due to several thunder delays (now 90 minutes behind schedule), we raced our last race of the day, the 250m final. Head wind coming from the opposite side of the Basin, bad lane but now we were hungry for that gold. So guess what happened? WE GOT IT!!! We had the most amazing start of the weekend. Even though we were trailing on the start (against 5 other boats) we started pulling ahead after our transition and then killed it on the finish. It was a close race. Think there was something like 0.04 seconds between us and second place. But the race was ours. Nothing made me happier than coming out of the weekend with a gold medal.

I've been trying to convince myself that this will be my last season with the competitive team but after a race like that, I want more. I want to train harder, I want to compete harder at Nationals (which by the way, is something a lot of teams only dream about doing and we're actually going to do next month) and I want to compete in China next year. I'm back and forth between this decision every 5 minutes so don't quote me that.

We're resting this week (thank you, Coach!) and I need it. I screamed myself hoarse in the races and after winning. Honestly, sounds like I have laryngitis or something now, heh. But it was worth it. That gold medal in my hands feels good.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Review

As much as I read, it's funny that I have never given any book reviews here before. Huh.

Today that ends. If you follow the side bar on the right (hello, side bar) of this page, you'll be able to keep track of what I'm reading now and which are the last 5 books I've read.

Yesterday I was desperate for something new to read but didn't have time to make it to the library before they closed (6pm?!) so I ran into Indigo and what do you know, one of the books that's been on my wish list for ages now was on sale for 20% off (plus you know me, I got my extra 10% off, plus I had a coupon for another $5 off ... ha, ha, ha!). Will I ever get to the point?

The point - I bought this book. I started reading as soon as I got on the metro and have been hard pressed to put it down since. I didn't even paint the 4th coat on my dining room wall!

A couple of the reviews on the book cover had much to live up to but so far they are completely right. From the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review "...This is a book for firesides or long train rides." I'm telling you - I started reading this and truly and honestly, suddenly wished I was on a long train ride (ok well, plane)! Then from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, she writes "I can't remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and as delightful as this one, a world so vivid that I kept forgetting this was a work of fiction populated with characters so utterly wonderful that I kept forgetting they weren't my actual friends and neighbors..." So far this book has made me giggle, snicker, get teary and even laugh out loud (thankfully, in the privacy of my own home).

I hope this book is just as good all the way through.

If you haven't read it - do! Borrow it from the library, a friend (not me because I'm a bit funny about lending books, sorry), buy it, whatever. This isn't existential navel gazing, it's not a brick of a work, burdened with deep thoughts and requiring a thesaurus or dictionary at hand, it's just a pure pleasure to read. Simple as that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tired

Despite a week or so off work to "relax" (read: paint), I am just as tired after my vacation as I was before. The drunks in the street nearly every night are starting to get to me. Guess people are also on summer vacation and out until all hours every night. Think the earplugs are going to have to be a permanent thing until the fall and I close the windows at night again.

Now you know what to get me for my birthday ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A stove!

At long last, 3 full weeks since the original delivery, I have a stove! I am so happy and excited about cooking again. I'm planning all kinds of elaborate meals in my head already.

First things first though - groceries! Tomorrow I'll be at the grocery store when they open the doors.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Starting Over

Slept on it and decided that the wall is not going to get the best of me. So there.

This morning I was back at the paint counter (4th time) at 8:15am getting more paint and getting a new primer. When I got home with my paint, I sanded the wall, I dusted the wall, I re-taped the wall and finally I re-primed the wall. I will let it dry until tomorrow morning. No matter how tempted I am to start the colour again now.

The waiting game begins.


The re-taped, re-primed wall

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Now what?

This morning I finished up the touch ups of paint that needed to be done in the bedroom, hallway, kitchen and living room. Once I was done with that I figured I'd remove the tape from the red dining room wall and then see exactly what it needed to make it right. I took my exacto-knife and ran the blade along the edges to loosen the paint from the wall and then started lifting the tape off. It didn't go so well. The five damn layers of paint adhered pretty well to the tape. Not so well to the wall.

Here's what happened.

I have no idea what to do now. Should I get the primer out and start over from scratch? Should I get more red paint and try again? Should I use what I have left of the living room colour and just use that? Sigh ... I dunno.

Suggestions? Offers to help? I'm open.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fitness Test

We had another fitness test tonight. Considering that we've scaled back the weight training quite a lot in the last 2 months, I was surprised to see how well I did. We started back with the weight training only 2 weeks ago and I seem to be on track for gaining even more strength!

Bench press max weight: 105 (same as last time)
Bench press reps: 63 reps (9 less than last time)
Bench row reps: 91 reps; (3 more than last time!)
Back extension: 3:37 (3 seconds less than last time - argh)
Sprinter run reps: 225 (4 less than last time)
Sit ups: 74 (1 more than last time!)
Push ups: 20 (same)
Chin ups: 0. No surprise there.

Feeling good about these results.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Shawi

Yesterday we raced at the Shawinigan Dragon Boat Festival. It wasn't a great day to be outside. It was cold, it rained, it was windy and we were in wet clothing for a good part of the day. Even though we changed clothing between races, we still had to put on wet shirts for each race and that is not pleasant.

However, we had a fairly decent result. We finished third overall! So another medal! A bronze one this time - but still. A medal is a medal. And I'd rather have a medal from Division A Sport than any other.

We had 4 races all counted. Three 500m and one 100m. The first race we won but as that was the qualifier for the semi-finals, it was just about getting a good time. We didn't have a good race though. It wasn't in control. The second 500m was amazing. We won that too but this time it felt amazing. We were in complete control, we paddled with really long strokes (serious head wind) and really reached and sat up with each stroke. Immediately after that we raced The Best of Fest, a 100m sprint with nine other boats. That was a free-for-all. It took ages for the starter to line us up and give the "Attention please!" call. The next 20 seconds were a blur. With the head wind coming off the water and boats nearly within reaching distance on each side (2 boats per lane!), it was a wild ride. But we did well. We finished second. Our third and final race was not good. We had a bad race. The pace felt too fast (for me), we weren't in control and our finish was not in sync at all. And so we finished third. Not exactly the result we wanted but we finished in A-final and we got a medal so I'm still happy with that.

Hurting today. My back is in spasms, my legs and arms still a little shaky. Think I may have a rest day. No painting allowed.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Painting, painting and more painting

According to my mother (Hi Mom!), I need to update my blog. So where was I? Last I was telling you was that I was spending the first part of my summer vacation at home. Today is day 3 of that vacation. What have I done so far?

1. Painted the bathroom. It's not blue anymore! This makes me so happy.

2. Painted the bedroom. It's not a poo-ey beige colour anymore. This makes me happy too.

3. Painted the dining room wall. It's my favourite red. Or almost. Have got 4 coats of paint on there now and it's looking good. Do think it'll need a 5th coat though. Thank goodness it's a small wall. I love it, love it, love it!

4. Bought the paint for the living room, hallway and kitchen. That'll be my project next week. As I look around the place, I realise I will probably need every minute next week to get it primed and then get 2 coats of paint up on the walls.

I am taking before and after pictures and will make a set on flickr once I'm done.

Have also started thinking about the new headboard I'm going to make (bigger, better and bolder), the desk I'd like for the office/guest bedroom, and how to improve the area above the fireplace.

More updates soon. Promise!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Balconville

In Montreal, when people stay at home for vacation, we don't call it a "Stay-cation", we call it going to "Balconville" (going to Balcony Town). Given that I moved in just over a week ago, I decided on Balconville for part of my vacation this summer. I'll have the chance to paint the place the way I want and hopefully get a little more settled before going back to work.

Once I'm done the painting I'll put up some before and after pictures for you. Then you can ooh and ahh about how great my place is and you'll want to come and stay!

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The End

Last night I dropped off the last set of keys to my old place and closed the door behind me. Didn't even look back.

Goodbye Lofts Hogan. It's been swell.

The End.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's all so quiet

I know there are other people living in this building but I haven't heard a peep from the people living above, below or beside me. Wow!

However, I certainly hear the drunks on the street at 3am. Same old story, different location.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All In!

That's it. I'm ALL moved in (minus the stove) ! I can't even begin to tell you how great it feels. Last night as I put away some things, unpacked my suitcases, etc. I kept marvelling at how much space I have now. Not that I ever felt cramped at the old place. I never had that feeling. But now all of a sudden, I almost feel like I won the lottery, you know, and this place can't possibly be mine. But it is!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Moving Day, Part 3

Final Moving Chapter (aren't you excited?!)

This is it! Today I move into my new condo!

Naturally, I'm up before my alarm. Going to do a quick load of laundry (sheets & towels) and then pack the last of the dishes.

Yesterday I took a few more boxes and things over (to the new place) and got those unpacked and pretty much spent the rest of the day organizing the final things at home (old place). Hope this goes well.

Next time I write it'll be from my new condo!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Moving Day, Part 2

Here's a recap of yesterday:

Got half the van (borrowed from Mom’s work!) packed before Eric showed up. Then with his help we were able to get my locker emptied in a few short minutes and pack the rest of the van and Eric’s car. We were on our way to the new place by 9:45am. All the while hoping madly that the first delivery hadn’t shown up yet. Turned out fine – they hadn’t come by yet. Phew. Eric and I hadn’t been there more than 5 or 10 minutes when Marc and Valery showed up. And not long after that did the delivery of my bed (!), washer/dryer and dishwasher show up. My stove did come too but there was a small problem.

I was told there was gas at the condo so that’s why I bought a gas stove. Well … something got lost in translation between the owner and my agent to me. There is gas, but there is NO line to hook up to unless I get the plumber in to do the whole cut hole in the wall, install valves, etc. So, I decided (given that I know now what a plumber costs per hour) to leave the stove in the delivery truck and called customer service. They’ll take it back, no problem. On Monday though I’ll need to call my sales rep and let him know what happened and get a new electric stove ordered pronto. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too freaked out about this. Don’t know how, but I just shrugged it off.

Eric left shortly after that (thank you!). Marc was going to start on my dishwasher and the washer/dryer hook-ups but he also needed his tools and to stop at a hardware store to get a bunch of things. So off he went to get what he needed to get me set up. I was left on my own to start unpacking the kitchen. While he was gone my fridge got delivered. Marc was back by 1:30 and we worked until 5pm getting stuff sorted out. Took a long time but my dishwasher works! My washer and dryer work! My fridge is stable! And my bed is put together! Can’t wait to sleep on that. (Marc, for all this help, I owe you BIG time.)

I tidied up the boxes and bits and pieces lying around before leaving at 5:30.

Have decided that I will definitely be painting the living room and bedroom. I hadn’t quite decided but now I know for sure. The colour is too much on the yellow side for my liking. I will leave the office the way it is for now (light green) and hopefully be able to paint it before September. The bathroom has to be painted. The storage room is the same colour as the bathroom (pale blue). I'll leave that for now but it will be getting painted eventually.

My agent stopped by in the afternoon just to explain the million keys that were left and also how to set the alarm at night when I’m home. He also gave me a bottle of wine! Can’t wait to drink that!

All in all, turned out to be a pretty darn good day. Can't wait to finish up here (at the old place) and get all settled (in the new place). Not long now!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Moving Day, Part 1

My agent dropped off the keys at 8am today. Phew. Now to pack the van, get a brother to wait at the new place for the big deliveries (between 9am-12pm for the bed, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer and for fun between 12-6pm for the fridge).

Could be a long day ... but it's finally here!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Last Day!

Thanks to all of you who must've done a little "get your ass out" dance on my behalf because I just found out that the last of the stuff is out of MY condo and my agent will be dropping by tonight with the keys.

I was so worried. Have been awake since 4am stressing about this. As soon as my agent told me it was all good, I started shaking like a leaf from the sheer relief of knowing it would finally all work in my favour.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last 2 Days

Seriously, if I find out tomorrow that I can't start moving things in this weekend, I will be beyond freaked out. Beyond stressed. Beyond out of control. Get the picture?

Having trouble breathing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Heart Attack

Found out that I may not be able to move in this weekend. Will have to wait until Friday morning to find out if it's a go or not. Way to give me a heart attack.

Here's the story - The owner has a bunch of computer stuff in the condo and will have his work move it. He's hoping to get that done on Friday. If it doesn't happen, then I can't move in because of some kind of security risk with the computer equipment. It's not the end of the world, but it certainly doesn't make matters any easier right now. Add to that the appliances I have scheduled for delivery on Saturday afternoon, anytime between 12 and 6pm. Great.

Teeny-tiny little bit Very stressed out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

4 Days to go (6 days "officially")

Officially or not, I don't have too many days left in my first condo. I feel a lot of things right now. Loved living here. Loved the sense of pride at owning my own place for the first time. Loved the neighbourhood (prostitutes, crack houses and all!). That said - I can't wait to have a separate bedroom! I can't wait to take a bath in a proper bathtub! I can't wait to have a balcony!

My 50 bazillion lists are multiplying exponentially on a daily basis. It will be great to get moved in, decide once and for all on paint colours, unpack and decide where to place or hang all the things that have been packed away for more than a year now.

A few more days, a few more headaches to work through but very soon it will all be worth it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

2 Condos

Nothing like buying a condo before selling your old one to start your week off on the anxiety and panic stricken foot. But that's what I did this morning. By 9:30am I was the proud owner of two condos! Now provided there are no problems or hiccoughs this coming week, by next Monday afternoon I should have sold my old condo and only have one place to worry about.

Until then it'll be a week of panic attacks and shortness of breath (without any exercise involved).

Friday, June 12, 2009

#60

#60 on my 100 Things to do before I go list, in case you've forgotten, was "Cater a party". It only took me a week to realize that I can now cross this off my list.

Last Saturday my dragon boat team hosted an intro to dragon boating day (ok, not a party, per se, but feeding 200 people is a big job so I will say it's pretty much the same thing). And hello, I was the caterer. I decided the menus, I made the grocery lists, I delegated tasks, I made sure it all came together, I worked from 6:30am to 6:30pm to see that about 200 people got their lunch and/or buffet dinner. True I did not actually have to cook any food myself, but that's just because of the type of food we were having. I cut my share of bagels, showed my team mates exactly how to make a wrap, washed and cut endless fruit, packed over 100 lunch bags, prepared nearly 20 platters of food and scurried back and forth from our makeshift kitchen to the tables endless times.

Consider it done.

Happy Birthday!

My youngest brother, Marc, turns 32 today. How did that happen?

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

10 Years Since I Last

Imagine, it's been 10 years since I last leaned over a toilet and puked my guts out. Nice imagery, huh?

That panic that I so glibly thought was gone - back in full force last night! Think maybe it was a combination of factors. Panic, stress, tired, run down, and a couple of practice races at training last night had me jumping off the boat and running (and stopping to bend over and gag) before finally making it to the toilets where my 10 years "sans" barfing record ended.

Oh well. I felt somewhat better after that though, so here's hoping the next 10 years will be vomit free.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Last two weeks

A week yesterday until I sign at the notary for my new condo. Two weeks yesterday until the movers show up. One competition down and one to go. One fundraiser down. 70-something boxes packed. I've lost count of the number of boxes and bags I've given away.

The panic I was feeling a few weeks ago has subsided. That or I've just gotten so used to it that I hardly notice anymore. Ha.

There will be the last minute things to take care of but I can deal with that. Now I'm just excited to move and paint and unpack and revel in all that lovely new space for ME.

Feeling good. Tired. Very tired. But still good.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

First race of the season

Yesterday we had our first dragon boat competition of the season. After all the training all winter long, we'd finally arrived at the moment where we'd see the results of our effort.

We competed in the sport mixed category, against 8 other teams (other categories were men, women and community mixed). One sport team pulled out sometime between Friday night and Saturday because we were only 8 sport teams in the end. This meant there would be two sport divisions, A and B. Of course we wanted to place in division A and we did!

It was a rough start to the day. We had to be at the site by 8:30am. It was cold, raining and windy. I was frozen and wet before our first race. Our first race was 1000m. We were in the second heat (not against any of our real competition) and we won! Off to a good start. Funnily enough, by the time we were getting out of the boat after that first race, it stopped raining and the sun came out. A few hours later we had our 500m race. Again in the second heat (this time against THE best in Montreal.) We lost by 0.08 seconds. So we placed second but were thrilled that we'd done so well. Our competition was rather surprised to see us so hard on their tails. Apparently they had quite the debriefing after that race. Our combined times from the first two races gave us our position for the third race, a 250m. We had placed in division A. Still don't know how we finished in this final race, but either third or fourth. It was a bad race. We had a bad lane (yes, there are bad lanes), we had to contend with the wind (lanes 1 and 2 are protected from the wind by the grand stands) and we also don't train for sprints. Anyway - as bad as felt, we knew that we'd either place third or fourth in the final results so there was still a chance for a medal at the end of the day.

About half an hour later, after a change of clothes and lots of chocolate milk, we found out. We listened to the placings and winners of all the other categories before ours. Even though we didn't have any more races ahead of us, I was still nervous. Finally they got to calling the fourth place winners - it wasn't us! Some of us were surprised (me). They called the third place winners - it wasn't us! Now all of us were surprised because that meant ... we'd placed second! And a moment later it was confirmed - we had indeed come in second place. I was so surprised! Really shocked! Never, ever expected us to do so well against those teams. The team that came in third was not happy with us - at all.

In the end, we were 4 seconds off the first team, and still 2 seconds ahead of the third team. Quite a big gap.

To celebrate our (unexpected) victory, we went out for great Chinese food in China Town. A long day (left at 7:30am, got home at 7pm), but an eventful, surprising and GREAT one!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

26 Days Left

Today I remembered to buy more packing tape. What a relief. Tomorrow night I can tape a bunch of stuff together. Like bookshelves, skis, boxes and stuff.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Last month

Down to the last month until I move. 67 boxes packed. Think there are 12 empty ones left from my stash. Hoping that'll be enough. Panic not so bad these last few days.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Five weeks

I've looked quickly on the calendar and it seems I'm moving in five weeks. This freaks me out. Especially when I start to think that next Saturday is really my last "free" Saturday (even though half of that day will be spent at practice).

There will be a few evenings I can use to pack but I know I won't get too much accomplished then. I'm usually too tired to do much more than sit and read.

So what I suppose I'm trying to say is ... time to get off my ass and get cracking!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The things you find

Going through my textbooks last night, I found Word Perfect 5.0. The first computer course I ever took. Think that was from about 1990. Have put it in the recycling pile and agree that I probably should've thrown that classic away before I moved into this place, before I moved to the old apartment in NDG, before I moved to the Bahamas, before I moved to Mexico before I moved to England/Ireland.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Me and my OCD

Being a touch on the OCD side of organized, I've started a spreadsheet for my move. You know, numbering the boxes, indicating the room they belong in and briefly listing the contents. This way I'll be able to track which boxes get on/off the truck. But then last night I had a stroke of genius! Genius, I tell you!

I decided to get some coloured stickers. What I'll do is put a coloured sticker on the box and then a post-it with the same coloured sticker on that, stuck on each door/area where the boxes belong. So everything will be colour coded, identified and numbered. You're thrilled, aren't you? I can tell!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Stuff

Where exactly did all this stuff come from? Did I have it when I moved in? Seriously going to have to get rid of a whole lot of stuff.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Appliances for sale

Still haven't heard if the people buying my place want the appliance so am going to start advertising their sale.

Amana fridge ($300), white, bottom mount freezer, with ice maker
Frigidaire range ($200), white, ceramic cook top
Frigidaire washer ($200) and dryer ($100), white, front load, stackable

Can be sold together or separately.

Pictures provided on request.

In the meantime, I've started buying new appliances for my new condo. Bought a fridge today and am going to sort out a bed, range, dishwasher, washer and dryer tomorrow. All this money flying about worries me not a little.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lists

With all the lists I write, I could write a book. Has anybody already done that? Mine would be called "My Book of Lists". Original, no?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New pictures

Oh yeah, pictures from the Easter weekend in Windsor can be found here.

All mine!

Got the final bank approval yesterday (minutes before presenting a French webcast to two offices).

Just in time too. Apparently the other people whose offer expired because they couldn't get the financing, suddenly reappeared with their pre-approval, a completed home inspection and were threatening to pull rank or something (you know, some legal jargon term) on my offer by saying that they would have the final approval from the bank any day now. Don't know what would've happened in that case but luckily I don't have to worry about it.

Precisely two months from yesterday I'll be signing for my new home. Yeah me!!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

One more step done!

My financing came through this afternoon so my agent was able to stop by tonight and have me remove all the conditions of my offer!

Yeah for me!

Home inspection

Had the home inspection yesterday. Talk about moving things along quickly. It went well and the inspector only had a couple of negative comments. On the whole she was very impressed and was happy to see that the condo has great windows (keep the cold and the noise out!) and no sign of moisture in the walls.

The paper work with the bank is on it's way and should all be finalized by next Monday or Tuesday due to the Easter holiday.

My heart isn't racing quite so fast now and I don't feel nearly as stressed out but I can't really say that I'm stress-free. Soon though.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

It's mine!

They accepted my offer! Building inspection tomorrow afternoon and then it's just to get the financing finalized. PHEW!!!

Offer is in

Put in an offer for the condo yesterday afternoon. Ever since then I've been having shortness of breath, a racing heart and my neck has been tensing up so bad that my shoulders have found a new home around my ears. My good old friend insomnia is back in town so I'm up at 2:30am writing on my blog.

Calling this stressful right now would be an understatement. It's so far above stressful for me, I don't even know what to call it. Logically I know that everything will probably end up fine. There's no reason my financing shouldn't go through but I'm still freaked out about suddenly having a nearly $200K debt over my head. I was probably like this when I bought my current condo 5 years ago but apparently my little brain has forgotten what that was like.

It will be so worth it though. I must keep telling myself this. Meanwhile I need to find new ways to relax and I can't find my meditation CD. Better check what's on the Weather Network then ;)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Found it!

Visited a condo last night that I immediately fell in love with. I swear, I walked in and could see my furniture there already.

Pros:
Wood floors
FABULOUS kitchen (!)
2 balconies (!)
Above ground level
2 bedrooms
Walk-in closet (!!)
Separate shower (!)
Gas fireplace (!)
Gas line out to BBQ on balcony (which I'm told is a feature, but it's not like I'm grilling up huge whacks of meat every night)
Storage room in the unit
Proper dining room space for my dining room set
Low condo fees
Close to the bike path
Walking distance to metro, groceries, fruit/veg shop, SAQ
Close to the bus
Bigger than what I have now, but not so big that I would be paying for wasted space
Building is 4 years old, only 1 owner before me

Cons:
At the very top of my budget
Bigger of the two balconies faces north, onto the parking lot and other balconies
Doesn't really have a view
Would have to take the metro to work
Might take 10 minutes longer to get to work (by metro)
Probably 15 minutes longer to get to work on my bike
No parking spot (but I don't have a car anyway, this is just for resale purposes, 10 years down the road)

I'm nit-picking, I know. But I've been up since 4am thinking about this and trying to find all the bad things that could throw things out of balance for me. After work tonight I'm going to take the metro there (see how long it takes) and walk around the neighbourhood to see how long it would really take to do things. But as you can probably tell, I'm pretty much sold on the place!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fitness Test

After our last fitness test in January, I gave myself some goals to reach before the next test. More than my usual, just get to practice and see how much I improve. This time I really did push myself, sometimes a little bit too much.

Bench press max weight: goal - break 100lbs (stuck at 95lbs since last August); realised: 105! I might have been able to do 110lbs if one of my spotters wasn't a such a complete idiot - I had to try it 3 times because of her and finally stopped because I could see I was tiring out. Argh.
Bench press reps: goal 70 reps; realised: 74!
Bench row reps: goal 80 reps; realised: 88!
Back extension: goal 6:30; realised: 3:40 (got a cramp in my left leg from my calf all the way up the back of my thigh, v. disappointed)
Sprinter run reps: goal 200; realised: 229!
Sit ups: goal 70; realised: 73!
Push ups: goal 20; realised: 20!
Chin ups: goal 1; realised: 0 (despite all my visualizing, positive thinking and really "seeing" my goal - argh!)

Anywhere where we have to do our maximum reps, we have 90 seconds to go full out.

So proud of myself. Granted, I still can't do a single chin up but I will.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Visits

Visited another condo this afternoon and have one to visit tomorrow. I gotta say, I really did not expect to be looking at so many places. So far nothing has really impressed me.

And really, the only fun part about visiting all these places is that mostly I can be all judgmental in my head and nobody will think I'm a bad person. Also - I must be some kind of neat freak because some of these places are so filthy and crammed with stuff and ugh, I want to bring extra socks in my purse so I can change after walking on their nasty dog/cat hair balled floors (today). Does this make me a bad person? Maybe. Maybe not. But really, people at least make your damn bed (last week)!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who wants chocolate?!

Montreal Mix is selling chocolate again to raise funds for various competitions this summer. I have lovely Belgian (though of course, not nearly as good as Swiss ;) chocolate - caramel filled, coffee flavour and dark, as well as dark chocolate squares with caramel filling. I'll tell you now - it's ALL good!

Please buy some so I don't eat it all. Heh.

Friday, March 20, 2009

More visits

Stopped by two more condos last night. Both were good sizes but the oddest layouts! In one, the bedrooms were larger than the living room and in the other, all the rooms were these small squares exactly the same size. Very weird.

Have another place lined up to visit early next week and am also going to expand my search area into Côte St-Paul/Ville Émard area to see if I can get more for my money there. The one thing I have noticed so far is that the further west you go, the higher the municipal taxes are - ouch.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The visits

Not off to such a great start. Visited five condos on Saturday and none of them I would even give a second thought.

Condo #1: bank repossession - hasn't been taken care of in a long time. Water tank had leaked, ruined the floor and part of the wall in one area, top of radiators were rusty, walls were filthy, kitchen in dire need of complete remodel.

Condo #2: 3rd floor above a hair salon, on busy street. Large but needs a complete gut job. I'm talking floors, walls, ceiling, doors, kitchen, bathroom and back porch area (the floor sagged and was soft under foot).

Condo #3: 2nd floor on an avenue in Verdun, close to the metro. Clean, bright but living room, dining room are smaller than what I have now and the kitchen is half the size of what I have now. There was a good sized second bedroom and balconies in the front and back. But apparently not such a safe avenue.

Condo #4: 2nd floor unit, in the process of being renovated haphazardly. New floors, new kitchen, new bathroom but they didn't replace the windows, half of which don't/can't open. No outside space. Building not secure in a sketchy area.

Condo #5: Remodeled 2 floor unit. Main floor with updated kitchen (not much cupboard space though) and half-bath but no room for a table. Oh and no closet on the main floor - where do you keep your boots? Or if you have a table, then you don't have a living room. Bedrooms upstairs, both irregular shaped, hard to fit furniture. No outside space, no extra storage space.

Was a little disappointed by this search. But my agent has already sent me links to a couple of other places. He'll try and get some more information for me and set up appointments this week. Suivant, next!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The search begins

Will be visiting 6 condos tomorrow afternoon with my real estate agent. Two of them look good from what I can see on mls, the other four it's too hard to tell. I will try to remember to post my reviews tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Expressions & Sayings

Some of the funny or odd things the kids said in Belize:

"Ca'isee?" - Can I see?
"What o'clock?" - What time is it?
"We ball!" - Our ball
"Where you done gone?" - Where did you go?
"Back!" - Pick me up
Miss Julie, Miss Jenna and Miss Janet - Julia, Jen and Janice (as for me, half the time I was Miss Stephanie, the other half Ma'am!)

Instead of saying "Hi" or something similar, people in Belize actually greet you by the time of day with good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night. So even at night, if someone enters a room, store, etc. you get a "good night" out of them as they're coming in, even though they're not saying good-bye. It took a few days to catch on to this but I quite liked it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sold!

At last - I have sold my condo!

Nearly a year to make it happen, but finally it has happened.

Since putting it back on the market in February there has been a steady stream of visitors which in itself gave me hope that a buyer would turn up soon. However, I wasn't expecting somebody to see it once and then present an offer 6 hours later. That is what happened though.

After hearing the offer, going through it all with the agent and then (not) sleeping on it, I decided to accept. The offer is very nearly 95% of my asking price. Naturally, I would've liked even more but after a year, the current market conditions, I think it would be too risky for me to ask for more just for the sake of another two or three thousand dollars. I would much rather accept, sign and move on!

I'm thrilled, excited and scared. Now I have to find a new place to live!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

February 7

Saturday

Up early this morning for a half day trip out to Caye Caulker. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It started off a little chilly but warmed up beautifully and was clear and sunny all day.

Caye Caulker is a small island off the coast of Belize. Very small and caters exclusively to tourists but looks like a decent place to stay for a couple of days. Julia had been before so she took us over to a quiet little place right on the water where we had our breakfast picnic. My breakfast tostadas never tasted so good! We hung out there for a while, got some sun and recapped bits of this week. We walked around the town a little, stopped at the market stalls and bought some earrings. Back on the water taxi by noon feeling very much like I'd just spent a whole day relaxing, not just a few hours.

We stopped at the Robateau's to pick up Keith and then back to the church while Jen and Janice packed. For lunch we finished off the last of the tostadas. I'm embarrassed to even think how many I've eaten by this point. Probably just as well we're heading home tomorrow.

Got Jen and Janice to the airport for 2:30pm and then Keith, Julia and I drove out to the eco-reserve park to go for a swim. There weren't many people there so we were all pretty happy about that. We all had a swim (chilly, but I made it in!) and then warmed up in the sun.

Back at the school we had our last dinner together. Julia and Keith played a bit of hockey with some of the kids and by 9:30pm everyone had gone.

Major Robateau apparently told Keith that at first he wasn't too sure about having a team of four women come down to work for the week, but after seeing what we could do and did do, he said next time keep the guys away and bring us back!

It's been great working with Keith and Julia again and also a lot of fun getting to know Janice and Jen (Julia's cousin).

Oh - this afternoon, as we were getting ready to pull out from the school to go to the airport, all of a sudden, behind us this little head popped out from the back seat and there was Ishmael! Even funnier was that we'd been joking last night about him doing exactly that kind of thing!

Anyway, it was sad to see the girls go. Really felt like our group was breaking up. We worked well together and enjoyed each other's company. With any luck, we'll be able to do it again some time. Soon, I hope.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Not done yet

I know, I know. Haven't finished typing up my notes from Belize. It's coming. I'm just wiped out right now. Back soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February 6

Friday

Last day of work.

I think we can say we completed our projects here. We finished the floor just after lunch and the ceiling in the office. The bathroom is done. The dining room and kitchen at the school are done. There is still the stuff for the bedroom to go back in, but really most of that the Robideau's need to go through themselves. Although I would've loved to go through and purge, purge, purge. Oh well, next life maybe.

For lunch today Miss Rhoda made us something special! She made us fresh tacos (actually tostadas, as I have recently found out) and homemade salsa fresca. OH MAN! So amazing. So incredibly spicy, but still so amazing! Julia told us the bowl of salsa was soup (it was still hot) so I filled a bowl, threw my spoon in and swallowed a full spoonful. Figured out pretty damn fast that it was not soup. We had a good laugh at my expense.

This afternoon after school, we took 9 or 10 (yes, 10) of the kids to Old Belize to swim at the beach. It rained off and on while we were there and it wasn't exactly hot. I had no intention of going swimming and am glad I didn't. The kids enjoyed it - the beach, swimming, the water slide, jumping around, splashing. And it was fine while they were in the water and moving. But a lot of them didn't have towels to dry off, just a change of clothes, if that. Little Kevin, Leroy's brother, just shook and shook with cold. Janice had also wrapped him up tight in a her towel. So tight that he lost his balance and fell over sideways into the sand. The poor kid couldn't even put out a hand to stop him. Because he was wrapped so tight he couldn't move himself to get out of the sand. Janice and I did giggle a little at that but she got him sorted out quickly enough. On the way home in the van, we ate ALL the popcorn that Julia made last night. Crazy. I should've taken a picture of that. Anyway - the kids LOVED the popcorn. The bag was empty when we got back to the school.

Today was a lot of fun. Loud, a little chaotic but we didn't lose anybody and nobody got hurt so that was a success. I hope the kids enjoyed it too and remember it for a long time. I know I will.

Tomorrow we're supposed to go to Caye Caulker so I hope it's warm and sunny!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 5

Thursday

Note to self: never run after a robber. Gun, no gun - just don't. Still - have started fantasizing about hurting yesterday's robber. Stiletto heels are featured prominently.

Short work day today but as ever - tiring. Julia and I tiled most of the floor in the room. Julia glued the floor, I placed the tiles. Tomorrow we'll finish up the cut pieces along the edge. Damn but that room looks almost like new already! We are good!

Jen and Janice spent the morning at the school sorting some supplies for the teachers. But they had to make a quick get-away after being called to the principle's office. Yesterday afternoon while Keith, Janice and Julia were at the police station, Jen gave the kids some street chalk (I was hiding out cleaning the stove in the kitchen, terrible, I know ...) to keep them occupied after she'd played a million and one other games with them. Where she gets the energy, I don't know. Anyway - this morning as Jen and Janice were walking through the school yard, a voice called down to them from the upper floor classrooms, "Good morning". Janice apparently said hi back, but Jen says she knew right away. It was the principle. And she was calling them up to her office. Because the ground of the school yard and a lot of the walls were covered with chalk drawings and words (only 2 f-words, which we rubbed off before school). Well, Miss Garbutt (truly her name, and apparently cousin to our new young friend, Egbert (Eggy) Garbutt, I kid you not) was not impressed at the state of her campus that morning. Jen and Janice were given a talking to and it was understood that no more chalk would be handed out to any child, student or not. Aiieeeeeeee! Of course, later that day it poured and I mean POURED with rain and all the chalk got washed off. If only it had rained during the night! Miss Garbutt (can't help myself) would've never known the difference. Ah well. Chalk it up to experience (pun completely intended ;)

For lunch today we didn't get robbed. Yeah! No, the Robideau's took us to Old Belize. About 15 minutes away by car, there's a restaurant and cultural interpretation centre as well as a man-made beach and water slide. Lunch was nice; unfortunately it rained most of the morning and early afternoon. The museum part gave us a tour of Belize from 100 year ago. Our guide, Frank, was interesting, even though we were noisy and he had to start his presentation twice before we noticed we were about to be given a tour. It was hard not to get the giggles!

On the way back into town, we dropped Mrs. Robideau off at home (the Major had left us earlier to attend a funeral). From there we headed over to the handicraft market. They had such beautiful things there (and also at the souvenir shop at Old Belize) - great carvings and wood work. Here I was able to buy a beautiful salad bowl set made from 7 types of wood found in Belize. It'll match the chopping board at Old Belize! Then we stopped at another little outdoor flea market (i.e. tourist trap). Other than a pair of earrings, we didn't buy much.

The others all played with the kids while I got dinner ready. When dinner was ready that meant it was goodnight to the kids as well.

Julia's prepared some the hugest bag EVER of popcorn for our trip back to Old Belize tomorrow afternoon with some of the kids. I just hope it's sunny. It would be a shame if the kids couldn't swim. At any rate, should be ... loud!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 4

Wednesday

Today started off normally enough. Slept terribly (couldn't get my earplugs to stay in) but didn't feel too bad this morning. We all went over to the Robideau's and worked until noon. Keith was off with the Major to the Rotary Club for lunch which left us on our own for lunch. We decided to bring a picnic with us and catch some sun down on the water front.

We had eaten our lunch and were all relaxing and enjoying the sun when a guy came up to us and asked for a dollar. This is a pretty common occurrence here being that we're white. Usually we just refuse and that's the end of the story. Not today. Today Julia refused him. He asked a few questions (why wouldn't she give him money) but when we wouldn't give him any money, he did finally leave. I was lying down on the cement at this point, just chilling, listened to this exchange and found it a little off. But the guy left so I dismissed it. Just made sure I was hanging on tight to my backpack and relaxed again. A few minutes later though, he was back. This time he tried to hit Janice up for a dollar. She wouldn't give him any money either. This time he didn't want to take no for an answer. Janice finally reached into her bag to give him some money but he reached over (from on his bike) and grabbed her bad and rode off on his bike.

I didn't see this happen. All I heard was suddenly Janice saying "He took my bag." She didn't sound excited, scared - just like she was stating a simple fact. I swear, the second I heard "he took my bag", I was sitting up, jumping off the cement barrier, pulling my backpack on and started to run after this guy, tightening my backpack as I ran. I never thought twice. About half a block away, as the guy was turning up a street, the girls were yelling after me to stop, to come back. I couldn't figure it out. I shouted back something stupid about we could catch him, come on. He wasn't riding fast. But then then Julia shouted after me (she had to shout, I was too far away for her to just speak in a normal voice) "GUN!!!" I was still running though but now I looked behind me, kinda slowing down as the word was sinking in. Julia shouted again "HE HAS A GUN!!!" I was almost at the corner where this guy had gone with Janice's bag. All of a sudden, I got it. This guy had a gun!

I didn't see this guy face on. I couldn't even tell you the colour of his bike or what he was wearing. All I could see was Janice's purple metallic bag hanging off his left hand.

Anyway, apparently Janice only noticed the gun when she finally decided to give him the dollar. Julia saw the shape of it under his shirt the second time he came by. We walked around the block hoping to see the bag thrown down on the ground but couldn't find it. Janice didn't want us to go down the street he'd come up. She wanted to stay on the busy street and get back to the school.

So we picked up the few things we needed at a couple of different hardware stores, stopped for an iced coffee and made our way back to the school. We were going to clean and paint the stove/sink/fridge wall in the kitchen. Janice needed a little time on her own, so she went back up to the church to chill for a bit. Julia, Jen and I started in the kitchen.

When Keith got back, Julia told him what had happened. He was shocked of course. He took Janice and Julia to the police station to report the theft. That took a lot longer than he thought it would but they took the situation very seriously. At any rate, at the very least, Janice will have the police report for her insurance and will hopefully be able to get back a little money. Luckily Janice didn't have much in her bag. Only about $6, her water but also her camera and her watch. Obviously she was upset about losing her camera but was glad not to have been hurt. In fact, all of us felt pretty much the same way.

Think we all felt pretty terrible about the whole thing. I'm kicking myself now for not being more aware of what was going on. I should've got up after the first time that guy asked for money. I should've made sure we all had a good handle on our stuff or at least made sure we had a dollar easily available to hand over without having to open our bags. So stupid. And then running after him. What the hell was I thinking?! Well, I didn't know he had a gun. All I could think of was pushing that asshole off his bike, getting Janice's bag and then hurting this guy. Really hurting him. Kicking him, stamping on him ... I'm not a violent person so I'm having trouble thinking of how I can hurt this guy. Kicking and stamping is all I got.

Anyway ... the day did end on a happier note. We had a BBQ for the kids. Hamburgers and hot dogs for all the kids. And there wasn't a crumb left. Luckily we had some potatoes and I was able to cook those up for us, with a little bit of salad on the side.

The girls played outside with the kids until 8pm and then we had our down time. Our week is coming up fast to its close. Our work at the Robideau's is nearly complete and the same at the school.

Tired now. It's been a long day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

February 3

Tuesday

I'm beat. Think we worked hard today.

The Triple J's stayed here at the school this morning to do their workshops with the kids. All three of them are super happy with the way it turned out. They did 2 hygiene sessions with the younger kids in the morning and then a sexual health one with the older kids in the afternoon.

While all that was going on, Keith and I continued working at the Robideau's. We did do a little bit of shopping after lunch. Got Jen a new air mattress as hers has a leak. Anyway, work - in the bedroom I got the first coat of paint over the base this morning and then a second coat this afternoon. Keith got drafted by the Major to help him with the ceiling in the DHQ office downstairs.

I'll admit, it was good to be alone for awhile. For some reason this time (trip) I'm finding the constant people and noise a little hard to take. It's not that anybody's pissing me off or anything like that. I'm just glad for a little alone time is all.

This afternoon after the girls finished the sessions, they came over to the house and helped finish up. The bedroom is looking pretty nice now. We'll be able to start putting the floor down tomorrow! I hope I get to use the drill :) The bathroom still needs another coat of paint it's looking miles better already.

Tonight after supper we took the 5 of us and 15!!! of the local kids down to get ice cream. Crammed all 20 of us into the van. Despite the crowd, the kids were amazingly well behaved. I thought for sure it would be complete chaos but it wasn't so bad. The people at the shop were great. They didn't even blink when I said 20 people were about to descend on them. Guess they're used to tour buses.

Oh yeah - this morning after a lovely break with fresh orange (peeled ever so kindly by Mrs. Robideau. I don't even remember the last time anybody peeled me anything. That woman is so nice), Keith was going to show me the work that needed to be done there. The Major come out and started back to work. Keith was helping him a moment later and before I had a chance to leave, the phone rang. Major asked me to answer. I hesitated, looked at Keith - who could hardly contain himself, and answered the phone. "Good morning, Salvation Army." Took the message. Hung up. And then Keith burst out laughing. Smart ass. Wait until Mom hears about this. She will laugh too.

I have a lot of thoughts about this country. It seems like it should be extremely beautiful and well kept but so far, in the city, that is precisely what it isn't. It's extremely poor, dirty and in complete disrepair. I know the tourists go to other areas of the country but surely the do see some of the city. There is a Tourist Village here. Feel confused, overwhelmed, tired. But all the same very glad to be here.