Friday, May 30, 2008

inspections, keys, and a new postal code

I think it's official now. I received a letter in the mail telling me about my TARION Home Inspection date (June 30) and my Possession Date (July 10). They can't change their mind again, can they? can they?! I don't think my heart could handle such a break. Nerves are beginning to settle in now. I have lawyers to pay and legally-binding inspections to sign off on and change-of-address forms to fill out and boxes - oh, so many boxes - to pack and paint to buy and trucks to book and days to vacate... Good Lord. Somewhere in there, a huge job interview looms, a bridesmaid dress awaits and an awkward conversation about pink posies lurks. Not to mention the everyday life of work and friends and movies and books and writing.

and. of course. the event of the year. my birthday.

I wish I had left some vacation for this crazy time.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

GCA: Y-Chrominess

Y-Chrominess. That's the technical term for extremely good-looking, non-psychotic, nice boys. Chattable boys. Ogleable (also a technical term) boys. And quite a few men with the same qualities. Nish and I had no other word to describe the wonderfully beautiful specimens of the male species we found almost as soon as we left the GTA. In a delicious turn of events, it also seemed that there was an inverse correlation to the amount of Y-Chrominess in a certain place when compared with the Double-Xers. I am an equal opportunity appreciator of human beauty - I think women are actually much more aesthetically pleasing than men, in general. But let me tell you - where the wild beautiful men are, the wild beautiful women seem scarce. There was often a mean thought that strayed through my mind, along the lines of "who mated with you?" (because there were children, you see, many children that were the result of intensely attractive men and markedly unattractive women).

I will acknowledge that I, myself, am no paragon human beauty - god, far from. I feel that this gives me a real idea of what exactly it means to be pretty - and these women weren't. Sorry ladies, but it does seem that all the yummy mommies live within a large city and nowhere near boonieland.

But, I digress.

There were barely legal lads who had fabulous senses of humour and still a sheen of newness about them; there were our contemporaries who made four hours in Sioux Lookout seem like a walk in the park; there fleeting encounters with uniformed men at 2am; there were soulful reading men (is that Vassanji I see you clutching as you leap off to teach the underprivileged in Savant Lake?); there were senior citizens who exercised the kind of gallantry ("who will take care of these girls? it is 1am in a city they do not know!") that I had thought dead with the dawn of equal rights; there were hoteliers who made sure we didn't get more action than we were looking for.

And then. And then there is the Gypsy. The ten-pointer who had so much going for him, I thought it was too good to be true. Good with kids? check. Are those kids his? no? check! responsible family-oriented male? check. a Habs fan!? check! likes fas and spood? builds houses for poor people in Latin American countries? makes a good cup of tea? check, check, check. French-Canadian, has cute accent, possesses excuse to visit my hometown? check, check, check. ...Sat and talked to me for almost two hours and shared book for travels? paint me smitten! Can you believe I wasn't going to leave my email addie? Can you believe he was actually excited when Nish handed it over? Can you believe that all this could happen in a place where no roads go? Pink posies got nothing on this guy who stole my heart with an apple fritter and a lemon tea.

I am an official resident of GiddyCrushVille. Enjoy it, dear readers; it happens so rarely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the cat came back

sometimes, I feel like I'm too picky for my own good.

Today, I came into work and everyone's smiling at me all knowing-like. What's up? Oh, there's something on your desk. oooookaaaaay. This isn't unusual. I have lots of things put on my desk - I'm the advertising PMR, after all. But there were more than posters. There was also a small bouquet of pink posies with a card that reads: "Sorry I didn't call. The longer I waited, the weirder it got. I thought I'd make it up to you." Well, well, WillSmith. Of all the people I have wanted to give me flowers over the years, over the last month, over the weekend... I didn't expect this from you. oh dear. How do I tell this very nice young man (and boy, is he young) that I don't think it's going to work out? Gosh, he really is ... nice. I feel like a cad. Here I thought I was off the hook when he didn't call. *sigh*

You know what I find particularly amusing, in a tragicomic sort of way? I feel like I'm cheating on The Gypsy, even though he hasn't emailed or called or even breathed a word of interest since I left him three weeks ago. I don't know how people can handle polyamorous relationships and multiple partners and serial dating when I can't get past the monoga-crush state. So, here I am with a flowers-bearing nice guy asking for a second date and I'm pining for man hundreds of kilometres away. Most people, I'm sure, would be downright unsympathetic. But that's why I have you, dear readers. Surely you, too, won't consign me to "niceness" just because it's convenient?

Monday, May 26, 2008

moving on

Before I left for vacation, I had written a to-do list for when I got back. Here it is:
- Pack away winter clothes / Give away clothes you didn't wear all winter
- Finish story for "publication"
- Watch Indiana Jones trilogy
- Organise pics and post on FB/flickr
- Pack all bookshelves / files
- Sew curtains, tablecloths and napkins
- Throw George away

...I've been back almost a week and I've done none of these things. I've spent most of my time sleeping. Today, I was going to attack the list with gusto; instead, I slept in until 1130 and decided to watch TV instead. Then, blog about how I'm getting nothing done. le sigh. I'm getting Feb blues in May. Go figure.

I did try to get started on the clothes packing thing; I've since realised I have way too many clothes. I've already filled two garbage bags for Goodwill and I haven't even opened my closet yet. It's like the task with no end. What I'd really like is to have a week off (yes, another week off) and just stay home to pack and launder and write and phone and move George five feet closer to the curb. I want to find things to do that can get done in one sitting (like, watching Smallville or finishing Survivor).

I'm off to find a new distraction. Namely: finding Onyxia strategies.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

machete man

I grew up with a legend based around The Machete Man. It involves a man walking home around midnight after working a ten-hour guard duty shift who gets assaulted by two men, of whom one is carrying a machete. This could have been a gruesome story, so let me continue. Said man refuses to give over his wallet, which contains his pay packet for the last two weeks. He thinks of his daughter's tuition payments, his son's soccer uniform, his wife's upcoming birthday. He does not think about the deadly consequences of simply saying no. See, the man isn't young, but he's still brash and bold, still full of the remembrances of youth, which gives him courage. This is, after all, the same man who took on an entire soccer team that had threatened to beat the living daylights out of his younger (successfully goalkeeping) brother.

It's Dhaka, 1978, and the law of the land revolves around baksheesh and local goondas. This man is a church-attending Christian living in an all-Muslim neighbourhood. In places like Dhaka, this means much more than it does in Canada. In the 1970's it meant a whole lot more. So what's the man to do? He knows no one will help, even as he sees furtive movements behind bamboo veranda shades and senses doors being locked all around him. With crazy intuition and gut reaction, he reaches for the machete that's been tipped under his ribs, grabbing it blade first. The startled would-be robbers have a one too-long moment of hesitation and the man rips the weapon away from his attacker, not really registering the bite of the blade into his palm. The robbers back away as he turns the tables and proceeds to chase them down the street with their own machete.

For days afterward, he walks home, hand bandaged and very careful. He knows that people like that are cockroaches - you kill one and ten more scurry out of hiding. The machete is in his left hand, ready to be to pulled out if necessary. But nothing happens. Soon, everyone in the neighborhood begins to call him the paagal saab (crazy mister); in our community, the kids just called him Machete Man. I had the honour of calling him uncle, because Uncle Alwyn was my Dad's oldest brother.

I can't say I know much more outside this story - we left over twenty years ago, and everything I remember is surely a healthy mixture of my imagination, stories told to me and the truth. I do remember that he looked like a skinnier version of my dad (though almost ten years older), wore thick coke-bottle reading glasses, had a tooth chipped or missing from the above-mentioned soccer team (you should have seen the other guys) and had a habit of calling me "my girl" instead of by my name. I know he was excellent with his hands, but not nearly as careful with his money or his heart. I know we'll miss him, even it's just the thought of him whistling somewhere, sharpening his hard-won machete, half a world away.

We'll miss you, Uncle.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Now Playing: Speed Racer

The Wachowski brothers always intrigue me. I mean, these guys brought me Matrix as well as some respectability to Keanu Reeves' career when he really needed it. So when I saw their names attached to Speed Racer, I had though "wtf?" and added it to my list. A few caveats: I did not watch Speed Racer as a kid, so I can't compare it to that; I did watch Astroboy, which I hear is of a similar genre; I normally don't go in for anime in general.

Taking all this into consideration... I actually thought it was pretty good. No, really! Casting was done well and the even the "surprise twist" was handled with some panache. But let's get down to why people really watch this movie, shall we? The effects. I am impressed. The seamless integration of digital effects with CGI and old-fashioned pen-and-ink and real actors was amazing. This is sort of what I pictured Transformers would be like: mind-bending reality that still retains its cartoony feel without becoming cheesy. Really excellent. I would recommend watching it in theatres if you are remotely interested in checking it out in order to take advantage of the screen, the sound and the digital projection. Seriously.

So, what to rate it? Iron Man got 4 stars. Speed Racer may not have been as well acted, but it was just as (if not more) entertaining... But it's no award-winner that should get 4.5 or even 5 stars... hmmm.

For the entertainment factor alone - and not to compare its apples with Oscar oranges, Speed racer gets 4 out of 5 stars. Check it out - really! - especially if you have kids or are stuck with some that need entertaining. Hell, check it out if you just want to feel like you're living in the future, even if for only two hours and fifteen minutes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

GCA: oh the places I went

Under mounting pressure from certain people, I bring you another installment in the GCA chronicles. I am ever so glad I got to update as went along, otherwise I doubt I would be able to remember anything. (I actually don't remember anything - these chronicles are entirely aided by my trusty journal). So, yeah, we went to a lot of places. A couple of planned cities (Victoria and Whistler) were kiboshed due to VIA, but other than that, we hit every stop we planned and then some. So, here are some of the highlights:

The city that most surprised me: Winnipeg.
- Yeah, you read that right, Winnipeg. From the Forks to the French Quarter, from huge bowls of soup to the Canadian Mint, I really enjoyed our brief stint here. It's a big enough city to have all the amenities, but small enough to still feel safe and quaint. Also: it has real attractions (unlike boring Toronto, where there's lots to do if you live near here, but not really a lot of tourist appeal). I thoroughly enjoyed the Boniface ruins, which looked so stark and majestic. Do pop over there.

The city I'm going back to: Churchill.
- Two for two in Manitoba! Yes, there are definite plans to go back to Churchill. There are some things I have to do there that I just didn't get a chance to: polar bears, whale-watching, northern lights. Six hours is too little (you hear me, VIA?) to do anything but fall in love and leave. It was an amazing cold clear day, negative 22 degrees, but no wind, so we walked about in six layers and were okay. Gypsy's Bakery helped warm us up with delicious Apple Fritters, Hot Chocolate and attentive service. Special thanks to Fred for his Where to Eat in Canada guide.

Most rain I've ever seen: the West Coast.
- Perhaps I set myself up for too much wonderfulness. Perhaps I was spoiled by the excellent weather we seemed to unpack with us whenever we arrived. Perhaps I had an unrealistic expectation of what the west coast would feel like. Either way, the overcast drizzlefest that was BC (with only a three day exception - one in Nanaimo, one in QCC and one in VanCity) made me rethink my dreams of moving there. It wasn't even a cathartic downpour, just spit. spit. spit-spit. blah. I guess I should be happy that a place that gets 360 days of rain a year (I'm looking at you, Port Hardy) has things like the Inside Passage to make up for it. (The inside passage, btw, is a series of islands that are really the tops of underwater mountains and one of the most beautiful things to go through... when it's not raining).

The most unexplainable: Saskatchewan.
- You know, I actually liked our brief three-day stint in Saskatchewan. We took in the historical tunnel tours in Moosejaw and visited the legislative building and the RSM in Regina. Saskatoon we just indulged in Stuart's hospitality, so I'll associate it with good things always. However, the thing I can't seem to explain and couldn't get the camera to quite capture was the sheer flatness of the place. It was like living in an optical illusion where hydro tours literally became too small to see, where entire cities emerged over the curve of the Earth hundreds of kilometres away, where the horizon is broken only by man and his machinery. It's phenomenal and entirely cool.
- What I also really learned to appreciate is how hard this province works for the rest of us. Just over a million people live in the province, and it's primarily responsible for most of the food we ingest. We were there on a Saturday/Sunday, and we saw farmers working both days - no weekends for those guys. It's a wonderful part of our country that I encourage everyone to indulge in.

Where I fell in love: Jasper.
- Oh, I know what you're thinking. It's easy to fall in love with Jasper, with its various Rocky Mountain ranges within hiking distance, it's clear and colourful glacier-fed lakes, its abundant wildlife, its historical chalet town, its friendly people, its temperate weather... well, yeah, it is. It really is. I sat in a park to eat lunch and counted four mountain peaks in clear view (not counting the ones behind me or trees or buildings). I went halfway up Whistler's Mountain in nothing but a t-shirt and jeans, where snow was still on the ground and I was greeted by one of the most spectacular views I think I'll ever see in my entire life. I saw wolf-elk (okay, just elk, but it looked like a wolf from far away! dammit.) and real elk, and bears and ravens. I fell in love - in drunken, crazy love with Canada - while watching Mount Robson wink at me in the distance.

If you ever need to affirm why this country is an amazing and awesome place, take a ride on the Canadian. Even when you're being rained upon, you can't help but stare at the giant redwoods and be in reverence. When I went to Paris and saw the Notredame, I had thought "it's places like this that make people believe in God" - I was wrong. The Notredame was built by human hands and should really make one marvel at the capacity of human creativity and ingenuity. Watching the Rockies plunge straight into the Pacific Ocean, standing inside a tree that's thousands of years old, gazing at the crystalline lakes in the middle of the mountains - that, poppets, that makes one believe in God.

Now Playing: Iron Man

[Yeah, I know, it's been out for nearly three weeks... But I've been gone for nearly four, so you'll have to forgive me while I catch up on my movies.]
Ahh, Summer Blockbuster Season. You're like the rowdy younger brother to the sophisticated older sister that is Awards Season (which, for me, is kicked off every September with the TIFF). First up on the SBS schedule: Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow as the ever-efficient Pepper Potts. With a cast like that, can you go wrong? Well, yes, you could - thankfully it didn't.

Plot: a bit weak, but it's the intro film of a franchise. so it's to be expected. The Big Bad bites it a bit too easily, but it's sure fun to watch him to do so. Also: all the surprises? not so surprising. I wasn't too shocked to see who was dealing with whom.

Characters: well-played! Tony Stark is the boy billionaire that Bruce Wayne pretends to be, but is too psychologically scarred to actualise. Stark? Yeah, he really does indulge in wine, women and song as much as he wants; no dank bat-caves for this man - he's got style and money galore (I love how he wants his Iron Man suit to be hot-rod red in order to be less ostentatious) . Pepper Potts - I want to love this woman with her brains-and-beauty package and her fabulous librarian-esque work wardrobe of sensible knee-skirts and 4-inch mary-janes. Paltrow has great energy with Downey Jr., but seems to shine less when he's not around (still one of my favourite scenes of the movie year is the "remember that night?" exchange). Terrence Howard (Jim Rhodes) and Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane) do very well in their roles, bringing the right amount of fun and charisma without overplaying their hands. 4 out of 5 stars.

All in all, great start to the SBS. This summer is shaping up to be much better than last summer's yawn-a-thon. With Incredible Hulk, Hellboy, The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones and X-Files coming up, fan boys and girls everywhere are very happy. Prince Caspian, Fugitive Pieces and Stone Angel are keeping the literary crowd pleased. Speed Racer should be an interesting addition to the Wachowski's resume. And Get Smart, my personal indulgence of the summer, should keep me amused, at the very least.

Here's to the summer - and all its wonderful fluff.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by M. G. Vassanji

Yes, I have finally finished The In-Between World of Vikram Lall - it only took six weeks to do so. Before I go any further, and people begin making assumptions about why the book took forever, I must clarify: I really enjoyed Vik Lall. Truly. The characters were fully fleshed out and very relatable (for me, especially, I clicked with Deepa); the plot was altogether gripping; the pseudo-biographical setting and tone were fascinating.

So what is it? I have a few theories:

Theory #1: the book was too heavy. - Has some merit. Full of violence, racism, prejudices, and casual death - it's not light Sunday morning read, that for sure. And while i would often find myself finishing whole swaths of pages, I had to put it down in order to not get sucked into a pit of empathetic despair which pulls you in with the book's inherent gravitas.

Theory #2: too many distractions. - Also has merit. While I was at home, there were blogs to write and bags to pack, granite to choose and books to catalogue; at work, every lunch hour was booked by work-friend; at play, there were movies and video games and kicking certain people's asses in Catan. Of course, being on vacation provided no less distractions with VIA buddies and prairies and Rockies and seasickness. It's a testament to the lasting impact Vik Lall has, when I pick up the book four or five days after putting it down and still remember all the characters' names, the context of their conversation and the very moment that's unfolding. Something about the story stays with you, even when there's so much more to which you're paying attention.

Theory #3: it is a boring book, but I'm lying to myself because I think I should like it. - I really thought about this. I'm as susceptible as the next person to peer pressure and if this book won a Giller, it surely must be good, yes? But no, no... I don't think so. I did like it: I liked Deepa and Njoroge, Vikram and Seema; I liked the delicious disappointments that are peppered throughout; I really enjoyed Mwangi and his many many facets.

Yes, I have some complaints: when you read it (and I certainly hope that really is a "when"), perhaps you will be able to explain why Vassanji chose that last paragraph as his last. I felt it out of place and not in sync with the rest of the narrative. I'm sure smarter people than I will have an answer for me.

So, indeed, six weeks to read a book that I, a self-styled voracious devourer of books, should have only taken at most two to complete. And it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GCA: props to my peeps

One of the most amazing parts of traveling long distances is the sheer amount of people you meet. Albeit, had we traveled by car in that same distance, we would have met no one, really; by plane, there's too many distractions (food, movies, etc.) and too little time. Being stuck on trains for 40 hours or on ferries overnight or in terminals at 3am really provides a quick bonding opportunity. We met some great people on this trip. So, in true cinephile fashion, here are the credits, listed by order of appearance:

- Helen (the science junkie)
- Tom (who has his own voice messaging system; thx for the laughs in Sioux Lookout)
- Brendan (who met us again in Jasper)
- Ron (whose son so liked sandwiches)
- Cute-Blond-German (we hardly knew you)
- Front-of-Train and his Shunter
- The Pike Fishermen (Darren, his father, his brother and his son, the snot)
- Arizona Tom (thx for the most delicious pizza I've ever had; I'm sure they named the place after you)
- British Peter (thx for the berths)
- Radisson Security Guard (thx for making Winnitoba that much prettier)
- Heather from Parks Canada in Churchill
- Gypsy Bakery's Fred (thx for the where to eat guide and the bestest apple fritter. ever.)
- Steph and Brett (true backpackers)
- Arkody (sp?) / Scott / Blond Guy / (invisible) Martin (thx for the vodka and brandy)
- Max / James/ Daniel / David / Jeff / "Red Deer"
- Sam from Saskatoon National (thx for the rides)
- Kari (thx for the private tour)
- Stuart (thx for fluffiest towels known to man)
- T. Mo (thx for the five-star stay)
- Basia / Phil (can you believe we had to go to Cowtown to meet up with you?)
- Petar (thx for the dinosaurs)
- Catherine / Paulina / Lexa [x2] (thx for the map and the HI-Jericho heads-up; enjoy the livestock)
- Sean (if we ever make it to Victoria...)
- Matteus / Espen (boys, do not wander off on your own ever again; we'd rather not be heroes.)
- Geraldine / Nicolas (thx for the naps at Queen B)
- QCC/Crazy Tom and "I'm-an-alcoholic" (you made the Charlottes funnier than expected)
- Gracie (thx for the lift)
- The BC Ferry Purser (thx for letting us choose the movies)
- Randii (and her dad)
- Miss Atlanta and her Harmonica Companion (yes, we like it when our trains move too)
- Cali [aka Dave] (ha! 45/50!)
- Stephen, Stewart and Lloyd (Wolf-Elk really do exist!)
- Kickstart's Alex / Andrew and Rob (yeah, we were totally spying for your publicist)
- Anthony/Alexis
- Mark and Tom (again) - 4 pubs in 3 hours... I never want to look at another Caesar)
- Jericho Beach Hostelier (thx for the bottom bunks)
- all the hitches who pick us up in Nanaimo and the Charlottes

Special Mention to the outstanding VIA people who made 48 wasted hours that much more pleasurable:
- Cisco and Colette
- Dennis (thx for the blankets-on-loan)
- Yohann
- Martin ("bear on the right! bear on the right!")
- Ren
- Mario (thx for getting down our luggage, man.)
- Sam and Nicole (Thomson VIA rocks)
- Susan (who recognised us in her civvies)

and finally, Nish - who made 23 days seem short, who put up with my crankiness, who never pumped gas but drove a hella lot, who made me write my email address down. Thanks pumpkin.

i've been gone for three weeks....

...I need home for a rest.

Plane got in late last night or early this morning, depending on how you view it; didn't fall asleep until 4am due to stories and still being on BC time. First thing I did was peel off my clothes and take the longest hottest shower known to mankind. If I never see that black sweatshirt again, it will be too soon. Am now beginning to feel sick - all those climate and altitude changes are finally catching up to me; I knew it had to happen, I'm just glad it didn't happen while I was actually on vacation.

I have so many stories poppets! My journal alone is 54 pages long. Ridiculous. But instead of transcribing it (which would be boring I think), I'll just write a series of GCA snippets over the next little while.

But first, some housekeeping.

Thanks to Kaylee for contributing in here; I knew once she started the blog she wouldn't want to end.

Thanks to you for continuing to check in here. I promise to have new things to say, as soon as I get back in normal mode. I know that nothing has been updated in a while, but I'll get on it before the week's out, I promise.

Back to bed for a quick nap before I begin unpacking. I am not looking forward to seeing what I stuffed into the bottom of my backpack three weeks ago. Interesting side note: my one pack weighed almost 20 pounds when I boarded my flight yesterday. That's right - I was carrying 20 pounds with me (and that's not including the ridiculously gorgeous black cherry cowboy boots I picked up in CowTown and had mailed home). I don't know how real backpackers do it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

We Are Not Amused

In honour of Victoria Day I thought I would use the famous quote “We Are Not Amused” attributed to my favourite royal, Queen Victoria, as inspiration for my last guest blog posting. It’s fitting somehow that as I type this that fireworks are erupting outside my window.

Ok first up a personal we are not amused that I must get off my chest and an update on the whole Crown Royal issue. So after a week of nothingness I decided to email him a light and breezy how are you/do you want to hang out email because I was getting inpatient and a bit concerned – I mean it’s a bit odd that a facebook status addict hasn’t done any updates or walled anybody in over a week. It’s also a bit odd that he hasn’t contacted me once after being in contact everyday for 3 weeks. As of this posting I still haven’t heard from him but good news he’s alive … he updated his status today. So now I’m miffed and totally not amused. My friends keep telling me not to sweat it and give him a few more days and to give him the benefit of the doubt and normally, being an optimist and hopeless romantic, I would, but I’m finding it difficult to do this – I’m frankly blaming this new jadedness on Northern Lights. Arrrggg … dating can be soo frustrating!!! I just want a good, sane, honest guy for once; is that too much to ask for? Me thinks not. Talking about men; Queen Victoria found herself a good one. Though I shouldn’t be too envious since Prince Albert died relatively young (especially compared to Victoria who died at the age of 88) at the age of 42.

Queen Victoria’s Lasting Impact

For some reason I’ve always had a fondness for Queen Victoria and always found her to be a gutsy, admirable and intriguing woman. I think my fondness for her goes back to when I first saw the Shirley Temple movie The Little Princess in which Queen Victoria helps Shirley’s character find her wounded father.

Victoria (yeah, we’re on a first name basis) became queen at the age 18 (at 18 I was graduating high school and couldn’t make up my mind as to which University to go to) and ruled for 64 years. She was a woman who didn’t believe in feminism/advancing woman’s rights but yet proposed to her husband since she was a monarch and above him in status. She helped abolish slavery in England, ushered in the trend of brides wearing white on their wedding day and via Albert she introduced the Christmas tree to England and its colonies. All in all a pretty neat lady. Another pretty neat lady, a personal fav, although fictional, is Marilla Cuthbert who at the onset of Anne of Green Gables is often not amused by Anne’s chattiness and scope of imagination.

A Kindred Spirit – Anne with an E

Anne of Green Gables, was my absolute favourite book growing up, and it remains my all time favourite book. It is the book I turn to when I’m sick or just having a blah day and need a pick me up. I was first introduced to it in grade four when I received the series as a Christmas gift. By the time I returned to school I had gobbled up the entire series and talked about Anne so much my mother swore she had a second daughter. In honour of the 100th anniversary of its publication my book club chose Anne as this month’s pick. Although, I’ve read Anne at least 10 times it’s been awhile since I read it cover to cover and I was a bit hesitant to read it again; would it stand up? I’m happy to report that yes it did and I fell in love with this book all over again to the point that I will be rereading the entire series. I’m looking forward to hearing what the rest of book club, some of them being first time readers of Anne, have to say about the book.

And that’s it for me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my guest blogging experience. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I decided to start my own blog. Check it out at There’s nothing posted on it as of yet, but I promise to get started on it within the week’s end.

Thanks DissolvedGirl for the opportunity and welcome home! Can’t wait to read more about your Western Tour.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We Interrupt This Date Due to Illness

Exhilaration, pure happiness, giddiness, stomach butterflies, self-doubt, overanalysing, frustrations, insecurities … isn’t dating fun? Sure it has wonderful moments: getting all dolled up for the first date, first kisses, long phone conservations into the early morning, flirty, witty banter via emails and text messages, the little things they do to impress you and to show you that they’re into you, the first time you don’t have to get dolled up …

I never dated a lot as a teenager and in University; I was the girl with her head in a book who said she didn’t have time to date because she was too busy studying. In reality and to be completely honest I was overweight and just didn’t have enough self confidence to a) have guys ask me out and b) to ask a guy out.

I moved to Mississauga about 2 years ago for work and I didn’t start really dating again ‘till this past fall. For the most part it’s been great and I’ve had some wonderful dates from the one that started as lunch time tea date at Timmies and didn’t end ‘till late nigh tea at Timmies to the one that ended with him singing me one of my favourite songs. But I haven’t been that fortunate when it comes to actual relationships. Granted I can be a bit picky, but at my age (27) you have to be; I refuse to waste months or worse years on a relationship that’s not evolving or heading somewhere. I have nothing against casual, fun relationships, but I’m finding myself wanting more.

So since I’ve started dating again there’s been the Italian, the stalker, the one that broke my heart, and the one I didn’t expect. The Italian and the stalker aren’t worth mentioning and the one that broke my heart (Northern Lights) is for another posting (refer to A Few Introductory Words for the short story). But Crown Royal - the one I didn’t expect - now he's worth a few words. I met CR the day I ended things with Northern Lights and for some reason despite the fact that I had a tearstained face, red puffy eyes etc he decided to ask me out two days after meeting me. I very hesitantly agreed to a date because despite the crappiness of what happened with Northern Lights I remain an eternal optimist and hopeless romantic. I didn’t expect to develop feelings for CR since he was so different than the guys I’ve dated in the past but unlike past guys CR actually made an effort at wooing me from serenading me to cleaning his house for the first time in years so it was acceptable for me to come over; from witty responses to my status updates on facebook to going out of his way on a Saturday to give me a lift to a friend’s place because he knew it would take me forever via bus. In a period of three weeks we spoke or emailed at least once a day. He had just re-entered the dating world and I was still a bit “broken” so we were taken things slowly and things seemed to be going well. We even had the “talk” were he asked me “are you in?” I told him yes and asked him the same question and he said he was. And then came nothingness.

We had made plans to go out last Saturday evening and he called me mid-morning to cancel because he was sick. It’s the classic is he really sick or just blowing me off question. He sounded pretty sick and everyone tells me that I’m overthinking things, which I have a tendency to do a lot – it’s probably my greatest flaw; it’s pretty bad, you should see the pro and con lists I make. I also don’t have a lot of patience so I decided to email him on Monday asking him how he was feeling and whether he was interested in going biking (he’s an avid mountain biker) when he felt better. He replied within hours saying that he felt a bit better, he did want to go biking and that he would let me know when he was up to it. And I haven’t heard from him since.

I know, I know, it’s only been 3 days; but after three week of 24/7, three days feels like an eternity and my mind has begun to analyse our last date, which has now been a week ago. Was it something I said, did? Is he blowing me off? Which frankly is annoying since how can you go from showering someone with attention and wanting to be with them everyday to not. I wish guys would just tell you there not interested. Did he get bored with me – how I don’t know since I’m absolutely fabulous – because we’re so different? Of course if he’s on his deathbed (knock on wood) I’m going to feel like a complete moron and bitch.

GCA: to the edge of the world and back

aaaaand we're back in Jasper.

After a crazy three-ferry, two-train detour to Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands, we find ourselves back in my favourite city, JASPER (Just Another Small Place Earning Revenue). I know people seem to love the west coast - I would kill myself if I had to live in that drizzly weather 80% of the year. We crossed into Alberta and suddenly I felt like I was home. Also: 5% tax here. Awesome. We'll be in Jasper for the next two nights, after which we head on back to Vancouver.

Due to stupid VIA and its stupid not-ever-sticking-to-schedule we've had to cut both Victoria and Whistler out of our plans. Now, we're out of sorts with our accommodations because we'll be spending an unplanned Sunday night in Vancouver and we have no place to stay. Also: lost our Lonely Planet, so we're really hoping we don't wander into Skid Row by accident.

So: Queen Charlottes. pretty cool. Of our remote locales, I think it ranks under Churchill. Possibly due to the fact that our ferry was docked due to high winds and we ended up missing it (it departed at 11:30 pm instead of 9am; this dominoed into us missing our scheduled 9am ferry and us spending an extra day on the island). Pro: spent the day exploring the island in a rental and picking up agate on a remote beach. Con: never got to go back to Rupert for that beautiful totem pole. I'm sure I'll go back someday, but not anytime so soon. Not like Churchill.

Also: saw a Mama Bear and her cubs today. Made my entire trip.

Also, also: clear blue skies in Jasper. surrounded by about 11 mountain peaks. with elk grazing on the corner. staying in the "blueberry" room. am drunk on Canada. officially.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What My Father Taught Me

Yesterday was the book launch for a new history title about the Scottish exodus to Canada. Compared to our last book launch, which was held at Casa Loma with close to 500 people in attendance, this was a small affair of about 20 people held at the office for family, friends, and staff. Even though I’ve now organized my fair share of book launches and events, I still get nervous and anxious just before. Will people show up? Did we bring in enough books to sell or will we run out? Do we have enough food and more importantly wine? This book launch was no different actually this one was worse since there were so many hiccups along the way from only 3 people RSVPing for the event to not deciding the format (a lunch event versus an after work event) ‘till two days before the launch. Thankfully the launch was a huge success; people showed up and we had enough food and books on hand!

So I’m at the book launch doing my duty of greeting guests as they arrive and selling books and my boss, Yenta (I have soo many funny stories about her she deserves her own blog posting ... hmmm I think I know what my next blog will be about), starts looking for a book; an older title that I know is not in the cabinets that house our promotional copies, so before she asks because I know in the next 30 seconds she’s going to ask, I grab the copy in my office and hand it to her. And that’s one of the lasting lessons that my father taught me: always anticipate what someone wants, especially if you want to be useful.

My father believes in doing things himself, especially when it comes to house maintenance, from reinforcing floors to installing an underground watering system and I would often help him. To be honest I don’t think he really needed the help, sure he could use the extra hands to hand him nails etc but looking back I’m pretty sure that most of the time (ok he definitely needed help with the underground watering system) this was his way of spending time with me. As his helper I learned quickly to anticipate what tool he would need next and it came to the point that we wouldn’t even have to talk since we both knew what the other one needed in order to complete whatever that weekend’s project was. Growing up I gripped a lot about helping my father and his never ending projects – heck I still sometimes try to get out of helping him when he asks for my help when I go home for a visit — but in hindsight (isn’t that always the way) I appreciate the values he instilled in me as we worked on projects together.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Random Sunday Musings

I know, I know (I hear you loud and clear Madox!), it’s been awhile but how can I compete with postings that are coming to you from across Canada?

I read a lot, currently reading four books, and last week I finished the book Five Things I Can’t Live Without by Holly Shumas. It’s just an ok book about a 29-year-old who finds herself at the crossroads of life. If you have a couple of hours to kill and a library card you should check it out, especially if you like chick lit. The part that stuck with me and got me thinking was the title. What are the five things that I can’t live without? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently in terms of jobs (should I open that bookstore), living situations (should I move out and get my own apartment so I don’t have to deal with a crazy, rule-obsessed roommate?), love (what kind of guy do I want, what are my deal-breakers, what’s up with Crown Royal and was he really sick when he cancelled our date?), and life in general. So what are my five things? Sure I could say shoes and accessories but in all seriousness what are they? What follows are my five things.

1) Love
2) Family and Friends
3) Human Connections
4) Fulfillment
5) Books

So what are the five things you can't live without?

Friday, May 09, 2008

GCA: to Vancouver Island

In Nanaimo! So... had to skip Victoria - VIA just cannot seem to get us in on time - came straight to Nanaimo just in time for everything to be closed. However, an adorable little city this is. I'm thinking of moving - no snow, mountains in the background, ocean close by and no Hastings St. crack whores. plus plus plus. Also: hitchhiked to our hostel. have done every mode of transport that doesn't involve a live animal already (plane, train, car, ferry, hitched, friend's car and walked). tomorrow @ 8am for Port Hardy via Cathedral Grove.

We've already decided to cancel our Whistler detour as well - there's no point in being disappointed at the last minute. Of course, now we have to find a place to stay on May 18 - suggestions, poppets? You know, how we always rely on the kindness of strangers.

Really looking forward to our Inside Passage / Skeena legs - can't believe that in a short ten days time we'll be circling Pearson. Where did the time go? OH!! before I forget: finally saw bears! just outside Jasper from the train - smashed my knee doing it too - iced it for 16 hours - feels better. but bears!! *sigh*

Thursday, May 08, 2008

GCA: on top of the world

In Jasper, a few kilometres closer to Heaven. Am in love with this place. There are mountains EVERYWHERE! Batteries died in camera about halfway here (near the Saskatchewan River Crossing) and have been crying ever since - but no worries, I'm back here in a week or so. Am at the cutest library ever right now, and outside the banal window are TWO mountains. Two. It was a phenomenal drive up here - after we got through the freak snow storm. Then, there was a lot of residual mist and fog, so no clear peaks - which, even when I did try to take a picture, came out 2-D gray. My pictures are doing none of this fabulous country any justice. They're really only to serve as reminders for me and not actual accurate depictions of our sights.

Packs got really really heavy after three days in Calgary - bought a certain pair of Black Cherry cowboy boots. Decided to ship about 15 pounds of stuff home - feeling so weightless at the moment. Also sent back my mother's mini-collection of shot glasses and various other gifts for people. Have bought very little for myself. Sad. Will rectify over the next few days.

VIA running late as usual - we were supposed to be chugging through the Rockies by now. Bastards. We have lost almost a day in delays through them already, and we're only halfway. It's scheduled to arrive 6pm Jasper time (8pm Mississauga time), so we'll be moseying back in a few. Drinking in more mountain views (now that the sun has decided to come out) on the way.

Missing you all!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

GCA: skachatoon

It's true what they say - Saskatchewan is flat. I've taken dozen of pictures and I still can't quite capture the flatness; I mean, the horizon actually fades into a haze before you see another swell in the land. My camera cannot do it justice - this really is a "you had to be there" kind of place. That being said: we did three cities (Saskatoon-Moosejaw-Regina) in one day. The first is disappointing, the second is quaint and interesting, the third is actually the closest to a real city.

Am typing this on a dial-up connection (so no time limit!) in the HI-Regina, which turns out be a historic building. This is actually the nicest (read: cleanest) place I've slept in since the luxurious Radisson in Winnipeg. Bunk-beds, yes, but the sheets smell like laundry. Am waiting on Nish to wake up (she's definitely the sleeper of the two of us) so we can go out and explore Regina as tourists (and not as bar-bugs).

The Winnipeg-Saskatoon train ride was awesome, as all our train rides have been. We met a bunch of people whom I've christened the Frat Boys and we had Observation Party Redux that night before rolling in, complete with Polish Vodka and brandy. Our first party was all in good clean (loud) fun - this was drunktastic. Anyway, have planned a reunion of sorts in Prince George, where we'll be spending a night. They're good boys - could write novels on them.

We'll also be heading back to Saskatoon today, where we shall impose upon Stu for laundry services and showers and hi-speed internet (man, I'm so behind in emails) and long-distance calls and possibly naps. It's like a pit stop in a race around the country or something. Perhaps, if there's time, I shall update again with a more introspective blog on how the provinces really do have distinct personalities and that we're not a homogeneous Canadian people, which is wonderful.

Toodles, poppets!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

GCA: in the 'peg

Having only 9 mins on my HI-timer, I can't type much. Back from Churchill this afternoon after four days and mini-drama. Didn't see a bear (boo) but did see the cutest Husky pups ever - only thing that stopped me from taking one home was knowing I still had three weeks on the road. Other Churchill highlights include: bald eagles, Steph & Brett, Berth Control and Gypsy Bakery, where I traded my heart for an apple fritter.

Have already toured about Winnipeg quite a bit and am impressed by their preservation skills for the buildings - great blends of old and new and a real impression that they care about their brick history. This place is a gold mine for building/photography enthusiasts. Also: intentional graffiti. Highlights so far include: St. Boniface Cathedral, Red River bridge, the Oodena Celebration Circle in the Forks and Train Sushi. Tomorrow: off to the Mint, the Legislative building and some market or another.

be good poppets!