Friday, May 30, 2008

A Loverly Evening...

What fun! As TC's birthday gift to me, we went to see a production of My Fair Lady last night and had a wonderful time. I was a little bit worried before going, since the movie version is one of my all-time favourites and I didn't want to come away disappointed, but my fears were unfounded. I think the producers/director made a wise decision in that they didn't add the burden of trying to be different from the movie to the play. Instead, they kept most of the same elements and made them their own. The result was a beautiful, well choreographed, thoroughly enjoyable performance!

As a fan of the movie, I was especially excited to find out that the lady who was playing Mrs. Higgins, the professor's mother, was the same lady who did the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in the movie version. Her name is Marni Nixon, and it turns out that she was also the singing voice for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, as well as for Natalie Wood in West Side Story.

I think one of the things that I enjoyed the most about the performance was the signing that was going on for the deaf and hearing impaired to one side of the stage. Two ladies signed the entire musical, which must have been exhausting for them - especially given the fact that My Fair Lady is largely about sound. How does one translate an accent and the intricacies of its social connotations into sign? I had no idea what they were saying, but it was beautiful to watch!

The reason that they had the signers was that the performance we attended was for the benefit of the Canadian Hearing Society, which was holding a silent auction to raise funds as well. Being the crafty, but good-hearted, people that we are, TC and I decided to put a bid in on an item early on, just to build it up so they'd get a good donation for it. We figured that at some point during the intermission, someone would out-bid us. Well, it turns out no one did. So we came home with a lovely basket of maple related products, including maple cookies, 2 bottles of maple apple caramel, a bottle of maple syrup with orange liqeur, a bottle of rum-infused maple syrup, a box of assorted teas and an espresso cup and saucer.

I'd have taken a picture, but TC left for BC this afternoon, and he took the camera with him once again. So we're going to have to go picture-free for the next few days :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A lesson learned

I have learned something new about the structure of the house we live in. Apparently our sun porch is built over the roof of the unit that is behind/below us where our landlord's son lives, so when I water my garden any excess dripage just runs down the roof and off the side of the house like rain. However, since this is not a normal occurence (it doesn't usually rain in our sun porch), I apparently caused a bit of panic for the poor guy, who thought that someone must have left a sink or bathtub overflowing, causing the trickle off of the 'roof'. I shall have to remember to go a little easier on the watering in the future :)

(On a side note - my neck is much, much better. I went to see a chiropractor yesterday, and she was amazing! Now I just need to catch up on my sleep, and it will all be okay...)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wedding season has arrived!

Sorry for the lack of postings recently. We're currently in one of those busy phases, which will hopefully calm down a bit after all the couples in our home church finish getting married and all the activities we're part of finish up their 'end-of-year' festivities. So, mid-June-ish. I'm looking forward to the slower pace of summer, even though I'll be working throughout.

This weekend was spent at the first of three weddings this summer - a couple from our home church who met online. My favourite part about the wedding? The groom's face through the entire ceremony, and most of the reception, was covered with a great big beaming goofy grin :) The reception was held at the Old Mill Inn & Spa (more so the inn than the spa, of course), which is a huge and exquisitely beautiful spot, surrounded by gardens galore and located next to a meandering river, which on the day we were there was covered in flower petals from the trees that were blossoming everywhere - so pretty! Unfortunately, we forgot to take our camera, so there are no pictures...sorry!

I did remember to snap this shot before we left, though. I made a set of dishtowels and dishclothes for the wedding gift, which I wrapped in this gorgeous (and completely recycleable) paper that I got at Walmart (I'm weak, I know).

We didn't get home until rather late, and because I haven't been sleeping very well lately (stupid neck!), I slept in on Sunday and just lazed around for most of the day. About the only productive thing I did this weekend was fold the 2 loads of laundry that have been sitting around since Friday. And you know what? I'm okay with that :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Birthday musings

I have now officially been on this earth for 28 years. Yesterday, as some of you already know, was my birthday, and as I was walking to work I was struck by how much I have been blessed in that relatively short amount of time.

I was born into an incredibly loving, supportive family that taught me so many important lessons about life and how to live it, in a country where I am free to pursue whatever avenues I wish to pursue, either professionally or personally, without fear of reprisal.

In the 28 years that I've experienced so far, all the people that I care about have enjoyed relatively good health. That's not to say that we haven't experienced tragedy, but there has been little suffering.

I've been able to travel to different parts of the world and see how people from other cultures live.

I've made some wonderful friends, the kind that time and distance seem to have no effect on. Whenever we're together, it's like no time has passed at all.

I somehow managed to find a wonderful man, who has for some reason agreed to share a life with me. And more than that, he does all he can to make that life a wonderful one.

We have known both the freedom that comes with having next to nothing, and the joy that comes with having enough to share with others.

Not too bad for 28 years, eh?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yay for long weekends!

Well, the long weekend has come and gone, and I have to say that I'm happy with how much I managed to get done! Check it out:

I made this yummy chicken pot pie. It was rather chilly over the weekend so it tasted really good. Here's the recipe (I forget where I got it):

1-1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

3/4 cup frozen or fresh peas

1/3 cup celery, diced

1/3 cup carrots, diced

1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tbsps cornstarch

1/4 cup milk

2 9" pie crusts

In a medium pot combine stock, chicken, peas, celery and carrots. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch and milk in a small bowl. Stir into stock mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Stir cheese into mixture and pour into pie crust. Top with second crust, seal edges and cut slits in top. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

I also did a little experimenting, making some body scrubs and bath salts. They're so simple to make I don't know why I haven't made them before! My home church is hosting a bake & craft sale in a couple of weeks to support a mission team that's going to Costa Rica, so I'll probably donate these to the cause (except for the weird purple-grey one, which didn't turn out the colour I was looking for).

And last, but certainly not least:

We put my garden in! It's an early birthday present from TC. Hopefully by the end of summer we'll be able to feast on our own green beans, tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, strawberries, swiss chard, leeks and lettuce. I can't wait! I'll be keeping you posted on the garden's progress :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Haiku Friday: Victoria Day Weekend

Haiku Friday

gardens are planted
cottages are opened up
spring and summer meet

Monday, May 12, 2008

This trip was a pain in the neck...

The neck is a rather amazing feat of engineering. Think about the logistics involved in giving your head the range of mobility that we enjoy, as well as the necessary strength to effortlessly keep it upright throughout the day - it's really quite remarkable. What, you may ask, has prompted this fascination with the neck? The fact that mine hasn't worked properly since Friday. But perhaps I should back up and tell you about the comedy of errors that was my trip to Washington.

All was going well as my boss and I left the office to head to the airport. We weren't checking any bags, and we'd gotten there plenty early so that we wouldn't have to rush about. We found the correct set of self-serve kiosks to print out our tickets, and Boss J had no trouble with hers. The kiosk refused to print mine, however, so we proceeded to the desk to find out what the trouble was. It turns out that the travel service provider that my company uses had reserved a ticket for me, but had forgotten to issue it. The wonderfully helpful lady at the desk called them and was able to iron it out in a relatively short amount of time (about 15 minutes) and I was given my ticket. Neither of us had any trouble clearing security or US customs, so we grabbed some supper and went to sit at our gate only to find out that our flight had been delayed by about 45 minutes. And our gate had changed. Off we went to our new gate, where we sat and waited. Then they changed our gate again. More walking, sitting and waiting. After another gate change and some more waiting, we were finally on our plane and on our way to DC.

We landed at the Dulles airport, which is about at 30-45 minute drive from Washington, and called a cab to take us to our hotel. Somehow we managed to find the one cab driver who had no idea how to get there. With a GPS. Almost an hour and a half later, between the GPS, Boss J and myself, we managed to direct the cabby to our hotel. By this time it was after 11pm, and we had to be up early the next morning for our training course. The hotel was lovely, with one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept on in my life. And the breakfast buffet at the hotel was very yummy.

Boss J had printed out the location of the training course before we left, so we called another cab and headed to Tyson's Corner, which turned out to be a huge complex of office buildings in Virginia, 30 minutes away. The course organizer had forgotten to include the building number, or her contact info, in the meeting notification, so we had to track down her number via our home office here in Toronto. Twenty minutes later, we find out that the meeting is actually back in DC, one block from our hotel! The organizer had forgotten to send us the location update. So an hour and an $80 round-trip cab ride later, we found ourselves at our training session. The session itself was great, the new program was great, and the people we met were very nice.

After the session, given the number of things that had already gone wrong, we thought it would be best to head straight to the airport, so off we went in our most successful cab ride of the trip, arriving at the airport and checking in without any major hassles. Security again was no problem, and we went to find our gate before grabbing something to eat. Our flight was once again delayed, so we had a good 3 hour wait ahead of us. So we sat, and waited. About 40 minutes before the departure time, Boss J noticed that there weren't that many people sitting near us and got up to check the board to see if the gate had changed. It hadn't, so we kept waiting. Twenty minutes later, I had to use the washroom, and on my way by looked at the board and saw that not only had they just changed the gate, but they had changed it to a gate in a different terminal! So with 20 minutes until the flight was scheduled to leave, we made a mad dash for the new gate, arriving just as they were starting to board the plane. We got home late enough that Boss J told me to work from home on Friday, which I was very glad to do.

Have I mentioned that through this entire trip I was carrying around a 15lb computer case, the result of which was that I woke up on Friday morning unable to move my neck without causing tremendous amounts of pain? And that I was stupid enough to think that I could 'work it out' by helping a friend move on Saturday? And that the result of said stupidity was an even more crippling pain on Sunday? Do you know how many things you do everyday that require you to use the muscles in your neck? Not just during the day, either. Every time you roll over or shift positions while you are sleeping, you use your neck muscles. And every time I do, it wakes me up. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since Thursday.

At this point, I would normally try to think of something positive to say about the trip to Washington. But I'm too tired right now. And my neck hurts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You never know...

I love to travel. Not like TC, who likes to be in different places but hates the process of getting there. I love everything about travelling - the planning that takes place beforehand, the anticipation, the journey and then the time spent at the destination - and it is one of the supreme ironies in our life right now that TC has had umpteen opportunities to travel all over for school, while I've had to stay home. To be completely honest, I've had to struggle with some feelings of resentment over this (and I'm happy to report that they have, for the most part, been overcome).

It was a little hard a couple of weeks ago, though, when TC headed down to Washington for his last monthly trip as part of a research seminar. When he first started going, way back in September, we had big plans for me to join him as some point, but life (and my lack of vacation time at work) conspired to make that impossible. He left on Thursday morning, and on Friday I received an email from my boss notifying me that I will need to go to Washington this week for a training course! It's only for a day, and I'll be in the course for most of that, but it means that I still get to go to Washington :)

Isn't it neat the way life works out sometimes?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sundry Snapshots

One of the things that I enjoy most about living in Toronto is public least most of the time. Nothing gives me greater pleasure that watching the people around me as they go about their various lives.

Take Enoch, for example. He's a little old black man who often gets on the same bus that I do, and he's always reaching out to the people around him, asking them how their day was and trying to say something nice to them. Or if no one is sitting handy enough for that, he'll sit and sing hymns to himself.

Then there was the young man, who looked like a hoodlum, dressed in his baggy pants and bling, listening to his music blaring loud enough through his earphones that everyone within a 10 foot radius could hear it. But he was the first one to offer his seat to a little old lady, and to help her lift her little push-cart full of whatever onto the bus.

Whenever I'm on my way to the Walmart, I pass a Catholic church, where the old Italian nonno's are always sitting out in front on a park bench, arguing and laughing and feeding the pigeons. Two benches down, all the nonna's sit and chatter away in rapid Italian, probably talking about their children and grandchildren, and who has died and who is sick - like every other group of grandmothers on earth.

One night, as I was walking home from the bus stop, I noticed a young boy, probably around 8 years old, walking along swinging a plastic bag holding four or five cans of pop and stopping to examine every nook and cranny that he came upon. About 15 feet ahead of him was a woman carrying a couple of pizza boxes, who turned around and called, 'Come on Zach! The sooner we get home, the sooner you get pizza!' At this prompting he closed the gap by about half, and then proceeded to be fascinated by the concept of centrifugal force as it was demonstrated by the cans of pop being swung with increasing force in the plastic bag on his arm.

Not everyone is pleasant to encounter, like the man who got on the bus reeking of alcohol and started giving the bus driver a hard time about the recent deal made between the unions and the TTC. And the man on the side of the road, I assume waiting for someone to come pick him up, yelling about how he hates having to wait and that people should be on time, all the while taking his frustrations out on a poor, unsuspecting newspaper machine.

Regardless of whether they're pleasant or otherwise, I love watching all these people - trying to imagine what their stories are and how they came to be in the place they are now. Where are they going? Who do they consider their friends? What do they think of the people around them, if they notice them at all? It's incredibly fascinating. On a bus or subway car full of people, each person is part of a complex social web, none of which would intersect at all except that for this brief time they share the same purpose of getting from point A to point B using the same means of transportation.