Thursday, November 27, 2008


In 3-5 business days, I will be getting an early Christmas present - and I am SO EXCITED!!! My wonderful, generous and thoughtful husband is getting me one of these this year:

Isn't it beautiful? We ordered it from Costco last night, with the help of some friends with a membership, and it will be arriving sometime next week. Another great thing about it? We got $350 off the regular price, a free bench and free shipping! Woo hoo!

For those who are wondering why I'm so excited, I've played the piano since I was 5, but for the past 9 years I've had to live without regular access to one - the last 5 of which without any access at all. I do have a real piano, but it is currently sitting in the living room of my parents' house in NB, where it will remain until we're settled enough to make the cost and hassle of moving it worthwhile. In the meantime, thouhg, this one will do quite nicely!

Merry Christmas everybody :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Three things...

We had a rather nice treat last night, with a visit from our friends Nick & Maureen who are in town for a while. They came for dinner, and over the course of the evening I was struck by three different things.

The first thing: I was reminded of how important it is to always, always, always read the entire recipe when planning to make a dish. That way you won't realize after you start making said dish that it is going to need to simmer for an hour before you can finish making it. Causing dinner to be late. Very late. And then because you won't be feeling rushed, you won't forget to put some of the ingredients in. Causing dinner to be edible, but rather monochromatic. (It was a beef stew, and I forgot to add the green veggies, so everything was red and orange.)

The second thing: I am turning into my grandmother. Whenever anyone visits my grandmother, she will not allow them to leave her house empty-handed. It may be cookies, it may be a side of beef, or a set of decorative tins, but you will be taking something with you when you leave. TC pointed out last night that I do the exact same thing. Poor Nick & Maureen - I wouldn't let them leave last night without taking some grape jam and 2 kinds of soap. At least it wasn't decorative tins :)

The third thing: I'm not quite sure yet how to articulate this one, so please bear with me if I seem to be rambling - there is a point, I promise :) I've known Nick & Maureen since my earliest university days. Maureen I knew sort of in passing - it was a small university, so everyone knew everyone, but we travelled in different circles. Nick was someone that I hung out with on a regular basis, so we became good friends. Life happened, as it usually does, and I didn't see either of them for several years.

Then a couple of years ago, we reconnected through facebook. I learned that they had a blog and became a regular visitor, which has helped me to know Maureen quite a bit better, since she does most of the blogging over there. We also share an enjoyment of tea stores and yarn crafts (though she's a knitter and I'm a crocheter - for the uninitiated, that's sort of like being a Capulet and a Montague), and discovered that we're both part of the online community at Ravelry. Then when I started this blog, Nick & Maureen were some of its first readers and commenters. So when they came to visit last night, it didn't feel to me like we hadn't seen each other in years, although in reality it had been years. Instead, while it was a treat to be able to be with them in person, it was more like we were continuing a conversation that had already been taking place.

It became clear at a couple of points during the evening, though, that this was not the case for TC. As you may or may not have guessed by this point, my husband is a bit of a Luddite, at least in some respects. We do not own a cell phone, and although he's comfortable using email, TC does not and will not participate in any other form of online communication. He does read this blog, and will read entries from the blogs of people we know if I bring them up and put them in front of him and tell him he should read them, but that's about it. And to be completely honest, he's not entirely comfortable with the extent of my own participation in the online world, though he's always supportive. So for him, it wasn't just the first time he'd seen Nick & Maureen in years, it was the first time he'd interacted with them at all in years. And if he wasn't married to me, he would have gone on in that sad Nick & Maureen-less state for who knows how long!

I'm not saying that online communities should or can replace face-to-face interactions with people. There's something important about physical presence in any kind of relationship - that's why it was such a treat to actually spend time with Nick & Maureen. But at the same time, I guess I was struck last night by how friendships that might otherwise never have been possible can be started, renewed and/or maintained through the medium of the internet. It's really a rather amazing thing, when you think about it. Which I did. Until way too late last night. Which is probably why this such a rambling post. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Snowing!

The first major snow storm of the season is starting outside right now. By the time I'm ready to go home it should be in full swing.

And I wore a skirt and ballet flats to work today.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thoughts on celebrity

One of the facts of life in a city like Toronto is that at some point you'll probably spot a celebrity. Maybe not someone like Brad Pitt, but definitely a small-c celebrity - someone who is easily recognizable, and everyone would know, but isn't hounded by paparazzi. In the 3 years we've lived here, we've seen several, and even met one or two. People like Luba Goy, of Air Farce fame, or Rex Murphy, who looks intelligently perplexed even when all he's doing is riding an elevator. I met Ben Johnson one day, the sprinter who introduced my generation to the concept of steroid use when he was stripped of his gold medal back in 1988, and TC has had dinner with Adrienne Clarkson, the former governor-general.

I could keep going, but I'm not telling you all this in order to brag about how many 'famous' people we've seen. We're not celebrity watchers, and I honestly think that our society spends way too much time following the activities of people who have done absolutely nothing to warrant that kind of attention in the first place. As such, we make a conscious effort not to support that kind of behaviour - we don't watch those entertainment shows, or buy any of the magazines. It just doesn't interest us.

What does interest me, though, is that despite my belief and my efforts to abstain from the cultural celebrity obsession, whenever I've seen or met anyone recognizable, my immediate reaction has been one of excitement and I felt the need to tell someone about it. Why is that the case? What part of the human psyche makes us want to associate ourselves with someone who we don't know and who don't know us just because they are 'famous'? Why do we place such value on these people that the thought of any kind of connection with them is an exciting prospect?

Don't get me wrong - I know that they're people too, and there are some celebrities who I think it would be interesting to know. I just can't help but think that if we equally valued the people around us, we'd be a lot farther ahead.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tales from the crib...

I love babies. And before the conjecture begins, no, I am not yet expecting a little one. However, I still love to play with other people's babies, which is why I love the fact that when my turn comes to work in the children's program at our church, they almost always put me in the nursery. Apparently most of the volunteers prefer the older kiddos, and I could never understand why. Until yesterday.

The morning started out well enough. I had one very sociable little 3 month old guy who was just waiting to give you a big toothless grin as soon as you paid any attention to him - so cute! Then the other volunteer arrived, so there were 2 of us. By the time the church service started we had 3 babies - the grinner, and 2 little ones who were at the stage where they can walk while holding your hands, but not on their own. One of them was a very serious, solid little fella who was perfectly content to sit and play on his own, and the other was a little girl who was fine as long as she maintained some kind of physical contact with a grown up.

Everything was going along swimmingly until it seems that the parents who had decided to take their kids into the service with them changed their minds. A little over half an hour into the service, we ended up with 3 more little ones - a 9-day old (so tiny!), and 2 who were able to sit on their own, but weren't walking yet. Again, all was well, if a little busy, until one of them started to cry. As if they had been waiting for that cue, every baby suddenly started crying! Six crying babies and only 2 people to try to calm them all down. You can probably imagine how well that worked. After about 10 minutes of the wailing chorus, we waved the white flag and started paging the parents of the wee ones who had been there the longest.

It was a rather exhausting experience - my legs are actually sore today from all the squatting and lifting involved in trying to calm 6 screaming, relatively immobile infants at the same time.

And you know what? I can't wait to do it again :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's my treat

One Friday every month, I give myself a little treat. It started back when I hurt my neck and began seeing a chiropractor - the wonderful woman who keeps me aligned and pain-free. Initially I was seeing her every other week as she worked out the immediate issue in my neck, as well as the other issues in my back that were the root causes. Now I see her once a month just to check on things and make whatever small adjustments are needed. It has really worked, too. I used to get these kinks in my back every couple of months or so, but since I've been going to Dr. F, it hasn't happened once. It's amazing - but I digress...

My appointments, like the one I had today, are always very early on Friday mornings. No stores are open, except coffee shops and convenience stores, and a little breakfast place that's about a 15 minute walk away. Every month, after my appointment, that's where I go to sit and enjoy a leisurely breakfast while I read a book that I've brought with me. It's a lovely, quiet time, away from home and work and the sundry pressures of life. I eat my breakfast, drink 2 or 3 cups of tea, read my book, and thoroughly enjoy every moment. It's my treat to me.

What are some things that you do to treat yourself?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guessing Game

Guess what I did yesterday ... no, really - guess ... okay, I'll give you a hint: it involves wings ... still nothing? ... alright, one more clue: Bing Crosby ... give up?

I booked the tickets to fly us home for Christmas! No lamenting being away from our families this year, folks - we're headed east to spend the holidays with them.

And for those who are wondering about the connection with Bing Crosby...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mailbox Delight

Look what arrived in our mailbox on Friday...

...this lovely hat for TC...

...and these gorgeous fingerless mitts for me from Blogless Annie! It's been a hard week - our friend G, who is part of our home church, passed away on Wednesday morning - so it was a perfect time for a pleasant surprise. Thank you so much Annie! TC liked the hat so much he wore it around the apartment for a while on Friday night :)

We spent this morning at G's funeral and burial. She was an amazing lady - came to Canada from Zimbabwe eight years ago to make a place for her son, who waited for her back home. Almost 2 years ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was successfully treated. Just this past year, she was finally able to bring her son to join her here, after 7 years of waiting. Her tumor then reappeared, and this time there was little that could be done. Thankfully, her son, who is 11 or 12, was granted permanent residency late last week, so G knew before she died that he would be able to stay here.

Something that struck us as we were sitting at the reception was that there are a number of similarities between funerals and weddings - the booking of facilities for the ceremony, there's a special car, the reception (where you meet a lot of different people), sending out thank-you notes, the procession of cars, people get all dressed up - the difference (other than the obvious) being that you usually have months to plan a wedding, and for funerals you only have days to pull it all together.

As draining as it all was, it was a good thing. There's something beautiful about gathering together to celebrate a life well lived. And G's life, though brief, was lived with grace, dignity, generosity and love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The blahs...

Things have been pretty quiet here lately, haven't they? To be quite honest, I haven't really felt like blogging, or doing much of anything else. I get home after work, sometimes I cook something for dinner, and then I sit on the couch and watch TV or a movie, unless it's a night when we have something planned. I'm not even doing any knitting or crocheting while sitting there - which is completely abnormal.

It's not that I'm feeling down or anything like that. TC and I were talking the other day about how we're both rather content with who and where we are right now. Life, with all of its craziness and unexpected turns, is good. So why, then, do I seem to be in this state of blah-ness?

The stunningly obvious answer to that question hit me a few minutes ago. I'm tired. September and October were extremely busy months, both professionally and personally, and I just don't have the mental or physical energy to do much more than I have to at this point.

The pendulum seems to be swinging back in the other direction, though. I've been feeling the urge to do up my meal plans again, and my Jaywalker socks have been calling me. I've even started working out in the evenings, since I can't seem to motivate myself to get up extra early in the mornings.

Who knows - I might even start posting entries with pictures in them again... :)