Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Breakthrough

I think we've finally made some head-way with house breaking Jacques.  I've been giving him treats after he goes on his pad and this has coincided with a significant decrease in the number of accidents.  This evening alone he's stopped playing out in the living room twice to go to the pad to poop--this is awesome because he's never done this before.

I was hesitant to use the treats as a training tool despite knowing that French bulldogs as a breed are typically motivated by food.  Treats notoriously have lots of empty calories which can cause obesity in dogs, so I was thrilled to find some natural treats at my local Pet Valu that are simply freeze-dried cows liver and nothing more. And the dog loves them!  So does the cat, for that matter.  Also, Jacques isn't eating nearly as much as I expected he would so I figure a few nutritious treats won't kill him.

Having said all this, I really hope I haven't jinxed myself.  I've been lulled into a false sense of security by this puppy before--remember the first 24 hours?  I will remain cautiously optimistic until he can prove himself over the next several days.

In the meantime, please head over to my photoblog and vote for your favourite picture of Jacques.  Sadly, I couldn't convince Jax to pose with him....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trying to Get Into the Christmas Spirit

I decided to not put up a Christmas tree this year.  I've had a Christmas tree every single year since being on my own at age 19.  I bought my first tree for $9.99 at Canadian Tire--it was 3 feet tall and that first Christmas I decorated it with a homemade popcorn garland (which was entirely too much work and I never did that again!)  A couple of years ago, when we moved into our current apartment, I bought a larger tree since we had a bigger space that would make a larger tree fit better.  It was also purchased at Canadian Tire, cost $24.99 and was 4 1/2 feet tall.

The other reason I had to get a larger tree was I've accumulated a tonne of ornaments.  I try every year to get a "special" ornament and these have grown to a large number which just couldn't all fit on a 3 foot tree.  Then, last year my Mom gave me the family collection of "special" ornaments so now even my 4 foot tree seems to bend under the strain.

So why did I forgo the tree this year?  A few reasons--I am concerned about the potential danger to Jacques who is a quick little bugger and might do some damage to it or himself if I let my guard down for even a second; I won't be here at Christmas, I'll be in Huntsville with my brother and his family so I will get my fair share of tree there; My Honey isn't able to come home for Christmas this year since he's used up all his vacation time so he won't be here to appreciate it; and lastly, it's been a tough year with more losses than I care to name and I just don't feel like it.

Now I know some of you will think these excuses are just that--excuses.  You'll think it would be good for me to put up the tree, embrace the Christmas spirit and chase away the blues with tinsel and lights.  I appreciate your concern, but I'm here to tell you you're wrong.  There's nothing more depressing than putting up a tree by yourself that no one (besides yourself) will see and then taking it down by yourself after Christmas when the sugar-high has worn off and the reality of 3 more months of freezing cold and snow is setting in.

By not putting up a tree, I can worry less about my dog, I can get my fill of Christmas cheer back in Huntsville without the work of putting up or taking down the tree, and lastly I don't have to look at all those "special" ornaments that will flood me with bittersweet memories of Christmas's past with my Mom.  I'm just not ready for that.  Instead, I'll be making new memories with my adorable nieces and my wonderful brother and sister-in-law who really need me there this year to bring the festive and not the sad and depressed.

So, instead of having my own tree, I've installed a Photos of Christmas Trees widget on the right-hand side of my blog.  Here I go, bringing the festive!  You're welcome.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So Freaking Tired

Okay, no more talk about pee an poop except to say this--the diarrhea seems to be improving and we still have a long way to go with house-breaking.

Today I had to go back to work so Jacques was left to his own devices.  As far as I can tell, he didn't get into anything he shouldn't have and didn't destroy his bed, his kennel or any of the plethora of toys I left him with. Mind you, he was confined to the bathroom so there wasn't much he could get into.  I came home at lunch to feed and water him but other than that he was on his own for just over 8 hours.

Jax is still handling things like a champ--I have to say he's doing way better than I thought he would.  We had a nice snuggle on the couch tonight while watching TV.  It would appear he's forgiven me for "the interloper."

Didn't get the best sleep last night--Jacques woke me up 3 times to "do his business" so I'm absolutely exhausted and going to bed.  Right.  Now.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hours 49 to 72

Jacques and I had another terrific night with no accidents and a pee break at 1am.  We woke up at 6 this morning (there's been too much sleeping in going on around here) and he ate all his breakfast.  Then the first set back occurred--he pooped (not diarrhea, thankfully) on the floor in the hall.  Not on his pad.  Accidents happen, but as it turns out this was going to be a harbinger of things to come.

We had a good play-time in the living room whereupon Jacques again raided Jax's toys, discovering items long since forgotten.  Speaking of Jax, he's pretty much behaving completely normally now--he's back to being his snuggly, needy self and he's eating normally, too.  He still hisses at Jacques and keeps his distance for the most part, although he is daring to come closer.  He's not sniffing/tasting the air as much and he seems perfectly content to nap on the back of the sofa while I sit on said sofa and hold Jacques.  Hey, if this is as good as it ever gets then I'm a happy camper!

At 10, Jacques and I went to visit my Dad and his wife (aka Grampy and Grammy).  They were babysitting her niece and all three of them instantly fell in love with Jacques.  Unfortunately, Jacques promptly christened the living room carpet, despite my excellent plan to bring a dry but used pee pad and making sure he knew where it was right away.  He proceeded to pee on the floor a total of 3 times.  Granted it wasn't much--just a few dribbles--but I was getting frustrated.  He had been doing so well at home but here he was going all over the place!  I was glad I'd not brought any food or allowed him any water which probably helped to minimize the damage.

We left around 12:30, Jacques thoroughly worn out and nodding off in the car (despite the pee issues, my Dad and his wife absolutely adore Jacques and can't wait for another visit.)  Back at home he again ate all his lunch and I left him to have a little nap while I snuggled with Jax.  After an hour or so I let Jacques out for another romp in the living room but this turned out to be a bad idea.  After briefly playing with a few toys and taunting the cat, Jacques started to sniff and circle suspiciously.  Just as he was about to "assume the position" I chased him back to the bathroom and corralled him onto the pad.  After a few escape attempts he eventually made a small poop on the pad (just barely) so I let him back out to play.  Well, the next thing I know he's crouching again, this time on the carpet.  I quickly scooped him up and brought him back to the pad, but he frustratingly refused to go.  By now I've finally smartened up and I leave him in the bathroom for a while.  His accident in the living room is small--only a few drops--but it's a wake up call.  He's still a puppy and now he's feeling confident enough to test me.  Clearly we still have a long way to go with this training business.

Unfortunately the set-backs didn't end there--I got a call from the vet and apparently Jacques has an intestinal parasite.  It's pretty common and easily treated but it's probably the cause of the diarrhea he's been having.  At a cost of about $25 I have to give him a pill every day for 10 days at which point he should be cured.  There's no risk of it being transmitted to me or the cat but I do have to thoroughly clean up his poop to prevent him from reinfecting himself.

And lastly, Jacques has really bad farts.  And I don't mean "oh isn't that cute, he farted!"  I'm talking eye-watering "silent but deadly" emissions of noxious gases.  On the bright side, now I can blame mine on him.

To finish off, here are a few pics I took of Jacques this morning playing desperately with all the cat's toys:





That's it--bite him right on the bum.

****Update****

Aaaaaaand the diarrhea's back again.  Big time.  So for now, Jacques is confined to quarters (ie the bathroom) until further notice.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hours 25 to 48

Last evening was fairly uneventful--I played a bit with Jacques and tried to snuggle with the cat, chatted a bit online with My Honey, watched some TV.  A nice relaxing evening with my happy, wonderful pets.  Yeah, right.

Anyway, Jacques went to bed very well and I was smart enough to set the alarm clock for 1:30am at which time we got up and he did a pee (no accidents!) and then we went back to bed.  He slept through to 7 again and then right away did another pee and poop on his pad (yay!) while I got Jax fed and the coffee on for me.  Unfortunately, the poop was, well, "loose" shall we say.  I was a tad bit dismayed but he seemed to be feeling fine so I didn't worry about it.  I did start worrying when he refused to eat--he had some water but he wouldn't touch his food.  I left it with him for about 15 minutes and then gave up.

After that I decided to let him roam the living room a bit--he'd already peed and pooped and since he hadn't eaten anything I figured we were safe for a little while.  Jacques frolicked and took off with Jax's toys while I snapped a few pics (head on over to my photoblog for a peek) and Jax eyed us warily from the safety of the dining room which I had blocked of with a baby gate.  At one point, however, Jax decided to take a closer look.  Jacques of course took this as an invitation to play--not what Jax had in mind.  Jacques playfully "barked" (I put this in quotes because his bark is so quiet and non-eardrum-piercing that I'm a little embarrassed to actually call it a bark) and sorta darted toward Jax.  Well, Jax decided that was a little too close and gave Jacques a good swat with his (thankfully declawed) left paw.  Evidently Jacques is a very smart little puppy because he correctly interpreted this bell-ringer as a sign the cat was not in the mood to play and he backed off post haste.

The rest of the morning was uneventful and at 12:30 (after unsuccessfully trying to entice Jacques to eat) he and I took a little trip to the vet for a quick look-see.  After scoring a clean bill of health (and thoroughly charming the vet and her staff with his good manners and even better looks) we took a swing by the parking lot of my work-place (where he charmed a few of my co-workers and showed off his adorable new winter jacket) an finally arrived back home for a nap.

While Jacques dreamed his puppy dreams, Jax and I had some alone time on the couch.  He's much more snuggly today and that makes me very happy.  He's also not hissing at Jacques unless the dog intentionally comes toward him--before he would just hiss if the dog was in his vague general vicinity.

Jacques and I just spent some time playing on the floor and he (finally!) ate some dinner, but he's still having diarrhea issues which I hope will clear up by tomorrow.  At least he's still pretty consistently going on his pad and doesn't appear to be sick.  I'll set the alarm for 1:30 again and see how things go.

Here's a pic from Jacques first trip to the vet:


No shots of him in his new coat today--the weather was crappy and neither one of us wanted to hang around outside.  Maybe tomorrow...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The First 24 Hours

My dog is so full of the win it is unbelievable.  And my cat's no slouch, either.

Jacques arrived at about 6pm last night and Jax was not impressed.  Jacques was greeted with hisses and growls--not exactly a warm welcome.  But there was no violence; in fact Jax was very friendly with the breeder, letting her pet him even.  So long as she wasn't holding the dog.  Jax was having none of that--he gave the dog a wide berth and I can't really say I blame him.  He didn't run an hide, though--he hung around the whole time which I count under the "victory" column.

After the breeder left, I took Jacques over to what will be his domain for the next several weeks--the bathroom. I want to make sure he's fully house-broken before I let him have unfettered access to the rest of he apartment (except for the bedroom, of course.)  I put down a pee pad and immediately he went pee and poo on the pad!  I was thrilled!  I let him acclimate to his crate and toys--he took to one particular chew toy right away so I put it in his crate and he gradually followed it in.  We experimented with closing the door a few times, but he didn't seem to mind that one bit.

While all this was going on, Jax was watching us and occasionally hissing but he made no attempt to jump over the gate and enter the bathroom even though I knew full well he could if he wanted to.  I left Jacques alone in the bathroom with his stuff for a while and spent some time with Jax but he was too keyed up to snuggle for long.  At around 9:30 Jacques was clearly worn out and went into his crate with no fuss, did a little "decorating" with his blanket and promptly fell asleep.  I brought him into the bedroom with me so I could hear him whine in the night (if he had to pee, which I knew he would) and off we went to sleep.

Now, this is where I made a mistake--I didn't set my alarm to wake up in 4 hours (how long I figured Jacques would be good for until he had to pee again) and just assumed I'd hear him whine and that would be enough to wake me up.  Sadly, it wasn't, mostly because he didn't whine he just sorta snuffled and that was too quiet for me to hear until it was too late.  I did wake up, but he had already peed (I think I just missed it) but I whisked him off to the bathroom anyway and that was a good thing because he promptly pooped on his pad. Once he was done his business we went back to bed and he settled down and went back to sleep almost immediately.  He slept right through to 7 when I woke him up, no more accidents!  And he went pee and poo right away on his pad immediately after I let him out of the crate.  So, It would seem we might have a handle on this house-breaking thing after all!

Jax has been much more relaxed around Jacques today, which has filled me with hope that this will be less painful than I had feared.  Jacques is fine to be left to his own devices in his "area" which encompasses the bathroom and the hallway, although he pretty much sticks to the bathroom.  A couple of times he's whined and sorta barked for attention, but that was short-lived once he realized I wasn't coming.  This makes me feel much better about leaving him alone for a few hours while I'm at work and leads me to believe he won't bark too much and be a nuisance to other tenants.  He also hasn't had a single accident, going to the bathroom on his pad every single time.  I'm not prepared to give him free-reign in the apartment yet (it has only been one day) but I'm very encouraged.

We went out to Pet Valu to get him fitted for a halter and a warm coat and he was very well behaved and didn't pee at all in the store.  He's not a fan of his leash so we'll have to work on making a positive association for him.  I might try taking him outside tomorrow with it on and bring some treats.  I'll take a picture of him in his little coat tomorrow so you can see how freakin' adorable he looks in it.

As for Jax, he's spent most of the day either on the window sill or on the dining room chairs.  I've really tried hard to give him lots of attention, petting him a lot and trying to encourage him to snuggle when Jacques is in his "area", but he hasn't been very receptive to snuggling.  He's still eating well and he seems very calm so I'm hoping this is just his way of punishing me.  I'm sitting here eating my dinner right now and he's making no effort to come over and check it out which is very unlike him.  But all things considered I think he's doing very well with all this and it gives me hope he'll eventually come around.  The first 24 hours have gone way better than I could have hoped--keep your fingers crossed the next 24 go just as well.

***Update****

I spoke too soon--Jacques just pooped on the floor in the hall.  It's a good thing I'm keeping him where I can easily find his little "presents."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today Is The Big Day!

As many of you already know, I'm welcoming a new addition to my family.  No, I'm not pregnant--I'm getting a dog.  Today.

He's a French bulldog and his name is Jacques.

French bulldogs are great for apartment-dwellers like me--they don't need a lot of space or exercise and they generally don't bark very much.  They are small dogs--adults weigh around 20lbs--but they think they're large dogs so they don't have the tendency to yap a lot like small dogs often do.  I've been over to my breeder's house several times and I haven't heard the mother bark at all and the puppies very rarely.  They do make the snorting and snuffling sounds typical of bulldog breeds due to their smooshed-in faces.

In case you're wondering what French bulldogs look like, they're much smaller than English or American bulldogs and their ears stand up instead of folding over.  When mine's full-grown, he'll look much like this guy, but right now he looks like this:



Now, I know what you're thinking--"Hey Kendall, don't you already have a cat?  What's he gonna think of this?"  Yes, I am a little worried about how Jax will react to Jacques, but I'm hoping if I don't make a big deal about it, keep myself calm and let them take their time, eventually they'll at least tolerate one another.  I'm ensuring that the bedroom remains Jax's domain, giving him a place where he can get away from the puppy and where we can spend time together just the two of us.  Jacques will only be allowed in the bedroom at night and only in his crate.  I've also purchased a couple of baby-gates that I plan on using in various configurations to keep the two of them separated when I'm not around to supervise.

It's going to be a lot of work and I probably won't get much sleep over the next several days, but it's something I've been thinking about for quite a while now and I'm well prepared for what's to come.  I know many of you will think I'm completely mad for doing this and maybe I am.  Look at it this way:  it will make good blog-fodder!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Backin' Up

My friend Katie posted this link a few days ago, but I just had to share it here.  Trust me--you're gonna love it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom

You would have been 64 today.  I remember a time when I thought 64 was "old"--now it represents a life cut short unfairly by an illness that has targeted too many of our friends and family.  As I write these words, your daughter-in-law's brother is barely clinging to life, the tumour in his head robbing him of him of himself, his sister of a brother, his parents of a son, his nieces of an uncle.

I miss you.  I knew I would and I'm not even surprised by the intensity, but living it is harder than I thought it would be.  I still listen to that voice message you left for me--I feel so lucky to have that connection, to be able to hear your distinctive voice so strong and happy.  I was worried I would forget--forget your face, your hugs, your laugh--but I can remember you so clearly it's like I just saw you yesterday.  But you've been gone 10 months now, and in some ways you've been gone even longer than that.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  Today I celebrate your memory and your legacy.  I celebrate your strength of character and strength of spirit.  I celebrate all that I have learned from you and all that you still have to teach me.

Today, I celebrate you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

On the Bright Side, I'm Feeling Much Better

The good news is my car is ready and I can pick it up tomorrow morning which means I can head up north to visit family for Thanksgiving like I'd planned.

The bad news is it cost $1438.12 to fix it.

Well, at least I have friends willing to fight over my pancreas...that's something to be thankful for...right?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

F**k My Life

So, I came down with a nasty cold a week ago and it's still lingering and absolutely refuses to depart.  Now I'm at the coughing-up-my-pancreas stage and it's rather painful and fully annoying.  I've decimated the better part of 4 boxes of "Puffs Plus with lotion" and I've single-handedly ensured stock holders in whatever company makes "Halls" get a nice dividend this year.  Not to mention passing the virus on to countless hapless individuals with whom I've come into contact over the last several days.  You're welcome.

And the cherry on top of the sundae?  The clutch went on the car today.

I've always suspected the clutch was on its last legs but I've had more than one mechanic assure me it looked fine.  Clearly that was not the case.  As I type this, my car is sitting in the parking lot at my place of work, unable to budge without assistance from what will assuredly be a very expensive tow truck.  A tow truck I'm going to have to call tomorrow morning to come pick it up and take it to a mechanic who will hold it ransom until I pay up.  And pay I will.  Dearly.

Anyone want to buy a kidney?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

30 Days of Truth (aka Too Much Information)

There's a blogging meme that's been circulating around teh Internets recently and one of my favourite bloggers brought it to my attention.  It's 30 days of writing prompts that lay your soul bare for your audience, so I'm thinking it's pretty safe to do since my readership is miniscule and more or less knows me better than I know myself anyway.


So, here's the list--feel free to co-opt this idea yourself since many other bloggers have already done it so it's not like I'm being original here.


Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself


So, starting with Day 1--and for the record, don't expect a post every single day for the next 30 'cause that's just not how I roll--here's something I hate about myself:  I hate my desperate and pathetic need to be the centre of attention.  I like to think I'm a confident person who likes who she is and believes in herself, but my perverse need for attention stands in stark contrast to that perception.  I try very hard to be less of an attention-whore, but I just don't have as much fun socially if I'm not dominating the conversation or having all around me hang on every word of my fascinating stories  Fortunately I'm blessed to have friends who don't seem to care and love me anyway even though I hog the spotlight, but I still feel like a dick the next day when I realize how much of a jerk I was.  I really beat myself up over this but I can't seem to stop.


Well, that was fun!  Let's hope Day 2 can keep this momentum going!



Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Pics!

I posted another batch of pics from Cali over at my photoblog.  These ones were taken in Santa Cruz on the wine tour.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

California Pics Round One

Alright, hop on over to my photoblog and check out the first batch of pictures...which is actually the last batch I took but screw chronology.

Here's a couple to whet your whistle.



Guy and Kendall's California Adventure Part IV

Our last full day in Cali was spent shopping and eating.  After a late start (cut me some slack--I'm on vacation!) Guy and I had a delicious breakfast at Esther's German Bakery with Jess and then we did a little shoe shopping at DS.  Then we went next door to Rasputin which is a used book and music store where I picked up a few things (ahem).  After that we picked up My Honey and we met his Google friend (who is Jess's beau) and we all had a fabulous lunch at Google's expense.  Guy and I fell in love with a fig and Gorgonzola salad and I had some awesome lamb!  We finished it all off with an It's It ice cream sandwich (first time for Guy and Jess).  They make a special version exclusively for Google that is sweetened with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

Then Guy and I dropped My Honey off at work, Jess off at home and then continued our shopping adventure.  First we hit Target for some essentials (my mascara is half the price there that it is at home) and I picked up a couple of pairs of fall work pants and a birthday gift for my niece.  Then we went downtown and walked Castro street, visiting Therapy and a few book stores where I got a gift for the sucker co-worker who's looking after my cases while I'm away and a "Thank You" gift for Jess for letting us use her car.  Then we went to Trader Joe's where Guy got some Two Buck Chuck and I got some coffee.  After that we dropped by Kohl's where Guy found some pants and I got a shirt for me and a shirt for My Honey.  By that time said Honey was done work so we picked him up and headed home to pack, drink wine and eat pizza.

And so now I'm home, getting ready to head off to work.  It's always hard for me to come home from Cali but Guy's experiencing withdrawal for the first time today.  It's gonna be difficult for him to go back to paying LCBO prices for wine and Zehr's prices for cheese, not to mention no Rasputin!  Poor Guy...he just might have to move there.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guy and Kendall's California Adventure Parts II & III

So much to tell you about! We went to Santa Cruz on Sunday and brought along my new bcf (Best California Friend) Jess who is like if Guy and I had a baby and she was raised in the States but was a closet Canadian. She is so much like the two of us it's eerie. She showed me she can handle her alcohol Saturday night at Bossa Nova by helping to drain the better part of a pitcher of watermelon mojitos (and I do mean drain) so I had a pretty good idea a silly little wine tour would be no challenge at all for her. I was right.

We had an awesome time--the wines were delicious and the panoramic vistas from these mountain wineries were absolutely beautiful (pics are coming, I promise!) We bought a few bottles at the second one we visited but really I was holding onto my money for Bev Mo (my Mecca). After the wine tour, we checked into our hotel, had a wee nap and then headed out for downtown Santa Cruz. Jess and I found an adorable little sock store where we had no choice but to buy a few cute pairs, then we hit a store that sold Chinese silk clothing, purses and decor accessories and I (of course) bought a purse and picked up a little something for Katie who's looking after Jax for me while I'm out here.

We had dinner at a fascinating place--it's part lounge and part restaurant and the lighting was so dim I had to use my flashlight app on my phone to read the menu! It vaguely reminded me of New Orleans, despite never having been there. The food was spectacular and we had a couple of cocktails that were delicious and unlike anything I've every had before. We finally stumbled back to the hotel and quickly called it a night as we had to get the working folk back to town in the morning at a reasonable hour.

Yesterday, Guy and I took a road trip to Carmel by the Sea and Jess very generously (and perhaps foolishly, depending on whom you ask) loaned us her Cooper Mini which I now love with every fiber of my being. It was so fun to drive! My favourite memory of yesterday will be zooming up the Pacific Coast Highway in Paolo (that's what we named him) with the windows down, the sunroof open and the late-afternoon sun reflecting off the ocean.

We wandered around downtown Carmel a bit then had a nice picnic down by the beach. We frolicked in the surf and took a tonne of pictures (I promise!) and generally had a fantastic day. I could go on and on, but the pictures will speak for themselves.

When we got home we all went out for sushi and then drank wine in the hot tub. What a life!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Guy and Kendall's California Adventure Part I

After a long but uneventful flight, Guy and I arrived at SFO at about 10:45pm Pacific time, were met by my Honey and (after a very long lineup) retrieved our rental car.  We made our way into San Francisco and went to a club called DNA where we saw the DNA Lounge where we caught the last half of the Hubba Hubba Review, a burlesque show that runs there once a month.  The show was pretty good--we all agreed our favourite act was the fan dancing routine by the Twilight Vixen Review.  It was a long night (we didn't get back home until 3am) and I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to drive home. 

Today we had a fun-filled day in San Francisco, visiting Fisherman's Wharf and the Mission.  We obviously had to see the famous sea lions at Pier 39 and although we didn't get a chance to ride a cable car we did catch a glimpse of a few of them.  We also did a little shopping at the Sketchers store on Mission and the Rasputin music store on Powell. 

You may not know this, but finding parking in San Fran can be challenging.  I was able to find good parking pretty much everywhere we went and this was just about the best part of the whole day for me.  We ended the day by hooking up with friends and grabbing dinner at Bossa Nova, a great little Brazilian tapas restaurant on 8th St.  We just got back and we're all exhausted.  No rest for the weary, though--tomorrow we're off to Santa Cruz for a wine tour!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kendall and Guy's Adventures in California

After work today, Guy Hosenpeter and I are heading off to the Sunshine State to visit my Honey and paint the town various shades of red.  Over the next few days I'll try to find the time to regale you with tales of our adventures--tonight we're taking in a burlesque show!  Future plans may include (and by no means are limited to) Fisherman's Wharf, Carmel by the Sea, and a wine tour in Santa Cruz.  We may even pay a visit to crazy Sarah Winchester and take a gander at her amazing house. 

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Today I said goodbye to a trusted friend.

We had traveled down countless roads together, had even been in a few scrapes and jams.  And boy had we weathered our share of storms. But whenever I needed her she was always there for me and I knew I could count on her to never lose her cool.

She came into my life at a time when I really needed her, and today it was time for her to move on.  It was hard for me to admit that I didn't need her anymore, but as fate would have it, I knew someone who did.

That someone is My Honey's cousin and now she's the proud owner of my old Mazda.

Treat her well, Kath, and she'll never let you down.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Okay, Here It Is

Here's the new hairdo!  What do you think?  You can't tell from this picture but it's super short in the back.  He left some length in the front but thinned it out considerably so it's sleek and close to my head.  I kinda look like a boy, but my boobs give me away...


So?  "Hot" or "Not"?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Feel Lighter....And Naked

I cheated on someone last night.  I'd like to say it was a momentary lapse, that I was caught up in the heat of passion, but I'd be lying--it was planned a week in advance.

And it was spectacular.

Now before you all start calling me names, let me make it clear that the person I cheated on was my hairdresser.  And he really should have seen it coming because I cheated on my previous hairdresser with him 7 years ago.  Once a cheater, always a cheater.

I have been going through a hair identity crisis over the last year and it finally came to a head (no pun intended) last night.  I've always had stick-straight hair my entire life (not counting a couple of ill-advised perms) so imagine my surprise (alarm, dismay) when about a year ago my hair started to get a little wavy, flipping out in ways that ruined the line of my perfect, sleek bob.  This summer ("thank you, humidity!") things spiraled (again, no pun intended) out of control when the slight wave started becoming something some might call a curl.  Not people with actual curl in their hair, more like people like me who don't have a curly hair on their body (no, really--not "there" either).  This development has left me at a complete loss as to how to style my hair.  I've tried everything I can think of but at the end I'm never satisfied.

So I decided a needed a new perspective.  Enter Joe.  Joe's solution?  To cut my hair so short that there's no more curl left.

When I get the hang of styling this new look of mine maybe I'll post a picture.  In the meantime, rest assured I like the "new me" and I'm sure you will too.  I just need to get used to the feel of wind on the back of my neck again....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

As God As My Witness, I'll Never Be Dirty Again

You'll all be relieved to know that when I got home this evening my shower was restored to a working state and I have since taken what is quite possibly the best and most satisfying shower of my entire life.  Sadly, my bathroom is still a mess (the tiler did a terrible job of removing the excess grout and left his filthy tape measure behind for my measuring pleasure) but I don't care because I am clean.

I have to say, though, I was very tempted by Katie's enticing offer to avail myself of her, ah, facilities--toddler step stool and all--but there's nothing like getting all those intimate nooks and crannies clean in the comfort of your own shower.  And boy did they need it!  I gotta tell ya, a sponge bath just don't cut it, if you know what I'm saying.  Of course you don't, and I hope you never do.  The last couple of days have been worse than camping--at least when you're camping people expect you to look dirty and smell bad!  I had to work, fer cryin' out loud!

Anyway, it's all over now and hopefully I'll never need to go through that again.  And I'm not gonna hold my breath for any kind of compensation or even an apology from my management company.  Their attitude throughout this whole debacle has been disinterested at best and downright rude at worst.  Ah well, I guess things could have turned out much worse.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go shave my legs.

The Shower Saga Continues

I managed to get my semi-clean self to work yesterday without completely buggering up my back.  Leaning over my kitchen sink for 5 minutes sure as hell didn't help, but it didn't seem to make it that much worse.  Once I got to work I called the management company and left a voice message which I hoped adequately conveyed my displeasure at the sequence of events.  In response to Mindy's comment, I also was the most upset about the door not being locked and I certainly tried to make that clear in my message.  A woman named Heather eventually called me back and left me a message in which she apologized (somewhat unconvincingly) and blamed the mess on my super who was supposed to inform me and didn't blah blah blah.  She also came up with some lame story about the plumber thinking the door was locked by simply closing it which, when you had to use a key to unlock a deadbolt, really doesn't make any sense.  She assured me the tiler was coming today and then my shower would be useable.  I called Heather back and (surprise, surprise) left her a message thanking her for the update but that I didn't buy the plumber's excuse for not locking my door and it had better not freaking happen again.

When I got home (and unlocked my door) I noticed right away that there were dusty footprints on my floor that weren't there when I left and that the curtains covering the slider to my balcony were open when I knew for certain I had closed them to keep the heat out.  Hmm.  As I made my way to the bathroom I noticed yet more white stuff on the floor, now not just dust but larger chunks of what I assumed was dried grout.  Now I'm a terrible housekeeper, but that's no excuse to track shit through my place!  Only I get to track shit through my place!  Regardless, I just wanted this whole debacle to be over, but when I peered around the doorway it became apparent that it wasn't in fact over because, while the tiling was indeed done, I still didn't have a faucet and spout thus rendering my shower useless.

So I did the best I could this morning with yet another sponge bath and back-breaking hair washing session, but I can't help but feel self-conscious about the possibility that I might smell less than, well.... fresh.  It looks like Heather is getting another phone call from me, and if the shower isn't in perfect working order by the time I get home tonight, one of you is getting a phone call.  I promise I won't sing and I'll even bring my own towel.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't Worry, I Wasn't Burglarized

I came home from work today to an unpleasant surprise--my apartment door was unlocked.  At first, everything seemed fine--it didn't appear that anything had been disturbed, until I got to the hallway leading to the bedrooms and the bathroom.  A bunch of stuff from the bathroom was sitting in the hall.  And in the bathroom was clearly not the way I left it--I'm pretty sure I would have noticed a giant hole in the back wall and the spout missing.

At this point it became pretty clear to me that there had been a visit from the plumber whom I managed to put two and two together and figure out must have been in my apartment to address the ongoing water leak issues that I though were long resolved.  Since I was under the impression these issues had been dealt with--and since no one had called or left me a note advising me otherwise--I was in no way expecting this kind of intrusion.

Now it's almost 8:00pm and whoever left my door unlocked hasn't come back and I still have a giant hole in my shower which clearly prevents me from using said shower until the hole is patched, which it is becoming more and more apparent will be tomorrow at the earliest.  Normally I wouldn't be too upset by having to take a sponge bath and wash my hair in the kitchen sink, but after my crazy cleaning spree on the weekend I managed to strain my back into spasm and I'm pretty sure leaning over a sink to wash my hair isn't going to improve the situation.

This better be fixed by the time I get home tomorrow night or I'm gonna be very unhappy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It Is Done

I took 6 bags of clothes and shoes (and yes, even purses) to Goodwill today.  It's the first time in a long while I've done this and I'm a bit ambivalent about it.  As good as it feels to get rid of things I know will go to people who can use them, a part of me feels like I've given up.

You see, every single item of clothing I got rid of today is too small.

So I'm feeling a bit defeated.  I've had to accept that I'm so far away from ever wearing these items again that by the time I get back to that size (assuming I ever do, and that's assuming a lot) I won't want to wear them anyway, probably because they will be 15+ years out of style.  The shoes and purses were an easier thing--most of the shoes never really fit properly anyway and the purses had seen better days and didn't have any particularly distinguishing features to make the cut.  But I'm still dealing with letting go of the clothes.  Some of the pieces I've had for a very long time (like, since the 90s) and it's easy to get attached to something after that long.

I must confess--I kept back one bag.  Hey, I got rid of six, what more do you want from me?  Geez!  Anyway, I kept one bag of stuff I just couldn't bear to part with.  One such item was the faux zebra jacket I wore the first year I won "Best Male Drag" at Club Ren in their annual Halloween costume contest.  With a history like that, it would be unthinkable to let go.  Besides I'm pretty sure faux zebra is a classic that will never go out of style...Regardless, it stays along with a few other favorites I just can't live without, even if they don't fit.

The best part of this whole thing is I can actually get into my fabulous walk-in closet unimpeded.  Formerly the way was blocked by piles of garbage bags taunting me with their too-small contents.  Now I can easily get to the clothes I own that actually do fit without spraining an ankle.

So, for those of you who want proof (I'm looking at you, Mindy) here's my newly emptied closet:


See?  Nothing blocking the way to all those beautiful clothes.  Here's a look at the purse collection:


Now to be honest this isn't the complete collection.  I do have more, but these are the ones not in the current rotation.  Yes, there's a rotation.  You got a problem with that?

Here are the bags of clothes I've kept.  Some of them are fall/winter and some of them are spring/summer that are just a teensy bit too small:


See?  I got rid of six and I kept eight.  That's pretty good, right?

Right?

Well I'm proud of myself.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mmmmmm....Ribs and Beer

This weekend all us heathens in my hometown are celebrating all things beast and barley.  Yesterday after work I and several of my co-workers dutifully headed over to Victoria Park like the good acolytes we are and stood in line to purchase our blue wristbands, mini Pilsner glasses and shiny beer tokens.  We were joined by what appeared to be thousands of other like-minded individuals and proceeded to explore the wonder of hops one 4 ounce glass at a time.

Among my favourite masters of the grain were Flying Monkey, Cameron's (from whom I obtained an "I drink local beer" bumper sticker which I wore proudly for the remainder of the evening) and Stone Hammer whose Maple Ale is arguably the best beer I have ever tasted.  As far as the barbeque part goes, the ribs I had from Camp 31 probably came from a unicorn they were that magical.  "Fall off the bone" doesn't go far enough in explaining how succulent these suckers were--it was like they leapt off the bone and floated effortlessly into my mouth where they proceeded to chew themselves.  And by the way, if you clicked on the link I provided you are now listening to Kid Rock murder "Sweet Home Alabama."  You're welcome.


If you're in the neighbourhood, I strongly suggest checking out Victoria Park this weekend.  Unless you're a vegetarian who doesn't like beer, in which case I suggest checking out the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival instead.

P.S.  Camp 31 is located in Paris, Ontario and has arguably the best Southern BBQ I've ever tasted.  You should totally go--I'm looking at you, Meat Club.  It's absolutely worth the drive.  Trust me.

P.P.S.  For those of you who may be wondering how I got my beer-tipsy ass home last night, I took the bus. Incredible, but true.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh Sweet Relief

I'm a human barometer--I always know when a low pressure system is coming in because my head pounds like nobody's business.  It's always been like that for as long as I can remember.

And let me tell you, today's headache is a doozy.

Right now it feels like someone is pressing their thumbs into my eyeballs while someone else is jabbing an ice pick into my right temple.  No amount of pain killers will help--believe me, I've tried.  All I can do it wait it out and pray for the storm to finally pass.  Literally.

I can hear the rumble of thunder in the distance--by tomorrow morning it should all be better.  For now, escape through sleep.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Heat: The Second Wave

Remember last summer?  The summer of non-stop bitching about how cold it was...?  How unsuitable the weather was to hanging out on the patio drinking beers with your buds or scoping out scantily-clad hotties at the beach...?  Well so far this summer has been a case of "be careful what you wish for."

I should have known something was up back in earlyApril when I was taking pictures of my nieces frolicking in the sunshine in shorts and t-shirts.  That unseasonably warm weather, while very enjoyable at the time, was clearly a harbinger of things to come.

After a brief reprieve from last week's heat wave, today we are faced with the promise of another.  In fact, according to forecasters with Environment Canada, the entire summer will be a seemingly endless cycle of hotter than frickin' hell followed by a couple of days of relief followed by more torture in the furnace.

And that is exactly why I felt justified paying $1000 to fix the AC on my car.  Hey, I'd like to see you in a car with black leather interior an no tint on the windows in 30+ degree heat (that's Celsius for my American readership) and see how long you'd last without AC!  You can't put a price on that, my friend.  When the cool, sweet breezes flow from the vents on my dashboard, I know I made the right decision.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I Just Have to Share This With Y'all

I just watched this video of an incredible cat and an even more incredible veterinarian.  Truly amazing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our Lady of Halibut

There's an awesome fish 'n chips place a short drive from my home where they practically know my name, probably because it's my go-to place for dinner on those nights when I don't feel like cooking.  I personally think they serve the best fish 'n chips in my city--both fish AND chips are made of awesome!  And the tartar sauce has nothing to be ashamed of either.

But here's the weird thing--I think the fries might be magic.  Every single time I open the box and look at the contents I think to myself, "Hey, they kinda skimped on the fries."  But somewhere between the box and my plate a miracle happens--the fries seem to double in number (I don't know how they do it, therefore it's a miracle).  The fries that seemed inadequate in the box are now so plentiful they are falling off the edge of my plate.  The only thing that would impress me more would be if the grease-stains on the bottom of the box were in the image of the Virgin Mary.

I think it's my destiny to figure out the secret behind these amazing, self-replicating fries.  It's becoming pretty clear that this is going to require a lot of eating of fish and chips research.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Humidity is a Bitch

Living in Southwestern Ontario, you get used to humidity. There are days where you'd swear you were slogging through the rain forests of Borneo; you pray for rain to fall so the torture will finally end.

Today is one of those days.



While it's not especially hot out (currently 18 degrees Celsius), the humidity is at 96%. This means that you are sweaty and sticky without actually being hot. Very disconcerting. It also tends to have some other unexpected side effects. For example, this morning I thought I'd treat myself to some homemade pancakes. I've made this same recipe with the same ingredients dozens of times, but this is the first time the batter has looked like this:



Not it's usual consistency. That probably should have clued me into the fact that something was wrong, but I double-checked my ingredients and measurements and all seemed fine, so I decided to plow ahead. When I plopped the too-thick batter on to the frying pan, it just sorta sat there, taunting me:



Looks really appetizing, doesn't it? Mmmmm! It refused to bubble on top which gave me pause, but I persevered and ended up with these lovely pan-biscuits:



They sorta look like toasted crumpets. Fortunately they tasted fine, although a bit filling, so it wasn't a complete failure, but from an aesthetic standpoint I think I'll wait for better weather before trying this for company.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Something to Celebrate

I've been racking up the frequent flyer miles lately with a trip to California and then a trip to Edmonton to attend the wedding of a long-time friend to his perfect woman.  Now that I'm home I'm still feeling a little jet-lagged but no worse for wear overall.

The California leg of the journey was wonderful as always.  The famous Bay to Breakers race was on while I was there and while I did not take part, my Honey and I and a friend went to an after-party in the Haight-Ashbury area where we danced to some decent music and enjoyed the ample people-watching opportunities.  Traditionally, those participants in the race who aren't hardcore runners will dress up in costume and compete for various prizes.  They also tend to consume copious amounts of alcohol/drugs which makes them even more entertaining.  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me so you'll just have to use your imagination.

My Honey and I flew together to Edmonton on Wednesday to join several friends (and even more complete strangers) in celebrating the wedding of Howard and Laura on Saturday.  We were meeting the bride for the first time and she is a wonderful, beautiful person who is clearly smitten with our friend Howard.  Laura is Mexican and Howard is Chinese so it was a colourful, interesting and multicultural event.  I've posted a few pictures from the ceremony over at my photoblog and there will be more to follow, including some taken at the reception which came after a traditional ten-course Chinese wedding banquet.  All together I took over 500 pictures but clearly they didn't all make the cut.  I will however leave you with this gem:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I've Got Nothing

Sorry guys, blogging has taken a bit of a back-seat to real life lately.  Which sounds like I should have lots of interesting stuff to blog about, but sadly that is not the case.  I've just been really busy with mundane stuff and I've needed to take a bit of a break from having to be witty and amusing ;)  May is gonna be about as much of a write-off as April was, but I have a trip to Cali and a wedding in Edmonton coming up later this month so hopefully that will provide some great blog material and some new pics for the photoblog.

So in closing, I'd like to thank you for visiting and ask for your patience while my life plays itself out over the next few weeks and I promise I'll be back, better than ever, after I get some focus and R&R.  Hopefully you'll be there waiting for me when I get back...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cat in a Box

video

My cat (like all cats) loves boxes. Sadly, he seems to be a little too big for this one. Please don't be alarmed by the loud noise at the end--it's coming from an application on my computer called Poke the Penguin.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sisters

I spent a wonderful day Friday with my two beautiful nieces. They're growing up so fast, every time I see them it's like meeting new people. Two-and-a-half year old Rylie is a baby no more and she's talking up a storm. She follows her older sister around everywhere, copying her every move. Amazingly, they get along wonderfully and Hayden is enjoying her role as big sister and teacher. I'm sure my brother and sister-in-law hope this will never change, but of course it will and before we know it they'll be fighting like cats and dogs. But for now we'll enjoy the peace and joy of watching them explore the world together in sisterly love and companionship.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm Probably Blowing This Out of Proportion

As I've already covered in this blog, I work in an in-bound call centre.  Generally speaking the callers are the agents who sell our investment products or their assistants, but occasionally we get clients calling in as well.  Many of our clients are elderly and are often confused by our automated attendant and they either push the wrong button or don't push any button at all and end up speaking to me because apparently I'm the switchboard.

I had to transfer one of these clients to another product queue just today since she couldn't count to 3 and pushed 2 instead.  I conferenced over to the correct area and got my colleague, Wojtek (pronounced VOY-tek).  Wojtek was born in Poland but raised in Canada and speaks flawless and completely unaccented English.  Arguably, he speaks English better than I do.  When I conferenced in the client and introduced Wojtek, the client asked, "Does he speak English?"  My answer:  "Yes, he speaks English," but I was stuck by the sheer stupidity of this question.  I'm pretty sure the ability to speak English is a prerequisite for our job since it involves talking on the phone all day to people who expect you to speak to them in English, regardless of how you pronounce your name.  So here (in descending order of snark) are the answers I really wanted to give this client:

1)  Yes, he speaks English, but he has trouble understanding "bigot" so make sure you speak sloooooowly.

2)  No, he doesn't speak English so he'll be using a translator. But don't worry, you won't even notice the 4 second delay.

3)  Yes, he speaks English but if you ask nicely he'll teach you how to say "fuck you" in Polish.


Sorry for the rant, but this really pissed me off.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Zippy Zips No More

I have some bad news.  Sadly, my pet turtle Zippy has shuffled off her mortal coil, gone to the giant pond in the sky and met her maker.  She is a former turtle.  She's not just tired, she is deceased.  I have no idea why--she was in perfect health (seemingly) and then she was dead.  I clued in after she hadn't moved from her sunning rock in two days.

It is distressing to have a pet pass away with no warning--I feel like I've failed her as a care-giver.  It makes me think about what right I have to even have pets, to think I have the right to keep an animal in captivity for my own comfort and amusement.  I don't think I'll get another turtle.  They are a lot of work and I'm just not sure I want to make that commitment again, but it's more than that--I no longer think it's morally right.

So long Zippy.  I hope you're finally free.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Did You Do Something Different With Your Hair?

How do you like my new look? I felt like I needed a change so I did some "shopping" and discovered this little number. I've always liked purple and orange together! I'm a little worried about the font size....let me know if it's too small.

Spring has always been a time of change and renewal for me. I find I let myself grow stagnant over the winter and by the time spring gets here I'm ready to (literally and figuratively) throw open the windows and let the fresh air in. Spring is the time when I take stock and purge that which I don't need, eliminating some physical and psychological clutter.

As much as part of me enjoys this process, there's also a part of me that is anxious about letting go of "stuff." I often find myself putting way too much energy into debating the merits of keeping or tossing something which evokes a happy memory. I'm not a hoarder (although you wouldn't know it by looking at my bedroom) but I do like to collect stuff. The funny thing is, I'm really not all that attached to it. There are a few things I'd be upset about if I lost them--my flute, some jewelry, some photographs--but if everything I owned went up in flames tomorrow I'd be okay with it. It is, after all, just stuff.

At least, that's what I tell myself every spring when go through the ritual of "keep vs toss" and attempt to tame the clutter.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To Captcha, Or Not To Captcha

I've been getting a few spammers leaving comments on both my blogs lately--not a lot, but enough for it to be a bit of a pain in the neck. I'd like to think it's because my blogs are super awesome and all the popular kids are hanging out here, but I'm realistic enough to know it's just a side-effect and I'm not really all that special.

I've decided to add a captcha when leaving a comment as a way to prevent spammers, but I realize it might be a deterrent to comments in general and I don't want that. I really hope that if this captcha business is too much of a pain in the ass for y'all that at least a few of you will speak up and let me know, causing me to repent and remove the offending device. In the meantime, I ask for your patience and cooperation during this difficult transition.

Thank you, and have a nice day :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Have a Nice Trip, See You Next Fall!

I am an expert faller--Chevy Chase has nothing on me. I've perfected the art of falling to such a degree that I can now take the most spectacular headers and emerge almost unscathed. I started practicing at an early age; my first bad fall took place the day my little brother was born when I fell asleep on my babysitter's deck and rolled off the edge, breaking my arm on impact with the ground.

After this inauspicious beginning, I began falling in earnest: I fell off the monkey bars at school, chipping a tooth and damaging the cartilage in my nose; I fell off my bike repeatedly, leaving my poor knees scarred for life; I fell off a horse; I fell trying to get out of a canoe and into a kayak; I fell out of moving vehicles on two separate occasions (well, the first I was more "thrown" than "fell", but it was still good practice). I've fallen off chairs, bar stools, beds. I once fell down an entire flight of stairs, escaping with nothing worse than a few bruises and sore muscles.

And last night, I fell getting into a hot tub.

It was a spectacular fall, one which shall surely go down in the annals of hot tub falling history. The look of horror and concern on the faces of those present will be forever burned into my brain because despite the force of the fall, I was able to keep my glasses on. Now that's class. The remarkable thing is all I have to show for it is a small bruise on my right ankle and a bit of a scrape behind my left knee. I was sure I'd have a lot of sore muscles today, but aside from my usual lower back stiffness, all seems normal.

Another successful fall, another step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming a famous stunt woman.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm Really Starting to Get the Hang of This Stuff

Last night was class 5 of 8 of the photography class I'm taking together/separately with Mindy. It was our class field trip and we went to Kitchener City Hall to take night photography. Mindy tagged along, partly because her field trip was a bit of a disappointment and partly because I bribed her with sushi. Or maybe she bribed me with sushi. Either way, copious amounts of salmon sashimi were consumed.

I have to say I've learned a tremendous amount about taking pictures. The instructor is very hands-on (in a professional sense, get your mind out of the gutter!) and he's very approachable and helpful. Here are some of the valuable lessons I've learned over the last 5 weeks:

-Having the right lens will make people envy you, including your instructor;
-Night photography is hard;
-Sometimes metering doesn't work;
-Don't be afraid to crop;
-Take enough pictures of something and eventually you'll take one you like;
-Pictures look a lot different on a computer monitor than they do on the little screen on the back of the camera;
-Sometimes the pictures you thought would be awesome will suck, and sometimes the pictures you thought would suck will be awesome;
-Comparing your pictures to those taken by others will only cause you pain and grief.

My instructor asked us to decide on a theme for the pictures we would be taking on our field trip and then choose 2 or 3 of our favourites which best expressed that theme. I chose "Repetition" as my theme and I've posted my favourites on my photo blog here. Unfortunately I had difficulty narrowing my choice down to 3--go take a look and help me out, will ya?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And the Winner Is...


...Cindy S!

What did she win, you ask? Cindy has won a one-of-a-kind, framed photograph taken by moi of subject matter of her choice! Cindy has chosen fish as her subject, "live fish, not dead ones" as she so wisely clarified. Does Cindy know me well? I think she does.

Anyway, live fish it is. I'll see what I can do. Congratulations Cindy, and thanks to everyone who left a comment/wished me a happy anniversary. Sorry to all of you who didn't win--better luck next year!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another Year, Another Chance to Win!

So, apparently it was the second anniversary of my blog on January 26th...unsurprisingly I was a little too preoccupied to notice. I'm sure y'all can cut me some slack on that one.

A lot has happened in my life since my last anniversary, and since I don't feel like getting into it all here I guess you'll just have to read the damn blog if you don't already know about it. I did a great recap at New Year's for those of you who want the Cole's notes version.

Anyway, let's get down to the nitty gritty, the reason we're all here: the blog candy. That's right folks, leave a comment wishing me a Happy Anniversary and I could randomly draw your name to receive a fabulous prize (no, it's not my Mom's ashes.) Now, I know a few of you don't like to feel pressured into leaving comments (which is apparently why you didn't leave one last year) so for you I'll throw your name in the hat if you either send me an email or wish me a happy anniversary in person. As for the prize, I'll give you a hint: it's related to my newest hobby.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Memories

Family and friends gathered yesterday in Huntsville to honour a wonderful friend, partner, sister, mother and grandmother. It was a beautiful, bright and cold sunny day--perfect Ontario winter weather. The numbers were impressive--at least 100 people came to share their stories and express their gratitude at having known a woman who handled life and death with grace and courage.

I got the short straw and therefore had to speak first. This is the speech I gave on Saturday at my Mom's memorial:

"I was worried about the weather being bad today, but I should have known better--there’s no way Mom would have allowed that to happen on “her day.” I joke, but when I was a kid I was firmly convinced my Mom controlled the universe. She knew things--I could get away with nothing. Now of course I know that’s because whatever my imagination could come up with she’d already thought of herself because she was diabolical. But at the time it was like she was this all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful being.

Maybe it’s because of that perception of her that I didn’t really take her first breast cancer scare back in 1993 all that seriously--to me, she was bullet-proof. That, and the fact that I was so busy in my first year of university experiencing my first taste of life as an adult and the all freedoms and adventures that come with that and didn‘t have time to worry about something that there was no way she could actually die of. Did I mention I was a selfish, self-absorbed brat who took for granted that life would always turn out the way I thought it should? The universe reinforced that perception when she did in fact successfully beat her cancer and life returned to normal.

It would take a long time for the realization that I almost lost her to fully sink in. I really became an adult in that moment--when I realized my Mom was a mere mortal with faults and guilts; that the laws of physics did apply to her and that she wouldn’t be around for ever. The idea of living without her was crippling--I realized how special and important she was and that realization changed our relationship. We never talked about it, but I knew she recognized something had changed between us--what had changed was I now realized her full worth and value while at the same time I no longer put her on a pedestal, holding her and, by extension myself, to a standard neither one of us could ever have achieved.

When her cancer came back, we were all shocked. This wasn’t supposed to happen--she was cured. She’d patiently journeyed though that 10 year window and had made it to the other side where the chances of a reoccurrence were supposed to be smaller than chances of being killed in a car accident. Why was this happening? Surely she would beat this again. It didn’t take long for me to realize this time, things were different. Very early on I accepted that she was going to die. She tricked us there for a while--she spent an entire year looking healthier than anyone I’d ever known!

I am so thankful for those 72 weeks of successful treatment--she got to enjoy a relationship with my two nieces, Hayden and my Mom’s namesake Rylie Glorianna, who was conceived after she was diagnosed! She crammed so much life into those 72 weeks. And I soaked up her presence in my life up like a sponge. I got a voicemail from her on her 62nd birthday thanking me for my gift to her. She sounded so healthy, so vibrant, so like my Mom. I saved that message--I still have it. I listen to it every week when the time comes for me to save it again.

I’m very glad I chose to take 3 months off work to be with her on the final leg of her journey. We talked about things that we never would have talked about under a different set of circumstances. I can’t overstate how important that time was for me--it helped me to come to terms with her death and it ensured I had no regrets over things left unspoken. So few people have that opportunity to let someone know much they matter, how much they will be missed. The day before she died she told me she loved me and was proud of me, and I told her I loved her and I was proud of her. We never meant it more than we did right then.

Our mother lived life on her own terms and she died on her own terms. Make no mistake--the day she died was no accident: she didn’t want to die at Christmas, she didn’t die at Christmas; she didn’t want to die alone, she didn’t die alone; she didn’t want to die in pain, suffering the indignities that accompany long term illness, she died peacefully, with her dignity and her faculties intact.

I’ve been reading this web comic recently--it’s called “Something Positive.“ In it, one of the characters said something that really stuck with me. He said, “it’s not what happens to you that people will remember you for, it’s what you did with it.” Our Mom will be remembered not for having had cancer, but for how she lived with it--how she never lost her positivity, her courage or her strength. It may be what ended her life, but she beat cancer. She never defined herself by it. It took her body but not her spirit."

Thanks to everyone who came out and to those who were there in thought and spirit. It was the perfect day and the perfect send-off.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Where I'm At

I'm not really sure what I'm feeling about my Mom's death yet. I feel like I'm taking it extremely well--maybe too well in fact. I didn't really know what to expect--I've never lost a parent before--but I had assumed I would feel more...devastated? Bereft? Instead I'm sorta numb...no, not really numb...more like separated from life. Separated from people in a way I've never felt before, like I'm looking in from the outside. I go out with people because I need to, I go to work because I need to, I get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other and live my life because I need to, but I constantly feel this sense of being in a bubble...floating along, untouched and untouchable.

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop--for the inevitable crashing down and crashing in of reality. I have this constant little knot of anxiety in my stomach, like something scary is going to happen but I don't know when or how it's going to manifest.

I know intellectually she's gone--I have accepted that. I'm just not sure I've accepted it emotionally yet.

I don't know if I can.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Light Has Gone Out in the World

My Mom's long, courageous battle with cancer finally ended at about 9:30am on Monday, January 18th. My brother and step-father were with her when she peacefully took her last breath. I was able to see her on Saturday and Sunday and I'm so glad of that--she was so tired of fighting and I knew it would be the last time I would see her alive.


My Mom has been the guiding force in my life for as long as I can remember. Her personality was larger than life and she had a presence that couldn't be ignored. For a long time I was intimidated by that, I felt I could never measure up to her example. I feared her and loved her in equal parts. We had many rocky periods over the years, but she was always proud of me and never withheld her love and support. As an adult I grew a very close bond with her and learned to embrace those things we had in common and not be afraid what our similarities and differences may imply. I stopped seeing her in black and white and realized we're all just human and do the best we can with what we have.

She touched the lives of so many people--I don't think she ever realized how much of an impact she really had on all of us. I've never met anyone like her and I know I never will again.

I love you, Mom. I miss you more than mere words can convey.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sickening

I just saw this Nutrisystem commercial on TV, and I have to say the "before" of Amy is way, WAY better than her "after." Not only that, Marie Osmond looks like a corpse! What the fuck is it with some women needing to look like famine victims?

Seriously. I just don't get it. This is not beautiful, it is not healthy and it is damaging to a young woman's body-image perception.

Advertising FAIL!