Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Very Very Merry

This year has been yet another one of discovery. As we inch closer and closer to the new year, I'm getting that old reflection feeling that I suppose comes with this time of year. I'm also realising that as we enter 2009, I wonder how I will finish the sentence "This time last year I was..."

There have been ups, downs, highs, lows and more adventure then I expected. There have been disappointments and surprises, laughter and tears, frustration and joy.

All lives are filled with these types of emotions - whether ride the roller coaster with a backpack or in the car on the morning commute, it's hard to constrain life into the box in which you had expected it to squish.

I should have been writing more this year because I have been through some periods which I think were important in this journey I'm on. Sometimes its easier to leave it in your head for awhile.

And I imagine, now that I have some time off, the thoughts will crystalise into a better message then what perhaps I had been feeling in the heat of many moments this year.

I sat down today to write a Merry Christmas message, to let you all know how you know that no matter how little you have touched my lives, there is a difference in mine because of your influence. That I hope you eat to much turkey and drink too much wine and avoid the family arguments that can sometimes take their toll on the holiday.

But I guess sometimes the words take you in a different direction and you have to sometimes follows those too.

So Merry Christmas Everyone. I'll be here again before the New Year. And I already feel myself turning a bit, just a little bit, around a totally new corner. I think it must be that end-of-the-year feeling.


On another note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY STANLEY! We were all so excited for your arrival last year and can't believe it's been a whole year!! Enjoy your cake...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Festivus for...


Christmas has always been a sea of change for D and I. Over the past 10 years, I've spent it in many place most memorably last year's Moscow and of course all of our years in England and Ireland.

This year is no exception. Being home for Christmas is like this added bonus to at the end of another year in transition.

I actually started shopping earlier this year, sent my cards on time, had a budget, stuck to it - well, okay, MOSTLY but I only have one week to be frivolous - and and soaking up as much Christmas music as I can.

(For those of you needing Christmas music 24/7, I found this AMAZING radio website)


We get to partake in our own traditions - mimosas on Christmas morning - and old ones - time with family over the holidays.

Our Christmas actually begins this Saturday with the arrival of my mom. My grandmother arrives as well on Sunday. My sister, bro-in-law and nephew will be there - I can't remember the last time I had that many of my family members together to celebrate Christmas.

And we haven't even gotten to Christmas Eve yet. Christmas Day we'll be relaxing first at home and then at D's parents.

Boxing Day will be filled with little ones opening gifts and no doubt a gorgeous dinner.

But then there's more. There's the other grandparents on the 27th.

And we haven't even started into our New Years plans.

A cottage north of Huntsville for 3 days. Us. Snow. Fireplace. Wine. Books.

The best of both worlds.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In the Recesses of My Brain...

....seems to be a lot of random information.

I find it facinating, that you can be sitting there, at your desk, working away on a project, completely focussed on the task at hand, and then suddenly, out of no where, comes a thought from an experience that you hadn't recalled in years.

This morning, I remembered - or should I say my brain remembered it, I didn't really have anything to do with the involuntary thought that was had - being in the basement of the Sangrada Familla in Barcelona, looking at all of the architectural drawings of the amazing church that is yet to be built.

I remember it so distinctly because it was a basement but yet all cream coloured with arc entrances and beautifully lit. Just a very warm fuzzy place to be.

And, as the thought came and went, I could only wonder WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

And of course look forward to the next little travel jaunt my brain will take me on.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Upon Reflection...

I am no longer AS ANGRY as I was yesterday but I'm still pretty steamed although calm enough now to retract the statement that we are resembling anything like a dictatorship.

I will say that I am still engaged in what's going on in this country right now and am still appalled at the way politicians think we're all stupid and can't see through their motives.

We need an Obama.

The latest....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I cannot go into depth right now but I must register my EXTREME RAGE that I am feeling towards the politicians in our country.

In a nutshell, the non-governing parties have decided for the WHOLE of Canada that they know better then the VOTERS who should lead the government.

I can reveal that I did actually vote for one of the non-governing parties, which makes me EVEN MORE PISSED that instead of getting down to the business OF THEIR JOBS they are more focused on their own political gain.

No matter who you support, you must recognize this BLATANT HIJACKING of the government and one of the highest fundamentals of Canadian society that we hold dear.

No, not beer. DEMOCRACY.

The country voted 2 months ago. And now, people within our government are trying to CHANGE what those votes mean.

THAT'S why this is important.

It must be stopped.

Here are some places you can have your say:

Canadians for Democracy

Rally for Canada

This is a time to act and stand up for the democracy in our country, for the collective decision that the citizens of this country cast their votes for.

Monday, December 01, 2008

How to Become Prime Minister

For all of you ambitious young political types, it's now EVEN EASIER to become Prime Minister.

First you poke a stick at the current Prime Minister until he calls an election.

Then, you proceed to LOSE the largest defeat in DECADES for your party.

Next, slither away into oblivion until you see the opportunity to EXPLOIT the system for your own benefit.

Next steps? Secretly agree with the loser kid on the playground that you will let him be your right hand man IF he promises him and his party will vote AGAINST the bill that the current PM and his party have put together after YOU RAGED about needing economic change.

Then, once voting a big baby NO to the bill, you exploit the fact that in the Canadian system this is what they call a NON CONFIDENCE VOTE and you have now forced the hand of the current government to CALL AN ELECTION.

The cherry on top? Well, you just swoop in and offer to take over yourself. Cause, you don't want to put Canadians through ANOTHER election.

Piece of cake.

Welcome to Canada, eh?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Worker B-Ware

It always brings me great pleasure when an injustice is brought to justice.

And working in the serving industry to fund my university (well, okay, it funded all the FUN parts of university because my parents contributed to all the schooling) I can appreciate what an exhausting job it can be.

So this story makes me believe in just desserts and what I like to call 'travel karma' or in this case 'dining karma'.

Don't Let Friends Dine and Dash - But if They Do, Be Sure to Rat Them Out on Facebook

The best part of this story was what the dashers employer did.

Now that is what I call industry loyalty and a little bit o' work karma.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's All Good

I always like to give a shout out to ideas that I find are very inventive, even if the presenters of the said idea are actually trying to sell me something.

I actually don't mind that - I'm a bit of an ad junkie in a way and have been known to purchase a product just simply because I liked the creativity of the ad.

It's not really enough any more to just have a product that does stuff or makes my life easier. What I really want to see is HOW CREATIVE you can get to get you hands on my dough before your competitors come along and do so.

And so, when I stumbled upon the new Dell campaign, I had to express how impressed I was with this ingenuity:

Good News Day

Pay attention to the scrolling bar. The attention to detail (and the tongue and cheek way of doing so) made me giggle.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a Location Thing

The best part about being back in Toronto is how easily I can get access to all of the things I love about the places that are NOT Toronto.

Like, thanks to David's Tea, I'm able to have authentic, Chinese green tea, as referenced in this entry, any time I want. I can bring myself back to that afternoon in the tea museum, pretty much every time I pour a cup of tea.

I was able to have some delicious kimchi jigae a few weeks ago with a vegetarian friend I introduced to Korean food. The restaurant looked exactly the the ones in Oe Dong D and I used to frequent - tons of tables crammed into a tiny space, full of Koreans enjoying their food. They even had the cutlery boxes on the table AND the napkin boxes as well.

There's an Irish pub right around the corner. It has the old wooden booths, the Irish beers on tap and (although a little OTT) the girls all dressed in kilts (also because kilts are kinda Scottish ge the picture)

The beauty of all these experiences is that I get the only part I didn't get when I was there - I get to go back to my Canadian home, turn on my Canadian TV, call my Canadian friends and easily pop by and see my Canadian sister.

I missed all of these things when I was away and of course the one thing that Toronto can't replace is the people that I miss in all the places where I was.

But I guess I'm just realising what a good transition this place has been. And to think, I said I wouldn't want to be here again.

Well, as my other mantra goes, never say never.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Case you Haven't Heard...



And now I'm helping to perpetuate that problem but BLOGGING about it but mostly I wanted to blog this.

That I'm not sure whether being away for 6 years has sheltered me from all the bad=ness that seems to happy ONLY in North America or whether this is really bigger than all the headlines about Afghanistan or Iraq or the Tsunami or global warming.

Because I remember talking to my family when I was away wondering why they were getting so obsessed with one thing or another and now maybe I realize that maybe JUST MAYBE the MEDIA WAS OBSESSING THEM.

Because I'm being bombarded with this information that is only about ONE THING.

A thing that I suppose is really important but is potentially being dealt with EXTREMELY BETTER in parts of the world where they have actually had real problems like droughts and bombs and fear of N. Korea that this is just ANOTHER THING that needs to be dealt with and MOVE ON.

Maybe I just miss the place that says "Yes the economy sucks. Perfect opportunity to drown our sorrows in some pints. So we should head to Primark and get a new top and necklace for a good night out. Because, hey, the economy will still suck tomorrow but at least we'll have sung our hearts out."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When Talented People Become Moms

So, there has always been the if/what if/when conversation in my house regarding entry into the whole mommy world.

But I have to say, that my favorite blogger and her friends has done it again, showing us just what can happen if when those creative types take mommy-hood by the kahoonas and SPEAK OUT.


If/when the mommyhood fairy visits me, I hope I'm as innovative as all of these lovely ladies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Math

For as long as I can remember, I have not been very good at math. This tends to make sense as words are more my friend.

My family and friends often refer to math-gone-wrong as 'A Math'.

There was a recent conversation at the cottage that turned everyone into laughing hyenas as I said something to the effect that "5+5 is like 11", not EXACTLY 11, but just LIKE it.

You get the picture.

And so in honour of A Math, I had to add this video. credit where credit is due as I'm not sure where this came from, just know that I feel just that bit more vindicated.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Humour of the Situation

On the dawn of a new era, during a time of great change, in the midst of a historic moment, it's only fitting that I found out (officially) who the next President of the United State would be from a comedian.

And I haven't stopped smiling since.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Freedom to Write

I was moved in many ways at the opening gala of the International Festival of Authors last night.

Hearing Dubliner Roddy Doyle speak in his lovely lilt made me want to jump on the next plane and fly back to the green Isle. He reminded me too, how culturally rich a nation Ireland is.

How humour plays a role in almost everything they do. How some of the world's best story tellers come from there.

How I'm not sure I could ever replicate - even just a little - the experience I had in the Irish publishing industry. And maybe that's okay.

I was also privileged to speak to the talented Canadian director, writer and actor Don McKellar and let him know IN PERSON just how deeply his movie Last Night affected me.

But most importantly, I found a charity that I want to actually work with. Not to say that there are charities that I WOULDN'T work with, just that this organisation has got me mobilized in a way I've not thought of before.

"PEN Canada assists writers around the world who are persecuted for the peaceful expression of their ideas".

There are people, just like me, more powerful and courageous then me, all over the globe, who every day have to choose freedom over their written words.

Considering how often I am voicing my opinion in this way, I can't imagine worrying about my life for saying that I don't like a government policy, a religious idea or hell even the shirt someone was wearing today.

So I encourage you to read about them. And do whatever you can to help keep words alive.

Someone once said knowledge is power. If you can't write about it, how will anyone know?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have Your Say!

There is a lot I want to say and should say and WILL say but today I just want to say ONE THING...

Get out and vote!!

There are millions of people all over this world that risk their lives in order to make a choice for leadership.

No matter what you think of the Canadian candidates, it's important to remember today that this is bigger than the politicians who are running.

It may actually matter more that you cast a vote then who you vote for at all.


Monday, October 06, 2008

A Bit O a Plunge

National Novel Writing Month

I heard about this from a woman I work with and thought it would be fun to see publishing from the other side of the fence.

I'm currently trying to think of interesting characters and scenarios and mostly, following the golden rule, write what you know.

So, please don't be surprised if you end up hearing of a backpacking Irish girl who goes to teach English in Korea. Hmmm...original?

Friday, October 03, 2008

No Show Me Da Money

I'm doing some training for work and came across an interesting statement in regards to technical information:

"..If the quality isn't acceptable to end users, no drop in cost will matter."

In the course of the last few months, I've been soaking up information from this world of technical information and usability.

I suppose the main reason companies do anything is to save money, purely because they make money, fuel the economy and allow me to live comfortably.

So I find it interesting that even though there may be a consideration when building documentation to budget it appropriately, it's also very important to remember that to the end user, it's not the quality of the paper or the colour vs black&white in the materials, it is truly about the quality of the content.

And even if you can say well, we used to charge you $20 and now we only charge you $10, it actually STILL won't make them a happier or more satisfied customer if the content does not help them.

It's an interesting shift - and also a fine line - between usability thinking and marketing thinking.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Wordy Evening

One of the most exciting aspects of living in a big city is the opportunity to have an abundance of things to do...right outside your doorstep.

Stating the obvious, I suppose, but when we live in TO before, we didn't take advantage as much as I now feel we should have. Bonus is? Being back is like being able to do it all over again.

In Belfast, we were fortunate to attend lots of arts events because of my line work. I was just luck to be in the know and felt quite at home amongst those that took part in these events. (NOT Harper's rich rendition, I assure you)

So, tonight, we're going to take advantage of our geography and head to a book reading. Everyone probably remembers Irvine Welsh mostly for his crazy druggies in Trainspotting and I got to know a bit more of his work while at Blackstaff as we had an author with a similar style.

His latest novel, Crime, is out and lucky for us he's promoting it. Seems a bit funny to go see a Scot in Toronto when I could have seen him in Scotland but perhaps I'll feel transported back to a life that seems so very far away these days.

Monday, September 29, 2008

On a Lighter Note

This made me chuckle this morning. Thought with the cool weather upon, you all could use a little laughter to warm you up:

Apple Announcement:

Apple announced today that it has developed a
breast implant that can store and play music. The iTit will
cost from $499 to $699, depending on cup and speaker size.

This has been hailed as a major social
breakthrough, because women are always complaining about
men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is Worth?

There has been some talk - and government action - regarding the arts funding in Canada that I must humbly admit I have not been paying enough attention to.

I remember feeling quite lucky to live and work in the arts scene in Belfast as it was abundant not only with talented people but also the money to support those people in the creation of good work.

It's a bit sad that my home country seems to not want to see the value of art as it relates to the well being of every day life.

Margaret Atwood has written a very great piece on this here:

To be creative is, in fact, Canadian

After reading today I am reminding yet again how frustrating it is to prove worth. That human worth has been relegated to the economic factor.

That we can see the benefit in bankers because they make money. That there seems to be this theory that only rich snobs wander around at art galas and events.

That even the act of mentioning that maybe there is worth outside of bringing in money tends to draw large scoffs and sighs and lectures about how the economy works and that we as countries would be destitute without the good people who go out there and make money.

I can tell you that the economic crisis that seems to be sweeping the U.S. did not happen because the arts were over funded. Perhaps if those industries had been dissected the way in which the arts is, there wouldn't the crisis that they are facing.

And I also know, that when people, who are losing money and are now faced with higher taxes because of the largest bailout in the history of the government, it won't be the bankers they'll turn to for comfort. For escape. It will be their books. Their children's plays. Hell, even their television shows.

I realize I'm mixing two different countries and two different issues. But the point remains about worth and how we define it.

And that Canada, for all our 'distinct-ness' from America, is on a very slippery slope towards the world that we know of south of the boarder.

And why this election is so incredibly important. Because Stephen Harper means business. Family values aside, he will change this country if he can. We've been lucky our parliamentary system has stopped him from doing it thus far.

And perhaps that's equally as scary as what the Americans' economy is facing right now.

I'm sure there's a book in there somewhere. Now, if I could just get the funding to write it...

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Few Wee Events

This past weekend, I became nostalgic and saw the future all at once.

NKOTB were fantastically surreal (blog post coming soon)

My first 10km was even more so (blog post also coming soon)

All I can do right now is wait to listen to my MP3 player with songs of my teenage years while I'm running and training for the next 10km.

Welcome to surreal Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

If They're Good Enough for a Samurai....

My littlest sister H has etched out yet another talent (she can sing, write, act, and look beautiful without trying) to add to her repertoire and has come up with a pretty inventive way of showing it.

Her new blog, Baby Samurai Story, is a fictional story about a Japanese woman, daughter of a Samurai, who becomes a mother without necessarily choosing to do so.

It's the prefect length for a quick read and is very engaging. Her descriptive passages are so clear and crisp, I could actually visualize what her characters. It's very comic book-'episotic' style writing (can you say 300 anyone?) and was just a really new, fresh take on blog writing.

What got her interested? Well, her Gemini-distracto mind came up with the idea after she was researching her newest talent, samurai pants.

Baby Samurai

They are unique as well as flexible, funky as well as functional, easy to clean, easier to put on and just the perfect accessory for any little warrior.

It's Just That Simple

This perhaps may seem like shameless promotion but I have to say, as a Harmony user myself, it really is THIS easy.

Plus, he's so darn cute.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Word to Jeff Vader

In this world of instant information, it can be easy to be bombarded with a lot of, well, crap.

But today, my friends, I wanted to share this with all of you.

My father sent it to me in an email - which further the debate that he is either hip or a geek or both - and, so, I wanted to share the imaginative mind of Eddie Izzard with you all.

The One with Vader in the Canteen

(I'm not sure someone WITHOUT an English accent could pull this off)

Sunday, September 07, 2008


So writing for an entertaiment magazine, I have been given a bit of a background peek into this year's TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival).

No I'm not having drinks with Brad Pitt or exchanging comic book stories with Kevin Smith.

But I do have to give a shout out to the IT Lounge in Windsor Arms Hotel, just off Bloor Street on Thomas Street. Fantastic facilites for media and quite a quiet place amongst all the hustle bustle.

And yes, there has been a bit of celebrity spotting. Can you say Evangeline Lilly of Lost? Smaller, of course, then she looks on TV but still with that sparkling smile, pausing every so often to pose with fans.

I wanted to shout out 'Your biceps rock!' but then, I also wanted to look cool and professional and not be whisked away by the body guards.

A pleasant surprise today - a very surreal vibe to be out and about amongst all this TIFF-ness.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How In Love Am I?

I sorta stopped listening to the radio since I've been home. People sort of ask, 'what kind of music do you like?' I kinda hum and ha and well and er and finally just say 'you know, top 40'.

Yes, I'm very advanced in my musical enjoyment. Me and your 10th grader would have a lot in common.

And then, I was informed of, the station that picks songs you will like based on one song choice.

Guess what? I'm SO MUCH MORE than a Top 40 fan. I'm TOTALLY indy now. In a very Top 40 way.

C'mon, don't you think it's impressive that there are other songs that sound like Pieces of Me?

In love love love. Thank you inventors of amazing websites that eventually I will have to pay for but for now will relish in the ad and investment money they're squandering on my enjoyment.

Let me share again - lastfm

There. That should help there Google ranking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just One More Reason NOT to Golf

I have to say it takes a lot to shock me these days when it comes to organizations not thinking globally. Since living abroad, I've learned that most countries are essentially quite insular and not very good at thinking outside their own borders.

I would not even go as far to say specific countries because I think each country has its own close minded view of the world, and, in their own way, contributes to this intolerance and understanding across the globe.

But I think the LPGA has really taken the cake on this with the latest rid-onk-ulous (thanks JF) decision.

English only please - we're not racist, just an American organization

I'm just wondering what exactly the LPGA was thinking? Oh yes that's it, they were thinking about THEIR SPONSORS.

What about all of the people AROUND THE WORLD who watch the bloody thing that DON'T speak English? That pay to fly all over the planet just to watch the stupid events? Maybe the LPGA should make all their players learn Spanish or French or Japanese or even better Gaelic and Scots.

Or perhaps it's just a bit of sour grapes - boo hoo our women SUCK so let's just eliminate the women who DON'T SUCK because they don't speak English by MAKING them speak English.

I would love to see the table turned if the Americans were actually doing well in another sport in another country if they were being forced to learn Korean. Trust me, I'm not holding my breath for any kam-sam-nee-da-s from our friends to the south.

Good grief Charlie Brown, wake up to the 21st century, smell the imported coffee and global village yourselves for god sake.

Although, thank you for giving me another reason not to play or watch golf. At least now it sounds a bit less convincing - and overused - then IT'S BORING.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Deep Thoughts

Happiness is about managing expectations. Expectations you have for yourself. Expectations you have for others. Expectations others have for you. (credit goes to a friend at work)

The beauty of travel is that at the mere mention of a city you've visited, your mind instantly creates a picture of that time there. (credit goes to a longtime friend)

These two ideas and thoughts seem to have been the most poignant for me over the past little while and I wanted to share them with you. Share with you the types of things that are rolling around in my head.

The summer is coming to a close and with it, I anticipate some breathing space in the world that is busyness. Some reflection time in the cool fall air. Some more energy put towards experiencing and less towards maintaining.

More time for the rose smelling, and the bird-chirping-listening. Simplification. Although it may be hard for people to understand but there is still a period of understanding, decompressing, computing, reflecting over what the course of the last 6 years has done for me.

In every life I think there needs to be room for taking a step back and really understanding what it is that makes this life worth living. And though it sounds grandiose and far too poetic for its own good, I mean it only that everyone should pause, stop, think and really really try to understand themselves and others.

How does this puzzle pan out? I think I need to stop and try to figure it out, without Blackberrys or cell phones, or iPods or Facebook or (gasp) maybe even Blogger.

Just today's deep thoughts. Only just todays.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stick to the Jump Shots, Boys

The Olympics has of course sparked many controversial stories as it seems to every time it rolls around.

I always chuckle a little bit at the intense conviction of which many of the reporters cover stories of 'atrocities' and 'wrong doings' as if the end of the world was nigh, the large asteroid was seconds away from hitting and the world itself will NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN because of *insert daily controversy here*.

But this, people THIS takes the cake. I raise my hands up and say, yes, sometimes it REALLY IS THAT BAD.

What were they thinking?

Give it up for tolerance, peace, posterity and all that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Fever

I've got and not sure when it will go away.

Olympic fever!

I remember in Belfast, I used to take advantage of BBC's interactive feature, where you could 'press the red button' and 'go interactive', picking from 1 of 5 different live streams.

This allowed me to see every ice hockey game during the ENTIRE OLYMPICS - without commercials!

No interactive CBC but their Canadian coverage make up for it.

So, it's a sunny Sunday, I have grand plans of leaving the house but people, we're talking gymnastics here.

If I can't flip around on a mat, I might as well watch those skilled enough to do so.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

To Kid or Not to Kid

A controversial - yet thought-provoking - article on having children.

I Kid You Not

And yes, I realise I made a pledge to write about stuff that I have not yet even read to write about.

It's coming...

But for now, let's hope this link will give you enough to think about until I find the time to think about the stuff I've written to re-write about it.

One thing that stuck in my mind after reading this article was something my mom said to me once.

A vegetarian friend of hers said that the largest hurdle about being vegetarian was not hunting for lentils and beans or avoiding those juicy BBQ steaks but having to defend her life choice by simply stating it. I'm a vegetarian seemed to translate into I want to argue with you about my life choice.


Monday, August 04, 2008


I have been thinking about this space and I do I have an idea which I think will keep me keep it updated.

It has now been over a year since we finished our time in Korea and started on a 6 month adventure that would take us across multiple time zones and continents.

Each day on that journey I kept a journal, which outlined the bare minimum of activities as well as meals and lodging.

For my own personal reflection - which, lucky you, will be able to take part in - I am going to read each day what I wrote about in that journal and really, just write here about it. Perhaps how I feel now about the entry. Perhaps a funny story that happened. Perhaps about how I have no idea what I actually did that day and that it was a good thing I wrote it down because I still can't picture it.

Starting tomorrow, I'll begin a new journey. One that doesn't include a lot of upset stomachs or late night anxiety or even white sandy beaches for that matter.

It will be a much more reflective one, a look back on a period that I still believe I am processing in my own way.

And lucky you along for the ride. Or not. In that case, we'll see you Jan 09.

Friday, July 25, 2008

To My FavoriteOctogenarian

This weekend I will have the honour of celebrating the 80th birthday of one of the kindest, most understanding, most lovely-laugh octogenarians I know.

I'm quite proud to be able to say my Grandmother N, full of all her facilities, turned 80 today.

That's such a big number. And yet, she still doesn't seem that OLD to me. I saw her just a couple of months ago and it was like when I used to visit her as a small child, being spoiled by celery and cheese whiz, staying up late and of course, a chance to watch Three's Company.

Happy Birthday Grandma - I'm very proud to be your granddaughter and can't wait to give you a hug and big sloppy kiss when I see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 Write

I was sifting through the 'blogosphere' today, trying to get a feel for what's out there, what's interesting, what people are writing and what people seem to be reading.

I found a couple of new ones - interesting, reflective kind of stuff - stuff that this blog here is no unfamiliar with. So I suppose I'm not exceptionally out of the norm but I guess some people enjoy reading about other people's excruciating minutia of their days.

And then I came to this, will which make you feel like your on speed or cocaine or maybe like you want to puke.

Most likely both.

I will leave it to you to decide whether or not this is actually and ENJOYABLE read or more like a ride on a really fast roller coaster, where the wind sucks the life out of your face until your cheeks touch your ears and your knuckles remain permanently white from the clutching of the stable thing.

For an energy buzz, click here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mid Way

I would like someone to tell me exactly where the summer has gone?

It's mid July and for some reason, I'm already panicking about snow.

I've had a great summer so far. Filled with so many people and activities, that I'm finding it hard to even get to this blog.

CBC has become a new best friend. It travels with me to and from work.

I found myself smiling the other day as, in total suburbia fashion, I opened the door to my townhouse to get my paper and lo and behold, my Friendly North Neighbour, had popped out to get her paper at the exact same time.

"Good Morning"
"Oh Good morning"
"Gorgeous day"
"A day for a bbq"
"For sure, see you on our rooftops later"

And in I went, to finish my breakfast, reading the paper, drinking my tea.

So different from the days of rising 20 minutes before I had to leave, just enough time to shower and then grab food on the way.

Life is turning into quite the settled urban scene I had been hoping for. I feel as though we've been able to slip right back into this world that feels comfortably familiar and yet new all at the same time.

I have many pictures and stories I want to share. And I have been writing, just not here.

I guess you could look at it as a summer hiatus.

Or me just being a lazy bastard.

You choose.

Friday, July 11, 2008

In Need of a Challenge

Ever the planner with lists, I found this idea on Rocketwife's blog.

101 in 1001

When I was about 25, I made a list of things I wanted to do before I was 30. You know, those stupid things your arrogant 20ish self does to your aging 30ish self, not realising that the landscape will have changed in those short 5 years and that includes priorities, goals and well things that will make you happy.

I haven't seen that list since we've got home. I remember a few things that are there I've done, a few things that are there I haven't and the others? Well, I cringe to think at how my smug 20ish self actually thought THAT MUCH could be achieved in 5 years.

When I dig it out, I'll share it here.

Until then, I'll have to get cracking on my new list.

Perhaps I can put a bit more effort into it than my 365 Project?

The road to hell...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


June turned out to be wonderfully wonderful, filled with family, friends, outings, hen dos, cottages, boats, festivals, wine, patio parties, city walks, city restaurants, city markets, city shops, relaxing in the sun.

Now, what am I going to do in July?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How Do You Solve a Problem That's So Cheezy

D and I managed to catch the first two episodes of the latest Canadian reality TV show, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

CBC is running this one and I believe it must have just finished in the UK because when I tried to search for the video from last nights show so that YOU TOO could piss your pants laughing, I only came up with the Brit version.

I kinda don't want to ruin the surprise. And maybe not finding a video was the universe's way of telling me NOT TO.

So, I'm just going to kindly ask, that if you do anything over the Canada Day long weekend, please stop just before 9pm on Monday and watch how the Marias are kicked off the show.

Trust me, it'll be so worth it. Especially if you've been partaking some festive beverages during the day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cleaning the Pipes

A few years ago after New Years, I went on a 30 day detox and felt like a million bucks.

I had totally forgotten of this concept until yesterday surfing around.

I don't usually pay attention to Oprah but Dooce got me caught onto this and I'm thinking I might make it a Christmas in July situation and de-clutter my insides after Canada Day.

Mostly for my health, it certainly couldn't hurt my waistline!

Anyone want to join me in the challenge?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Your Own Company

Everyone should try to become comfortable in their own company. D's away for a long weekend and I'm attempting to really enjoy just hanging out with myself.

I suppose it sounds terrible to say but in a way, it just feels so sad.

It's not that I'm sad, it's just that being alone feels sad. To me.

You could hear a pin drop in my house right now. And really, if I just sat around in my pajamas all day, who would really know? Or care?

Perhaps I sound selfish or needy or pathetic and I suppose that would make me a bad writer because that's actually not what I'm trying to convey.

I'm simply sitting here, in this moment alone, and thinking 'what am I feeling about this whole being alone thing?'

As the oldest in a family of four, there was never a time when my house was quiet. When there was no one around. When I got to make all the choices, without anyone around and without having to think of anyone else.

I think I'm just not cut out for this by-myself-life.

Give it another hour and I'll be talking to the couch.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I have had such wonderful family and friend connections happen over the last month and a half.

My new job is taking up a lot of my time (what else is knew) but I am still finding time to spend with all of those people I made this trek back for.

Getting to know people again and actually spending very little time at all connecting has been so wonderful. Knowing that my weekends are filled with weddings adn cottages and bbqs and girls nights out gives me such comfort.

It's a life that I left behind, that I don't regret not being a part of back then but enjoy that it's part of this journey now.

Some things have not turned out the way we planned since we got back. We were prepared for that. But the core of the reason we are here continues to be there.

For the people. And not in a political speech kinda way. Just to be here with the people that we missed. To recapture some of the time that was lost. And to rejoice in the fact that I feel as though I've had the best of both worlds.

Travel and adventure AND Time well spent with good friends.

Thanks guys. You make every challenge of being home so very worth it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Proof That I NEEDED That 6 Month Holiday

The World's Hardest Workers

In total agreement. They whole country needs a month or two on a beach on SE Asia.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Wine Bomb

D and I checked out this fabulous date night place last night.


The best kept secret in Parkdale.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Muddle

There are so many thoughts and stories I WANT to share...and yet, I'm not quite in the headspace to articulate them properly yet.

Inspriation always seems to come when I got hands full of groceries or house keys or lets face it, a nice cold G&T.

And yet, there's never a laptop nearby when the feeling strikes.

I do carry around notebooks. But sometimes I feel like THAT STUFF just ends up sounding like a dramatic drunken ramble, regardless of whether I've been sipping any of the devil's poison.

I have talked about feeling inspired by typing. And I suppose this is very 'uncreative' in a way but hey, we've all seen Carrie on Sex and the City. That girl's not hunting down her Moleskin.

I think maybe that's the voice I hear in my head. Not Carrie's voice, but a version of that voice that is less "oh-who-should-i-love-today" and more "which-patio-has-the-best-sun-for-reflection-and-of-course-alcohol".

But it's that same vein. That starting out with a very self depricating tone (oh I suck why don't I write more) and ending on the 'learning' note, (wow, REAL lime DOES taste better in G&Ts) to give the reader just that little bit of insight into my grey anatomy.

In no way am I directly comparing my writing to SATC, just more the VOICE that narrates the program. That voice that you hear at the beginning and JUST KNOW in the end will teach you a valuable lesson without you realising it.

Like a magician discovering the card you picked.

Sometimes I'm not even sure where the post will end up. It starts one place and I just hope, eventually, it ends up somewhere that makes sense. Or at least that make people think. And since my Gemini mind is thinking of 10 different things at a time, I'm just happy if there are a few people out there who feel the slight satisfaction of the end of a story when I'm done.

I don't always know where it will end. But maybe that's the beauty of writing, specifically a blog. That stream of consciousness that you allow people to hear you brain fart as it's flowing out of your fingers.

And in the end, if you can score a pair of Prada shoes the way Carrie does, well then, you're doing alright.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

It has been the best two days I've had in awhile.

I was treated to dinner at my favorite Toronto restaurant. Can you say views of CN Tower and sunset all at once???

I hit the spa for my usual pampering - just a mani-pedi so I can save the facial for next month - and had a lunch BBQ on our sunny rooftop.

I got to spend the day with family. My sister, bro-in-law and the Mellow came over. I got to entertain in my house, use our BBQ, sit on our patio and drink lots of wine. Oh and also become quite verklempt over a card that 'Marshall' got for me. That perhaps was everyone else's highlight.

I'm actually off today to see more family. Spend more time with little buddies and enjoy more verklempt moments.

Although there was no norebang or Belfast pub or Turin restaurant, it actually is turning out to be one of my favorite birthdays. You can really only thank people for that.

And FB has allowed for so many more people to help make me feel special on the one day of the year that's ALL ABOUT ME.

Plus, this video made me laugh. Small town living leads to creative - and crazy - minds.

An average day in the V house

(I hope you can see this without logging in.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some Vids

A few videos circulated at work.

A bit ridiculous but the kid was cute...

Only in a man's head...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cultural Differences

I think I may have been out of the North America too long because when I saw this commercial, I was certain it must have been 11:33 on a Saturday night and I was about to watch SNL on Global TV.

Something was building...

I've just watched this commercial again and can't tell you if it gets funnier after the second line because I can't stop myself from laughing ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE REST.

People, really, is this how far we're come in advertising? One step away from a SNL skit?

MasterCard, here is another priceless.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

To the Mothers In My Family

This year is quite a special Mother's Day because we've added two new mothers to the mix. Both my sisters joined the special land of motherhood this past fall and will look at this day a lot differently than they have in the past.

In honour of all the mothers in my family, I thought I would write a few words about what each one has taught me.

My father's mother has taught me not only how to make a great pie or some super canned jam and chili sauce, but also how to stay young. Surround yourself with young people, journey around the world as though you're 25 and always be the last one to leave the kegger.

My mother's mother has taught me the importance of honest hard work. As a teacher when not many women were out in the workforce, she spent tireless hours educating children, just like me, to go out into the world and conquer. And always with a smile on her face and a positive outlook on life.

D's mom has taught me patience. Patience with your children. Patience with your spouse. Patience with yourself, even if you're a distracting Gemini. That life - and the universe - sometimes has a way of making it all go your way, if only you have the patience to let it.

D's sister L has taught the me the importance of fun in parenting. Laughing and playing with her children, engaging them, asking them questions, teaching the interaction skills that will benefit them well into their older years.

My sister C has taught me the beauty of chaos. Watching her navigate through the first few months of her son Marshmellow's life has been extraordinary. It takes great courage to put aside your conventions, to shift your way of thinking and to simply give in to the amazing world of the schedules of babies - or lack there of.

My sister H has taught me the importance of going with your gut. Her heart stopper Stan-The-Man went through a period of intense spitting up that turned into projectile vomiting. Through all the doctors 'let's wait and sees' and the concerned family's 'don't worry, babies spit up' she was insistent that something was seriously wrong. She was right. A simple operation to fix the problem and he's no longer losing weight but becoming the next potential football player in the family.

My own mother has taught me the importance of self worth and acceptance. That you can be anything you want to be. An astronaut, a surgeon, even a duck if that's what you so choose. That the world is out there for you to go and get, all you have to do is reach out. That being a mother is about helping, nurturing, guiding and then letting go, no matter how it breaks your own heart to see your child take off and fly. Perhaps halfway around the world even.

To all the mothers in my family - and all the mothers I know around the world - I wish you a very Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Good Vibes

We've had some new exciting news in the A-D team. I've shared with many people personally but thought it does need a spot here as well.

I've recently taking a job as a technical writer and could not be more excited about this opportunity. I will be able to flex my writing muscle in this new way, mostly in writing, but also in the creation of a product, which is also exciting for me.

In an effort not to dooce myself, I won't be writing about it here. Just wanted you to know the next phase of the re-entry plan seems to be coming together.

I also wanted to share some wonderful words my good high school friend K shared with me. Her and I used to swing on swings at Lion's Park in the early years of high school, talking about boys and thinking about our futures.

"It is soooo nice to have you back in the province. Isn't it crazy how some of our most cherished friends are those who knew us before boyfriends, husbands, kids...before half of our adventures even existed...I guess it's because we all fell in love with those innocent, fun, kind and caring little minds of each other...and our lives since have just sweetened the deal."

I'm so lucky to have such great friends.


Speaking of good friends, here's a shout out to E, Tyeger's mom, in the hopes that the new addition gives her one more weekend before his/her arrival :)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Beer Goggles and Nostalgia

We've all had a 'beer goggles' moment, one where something just looked SO DAMN GOOD that you leapt in feet first or lips first, in awe of your chance encounter with some kind of greatness.

I ended up clicking on an ad link in Facebook today about teaching in Korea and I was quite impressed by the video for its 'beer goggles' way of presenting Sparkling Korea.

Sparkling Korea

For most of you who don't know, Sparkling Korea is actually Korea Tourism's slogan for the place. It was quite a funny inside joke of all us teachers about how 'Sparkling' the place could be. The cities had their own slogans, usually with really ridiculous adjectives placed in front of the town's name. Unfortunately none come to mind however when I saw this video, I thought for sure the makers could work for Korea Tourism.

A few things they are correct - you CAN save $1000 a month and YOU DO get a bonus when you leave. You can also stress for the duration of your contract about getting paid and also about getting that bonus but in the end, it will be paid to you.

You can PLAN to travel during your time in Korea however since Koreans work about 10 hours a day and don't get any time off, PLANNING will really be all you'll find the time or energy to do.

I hate to be tongue and cheek or appear negative about the place - I've already established that in the end there WERE so many amazing things about it override anything bad about it but I must just say this.

I want to go to the Korea THIS guy talks about. Oh, and if you notice in the video, he has some VERY REPUTABLE teachers singing his praises, at a party he seems to be hosting, where they're all kinda at the 6th drink stage of 'I love you man, you're the best, this is the best, Korea's the best, oh god man, gotta barf'.

I'd still like to go there.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I Hear Ya

You may know I'm a bit of a Facebook addict, although I can't say I know anyone who has tried it that doesn't check it on a regular basis.

I was never someone who got into any other communities - ie MySpace Bebo etc - and I've always said (to the chagrin of my friends who must LISTEN to my ramble) that Facebook was just..well..easy. It' all about interface, sir.

Although I'd like to pretend in my fairy tale word that I am VERY web savvy, I'm certain I don't know everything there is to know about it. Then again who does?

My excitement today, however, stems from comments made by an ACTUAL web geek.

And I'm glad because this means I'm not a crazy person talking out of my ass - at least, not when it come to Facebook.

Read it and weep...or cheer...whichever, just read.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

New Digs

Right now I'm sitting at a computer in my HOME OFFICE.

Yes, that's right I have HOME. A nice, 3 story HOME that is ALL MINE. Well, I share it with D but he's easy to share with.

Over the past 6 days I've enjoyed relaxing on MY OWN couch, staring out the construction from MY OWN window and getting in some exercising running up and down the 3 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS in the space which I now call my own.

D and I fell luckily into this place which a friend of ours owns and is kindly renting to us. It's given me a whole new outlook on things. Just having your own space has never seemed so important.

I guess it feels like almost 2 years since I've had my own space. We had a great place in Korea - huge 3 bedroom, great for parties - but, in hindsight, it was hard for me to feel completely at home there because I knew I would be leaving.

The Belfast rentals always felt instantly like home. I suppose since Ireland is very much Western like Canada, it didn't take much.

But now, I walk out my front door, turn the corner and there's the CN Tower. Standing their in its awesome state, like it was erected just for me.

I feel right at home and yet like I'm in a completely different city, like I'm seeing Toronto in this whole new light. And it makes me feel great. Because I worried that if we came back here, we would lose sight of just how far we've come.

I'm starting to realise that's not really possible. No city street or landmark or recurring street busker can take away from how I've learned to look at the world.

And I guess that's the difference. It hasn't changed but HOW I LOOK AT has.

It's like a whole new city. Except this time, I GET A ROOFTOP PATIO WITH A BBQ.

See when the sun comes out.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why Avril Should do an Exercise Video

Out for a run today and thought I'd share some songs that get my legs pumping, my voice singing and my heart living eternally as a 15 year old.

A little bit of this

and a little bit of that

and why not some of this

Thank you Avril. You bring out the melancholy, indifferent, i-hate-you-guys teenager in me. That and the will to just...keep....running....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

For a Thought

Hot Docs is this incredible festival that comes to Toronto once a year to showcase some of today's top talent when it comes to documentaries.

The festival continues until Sunday and would highly recommend you check it out.

There are a ton of different films, all which look interesting and inspiring, but I also want to point you to one I watch last night after the book launch as it accompanies the book.

Dr. James Orbinski is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Canadian sector of Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Triage: Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma is a fantastic documentary about his journey back to the war torn countries in Africa he worked as a young doctor.

I highly recommend it, it makes you think about Africa and mostly humanitarianism as we know it today.

So happy to be taking part in artistic, grass roots events again. Toronto has so much to offer and I'm really getting psyched about the summer festivals ahead.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Work All Play

I'm attending an event for this book tonight:

An Imperfect Offering
by James Orbinski

I'm excited because A) I haven't been to a book event in almost 2 years and B) I don't have to plan anything.

If you can't check out the event, check out the book.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Big Missing-the-Big-Picture??

Over the last month, I actually started watching Oprah's The Big Give.

My opinions on Oprah have not really changed over the years - she's an ambitious person who I can respect for her tenacity and drive, who has contributed to society nationally and internationally in a mostly positive way and who, at the very least, should be given some sort of kudos.

I just don't like her. Her show tends to be her and her celebrity friends ta ha ha-ing about all the times they were hanging out in fabulous places, too fabulous for her audience to ever dream of going there once. Then, she introduced Dr. Phil, who is just simply an advertisement for the obvious and a sad state of affairs if he is considered an 'expert' on helping people.

For me, it's mostly her book club, although I have to give her credit for getting people reading. It was more the pretending to not profit from the books. I suppose you don't count having to sign movie rights over to her company as profit. Cause that was the deal. I don't mind that she did that - I mind that she didn't DISCLOSE it.

But I'm getting sidetracked. The first episode of The Big Give I watched really got to me. It was the simplicity of people just helping other people, the idea that by watching average people on TV give, you suddenly will become inspired to do that.

And so I had to add one more thing to the list of kudos to Oprah (or perhaps the ingenious people that work for her) for this show. This show could really have a ripple effect - change people's lives for the better, one person at a time.

So, yes, I'm a fan of The Big Give and all that it has helped to do.

But I am still torn after reading this article in the Toronto Star.

It makes some good points about the differences between the U.S. and Canada - something us Canadians are always trying to define.

For me, the verdict is still out about the show. Changing the world can happen just one person at a time. And maybe it can effect the big picture, even if not immediately.

There's something to be said for empathy and the way The Big Give teaches it to us.

We're all concerned about the environment now. Isn't it also time we became concerned about our next door neighbours?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

If Train A is travelling at a speed of 100km an hour and Train B...

I've started to widen my job search according to my skill set and have added various writing gigs to to the list.

I just finished a 2 hour online test which tested not only my grammar but also sentence structure, logic and reasoning.

Is it 100% nerdy that I actually LIKED it?

For the most part, many of my jobs have consisted of a lot of people interaction. I suppose since I'm such a chatty Kathy, I figured that's the route to go with jobs.

But maybe it's not. Maybe silent words can be my friends. Maybe I can use that annoying habit I have of correcting people's grammar and actually put it to good use. Like TO MAKE MONEY or something like that.

That way, I can save all my talking energy for recreation.

Good idea, me thinks on this sunny Sunday.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Just Write Dude

I managed to find another blog today that I think will be a good one to follow.

Seth Godin's Blog

Recently I have been feeling tapped of most of my creative energy but looking through Seth's list reminds me that it's not always about writing perfectly, it's just about writing.

Another part of the blogosphere that makes me ponder a new addition - what would it be like if I recorded my voice READING my blog? Because I'm certain, that I use inflections in my head when I'm writing that doesn't always come across when you're READING.

And maybe one would say that, that if you're a GOOD writer your readers will GET IT but I can't say whether or not that's true actually because I read a lot of GOOD writers and I bet I'm not always reading them the way they would like to sound like.

And this type of genre is different than a book or a magazine or even a radio program. Because it can tend to get very stream of consciousness, very therapeutic for the writer, very unedited - which is not always a good thing but I can't yet categorize it as bad, not yet.

But in this world of blog writing, I just wonder how much more people might GET ME or how many other bloggers I just might GET A BIT MORE if I could hear their voice, the emotion that was attached to the words they were writing. What then? What would it be like? And how would that change my opinion of them?

People who actually know me in real world probably read this differently than people who don't.

But maybe THAT'S also a GOOD THING. Because then you can connect with people on a level that you didn't realise existed or that you could be understood on.

And so that opens more doors which opens your eyes more which educates you more which inspires you more which GETS YOU WRITING MORE.

So I suppose my voice isn't needed after all? Not sold on it yet. Plus, I'm about to make my million with my voice blogger idea. Oh dear, now you all know. Back to the drawing board.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Rainy days always tend to give me this infinite feeling. Like I have all the time in the world to get stuff done because hey, it's not even really NICE enough outside to do anything.

I'm actually EXCITED if you can believe it that I'm going to be sitting in on a Friday night, banging away in various capacities on a computer. In a basement office.

Many of you are probably picturing a dull dreary existence I'm leading, to be so excited about GREY and DARK.

Perhaps it's simply the way I'm feeling. More productive with the darker things in life.

I'm up and down about the job search. It's never fun for anyone but just like travelling extensively, you learn a lot about yourself and in the end, you'll probably come out a better person.

Some days I want to just hurry up to the better person part. Some days I'm quite happy to just be looking around, seeing what's out there, waiting for a perfect opportunity to come my way.

I've started down a path of freelance which is not currently 100% lucrative but certainly could be. It's all about focus, determination and dedication. And I'm getting there.

I'm still not convinced that I don't want a 9-5. There is so much more I think I can learn at a company and that I can offer an industry.

For now, I'm just going to keep throwing the balls at the universe and let it help me figure it out.

But for today, I'm going to just get down to it, feel productive and look forward to my evening BBQ.

What? You thought a little rain was going to stop a Canadian like me? Try again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One More Distraction

I was introduced to Twitter a couple of ways and finally it just hit the tipping point for me and I signed.

I've also been able to add it to my blog.

And this also reminds me how little I update the side bar content - doh.

Enjoy for now. While I'm still interested in filling you in on the excrutiating minutia of my day.

Monday, April 07, 2008


There has been a slight slump in A) the frequency of posts and B) my ability to keep a positive outlook.

I think perhaps it was a strange sort of boredom that was setting in, one that occurs when you're not being as mentally productive as you're used to being, one that was causing me a great bit of angst and annoyance.

It seems to have lifted, I can see through the fog and I've got a load of new energy with which to persevere.

As I have always written on this blog, any life you choose is filled with challenges. Some of those you're more prepared for. Some you didn't see coming and smack you in the face like a telephone pole as you round the corner.

The latter can be a bit more difficult to bounce back from.

But today, I'm flying high and just riding this wave.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Just One More Thing to Worry About

This is disgusting. And it's important you read it. And write to someone about it.

I'm going to.

Thanks Faith.

9 steps to an eating disorder by age 12

Don't Talk Back to Darth Vader

I've been working on writing and editing projects all day today and my brain is slightly fried, although quite happy to be busy.

In light of that, I've decided to share this video, as my attempt to try and write something right now would probably come out AS IF NOT LESS coherent than this and plus, I'm not cute and small nor to I have beautiful doe eyes, black curly hair and a girlie bandana ta boot.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


As I've written here probably about 10 million times, I always feel better after a bit of physical activity.

I'm not sure exactly what happens in the brain (okay, I'm not even really certain on a GOOD day what's going on up there) but once I've gotten some good old activity done, I feel ready to take on the world.

It's like a filing cabinet appears in my head. A nice, calm, filing cabinet. That opens and closes at appropriate times. That calmly hands me one thought after the next. That allows me to focus, work and move on. Task complete, problem solved, onto the next one.

I felt today that I had a lot to get done. And I almost felt that perhaps I should not go for an hour run.

But I didn't go yesterday, took a day off, and last night went to bed looking forward to the exercise.

I don't think I'm a terribly vain person but it is nice to know that you can fit in your pants properly, if only so that you don't have to go and buy a totally new wardrobe.

I was so looking forward to getting back to a gym when we got back, really taking care of myself again, eating properly and getting good sleeps.

In Korea, we ate very well looking back on it. Nothing was really processed, the rice was the healthy kind and all of the vegetable were fresh, from some farmer's garden.

Plus, I was a teacher, I was on my feet every day, walked up and down stairs all day long. You forget how much physical activity you acutally do until you sit down and compare to another way of life.

Now, I mostly sit at a computer, scouring the internet for various things, much of which includes how to make a living or at least win the lottery.

So, I need that exercise to be figured out OUTSIDE of my work. And I need to pay more attention to what I'm eating, as delicious as all this cheese is, no one needs THAT MUCH calcium.

Even better, the weather turning has me outside exercising. I'm mostly a gym bunny but with lack of cash, one has to improvise. And I have to say, after years of swearing that I could never get a good workout outside, I'm having to eat my words.

Well, all the low calorie ones anyway.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lessons in Technology

I'm a bit concerned about the way that job hunting now seems to be consumed with technology.

Don't get me wrong, I love the job websites just as much as the next guy. And the ability to actually email your resume to someone has always been more advantageous than say, a mass mailout to every company in your preferred industry.

But I'm wondering if perhaps some companies have taken things just a bit too far.

Every weekday, I wake up, have breakfast, read the paper, head to the computer to 'work'. My day of work consists of research, writing, talking of on the phone. It feels like a full time job.

It's very productive, I feel as though I'm really getting myself back to a 9-5 routine, not necessarily a bad thing. I'm reintegrating myself with the Canadian lifestyle, finding out what all the hot buttons are. Wondering if and when the snow will ever go away.

This is all good. All productive. All very very hunky dory.

What worries me, though, is that all the work I tend to put in might not actually produce anything. It seems that the new systems that have been set up since I was away really just make you feel like you've worked really hard all day to find a job when in the end, you've just done a lot of work for a robot.

In the past, I worked diligently to write the perfect cover letter. I wanted to get people's attention, stand out from the rest, show the prospective employer that I was the perfect person to promote them because hey, look how well I can promote me??

I also paid attention to spacing. And font. And font size. And the amount of toner used. And the prettiness of the paper. Because I was sending off a paper-representation of me, something I wanted to reflect who I was, something that I thought would make a person want to meet with me.

But these days, it's left to a computer to do that for me. Companies are turning more towards the database systems less towards the reading-the-resume systems to find people for their positions.

Every day, I am faced with online systems that ask me questions (what were you like in highschool?) and require my "10 top skills" in order, with relevant years experience in each. I'm often baffled at how many years to put for 'communications'. 32? Cause I'm pretty sure my mother can back up the fact that I've never had a problem 'communicating'.

I suppose this system helps employers streamline the tediuosness of sifting through resumes. But I can't help but think it also allows them to hide behind this veil of not hiring from within. "Look, see, we advertised this job. We put it out there for people and we asked them to send us their skills. Unfortunately, we went with someone internally."

Not that that's a bad thing either. One of the biggest complaints I can remember is that people had to leave companies to get ahead. And just as it costs more money to get new customers than it does to retain them, so too does this hold true for employees.

I guess I just suppose that when the control was in my hands, when it wasn't R2D2 deciding that I would be pulled out from the hundredes of resumes that has the word 'hard worker' in them, I felt a little bit more like it was part of my destiny.

I had cared about the cover letter. And that had got someone's attention.

I had researched the company and found a common point of interest.

I had formatted it in such as way that it was easy to read, the key points jumped out of the page and there were no weird spaces to leave a reader disappointed.

I'm happy to continue this game of data entry. I will continue to enter in the same information to numerous websites. I will strive to figure out the correct combinations of key words and skills that will rank me at the top of a computer database list.

I'm just not sure what turns a computer on....the offer of more RAM??

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Has Not Sprung But Begun to Claw it's Way Through All the Snow

Today is the first day of spring. I have to say that I think Mother Nature is turning a bit of a corner because although the streets were sheets of ice this morning, it's turning into a glorious day.

For years, I've been a fan of Scott Feschuk, dating back to his days at the National Post.

Thanks to a link from Dooce, I've just read his latest 'commentary' on the winter we've been having.

An Open Letter to Mother Nature

Now my sides don't just hurt from all the sit ups I've been doing, they are also in pain because I can't stop picturing Mother Nature's face at being addressed as Dear Bicth. In the wise words of Homer Simpson, it's funny cause it's true.

I'm not sure what it's like in Ottawa today but checking the weather outside, I think you finally got her attention Scott.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy St. What?

I've always enjoyed St. Patrick's Day, a day built around the celebration of everything Irish and much like Canada, a good excuse to have a pint or four.

This year was quite tame. Although I went to a party on Saturday, I was driving so I didn't drink.

I had an early morning meeting today so there was no way I was going to head out to a pub the night before.

I find myself, only now, not only reminicing about St. Paddy's Days of years past but also of Belfast and our time there.

One of my favourite memories of getting together with two very dear friends, Belfast A and Belfast G, usually on a spur of the moment, for a drink and a gab session.

Garrick Bar in Belfast was the perfect wee spot: (photo courtesy of flickr account)

We would tuck ourselves away into one of these corners and next thing you know, it'd be last call. And then we'd all stumble back to our respective homes, perhaps stopping for some chinese or jacket potatoes along the way.

It was great to have such cherished friends, even as the Canadian outsider, I never felt more at home then when I would sit with ma ladies and gab the night away.

I think next year, to make up for the lack of celebration over the last two years, I might just have to head back to the Garrick...or Morrisons...or the Duke of York...or Auntie Annies...or...

Well, you get the picture.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two for Tea and Tea for Two

I've had a fairly long love affair with tea. I think it may have reached the same length of time as my love affair with coffee. But I had to part with the black stuff long ago. My nose says yes but my stomach says no.

My love of tea great exponentially when I moved to the UK. I mean, come on people, in the Western world, they are THE QUEEN of tea. Just ask their Queen. I know she's having tea all the time.

When I moved to Asia, it became greater on a whole other level. I mean, I had read about the benefits of green tea - that it can help reduce your risk of cancer by 70%!!!! - and had dabbled a little bit in the green stuff before I arrived.

But South Korea had green tea by the plentiful. Hot green tea. Cold green tea. Instant green tea. It became my companion at work, at home and more importantly, in the sauna. While I sweat out all the junk I was consuming, the green tea was there with me, offering a refreshing coolness as well as a detoxifyer. The relationship just kept growing stronger.

So, can you imagine, when we were in China, when I discovered they do green tea on a WHOLE NEW LEVEL??

While visiting the picturesque Hangzhou, I discovered that it was also home to China's Tea Museum.

HangZhou is famous for the production of the well known Longjing, see in my picture above.

And this place was not just a stuffy old building with exhibits. They actually housed a school, and about 10 different tea rooms. But the best part? The tea plantations.

I was on my own, but in my element. It was like visiting your favorite winery.

I learned some valuable lessons about tea when I was there, specifically that there is a special way to boil the water and brew your tea.

You're not meant to "burn the water" by over boiling it, just bring it to a nice small bubbles boil.

You're meant to fill the glass 20% full and leave for 30 seconds to stew. Then you fill up the rest of the glass up to 70%. The 30% that's missing? Well, that's where you store all the love and care you've put into making this tea for your guest. Or yourself.

I make tea now numerous times a day. And I can't seem to make it the old way anymore. But every time I make some tea, it brings me back to my day in the fields.

Keeps me travelling every day, that tea does.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Lot

I've been doing a lot of writing but not so much here.

I've been doing a lot of thinking but not so much expressing.

I've been doing a lot of laughing right out loud.

I've been doing a lot of visiting.

I have actually been DOING a lot, and yet sometimes, it feels like I've not yet done anything at all.

And I couldn't feel any better about that.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Word of the Day is...


I'm not sure how anyone can get a job if they are not dynamic.

Cause every career website, job posting, corporate section of company websites, wants DYNAMIC people.

Are you dynamic? If you are, I'm confident you're employed. If you not, good luck. Might as well head off to remote island, work the land and live out your days a loner.

A very un-dynamic loner.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Packing

We're setting off today again for our journey down to the extravaganza of the Leap Year - V Day.

It's not really at all like D Day, 1) because it's not the end of a war, more like the beginning and 2) there are not nearly as many Europeans involved, although I suppose D and I count with our dual citizenship.

It's a day that my parents invented, to make sure that at least once every four years, all of their children would actually come home. There's no guilt for Christmases missed or birthdays, even Mother's Day and Father's Day aren't pushed heavily.

But on V Day, February 29th, if you're not with my parents, well, you might as well fly yourself to the moon.

My mother, however, is not great at giving guilt, which I great for me although sometimes I feel bad for her. Isn't it her right of passage to GET to make me feel guilty? Isn't THAT what all those hours of labour was for?

And since me and my siblings actually LIKE my parents, we end up getting together much more frequently as an entire family than maybe my parents ever anticipated.

Over the years, boys have trickled into the mix and appeared in the portraits (a staple of V Day, so we can all see just how much weight we've gained since the last one).

But this year, we have 4 additions. 3 boys and a girl. Okay, well more like 2 squirming machines, a man and a dog, but you get the picture.

I think my parents might just have to buy a bigger house to take the picture in next V Day if we get any bigger.

So I'm off today, heading towards C Town, fingers crossed for minimal snow and giddy as a kid on Christmas morning to have us all together again.

Just hope the Windy City is ready for us. Oh dear.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Universe at Work

When we lived in Toronto, we rarely went further past Spadina on Queen Street.

Not that I had anything against the street, it's just that I spent more time up Church Street or down to Jarvis and Front or up to Bloor and Yonge than I did in that direction. Ryerson's near the Eaton's Centre. I was a lazy student. I just stayed closer to home.

This weekend my lovely friends from Korea K and W met D and I downtown for some visiting and potential sightseeing.

As the weather was garbage - not unusual for February - we ended up walking underground for awhile.

After a quick lunch near the Eatons Centre we ventured outside towards City Hall and onto Queen Street.

I knew it would be a street that K would like I also knew that W has lived here before and probably frequented this street as well.

So we walked, in the slush and the snow and the rain (yes, it was raining. IN FEBRUARY. And making this mucky and wet and melted and brown).

W said he knew of a place where we could sit, have a coffee, tea, glass of wine and relax.

None of this was at all out the ordinary. And when we managed to walk too far, he simply wanted to pop into a place to ask about where it was.

So, the 3 of us waited outside and I took this picture:

And K took this picture:

I've only just looked at it today and I had an extreme moment of the shivers.

This week there was a terrible fire in Toronto. It burnt down an entire block of historic buildings and also destroyed a 9 decade old bicycle business.

After spending 6 years living in the city and 5 years living away from it, I had never heard of this shop nor had I eve walked past it.

But on Sunday, I got one of the last shots of it standing before it was destroyed.

I'm not one to mourn over buildings, and if you are, you can find lots of coverage about it here, here and here.

I feel bad for the businesses that have lost their livelihood, especially the ones that have been there so long.

But what I mostly am feeling is spooky. What are the odds of that? That we would choose to go down Queen Street. That we would choose to stop in that place. That we would choose to take pictures in that EXACT SPOT.

The universe does work in mysterious ways.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back to the Beach - Post #756

It's very cold here in Canada. Us Canadians love to discuss the weather and I had forgotten why. Because in winter, IT GETS REALLY REALLY FREAKIN COLD!!!!

Over the past couple of days, I've become slightly pathetic and started looking at all my Facebook pictures from the beaches. I'm not sure if I'm nostalgic for the trip or if it's just for the beach.

So, since that's they way my mind seems to be going right now, I just thought I'd share a random sampling of the beaches we lounged on this fall.

Can I tell you, as I look outside to the 5 feet of snow and the thick sheets of ice that it's hard for me to believe there was ever a time that I could leave the house without 5 layers on.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Remembering Sunscreen on the Road

When we were driving in Western Australia from Perth to wine country Margaret River, an old song came on an immediately punched me back to high school.

Many of your will remember Sunscreen, the speech given by Mary Schimch to a group of graduates.

I began reciting the words, surprising myself how I knew them off by heart and also amazed at the difference at what the words now meant to me, 15 years on.

We were driving through a beautiful part of the country, just about 6 weeks into our glorious journey, and this song was now becoming part of much more than my old school memories.

And I also felt happy. Because I had had so many dreams and plans when I used to listen to that song. And here I was, living them out more wildly that my dreams could ever have imagined.

I happen to be cat sitting today and was reminded of the song - it was posted up in a room in the house.

Although the entire song makes me feel reflective, I really like this one part:

"Be careful whose advice you buy, buy be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth."

It's the patient bit that I look at a bit more differently now that I'm older.

Because it's true. I listen a lot more than I used to because I know, that even if people's advice will not help me, it's theraputic for the person dispensing it.

Over the past 5 years, there have been so many things I've experienced and learned. Sometimes people ask for my advice. Most of the time I give it. And I know, that it's actually about me being able to reminice about the subject, not so much about the person actually needing to hear it.

And of course, we always remember things with rose coloured glasses, only the goodness of experiences from the past seem to shine through to the present.

Our capacity to keep the negative is not as great as the ability to recreate an experience filled with all the positive.

Not such I bad thing, I think.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome to the 21st Century

I do realise that when we first left Canada, it was the 21st century. It was actually a couple of years into the 21st century.

But it is only NOW that I'm learning of all these new fandangle things that use technology to make life easier.

Over the past 5 years, we have not really been 'consumers' in the true sense. We became sticklers for NOT buying stuff because any money we made was meant to go into savings.

You can be an adventurous travelling nomad but ONLY if you don't spend all your money on the latest Blackberry or that designer bag that would look with those new shoes.

Plus, there's the not having-the-internet-at-home thing, which changes your world in ways well, that all of you can imagine.

So, since we've been home, it's taking a little getting use to all this consumer luxury, and the advances that they bring.

I feel a bit like an alien from outer space sometimes when I'm being shown how to use technology by people 20 YEARS OLDER than me.

Take for example, Tivo. Or the Rogers equivalent. I'm only discovering the joy of TAPING tv.

When I was 14, I worked at a little small town grease joint to save money for a VCR. After the summer was over, I used to tape Days of Our Lives (okay all your JUDGERS if you've picked up a People, US or Star magazine in the last year, then YOU'RE reading trash as well - I just happen to be watching FAKE PEOPLE locking themselves in rooms with their toddlers).

It was a bit of a luxury, especially for a teenager, but I always had to be sure to get the VCR 'ready' each morning. And there was always something more pressing. Like how many curls I needed in my bangs to create the perfect claw. Or which Vuarnet shirt would look best with my jeans.

The modern Jetson's set up was so much easier. I clicked 3 buttons and it was set to tape EVERY DAY. My first thought was, 'I wonder what it will tape on Saturdays and Sundays?'. Yes, that was it.

Until someone explained that it just KNOWS when the program is on and only tapes THE PROGRAM. Like some sort of tracking device. It can just sense it.

GENIUS!! I can happily say that I'm fully addicted to the trash that is DOOL.

And that's not all. Even food ordering is different.

Last week, D and I scoured the house for a chinese food menu to try and order. We hummed and haa-ed about what would be the best course of action. Should we just make up some dishes we remembered, call and ask if they had them?

Let's try the yellow pages. Do you know what we found? An ENTIRE SECTION dedicated to take out menus for local restaurants! GENIUS STROKE #2. I mean, you don't really even need technology for this one - just a bit of common sense...and probably a lot of money.

Which, sadly, our chinese food place did NOT have and so, as there was no menu for them, we were stuck again. What could we do?

Ah, gee, I dunno how about GO TO THEIR WEBSITE!!!

That's right. And we found it. And we ordered. And we ate. And all was right with the world. TRIPLE GENIUS!!

But that's not all.

No, people, because last night, we attempted something even MORE outstanding. We ordered our pizza ONLINE. We didn't have to speak to ANYONE. We added our modifications - extra cheese, small amount of sauce - and we didn't have to speak to ANYONE. 4 times GENIUS!!

I suppose these are not the things I was expecting to be surprised at when I got home. I never anticipated what it would feel like to be launched into ConsumerWorld....and, sadly, just how happy it could make you feel.

I just hope we're using this technology for more important things as well like, oh, curing cancer and helping the homeless.