Friday, November 30, 2007

Baby hugs are the sweetest

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

Friends and Internet vagabonds, I apologize for my absence. Yesterday I flew to Seattle to spend time with my brother, sister-in-law, and my adorable niece and nephew. Today was spent getting to know the twins again (or, rather, letting them get to know me again), and also hanging out with their nanny, Courtney, while Joe and Lisa were at work.

Courtney is awesome, by the way - I couldn't be happier with the care Reece and Lorelai receive from her. But the big deal of the day was just relating to the babies in a way that wasn't possible when they were younger. They both now respond to me, and warmed up to me pretty quickly (Reece apparently is quite reserved with strangers). We played and read and cuddled and ate all day - but the hugs! The HUGS! are to die for, they are so meltingly warm and loving. If I could store this kind of energy in a bottle, we would have world peace, my friends.

Stay tuned for more ...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sitting in the Flowers

Sitting in the Flowers
Originally uploaded by *Sakura*.

Gorgeous shot, again not mine, but still - I hope you enjoy it.


Monday, November 26, 2007

So gross, sooooooo funny

Too good (bad?) not to share.

It's my second post of the day. Consider it a tip, or a bonus section. :)

Things that make me wonder

  • scratches on the seats of public toilets (how do they happen????? do people have small metal spikes growing out of their buttocks????)
  • the following searches that somehow led people to my blog:
    • jelly booger (this from an Internet vagabond in Croatia ... [note to self: Croatians are weird.])
    • cuckolded desdemona
    • david suzuki's favourite chinese food
    • economic environment for victoria secret
    • great plumbing websites
    • take my cpap to bali
    • angelina jolie has affair with her bodyguard
    • angelina jolie 94 pounds
    • angelina jolie having affair with bodyguard
    • angelina jolie at 94 pounds
    • angelina jolie's affair with bodyguard
  • how Kyla always has the coolest, most intriguing and suspenseful status updates on Facebook
  • this story, which I just heard about because I was listening to a podcast from The Hour while at the gym

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Random weekendness

Friends and Internet vagabonds, I have not been this unproductive for a weekend for a loooooooong time. I blame Kalisah for having a link to this blog, which I then spent half the weekend reading (seriously …)

True, I did go to the One of a Kind Show Friday night with Alison, and then to Roberta’s birthday party Saturday night (where I spent most of my time chatting with a friend’s fiancĂ©, Joseph, who is such a great guy … I am so happy for Andrea), and I finally lugged my carcass to the gym late this afternoon, but I’m used to doing a lot more with my time, frankly. Oh well, hopefully it’ll just mean extra energy for me to haul my camera, laptop, and all my other worldly possessions to Seattle later this week.

When I was at the gym tonight, there was a figure skating special on TV – Kristi Yamaguchi Friends and Family show. I used to watch figure skating religiously in the ‘90s, and a lot of the usual suspects showed up – some of them with their kids. It was great. Here are a few thoughts that you can feel free to skip unless you actually care:

  • Isabelle Brasseur was skating with someone who absolutely was NOT Lloyd Eisler - I guess this guy is her husband Rocky Marval, also a retired pairs skater, but she also had her/their adorable daughter Gabrielle out on the ice, and judging by the super-excited jumping she did when their routine was over, little Gabrielle enjoys the spotlight. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in national competitions in a few years;
  • Ekaterina Gordeeva skated, and she is one of the most beautiful, classy people I can think of. Her beauty radiates from within when she’s on the ice – absolutely amazing to watch;
  • Ilia Kulik was mesmerizing – he is an incredible artist, even after all these years away from amateur competition;
  • Viktor Petrencko, however, makes me cringe. I know he’s a gifted athlete, but there is just something so cheesy about his on-ice shtick that I can’t watch him;
  • Jenny Meno and Todd Sand have two of the most adorable red-haired boys you can imagine. So cute.

After I came back from the gym, I surfed the web even more so I could get the precise dates of the Canadian and World Figure Skating Championships in my calendar. Do you think it’s possible to rent a DVR for a week at a time? I don’t want to spend my time in front of the TV year-round, but these two weeks would be an exception. But who am I kidding – it would probably take me a whole week to get the thing properly cabled before I had to return it. LOL

Another random topic: I’ve been considering going to see the movie, P.S. I Love You when it comes out in theatres in December. I love Hilary Swank, and I fell in love with Gerard Butler a little bit while watching Dear Frankie, so I was keen. However, I actually watched the trailer tonight and now I’m not too sure. Will you watch it for me and give me your thoughts? Is it maybe just a DVD rental? And then only when I’m PMSing?

Speaking of movies, a woman at the gym today highly recommended No Country for Old Men. I think I would have a hard time sitting through that one, no matter how excellent the acting is. Has anyone else seen it? I know I did manage to sit through Eastern Promises, but I had my eyes covered for all but 0.0001 seconds of the steam room scene. And I have a hard time handling suspense.

Final parting links before I call it a night:

  • Watch this if you blog or read blogs and understand the insanity that is the online world of commenting. If you do neither, you will totally find this stupid and random, which is what online comments are like sometimes. (Sorry, Mom, you will NOT get it, don't even bother. Love you though!)
  • This blog post is cute for anyone who has a pet.
I think this might be my most-linked post ever. Clearly the Type A in me is coming out of hibernation. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

So tired I'm touqued!

So tonight after work, my friend Alison and I went to the One of a Kind Show to do some holiday shopping. There was some good stuff to be found, but I was woefully unprepared for the exercise in endurance this kind of experience was. I will be better prepared next year, and don't be too surprised if I bring something with wheels to carry all the loot.

Now I'm at home and utterly pooped - just going through the long little-bit-of-food-at-a-time routine with the cats (trying to avoid gorging and vomiting as one of the cats is known to do). In fact, I'm so tired that my body is having trouble regulating my temperature - so I'm huddled in a flannel blanket and wearing a touque just to stay warm. Yes, indoors. Sexy, right? Does it help if I tell you the hat is made of wool and has ear flaps that become pigtail braids? I fancy that I look like a Norwegian princess - albeit a tired, chilled one. LOL

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Great Point Beach- Nantucket

Great Point Beach- Nantucket
Originally uploaded by Chris Seufert.

Chris Seufert's photography makes me want to vacation in Massachusetts (which is definitely not something I'd ever think I'd seriously consider a year or more ago).

I love this low-level shot. I feel like I am one of these stones or a piece of ocean debris, washed upon the shore - but looking out to the ocean waves knowing ... THEY'RE GONNA COME AND GET ME. Maybe it'll be scary, maybe it'll be fun, but from this perspective it's certain that I *will* be swept up. Kinda like life itself, no?

I've been thinking about life, change, and attitude a lot lately because of a book I'm reading. Change is not only inevitable, it is accelerating. Is this a threat? Possibly. It's more likely to be a threat if I'm not prepared to look for the opportunities, however ... So I'm working on my attitude and the disciplines that will prepare me for the opportunities when they come. I'm not there by a long shot, but I'm inching toward progress ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My gift list

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” – Mike Lipkin

This year I turned 37. I have had many years to accumulate things. I have an entire storage locker in the creepy basement of my apartment building that is full of crap I probably don’t need and rarely use. Often the challenge of cleaning my apartment is how to organize all the stuff I have. It feels wonderful to go through it and decide that a bunch of it can be given away – it always feels as though I’ve been relieved of a burden when I do.

There are certainly other things that I want or feel I need (clothes are one thing, as I haven’t really gone clothes shopping since May 2006), and while I might want this or that book, CD, or DVD, my tastes are quite personal and specific. I would like to travel to Europe finally, but have gladly chosen instead this year to visit my niece and nephew in Seattle whenever I’m invited because I don’t want to miss any more of their babyhood/development than absolutely necessary. I’ve bought myself a version of that Vita-mix blender I was coveting (an older model, but apparently still brand-new), and one day it’ll eventually arrive in the mail and then I’ll have fresh veggie smoothies to boost my energy and nutrition.

I’m not totally down on material things – I know they’re necessary sometimes and contribute to our pleasure and well-being (I do consider pleasure a necessity, in moderation). But I also think that there are other things that are sometimes more meaningful in our society of excess. And the last thing I want, for the love of muesli bread, is some gift that is just going to end up in some landfill somewhere.

Fortunately, if you are thinking of buying me a present for the holiday season (though I’m not suggesting that you should) Foster Parents Plan Canada (a non-religious, non-political charitable organization) has the perfect solution – Gifts of Hope. Ranging in cost from $15 to $2000 CDN, you can give me (or anyone else you love, for that matter) a gift for someone who needs it more. You could buy me:

  • books for a child in Sierra Leone (something my mom gave me last year that I found very exciting and rewarding);
  • books for a “Library in a Box” in Haiti (yes, I know that’s books twice, but I’m a bibliophile, what can I say??? I can't imagine life without books!);
  • tree seedlings in Benin (helping people AND the environment – wooo hoooo!);
  • mosquito nets in Uganda (according to a recent edition of the Globe and Mail, mosquito nets are dramatically reducing child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa);
  • farming tools for Niger (ooh, independence – how important is that??? AND it goes back to my roots growing up on a farm!);
  • training for health workers in Bolivia (I get a little miffed when my doctor’s phone line is always busy – can you imagine what it must be like to have no trained medical assistance available at all???);
  • literacy training for women in Niger (ah, the sweet opportunity to help my fellow women become more empowered! I can’t stand it, it’s so exciting!!!);
  • protecting trees and water in El Salvador (can you think of two things that are more important physically, aesthetically, emotionally, spiritually???).

There is a whole bunch more – Plan’s done a great job widening the selection and creativity of the solutions they are offering this year. I might just have to go and buy myself a few holiday presents!!! (Oh, and let's not forget to mention that these gifts are tax-deductible!)

In the end, this post is NOT about what to buy me for Christmas. It’s about doing what really matters with one’s time and resources. I know you’re doing the same thing in your own life – why else would you have read this far??? Feel free to use the comments to tell me what you’re planning or already doing to make a difference and how you are bucking our materialistic society’s dictates. I will cheer you on (and also feel very proud to have such enlightened readership)!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fallen leaves

One of the reasons I love photography is that it’s made me more observant and appreciative of the world around me, even when I’ve left my camera at home.

The last few days, there has been an incredible carpet of gold and greenish-yellow leaves on the ground in front of my apartment building. The overcast weather (i.e., no glare) resulted in super-saturated, gorgeously rich colour that was both uplifting and restful as I bolted past it on my way to work in the mornings. The leaves were raked today, unfortunately, so I can’t take a photo for you to enjoy, but I promise next year I will.

Question for you: what "mundane" or "ordinary" things have you found beautiful or extraordinary lately? Tell me all about it! :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Being Angelina Jolie

Sometimes I think about what it must be like to be Angelina Jolie.

I purse my lips when I look in the mirror and imagine I am one of the world’s sexiest women. I think about jet setting around the world to bring media attention to worthy causes and I think about being to adopt needy children and being able to donate one third of my income to charity … I don’t think about Brad, because he does nothing for me. However, one of Brad’s closest buddies is Mr. George Clooney, who fortunately does a LOT for me. Rrrrrowr!

But back to Angelina … I’m really concerned for her this week. Recent magazines tell me:

  • she is having an affair with her bodyguard;
  • she also shared a kiss with a co-worker that went “too far” and that Brad is furious;
  • the family of her adopted daughter Zahara wants her back;
  • Angelina was pregnant but miscarried and that, heartbroken, she continues to lose weight off her 94-pound body (illustrated by a photo of a flabby concave belly);
  • Brad’s mother has invited Brad’s ex Jen to the family Thanksgiving weekend, and Angelina has thrown a fit and accused Brad’s mother of being “sneaky” (the same magazine also suggests that Brad told Angelina that what his mother does in her free time is her own business, but I’m not sure that Brad is that smart – are you???).

Wow. That’s a lot to deal with in a really short time period, don’t you think? I want to give her a hug or something … she must be absolutely [sob] falling apart!!! Job of the Old Testament had nothing on the trials and tribulations of Angelina Jolie!

Now don’t tell me they just make stuff up. These people are journalists. They have integrity. And long zoom lenses. And they chase after celebrities to try to get away from honest, sincere people who just want to know the truth. And really, when you become famous, you give up your rights – and those of your children – to privacy. Besides, it’s totally possible that all these things are going on in Angelina’s life all at the same time!

Okay, in all seriousness, I love Angelina, but could the media please just stop hounding this family??? As long as we buy their magazines, these vermin will continue its deplorable behaviour towards two people who no doubt are just trying to make their way the best way they know how.

* No magazines were actually bought for this blog posting; in fact most magazines were not even lifted from the stands next to the cashiers.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

It was a great catch-up weekend. Friday I met some friends for a drink in the Entertainment District (on my way there I saw some university student pathetically high on something and totally abandoned by her friends. I really hope that taxi just took her home …).

Saturday morning, I met long-neglected friends Ryan and Isabelle for brunch at a crepe place. They brought their 16-month-old daughter, Audrey, who regarded me with suspicion for most of the time. She’s got the “stranger danger” thing down cold … but she was sooooo cute with her polka-dot tights and wide blue eyes! I hope to post photos later.

After having a savoury crepe (cucumber, hummus, peppers, artichokes, and about 8 other vegetables) and then a sweet crepe (strawberries, drizzled with chocolate sauce), I promptly went back to bed as soon as I got home and slept for two hours. Errands, 60 minute workout on the elliptical at the gym, laundry, fall back into bed. Thus went my Saturday night. Oh, my friend Wendy and I tried to get in touch by phone, but that didn't work out so well because of the time difference between Toronto and Wellington, N.Z. - but hopefully we'll be able to catch up for a "goss" really soon ...

Today was a little bit of work (several implementations, and I wanted to be available), some web-surfing, gym for another 60 minutes on the elliptical while listening to podcasts from The Hour with George Stroumbolopoulous, steam room, whirlpool, cooking, cleaning, blogging. There you have it!

So, friends and Internet vagabonds - now that I have anesthetized you with the details of my rather mundane weekend, help me live vicariously by telling me all the exciting things that you've been up to!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I've got lots of material to blog about tonight, but I also have a headache. Guess which one wins?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

God in the trees

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

I ache for this earth
I stopped going to church
See God in the trees makes me fall to my knees

- Nelly Furtado, "Te Busque"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I have to tell you I am not a big fan of raisins in something. Raisins by themselves, in moderation, are perfectly fine, but I find oatmeal raisin muffins or raisin bran muffins disconcerting. There you are, eating a perfectly reasonable muffin when all of a sudden you hit a pocket of moist, chewy supersweetness. The contrast in textures and flavours in this particular combination disturbs me.

Glossette Raisins are simply gross. Maybe I should call them Grossette Raisins from now on. They are gaggingly oversweet. (Look, Glossette, don’t sue me, all right? The peanut ones are always gone first. I’m only saying what most people think.)

I have never been able to even sample a butter tart because the sight of all those raisins in some kind of sticky, sugary syrup, congealed in a cup of pastry, just makes my salivary glands hide at the back of my throat. I realize that this is not normal. But don’t bug me about it – it just means more butter tarts for you.

There are a few things in which I find raisins acceptable, if not even desirable. Granola, certainly, and oatmeal cookies absolutely. (I think both are chewy enough that there is less contrast between textures.) Raisins in trail mix are pretty good, especially if you have peanuts to balance out the sweetness, but I still feel that raisins are the lowly second cousin of the dried cherry, which delivers some sweetness but with a dose of tartness. Delicious!

But truly, raisins were created for raisin bread. Don’t ask me how raisin bread gets a free ride on the texture contrast rule, it just does. Raisins add just enough sweetness to bread that the whole thing becomes just a bit of a treat. But until recently, I thought raisin bread could only be bad for you, with all that white flour and the thin layer of sticky syrup across the top of the loaf. That is, until I found muesli bread.

Muesli bread, in this instance produced by Stonemill Bread, has organic whole flour, honey, flax seeds, cracked soy, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds – and raisins. The last two nights, after working out at the gym, I have celebrated my healthy lifestyle with a glass of V8 and some muesli bread, toasted and with a thin layer of peanut butter. Oh. My. God. Sooo good. Sex-on-a-plate good. (You may at this point, with a high degree of validity, tell me that I need to date more, but I stand by my statement. Also, I figure if you’ve read this much of a post about raisins, you might not be in such a great position yourself to give such advice. LOL)

So where was I? Oh yes – muesli bread is good, for the body, for your conscience, and for your taste buds. Seriously, folks, if you think you have to give up delicious food in order to be healthy or a vegetarian, think again. Try it out for yourself if you don't believe me. :)

Next post: popcorn!

Big, Big World

Big, Big World
Originally uploaded by *Sakura*.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Firing on more cylinders these days

Tonight I worked out at the gym and did 60 minutes on the eliptical machine. Sixty minutes!!!! I kept myself preoccupied by watching "The Biggest Loser" (generally one of the most motivating shows I've ever watched) and listening to podcasts by Mike Lipkin, a motivational speaker I heard - perhaps experienced is a better word - back in February. I recommend his stuff, but warn you his manner of speaking is a little ... caffeine-inspired??? Oh well, his podcasts are helping me internalize a few truths about setting goals and developing disciplines in order to achieve objectives.

One of the points in the podcast I was listening to was to list out what you've learned and achieved in the past year. Achievements are more difficult for me to point to (but definitely possible, thankfully), but the lessons I've learned in the past year have been legion.

A year ago, something happened that really ripped the rug out from under my feet. I went through shock, denial, anger, resentment, indifference, etc. to slowly building back my confidence and - faith, suprisingly- through some unexpected avenues. I never would have believed "Black Friday" could have led to all that I've gained. I'm not thankful that "Black Friday" happened, but I'm deeply grateful for the forebearance of certain people and for the opportunities that have allowed me to heal and grow.

It feels good to be back.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

This past Saturday, I participated in something very cool – the building of a boardwalk in a conservation area. I think there were 50 – 60 people involved, all organized by the Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVCA).

When we got to the worksite Saturday morning, we saw that a good start had been made to the boardwalk; the CVCA had worked with high school students the previous day to get lumber brought into the area, and most of the underlying structure for the boardwalk had been laid out, and in places was even nailed together.

In a short time, TOC members and CVCA technicians, along with a large group of Korean hikers and other members of the general public, completed the skeleton of the boardwalk, and then we systematically started nailing the top pieces along it. There was a lot of work, and yet it progressed extremely quickly. Everyone was so dedicated and hard-working that the folks from the CVCA could only shake their heads in disbelief.

It happened so fast that it seemed someone had a rolled-up boardwalk somewhere and with a flick of the wrists just snapped it open.

What a sense of accomplishment and teamwork!!! It truly is one of the best things I’ve ever done, and with a fantastic group of people.

We had a dog named Skipper once, but he didn't do this!

Via ...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007


There's an oak tree in my neighbourhood that I adore. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only oak tree around for at least a block. These are two leaves, found within a few metres of each other. How did they come from the same tree? Based on what little I know about oak trees, I can't imagine how or why the leaves on a single tree could be so different in size and shape.

Tonight a friend is working through why her babies died while other women go on to be gloriously pregnant and have healthy babies, even twins. I have no answer for those questions either.

But that's okay.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In praise of mundanity

Is "mundanity" a word? I've gone to the gym again tonight (Woop woop!) but now too tired to look it up ... surely I get points for blogging anyway? :-D

The last few days have been blissfully uneventful: no dealing with crises or spats; I'm getting lots done at work; I'm slowly getting back into shape and able to spend more time on the eliptical machine each day; I'm starting to read all those books I recently bought; I'm connecting with long-lost friends and keeping tabs on current ones via Facebook; I'm flirting with poison ivy while communing with nature ... Nothing earth-shattering, and that is why I'm enjoying it so much. Now it feels like I can be more proactive rather than constantly reacting and scrambling. It's a great place to find myself once again.

I don't know how long it'll last, but I'm learning to live in the moment, and I'm so deeply grateful for this one.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pieces of nature

On Sunday, I drove out of the city to find nature. Here is some of what I found.

I noticed some interesting birds that I wanted to observe, so I wandered off the trail and knelt in some grasses - obviously not thinking at all - and then, minutes later, saw everywhere around me all sorts of three-leaved plants that were definitely not clover. Crap! Was it poison ivy? I couldn't tell, so I took this photo for later reference:

Later, after using the genius that is Google, I was pretty confident that this was not poison ivy (poison ivy does not have serated leaf edges like this plant does). I haven't broken out yet either, so I think I'm safe. Whew!!!

Here is a photo of a massive tree (a maple, judging by the leaves around it), which aren't so common around the GTA these days, unfortunately. My hiking poles, placed for comparison, are set to 110 cm (sorry, too tired tonight to do the conversion for you Yanks - just start using metric already, won't you???) :-D

Final exhibit tonight is this feather. It is about a foot long (sorry, I was raised near the U.S. border - I randomly crisscross between metric and Imperial. I also never know how I'm supposed to pronounce "Z" [Is it "zee" or "zed"???]). I'm not sure whether it's from a wild turkey or a grouse. Maybe it's even from a hawk? Anyone know???

Monday, November 05, 2007


Today, I took a CPR refresher course taught by a musclebound firefighter. He had my full and undivided attention for three whole hours. LOL And yes, I did get to put my arms around him - to practice the positioning for the Heimlich manoeuvre.

Since that experience obviously addled my brain for the rest of the day, I'll leave you with a photograph I took a while ago:

Sweet dreams! ;->

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What if they wanted to bulldoze Stonehenge to build a road?

Okay, it's not Stonehenge, but another site, of equal or perhaps greater cultural and historical importance, that is set to be destroyed. For a road. That could be built elsewhere. For less money.

The site - or series of >100 sites, actually - is Tara in Ireland. It is older than Stonehenge, older than even the Pyramids in Egypt. You can learn more:

Video - be patient around the first minute. The bit about the carvings and the ramparts is important background information.
Hill of Tara

I have signed the online petition to do my small part in trying to stop this destruction. You can too.

On one hand, it is about a particular place of unique and special value. On the other hand, if Tara can be destroyed, what's to protect other internationally important places - cultural or ecological - from those who think only of profit?

Late-night blog

Tonight is Sleep An Extra Hour for Free Night. Don't forget to set your clocks back an hour. Bliss!!!

Also, unrelated, a fascinating article (at least to me, as I know little about Tibet) that discusses the tightrope the Dalai Lama is walking trying to keep the loyalty and patience of his own people while trying to negotiate with an intractable China re. the future of Tibet. The Dalai Lama is desperately trying to avoid armed conflict. And I thought I had responsibilities and pressures!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Making time

Tonight was, I think, the fourth time I've been to the gym this week. Yay me!!!!

The last few months have been so crazed for one reason or another, but this week, I finally started to get things back on track. It was hard at first (heck, it was hard going there tonight), but it's getting easier.

That said, blogging this week has been tricky, as I am truly worn out!

Now I need to keep up my workouts at the gym, blogging, cooking healthy foods, keeping my apartment tidy, reading, meditating, journaling, volunteer work ... :-S

Speaking of being worn out ... LOL

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cleaning, interrupted

I've made a good dint in the piles of papers, books, junk mail, etc. that have slowly been taking up space in my bedroom (nibbling away at my psyche). However, it's bedtime again, and my bed is covered in stuff through which I do not have the energy to sort.

Oh well - I guess it goes back to a messy pile on my dresser until the weekend. :-S

In unrelated news (though equally as uninteresting, I am sure), I wish I had a video camera, because I could show you a demonstation of pure joy. You see, yesterday I brought home an empty cardboard box from the office so I could put stuff away in it, and it took about 0.0001 seconds for my cats to claim it as their toy. Seriously, Sabrina in particular is in raptures over it every time I go near the box and she can jump in it. Children on Christmas morning can't show more glee than this cat towards this cardboard box. What is the magic? I wish I understood. But I'm glad it makes her happy. :)

Watch this video!

Fall cleaning

No real post today, sorry. I've been busy throwing crap out. Back tomorrow! :)