Journeys

Sorry for disappearing my dear readers!

I am back from my fantastic trip out west to see my sister. It’s a sad thing to admit, but I haven’t seen much of my native country. Canada is just so damn big and so expensive to see. I had a brief visit to Calgary about 5 years ago when my cousin got married (I stopped in AB to visit my sister for a couple of days before heading with her to Regina for the wedding), though we were so busy that I really didn’t see much of the town.

Tracy, Mum and I at the wedding from that trip west

This time, I was honoured to attend her grad show and convocation! My little sister is all grown up now, and is one hell of a fiber  artist. I flew in on Saturday (which was a lovely flight. Super empty and quiet. Watched True Grit and my first episode of Dexter). We spent the first day and a half hanging out and wandering downtown.

Tracy and I, in her apartment

Monday we visited with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins, which was lovely. Some of them I haven’t seen in 7 years. Tuesday we did more running around and I was finally able to meet my sister’s best friend, Phil, his lovely wife, Kristy, and the amazing Drea at The Old Spaghetti Factory.

Wednesday was the grad show, Thursday the convocation.

Friday was my first ever trip to Banff. I am completely smitten by the mountains!

Me, in Banff

We did some wandering around, shopping, eating and then hit the hot spring. After an hour or two of relaxing, she treated me to an amazing meal at The Grizzly House.

Tracy and Fondue <3

My family, we love fondue. It was so damn good! 

Saturday, we survived the rapture and then I flew home (despite the Calgary airport being without power, I made it to Ottawa only a couple of minutes late, with luggage this time).  There was a lot of great conversations, many laughs, some great shopping, I met lots of great people and ate lots of amazing food. I also discovered my new favourite wine.

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All in all, while I missed my husband, our critters and my friends, I am sad to be back to the real world. I don’t feel at all prepared to be back into the swing of things. Guess I gotta just keep on going, right? Now, to plan a baby shower, be a Maid of Honour and wrap up an estate.

A responsible Heather would have her bags packed and waiting by the door. A Heather with amazing time management skills would have a clean kitchen and a home made lunch waiting for me in a couple of hours.

This Heather got home yesterday and promptly fell asleep on the couch. In my work clothes. You may not understand why this is strange, but let me assure you, it is. I’m not a napper, at all. It makes me queasy and messes up my very delicate sleep schedule. Also, it’s my usual routine to get the hell out of my work clothes as soon as I walk in the front door. Instead, I fell asleep and eventually got up to our dog jumping around in anticipation of her evening walk (80lbs of excited jumping is actually a lot more like stomping, especially considering the proximity to my face). I got up, had a bowl of cereal, a mug of tea and somehow managed to stay conscious until about 10pm when I passed out (in bed this time) again.

Every now and then, my body announces that it has had enough of my stress and busy schedule, of my poor diet and my lack of exercise. I’ll admit, it’s been a bit rough having to work on the estate most evenings, the many trips across town to check on the house, while working during the day, keeping the house “clean”, trying to maintain my relationship with my husband and my friends, the weddings, babies and showers. Some days, I’m just so very done that I can’t use any more energy than that needed to watch an episode of Bones (last night, btw, was amazing with the exception of Michaela Conlin. Not sure what’s going on with this actress or if its just the character, but I’m really disliking how her character has progressed into this condescending unfeeling bitch. Seriously, not even a single tear last night? Really? BONES cried, and you didn’t even whimper?)

Today, I started reading my blogs after getting myself a cup of foul smelling coffee. I came across The Harlot’s recent post and was struck by the following:

I realized that this is what I want to tell her- or anyone else who says “I don’t know how you do it all.”

I DON’T.

I can’t express that enough.  I don’t think I could do it all. The only reason that I’m able to make any of this work is because I’ve got priorities and low standards and no expectation of doing it all. There are a million things I don’t do.

I just don’t see any way that anybody could ever really do it all- especially if it’s all their problem. We’re all going to prioritize stuff differently, and maybe knitting appears lower on your list and the condition of the kitchen way higher, in which case my darlings… you should let go of what suits you.   I could have a clean house and finished laundry and toilet paper and matching towels all the time, but I think that to do that, I’d have to give up some knitting, or writing or being with my family the way I want to, and there’s no way that you’re ever going to tell me that I am ever, ever going to look back on this time and think that the time I spent talking with my kids, knitting beautiful things, writing books or earning a living was wasted, and that I could have been way, way more fulfilled by a shiny sink, a more intimate relationship with my vacuum,  or knowing where my damn bra is. There are only so many hours in a day, there are only so many things one woman can be responsible for, and I have to make choices, just like everyone else, and I don’t know how I would juggle it all and I don’t know how all this looks through the lens of the blog, but really,  no…

I don’t do it all.

Guys, I can’t even explain how much I needed to read that. I hold myself at this impossible standard most days and am so disappointed with myself when things don’t get done. I have friends and family that put so much pressure on themselves to be “perfect” and to have “perfect” homes, and I find it so stressful and exhausting to try to meet these imaginary standards that are out there when they come over. Sure, I like a tidy-ish house, but I don’t need every piece of furniture gleaming and every surface clear of clutter. I just don’t and I’m just so damn tired all the time that it’s nice to finally read something that shows me that I’m not alone.

Thanks Harlot, I needed that.

The plan is to do a bit of tidying tonight, finish up laundry and get some groceries so that the husband doesn’t survive solely on popcorn and cereal while I’m gone, and then tomorrow I’ll finish up (ie: Start) my packing and then I’m off! No stress, no anxiety. Get it done at my pace.

The Epic Big Easy Post

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long hiatus. It’s been a very busy and interesting couple of weeks.

Monday the 7th, I found myself feeling awful at work. My colleagues rallied and got me some Cold FX and sent me home early so that I could rest up before my trip. Tuesday, I was in the middle of a full blown cold (or so I thought). I tried everything. Oil of Oregano, rest, chicken soup, vitamin D and C, Cold FX, every cold med out there, a neti pot, hot showers, etc..etc… Nothing worked, and only the Oil of Oregano and the neti pot made a difference in how I was feeling.

Wednesday, I was still feeling like crap, but was resolved to make it to New Orleans. Pat got me to the airport and I learned that my flight was delayed, so I wouldn’t make any of my connections. Sigh. You see, I’m cursed. Unless I travel with my husband (and even then), something awful happens.

Let me break it down:

Family trip to Florida in elementary school: Water heater on the pool at the house we rented EXPLODED, causing a small fire. We were able to stay there, but the pool was out of commission. Transmission on our family van died on the 3 day drive home.  Unseasonably cold weather, keeping us in sweaters and jackets the entire time.

Scuba Diving Trip to St. Kitts in highschool (won through Much Music): Sinus infection, my BFF ended up being terrified of water, boyfriend (the husband, many years ago) was angry I didn’t take him. Mangled my feet with crazy cuts and blisters two days before leaving, missed a flight on the way home. Wasn’t speaking to friend by the end of the trip. Terrible scuba diving conditions.

Family trip to Mexico in University: Strep throat and sinus infection, super busy with classes, studied and slept the entire trip.

Road trip to Halifax with friends: Major drama, ran out of gas on the way home.

Family Wedding Trip to Cuba (with Husband): A week before the trip there was a tragic accident resulting in me breaking my hand in two places. IBS attack while I was there. Family drama.

Family trip to Cuba (with husband): Resort ended up being meh, food poisoning, ended up babysitting an elderly family friend, family drama.

So, yeah, not a great travel record. Amazingly, I never let it get me down and still absolutely love travelling. The only exceptions to the curse have been Trips to visit my grandmother before she died in Regina and my honeymoon.

So, back to Wednesday.

Day 1: I pouted and looked pathetic, so I was snuck on a direct flight to Washington (instead of going through Montreal), so I made it in without an issue. Yay! Upon my arrival, my friend Isaac informed me that he had cancelled our hostel, because of the super sketchy neighbourhood. Instead, we stayed at Bourbon House in the Garden District. It was my first hostel experience, and I was terrified. I had no planned on sharing a room with strangers, and coming in late at night didn’t make things any easier. I didn’t sleep at all, felt awful and was sure I was going to be robbed.

Basically, I was a princess. Everything was fine, the hostel was clean, the owners lovely, my roommates were great and I wish we had stayed.

Me, sick and waiting at the airport.

Day 2: Due to not sleeping, I got up obscenely early, had a shower, got myself ready and then went outside to sit in the common patio area to read. I stayed there for a few hours til Breakfast was available and then got myself a coffee. Isaac joined me shortly thereafter. We packed up our stuff and wandered the garden district a bit. Afterwards, we had lunch at a great little restaurant called   “Mayas”. I was still feeling quite sick, so I only had a salad (which was AMAZING). We grabbed our things from the hostel and then made our way to our next destination, The Cotton Exchange Hotel, which was incredibly swanky and lovely. We dropped off our bags, as we were a bit early for our check in, and did a nice long walk of the French Quarter.

A beautiful home we passed on our walk

Remenants of Mardi Gras

After the walk, we went back to the hotel to rest before dinner and a Haunted Walk Tour. The tour was really interesting and I got some really neat Orb pictures of a couple of the haunted spots. What are orb pictures?  The idea is that spirits can be captured on film in the shape of orbs. Some cases, it’s just dust orbs, but I’m fairly certain that my shots were real. There was no reflective surfaces, no dust, and no other explanation. Neat!  The one spot that I got the most orbs? Definitely The Lalaurie House.

A nice clear Orb!

The Lalaurie House. Three orbs in this one

After the tour we went to  Frenchmen St. in search of drinks and music! We ended up at The Spotted Cat and caught a few songs by a group called (I think)  New Orleans Moonshiners. They were AMAZING and we had a great time, despite the fact that I felt awful and wanted to collapse where I stood. I think the Vodka Crans I was drinking were antibacterial or something. Maybe. I have a quick clip of their performance that I’ll try to remember to add later.

The Moonshiners at The Spotted Cat

Isaac and I at The Spotted Cat. It's not just the picture that's fuzzy, it was me too. Yay sinus infections.

Day 3: Didn’t sleep at all. Again. Finally got up at 8 or so to a text message from my friend Sarah, asking me if I had heard anything about a guy we went to college with. I asked her why, and that’s how I found out about the Tsunami and earthquake in Japan. (The guy, Dan, is fine btw.) Spent most of the morning following the news until Isaac got up. Once ready and packed, we had an ok lunch at Huck Finn’s and then hung out at the River front for a while.  We then went back to the Garden District for our walking tour of the area.

My first Po-Boy

The River Front

We stopped at an amazing little café called  “Still Perkin” where I had the BEST iced chai latte I’ve ever had in my life. I miss it. I want one right now. SO GOOD.  The tour was AMAZING. Our guide, John, was perfect and I feel like I learned SO MUCH. Here’s a few pictures from the tour:

Isaac at Lafayette Cemetery

A beautiful home in the Garden District that just happens to be owned by Sandra Bullock

A pretty typical NO Garden District house. LOVE the iron work.

After our tour, we went to Cheesecake for dinner/lunch/snack. I had the most incredible crab cakes, and prayed for my cold to go away. I was feeling run down, exhausted and so sick.

After all of that, we picked up our bags and made our way to our next destination, The Marquette House hostel.  I was not impressed. This is not the place for those seeking anything above a bed to sleep in. Seeing as how that’s all I really needed, I went with it. At this point, I was pretty certain my cold was actually a sinus infection. Sigh. Completely run down and done, we stayed in and just rested. I met a lovely girl from Denmark by the name of Phillipa (she was one of my 8 roommates). She and I chatted a bit and then I went to bed, in my clothes, at 9pm. I am still afeared of potential bed bugs, but Pat promises me he doesn’t think I brought anything home.

Day 4: I SLEPT. Thank the gods, I finally slept. Exhaustion and Nyquil saved the day. We checked out of the hostel and then went back to Still Perkin. We were both stressed, as everywhere seemed to be booked. We had no idea where we were going to be able to stay the night. At the café, I met a wonderful lady by the name of Rose (she served me). She and I chatted for a bit while she made my Chicory Latte (which I really enjoyed, btw). Once she found out that we didn’t have room plans for that night, she called her girlfriend, Michelle, who offered us a place to stay for the night! We exchanged numbers, and then Isaac and I were off to catch the St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was a mini Mardi Gras for me, and despite feeling like death, I had a good time and collected some beads without having to flash the girls.

Our breakfast at Still Perkin'

St. Patty's Day Parade

Isaac and I collecting beads

I was completely fascinated with this parade. Apparently it’s tradition to throw Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots, as well as the beads and knickknacks. I’m talking whole freakin’ heads of cabbage! It was a bit scary at times, but hilarious.

After the parade, we walked down to  Juan’s Flying Burrito for an amazing lunch of burritos. We then walked the city for hours. We spent some time in our favourite hang out, the park near Jackson st. After some rest, we went to get our luggage from the Hostel and then went to meet the lovely Michelle!

The park near Jackson St.

Michelle’s apartment is right in the heart of the French Quarter and was absolutely lovely. It was such a home-away-from-home. We bonded immediately over a love of Roller Derby (she’s in the league there, so awesome!) and our furbabies (her two cats, Sam and Homer, were extremely welcoming). She was also sick, so we shared cold meds and talked for a while before she left for dinner with friends. I had the best shower of my life. Right when we were about to head out, Michelle and Rose came in and told us that Rose had been attacked on her way over! I couldn’t imagine anyone who would want to hurt such an amazing woman, but I suppose hate crimes have absolutely no sense or rational behind them. Isaac and I went out to dinner, but I was so sick that I couldn’t eat much at all. Arriving back at Michelle’s apartment, I was just done. I sent Isaac out to have a good time on his own, did some reading and then crashed. Unfortunately, not even Nyquil could help and I was up all night absolutely miserable.

Day 5. Several showers in the morning to clear our my sinuses, I called Pat and nearly cried. I was so tired, so sick and so ready to come home. I read for a while, bummed around online until Isaac got up. I then took a short nap, had another shower, and off we went to lunch. I realized then that my camera was broken. It wouldn’t stay on for more than a second or two. Sigh. It was nearly impossible to find a place on Sunday that was open and didn’t have a line out into the street. We finally settled on a place near Café du monde and tried Alligator for the first time (actually really tasty! I’d have it again). Still no appetite. We then went to the Voodoo Museum, which was really interesting but underwhelming.

We went back to the apartment, packed up and then went to Pink Berry for a treat. Dear Canada, please bring us Pink Berry. The US has to share. This is too good for me not to have it again.

There, a girl behind me told me I had the most beautiful eyes she’s ever seen. I needed that little bit of love, and it made my day. After Pink Berry, we went to our last destination, the Pelham hotel. We rested there a bit and then went out to see Michelle at the bar she works at. We had a drink and chatted a while before handing her back her keys and thanking her for her amazing generosity. After drinks, we went to http://www.snugjazz.com/site/ Snug Harbor hoping for Jazz and food. Unfortunately there was no band, but I did have THE BEST baked potato of my life. It was mind-shatteringly good. I can’t even explain. Awesome.

Snug Harbour's floating chair art

The baked potato of the gods

We then returned to the hotel, hung out a bit and then crashed for the night.

Day 6. I slept! YAY! We packed up, checked out and walked down to the bus stop for the airport. Arriving at the airport later than expected, Isaac had to run to catch his flight so I went to the airport café and had some beignets and a café au lait finally. SO GOOD. After eating, I checked in and hung out at my gate for a bit, only to hear that my flight to Houston has been delayed an hour due to a storm. Ruh-oh. You see, I had very tight connections, all within an hour of landing.  The fine gentleman at the gate assured me I’d be fine, so I kept to the plan.

Everything went great for my other connections until I arrived in Chicago, having missed my flight by about 15 minutes. Luckily, there was another flight to Ottawa an hour and a half later. I grabbed some food that I didn’t really eat (still no appetite) and hunkered down at the gate with some Angry Birds for the next while, after being assured that my baggage would be rerouted with no issues.

Caught my flight, and arrived in Ottawa later than anticipated. I discovered shortly thereafter that my bags didn’t make it with me. Sigh. So, I filed a complaint and Pat took me home. Three days later, my bags arrived.

It was an exciting trip, and I totally fell in love with the city, but I wish I had been healthy for it. One day, I’d like to go back.

Since being back, there’s been some estate stuff to take care of , a visit to the doctor’s office (Turns out I had a sinus infection that spread to my ears, woo!), a trip to the pharmacy and lots of Dragon Age 2. I’ll update on regular life stuff tomorrow or the next day. <3

Adventure time!

So I have some baggage...

So long, everyone! Tonight I’m getting on a plane, which will take me to catch another plane, which will get me to another plane, which will, eventually, get me to the lovely city of New Orleans.

The weather looks like it’s going to be quite mild, so I’ve packed a lot of clothes for layering, especially because I seem to have fallen into my old curse. What curse, you ask? Apparently, whenever I travel without my husband, I am to be struck down by the evils of a massive cold/flu/sinus infection. I’ve been home sick since Monday afternoon, on a large cocktail of drugs and am hoping that by the time I land in NO this evening, I will be feeling much better. In the mean time, I’m drinking lots of fluids, carrying around a Puffs box everywhere I go and praying. A lot.

I promise to take lots of pictures and to return with tales of adventure and voodoo :)

Have a good one, folks! See you when I return!

-H

December, the ninja

Ah, the snow is falling outside and I have a pile of holiday cards beside me, waiting to be addressed and stamped. Tis the season, for sure.

I feel like it has caught me by surprise this year. I guess with everything that’s happened, and especially with the honeymoon, I was so distracted that I didn’t even notice December creep up.

First, I’ll back track a bit and elaborate on Jamaica before moving on to other things. I would definitely recommend not only Jamaica but our resort to anyone looking into taking a relaxing trip to someplace warm where the food is good and the people are lovely. We stayed at Couples Swept Away and definitely felt that it had the right vibe for us. We are not big party-ers, and didn’t want to go someplace that was entirely focused on getting drunk and dancing 24/7. CSA had an adult vibe that focused on letting its guests relax and rest. There was plenty to do, but no one was shoving it down our throats. We spent nearly every day, all day, on the beach. We read, we talked, we swam and we tanned.

The food was amazing. My favourite restaurent on the resort was Patois. It served a blend of local fare and more european dishes. Even the little grill made amazing food, including jerk chicken, patties and snapper sandwiches. Yum! My favourite dish of the whole trip was one of the appetizers. It was a smoked marlin au gratin dip with hand cut chips.

The Smoked Marlin <3

Pat and I had some amazing chats, including one I’ve been wanting to have for a while – Our future family plans. While I don’t want to get into it too much here, we are both on the same page and am hopeful that if things go well for us at work, that we should be able to start thinking more seriously about it soon. So, with that as a bit of a warning, I am doing lots of reading now, so don’t be surprised if I start talking more about baby/birth/family stuff.

Anyway, back to the trip. One of my favourite activities we did participate in was a snorkeling trip to one of the near by reefs. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an underwater camera, so I can’t share anything from our adventure, however I can tell you a bit about what we saw. The coral itself was beautiful a little bit scary. I’ve never been so up close and personal before. I’ve heard stories of people cutting themselves on reefs before so I was really careful. We saw a couple of sting rays. Just little bitty ones. We saw an unpuffed puffer fish, a bunch of beautiful angel fish and the like, as well as some trumpet fish.

Trumpet Fish

Puffer Fish

Sting Ray

For those of you who have never been snorkeling, I highly recommend it. It takes a bit of an adjustment at first to get used to staying near the top of the water so that you can breath, breathing under water and seeing the whole underwater world around you. I love it.

So, to wrap that up, the trip was amazing and our relationship is even better than it was before we left. Yay!  In terms of witchiness, I did have a couple of interesting occurances.

1. Nightmares. I don’t normally have nightmares. They are really rare for me. I dream vividly, but not often am I frightened by my dreams.

2. Had a definite conversation with the ocean. She wanted a sacrifice because I hadn’t introduced myself properly when we met (namely, my rings). I refused the rings, so I lost a pair of sunglasses. It felt like it wasn’t enough so we had a chat, and within seconds of this chat, I somehow stepped on a shell or something, drawing blood. It must have been a small shell because it only cut enough to bleed briefly and then shut. This happened once more the following day. At this point I had the sense that we were ok now. Just to be safe, Pat and I kept our rings in our safe from then on.

3. On our way home to the airport I saw something that I can’t explain. It may have just been a strange play of light or something, but I swear I saw a little person in a field. And by that I really mean a full proportionate person who was maybe only a foot and a half tall and completely black. Like, an absence of light and colour. Strangest thing ever. This was immediately followed by a sense of vertigo and my mind deciding it didn’t happen.

Good times!

On a completely different note, while we were gone, our videographer posted our wedding video. Care to see? It’s here.  I’m so happy with the results. She’s amazing.

So on to life now, we’ve settled back in. The snow and the cold aren’t quite as shocking anymore and we’re gearing up for Yule and Christmas. My sister arrives from Calgary soon and will be staying with us for the first time. I’m really excited. Christmas is going to be hard this year, having so recently lost my Mum. It’s the first year since we moved to Ottawa in 1988 (with the exception of one year in Disney) that we won’t be having Christmas in my mother’s house.

Meanwhile, to complicate things, I managed to have a job fall into my lap. I couldn’t say no to the opportunity, and so I start on Monday. The pay isn’t great, and the situation is strange, but it’s work. It’s admin work at a local college, working with employment services (har har, Universe. Good one). The weird bit is that it’s full time until May and then goes part time until November. Not exactly ideal, but it’s still something for now. Hopefully I like the work.

And on that note, I’m off to drink some tea and listen to Laura Marling. <3 Cheers!

I live!

Sorry for disappearing folks! I promise it was for a good cause…we were on our honeymoon! :)

We spent 10 days at the Couples Swept Away resort in Negril, Jamaica. We had a fantastic time. Every good thing we heard about Jamaica was true, and we have plans to go back in a year or two. The people are wonderful, the country is gorgeous, the beach was the best I’ve ever seen, and the food was some of the best I’ve ever had.

We’re happy to be back home, despite leaving our little love nest of warmth, sand and clear blue waters. I have plans to post about what’s been going on soon, and maybe even a run down of my personal notes taken on the trip. We shall see.  Overall, I will be posting more. I just need to settle back into my home a bit and then I’ll be back :)

My baggage

It’s been a productive weekend for me and the husband. We did some running around yesterday, after my last day at my job and managed to pick up most of what we still needed for our honeymoon. One more trip and we should be good to go. Today I started the massive task of laundry and CLEAN ALL THE THINGS. I also started packing.

Packing and I go way back. I’ve packed for moves, for road trips, for concert trips, for family visits and contest wins. You’d think with such an extended background in packing that I’d be good at it. You, my dear optimistic reader, would be so very wrong.

That looks like a pretty well packed piece of luggage, doesn’t it? Well, the key issue here is that this is after I’ve done only half of the laundry (which means I’m sure there’s more to come) and prior to any of my beauty/cleaning products and undergarments.

Also, WestJet has a strict 50lbs rule on departure. It gets mighty expensive if you’re over. I have a feeling I may already be in that range.  So, now begins the debate…do I admit defeat and split my stuff into two bags? (You’re allowed 2 checked bags per person, at 50lbs each) or do I try to go through my stuff again and take it out?

My problem is that I over pack. Every single time. I like to be prepared for whatever we may face, and I hate the idea of having to choose between only a couple of outfits for 10 days. I mean, what if I got a shirt dirty in the morning and had to change, but I only allocated so many shirts for the visit? Things happen. I may spontaneously decide that we are going to go out dancing. I may not. Do I limit myself by not bringing something for dancing? Ugh.

I’m also facing the dreaded body image issues. I’ve gained a lot of weight over the last year and haven’t completely come to terms with the body that I’m in now. I really actively try not to let it get me down, but it’s hard knowing I’m going to be in a bathingsuit in front of strangers for two weeks. Ugh.

I do have to say though… if this is my biggest stress right now, then life is good. :)

Edit: I’d like the add…the most difficult part of packing? Making sure my phone is up to date on all my music. We both have old Sony Ericsson Walkman cellphones. While they can’t even begin to compare to the smart phones of today, they are pretty good for acting as a stand-in mp3 player.